The long history of Sinai, extending as it does over eighteen centuries, is evidence of the esteem in which the monastery was held by a succession of states and rulers. Each sustained the monastery in one way or another. This is particularly evident in the support of the monastery given by the Empress Helen in the 4th century, and by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th. The Emperor Justinian was responsible for the construction of the great basilica and surrounding fortress walls. In addition, he granted the Abbot of Sinai a document so called 'Neara', granting him certain honors. These honors have been confirmed by patriarchal decrees which respect the autonomy of the Holy Monastery of Sinai.