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The ancient Syrian city of Amrit, the cradle of the Olympic Games

Damascus (ST): The ancient city of Amrit lies on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea telling a story of more than five thousand years old of the Syrian civilization in which sport was a life and its archaeological stadium, the oldest historical stadiums attests to it.

The historical city of Amrit is located 7 km to the south of Tartous Governorate, and its antiquities extend over an area of 6 km2. This city was founded in the Amorite era and was mentioned by historians of the era of Alexander the Macedonian as Maratos and described as a very prosperous city and perhaps the largest city in the East.

 

Among the archaeological monuments is the temple of Amrit, which dates back to the 6th century BC. According to the Arab encyclopedia the temple was dedicated to the God Malqart, who is the healer of diseases, and his statue was placed in the Mihrab as indicated by a Phoenician writing found near the site.

As for the ancient Amrit stadium, which is considered by historians to be one of the oldest historical sports stadiums, it had a 230-meter-long section located on the slope of the right bank of the Amrit River, and it had 7 seating degrees, each with a width of 55 cm, in which jogging and chariot races used to be held.

The stadium dates back to at least the fifteenth century BC and is located in a natural cavity between two hills in the shape of the letter U in English and is surrounded by 10 stairs, each about 60 cm high, carved with lime and stone. It accommodated about 12 thousand people and included entrances carved in rocks for players and facilities attached to the management of matches. The Amrit River near the stadium was used for water sports such as swimming, diving and rowing.

This stadium also included, according to archaeological excavations, a wrestling arena, a track  and a closed gymnasium that was used for training. The design of the stadium is identical to that found in Olympia, Greece, confirming that Amrit preceded the Greeks in inventing the stadiums for sports matches.

 

K.Q.

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