- Collection: The Limestone Massif of North-Western Syria
The church of Bennawi, south of Aleppo, was reported destroyed by the 1950s when Georges Tchalenko undertook his monumental three volume study of the Syrian Limestone Massif. The basalt "bema throne" or pulpit was preserved and is now in the garden of the National Museum in Damascus.
This church is a relatively large size considering that it stands directly to the north of the cathedral-sized Church of Julianos in Brad. An inscription dates it to 561.
Brad is on a high plateau in one of the more inaccessible areas of the Jebel Seman and was a large town in late antiquity, famous in hagiographical sources as the birthplace of St. Maroun. The Church of Julianos has been dated by inscriptions to 399-402 and is one of the largest churches in the region, with the remains of a large bema still visible and a side apse to the north and the west wall being the best preserved elements of the site at the time of visit. Much of the stone seemed to have been reused in the construction of local dwellings.
Burj Baqirha is the local name given to a C2nd Roman temple that survives on the hill above the settlement of that name overlooking the Syrian-Turkish border.
Burj Heidar is on Jebel Seman and was one of the sites that had changed the most since being visited by Tchalenko in the 1940s. The church had been incorporated into a smallholding and the arcades stood in a field, with only the side apse to the south still extant to the east. No evidence of the bema remained when these pictures were taken in 1997.
The slides were developed in Syria and scuffed in the process and the hazy quality of some of the black and white images is due to the fact that this site was reached late in the afternoon, which affected the light quality.
This small chapel in Burjke was being used as an animal shed in 1997 and was perfectly preserved beside the road leading to Faferteen.
This C6th church is unusual for having a nave that is almost transverse. Although this type of floorpan is a known element of churches in the Tur Abdin region of south eastern Turkey, it is very unusual to find this design this far south.
The city of Cyrrhus lies to the north of the Limestone Massif near the contemporary Syrian-Turkish border. Today it is known locally as Nebi Uri as a late antique tomb on the site is believed by the local population to be the tomb of the Old Testament prophet Uriah. Apart from the tomb, the most notable remains still extant are the Roman bridge and amphitheatre - there is little clear evidence above ground of the Christian city that played a significant role in the C5th church councils thanks to the participation of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus.
The Church of SS. Paul and Moses is an early C5th building in the village of Dar Qita on the plain near the contemporary Syrian-Turkish border. It has been used for stabling animals and a significant amount of stone has been stolen from the site.
Dayr Seman is the village at the foot of the hill on which Qalat Seman stands and was the main reception centre for the many pilgrims who flocked to visit Simon Stylites, and after his death in 459, the pillar that he stood on. These are general views of the settlement and the triumphal arch that marked the path for pilgrims travelling to Qalat Seman.