The madrasa is an Islamic school that was built by Nur al-Din (1118-1174) on the apse of the former Byzantine cathedral of Aleppo. The capitals are very close stylistically to those at Qalat Seman, suggesting that the church was originally built in the second half of the fifth century. Beside the steps down into the madrasa is a large basalt block inscribed with Christian symbols and some Syriac words. Its placement seems designed to underline Islamic supremacy over the former Christian owners of the site.
Tags: Aleppo, Architecture, Basalt, Byzantine, C12th, C5th, Capital, Cathedral, Church, Inscription, Madrasa, Madrasa Halawiyeh, Nur al-DIn, Qalat Seman, Sculpture, Syria, Syriac, Syriac Inscription
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 is one of two monastery complexes in Dayr Seman, which when it was visited and photographed in 1997 was in a very good state of preservation and partially inhabited by a Kurdish family. The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) later evicted them, but it may now be reinhabited.
Dayr Tell Ada stands on the southern slopes of Jebel Sheikh Barakat (the Mountain of the Old Man of Blessings) and plays a large role in the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church. It was mentioned by Theodoret and other chroniclers as the place where Simeon Stylites began his monastic career, before being expelled for the extreme feats of mortification that he insisted on undertaking. It was a 'dual house' for both Syriac and Greek speakers and had two abbots - one for each language - at the time of Theodoret.
It later became the home of St Jacob of Edessa, who died at Tell Ada in 708 having returned to pack up his fabled library when he moved home to Edessa.
Tags: Architecture, Dayr Tell Ada, Edessa, Greek, Jebel Seman, Jebel Sheikh Barakat, Library, Limestone Massif, Monastery, Simeon Stylites, St. Jacob of Edessa, Syria, Syriac, Theodoret
Dayr Yakub is a C5th monastery on the edge of the suburbs to the south of Urfa. The monastery is built on the top of a hill above an ancient quarry and clearly appropriated the site of a former pagan sanctuary. The earlier cult complex was also used as a necropolis as well as a place of sacrifice as a Palmyrene-style tomb tower, complete with a Syriac inscription, was incorporated into the later monastery buildings.
Soǧmatar (also referred to as Sumatar Harabesi) was the centre of an ancient shrine to a deity known as Marilaha (Lord God). This is known from a number of C2nd AD Syriac inscriptions cut into the summit of a high rock outcrop. The approach to this ritual high place also had reliefs of the sun and moon gods cut into the rock. Nearby is a cave, referred to as the Pognon cave after the first European to record the site, with carved images of gods and a number of Syriac inscriptions that was obviously used for some kind of funerary or cult practice, A large circular building that shows some affinities with Zoroastrian 'towers of silence' completes the grouping of monuments, but the exact function of the last mentioned element has yet to be fully understood. What is clear is that this was not a permanently occupied town, but rather a holy place of pilgrimage where the faithful would gather for key festivals. These would be officiated at by priests, but whether these religious personages lived at Soǧmatar all the time or not is unclear.
The Syrian Orthodox Church of SS. Peter and Paul has dedicatory inscriptions dated 1861 on the west entrance but appears to include elements of an older church. It is now called the Vali Kemalettin Gazezoğlu Cultural Centre.
Entrance to Urfa citadel, the man-made moat cut around the eastern and southern sides of the Citadel and the remaining standing architecture in the interior, including the two C3rd columns. There is also evidence of classical spolia reused in various sections of the citadel.
Sculpture, C4th-C6th? Urfa Museum.
Sculpture, C2nd-C4th? Urfa Museum.