- Collection: Homs and its hinterland
These images show the tell to the south of Qaryatayn and the surrounding landscape, including the remains of the spring that once fed the surrounding area.
Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi is the western of the two famous Umayyad palaces built to the east and west of Palmyra. This palace was built on the site of an earlier building and the stone tower still extant from that earlier phase has an inscription suggesting that it may have been part of a C6th monastery complex. The Qasr ("little castle") was built of mud brick, field stone and bricks and the whole was covered with a layer of stucco. The façade was covered with stucco decoration that was excavated from the site in the early C20th and reconstructed in Damascus as the façade of the National Museum. The frescoes and a number of stucco figurative three dimensional sculptures taken from the site are now on display in the National Museum.
The Church of Mar Elian is believed to date back to the early fifth century and to have been founded on the site of the saint's martyrdom in 284. Elian was a local physician who was murdered by his father, a Roman officer, for his Christian faith. He is widely venerated in Syria for miracles of healing. The church was built around a late antique marble sarcophagus decorated with crosses and located in a small side apse south of the main sanctuary of the church. In the 1970s fragments of frescoes and mosaics were discovered during a renovation programme in the chamber around the tomb, and some elements of the decoration possibly date back as far as the sixth century, though most of the frescoes are twelfth century. Today the church interior boasts frescoes of the life of Mar Elian and various biblical scenes painted by two Romanian artists.
The Church of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) in Sadad is a Syrian Orthodox Church that dates back to late antiquity. It is principally notable for its extremely rare C18th wall paintings commissioned by Bishop Dioskoros Sarukhan, who is reported to have died in Sadad on 11th February 1769 at the age of 110.
The images are unique not only because they are they only surviving C18th cycle on the entire region, but also for the information that they give us about the veneration of local saints. The scenes include Mar Musa al-Habashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian or Ethiopian) and Mar Elian esh-Sharqi (St. Julian the Old Man) both of whom have local monasteries named after them at Qaryatayn and Nabk respectively. Whereas Mar Elian is depicted on the medieval frescoes at Deir Mar Musa, this is the earliest known depiction of Mar Musa. Other unusual scenes include Jonah and the whale and portraits of Bishop Dioskoros and other bishops. There is also a notable, apparently C19th, icon of Mar Sarkis in the church. Before the civil war the paintings were being restored by a team from the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and these images were taken in 2008 when the work was underway.
Tags: C18th, Church, Deir Mar Musa, Dioskoros Sarukhan, Fresco, Jonah, Mar Elian esh-Sharqi, Mar Musa al-Habashi, Mar Sarkis, Nabk, Qaryatayn, Sadad, St. Julian the Old Man, St. Moses the Abyssinian, St. Moses the Ethiopian, St. Sergius, Syria
This church dates back to the C5th, but has been damaged and rebuilt many times over its history. Before the current civil war, it was last rebuilt in the 1990s having sustained damage in the 1982 offensive by the Syrian government against the Muslim Brotherhood in the city. Elements of the earliest structure do survive and it is particularly interesting for being a transverse-nave church, a type more usually found in the Tur Abdin region of Turkey.
Although Hama, then known as Epiphania, was an important Christian centre in late antiquity, more recently it had one of the smallest Christian communities in a major city. For that reason this entry is linked to nearby Homs, rather than treating Hama as a separate collection of data.