Category Archives: 500 BC – 200 AD
Dura-Europos was a Hellenistic, Parthian and Roman border city built on an escarpment ninety meters above the right bank of the Euphrates river.
It is located near the village of Salhiyé, in today’s Syria (34°44.82′N 40°43.85′E / 34.747°N 40.73083°E / 34.747; 40.73083).
Dura-Europos is extremely important for archaeological reasons. As it was abandoned after its conquest in 256–7, nothing was built over it and no later building programs obscured the architectonic features of the ancient city. Its location on the edge of empires meant for a co-mingling of cultural traditions, much of which was preserved under the city’s ruins. Some remarkable finds have been brought to light, including numerous temples, wall decorations, inscriptions, military equipment, tombs, and even dramatic evidence of the Sassanian siege during the Imperial Roman period which led to the site’s abandonment.
Cyrrhus, Cyrrus, or Kyrros (Greek: Κύρρος) was a city in ancient Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Other names for the city include Hagioupolis, Nebi Huri نبي حوري, Khoros (Arabic حوروس Ḳūrus). Its ruins are found about 14 km northwest of Kilis, Turkey, near the Syrian border.
Cyrrhus was the capital of the extensive district of Cyrrhestica, between the plain of Antioch and Commagene. A false etymology of the sixth century connects it to Cyrus, King of Persia due to the resemblance of the names.
The site of the city is marked by the ruins at Khoros, 14 km northwest of Kilis, near the village of Afrin. The ruins stand near the river Afrin Marsyas River a tributary of the Orontes, which had been banked up by Bishop Theodoret.
Cyrrhus was founded by Seleucus Nicator shortly after 300 BC, and was named for the Macedonian city of Cyrrhus. It was taken by the Armenian Empire in the 1st century BC, then became Roman when Pompey took Syria in 64 BC. By the 1st century AD, it had become a Roman administrative, military, and commercial center on the trade route between Antioch and the Euphrates River crossing at Zeugma, and minted its own coinage. The Persian Empire took it several times during the 3rd century.
In the 6th century, the city was embellished and fortified by Justinian. It was taken by the Muslims in 637 and by the Crusaders in the 11th century. Nur ud-Din recaptured it in 1150. Muslim travelers of the 13th and 14th century report it both as a large city and as largely in ruins.
Cyrrus became at an early date a suffragan of Hierapolis Bambyce in Provincia Euphratensis. Eight bishops are known before 536 (Lequien, II, 929; E.W. Brooks, The Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus, II, 341). The first was present at First Council of Nicaea in 325. The most celebrated is Theodoret (423-58), a prolific writer, well known for his rôle in the history of Nestorianism and Eutychianism. (His works are in Migne, P.G., LXXX-LXXXIV.) He tells us that his small diocese (about forty miles square) contained 800 churches, which supposes a very dense population.
A magnificent basilica held the relics of Saints Cosmas and Damian, who had suffered martyrdom in the vicinity about 283, and whose bodies had been transported to the city, whence it was also called Hagioupolis. Many holy personages, moreover, chiefly hermits, had been or were then living in this territory, among them Saints Acepsimas, Zeumatius, Zebinas, Polychronius, Maron (the patron of the Maronite Church), Eusebius, Thalassius, Maris, James the Wonder-worker, and others. Theodoret devoted an entire work to the illustration of their virtues and miracles. Under Justinian, it became an independent ecclesiastical metropolis, subject directly to Antioch. The patriarch, Michael the Syrian, names thirteen Jacobite bishops of Cyrrhus from the ninth to the eleventh century (Revue de l’Orient chrétien, 1901, p. 194). Only two Latin titulars are quoted by Lequien (III, 1195).
It remains a Roman Catholic titular see of the ecclesiastical province of Syria.
(info – wikipedia).
Palmyra (Arabic: تدمر) was in ancient times an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 120 km southwest of the Euphrates. It has long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented reference to the city by its pre-Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur,  is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari . Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor (in Arabic تدمر) and there is a small newer settlement next to the ruins of the same name.
More in wikipedia about Palmyra.
As to my expectations Hama is a city of modest buildings, not crowded at least in the city center, a space for breathing air and receiving sunshine. It was pleasing the round way about the citadel, with wide pavements, and clean asphalt.
The look from citadel is especially appealing. You see the bridge of roman-byzantine type from one side, norias, old mosques, a church (at least what I noted), and still newly built Al-Sham hotel, and other historic buildings. Nouri mosque is near too, you can reach by foot after some minutes.
Panoramic views of Hama from top hill:
Hama Traditions Museum Building:
Hama Traditions Museum which is also named “Qasr Al-Azm” like the one in Damascus, is a lovely place, the building is more attractive than what is exhibited inside, actually we didn’t spend much time inside the rooms, as the exhibits are universal among Damascus, Aleppo and other “traditions” museums in Syria.
The building is said to be from middle centuries, and is similar to the many Arabic style buildings in Aleppo, or Damascus. The courtyard in the middle inside with a greenish water pool, with small statues, is beautiful. The museum naturally placed in the old streets of Hama, also similar to Aleppo ones, with some difference in the color of stones, here is whiter.
The square which is called “Assi” was never jammed or crowded contrary to my surprise. This is just near to a park built actually on Orontes’s basin. You can walk here and watch the norias. I missed the moment of taking pictures of norias while they are working.
And finally the highway from Aleppo side comes itself towards the city center. We didn’t have much difficulty in finding our way.
Nature scenes from Hama district:
Hama, inside city:
We met an atelier, who was owned by Painter Samir Tanbar, he made paintings by coffee for the first ever trial in Syria. His atelier is just near Hama Traditions Museum. Here is how looked a collage of his paintings:
The park at the tophill, where lies remnants of ancient citadel: