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Antioch, California, is located along the San Joaquin river at the western end of the San Joaquin-Sacramento river delta. In 1848, John Marsh, owner of Rancho Los Meganos, built a landing on the San Joaquin as the shipping point for his 17,000-acre property; a pier that extended well out into the river enabled vessels drawing 15 feet of water to tie up there at any season of the year. Two years later William Smith and his brother Joseph founded Smith's Landing to the west of Marsh's Landing. The two towns merged and, in 1851, were renamed Antioch, after "the cradle of Christianity." The biblical city was founded on the eastern side of the Orontes river in 300 BCE, near modern Antakya, Turkey, by Seleucus I Nicator as his capital, on the site where an eagle had carried a piece of sacrificial meat. It rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the area and became the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period; because the city had a large Jewish population in a quarter called the Kerateion, it attracted the earliest Christian missionaries. It was evangelized by St. Peter and by Barnabas and Paul during Paul's first missionary journey; according to "Acts of the Apostles" 11:26 its converts were the first to be called Christians. Between 252 and 300 the Christians held 10 assemblies of the church there, and it became the seat of one of the five original patriarchates, along with Constantinopolis, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Roma. Due to its association with Peter, the Antiochian Orthodox Church claimed primacy (even after it moved its see to Damascus), in much the same way that the Roman Church claimed its own primacy due to the claim that Peter was the first pope (and the head of the Catholic Church remained "Bishop of Roma" even while residing in Avignon, France, in the 14th century). In the 4th century, archbishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople, estimated the city's Christian population at about 100,000, and a number of Greek, Syrian, Armenian, and Latin monasteries surrounded it.
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