These images of Qal'at Seman, the famous shrine of St. Symeon Stylites the Elder on Jebel Seman are valuable because they are taken midway between the French restoration of the site in the 1930s and the way the site looked in the late 1990s when the majority of the rest of the photographs in this archive were taken. They show the complex to be well maintained, with less visitors (local or foreign) than were customary by the pre war years.
Qirq Bizeh is the name of a small abandoned settlement to the north of Qalb Lozeh. A C2nd villa was converted into a church in the C4th or C5th and retains the internal liturgical fittings that clearly identify the ritual use of the building. It is very small, but houses a bema and has a raised platform at the east end that is divided from the rest of the chamber by a chancel screen. There is also evidence of reliquary chambers in the screen and small reliquary caskets elsewhere. The bema retains its 'throne' or pulpit and the ritual use of the house extends to the courtyard where extensive cisterns seem to have housed water or olive oil in antiquity.
The C5th cathedral of Bosra has a quatrefoil centralised floor plan terminating in the east end in a complex arrangement of a central apse, flanked by two chambers that then link through to two further small subsidiary apses to north and south. Therefore the east end is divided into five chambers, three being apsed and two that presumably functioned as sacristies or martyria.
The C5th centrally-planned martyrium at Resafa was the original resting place of the saint and the focus of the cult. Later the relics were translated to the basilica to the south east of the city and the importance of the church declined.
The colour images are from 2010.
The C5th church of Qalat Kalota stands on a hill to the west of the village of Kalota. It gets its name from the Arabic word "Qal'ah" or castle as, like Kharab Shams, the church was fortified in the Islamic era. It is generally well preserved and stands in a large courtyard with a martyrium to the south of the church.
The place known as Pamukkale today and visited by many visitors for its calcified hot water springs has been inhabited since antiquity under the name Hierapolis. In late antiquity it became a major site of Christian pilgrimage as the Apostle Philip was believed to be interred in a martyrium to the north of the town.
Qal'at Seman is the site where Simeon Stylites the Elder stood on a pillar for 36 years. The hill is located to the north of Jebel Sheikh Barakat and the monumental complex was constructed on the orders of the Emperor after Simeon died in 459. It was one of the biggest churches in the world at the time it was built.
These images were taken at Resafa in February 1997. It was pouring with rain and this affected the quality of the images, as did the fact that both the black and white images and the slides were developed badly in Syria. The visit was made in the company of Fr. Na'aman, a Rum Orthodox Archimandrite who ministered to all Christians in Raqqa and who appears in some of the images.
Most of the images show the basilica that dominates the city as the most substantial building still extant and that became the centre of the cult of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) after the partition of the city under Islamic rule. An early mosque abuts the north side of the basilica, but was not built to the same high standard and now little remains.
The rest of the pictures show the city walls and the Sura Gate (North gate) to the city.
On 7th October 1998 thousands of Syrian and Lebanese Christians converged on Resafa to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of the martyrdom of SS. Sergius and Bacchus (they were fully aware that they were one year late - this was blamed on typical Syrian lack of organisation by those asked to provide an explanation for the belated date). An ecumenical ceremony took place in the basilica and these pictures document this event.