- Collection: Resafa
These pictures were taken on a visit to Resafa in December 1992.
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.
This basilica has been known as the 'Basilica of the Holy Cross' in the past, but that attribution has now been discredited. After the partition of the city in the aftermath of the Arab expansion, which disrupted the local Arab federation, the relics of the saint (Sergius) were translated to the basilica and it became the focal point of his cult.
Pictures of several structures that have been excavated in the vicinity of the Cardo Maximus near the C5th martyrium.
Located in the Syrian desert approximately 25 kilometres south of the River Euphrates, Resafa depended on capturing seasonal rainwater and irrigation systems for its water. This water was then stored in large cisterns until needed.
The impressively preserved city walls of Resafa are the subject of some debate when regards to their age and to who's reign their construction can be credited to. Scholars seem to be split as to whether they were constructed in the reigns of the Emperor Anastasius (491-518 AD) or the Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). Procopius' attributes the first stone wall to the reign of Justinian. However this cannot be wholly accepted as fact as Procopius' accounts are occasionally deliberately misleading and sometimes wholly inaccurate. The most well preserved and impressive of the gates still extant is the Sura Gate on the north side of the city.
Regardless of which reign they were constructed in the defences do seem to be Late Antique. The walls, their covered galleries, the towers and gates were well preserved when I visited in 2010. As a result of the civil war their current condition is hard to ascertain.
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.
This is a small ruinous chapel located in the north-eastern quarter of 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.