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Ar-Rasafeh:

 known in Roman times as Sergiopolis, was a city located in Syria. It is an archaeological site situated south-west of the city of Ar-Raqqah and the Euphrates. The site dates back to the 9th century BC, when a military camp was built by the Assyrians. During Roman times it was a desert outpost fortified to defend against the Sassanids. It flourished as its location on the caravan routes linking Aleppo, Dura Europos, and Palmyra was ideal. Ar-Rasafeh had no spring or running water, so it depended on large cisterns to capture the winter and spring rains. Ar-Rasafeh was planted right in the path of the Persian-Byzantine wars, and was therefore a well-defended city that had massive walls that surrounded it without a break. It also had a fortress. In the 4th century, it became a pilgrimage town for Christians coming to venerate Saint Sergius. Sergius was a Roman soldier who was persecuted for his Christian faith. Sergius was brought to Ar-Rasafeh for his execution, and there he became a martyr for the city. A church was built to mark his grave, and the city was renamed Sergiopolis .

History of Ar-Rasafah

The site dates to the 9th century BC, when a military camp was built by the Assyrians. During Roman times it was a desert outpost fortified to defend against the Sassanid Persians, and a station on the Strata Diocletiana. It flourished as its location on the caravan routes linking Aleppo, Dura Europos, and Palmyra was ideal.

Ar-Rasafeh was planted right in the path of the Roman–Persian wars, and was therefore a well-defended city that had massive walls that surrounded it without a break. It also had a fortress.

In the 4th century, it became a pilgrimage town for Christians coming to venerate Saint Sergius, a Christian Roman soldier said to have been martyred in Ar-Rasafeh during the Diocletianic Persecution. A church was built to mark his grave, and the city was renamed Sergiopolis. Indeed, it became the "most important pilgrimage center in Byzantine Oriens in [the] proto-Byzantine period", with a special appeal to the local Arabs, especially the Ghassanids.

In the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliph Hischam ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 724–743) made the city his favoured residence, and built several palaces around it, when the news of Holagu's crimes in Bagdad reached the inhabitants of Ar-Rasafeh, they left for Salamieh and deserted the area. Ar-Rasafeh remained with its huge buildings to tell about its glory.

Butheina Alnounou

Straight Street

Straight Street is the Roman street that runs from east to west in the old city of Damascus. It was visited by St. Paul as recorded in the book of Acts and contains several interesting sights from the Roman, Christian and Islamic periods.

Under the Greeks, the old city of Damascus was designed after the grid pattern designed by Hippodamus. Under Roman rule, the Via Recta(straight street), was widened and became a colonnaded thoroughfare (cardo). These columns can still be seen today.

The east end of Straight Street is at Bab Sharqi, the Roman gate of the Sun. Like other monumental gates, it has a large central arch for horse-drawn vehicles and two smaller arches on either side for pedestrians. There is a minaret above the northern arch, which was built at the time of Nuri ed-Din, in the 13th century,according to Sacred-destination.

 In Roman times, Straight Street was 26 meters wide and 1,570 meters long, lined on both sides with covered porticos containing shops. The present road follows the same line, starting at Bab Sharqi in the East, crossing the whole width of the ancient city of Damascus, and coming out at the end of Suq Madhat Pasha, 20 meters to the North of Bab Jabyeh on the western side. The present road is narrower than the ancient one, and about 4 meters above its original level.

Almost 700 meters to the west of Bab Sharqi is a Roman monumental arch that was excavated and rebuilt in 1947 by the Syrian Department of Antiquities. It is here that the intersection of Straight Street and the north-south Cardo Maximus has been located. On the right-hand side in ancient times stood a Byzantine church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and called Mariamyeh. Today, on the same site, stands a church which serves as the Seat of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate.

The eastern section of the street from the Bab Sharqi gate to the monumental arch is called Sharee al Mustaqueem, which is the Arabic word for 'straight', but it is also known as the Suq et-Tawil, which means 'the large market'. After the arch and all the way to the western end, the street is called Suq Madhat Pasha, and is lined with shops selling textiles, cotton, domestic articles, spices, imported objects and other interesting items. It forms a part of the large commercial complex of Suq el Hamidyeh.

About 450 metres from the western entrance of Madhat Pasha Street, in a stretch covered with a large metal dome, is a small mosque with a balcony in the form of a pulpit that serves as a minaret, called Jakmak or Sheikh Nabhan Mosque..

At the west end of Straight Street is the Arab Gate of the Water Trough, Bab al-Jabiye. This is where the Roman Temple of Jupiter once stood. The Mosque of Hisham (built in 1427), with fine stalactite design, is a bit further on. It is believed that the theater built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC was in this area.

Also nearby is St. Paul's Chapel, said to be where St. Paul fled by being dropped in a basket through a window in the wall.

M.W

DOLMEN GRAVES

 DAMASCUS, (ST) : Quneitra is rich in archaeological sites, Golan is full of  Dolmen  graves  which date back to the old Bronze Age.

According to Tishreen Daily, The word "Dolmen" is derived from  Ancient British language. It consists of the word ( DoL) which means table and the word ( men) which means stone.

These graves, located in the Occupied Golan, are circulated ones designed with a special  architectural style , height of 95 cm , thickness of 30 cm and length of 160 -210 cm .

At least seven distinguished samples of  Dolmen Graves have been discovered.

 Archaeologists pointed out that this large amount of tombs date back to the First Bronze Age ( 3000 – 3150 ) B.C.

H.SH   

Al-Dalieh: Charming Beauty Created by Nature

Being an attractive tourist resort, al-Dalieh village in Lattakia has witnessed remarkable tourist movement as a large number of people, mostly from the Syrian coastal area, visit it both in summer and winter to enjoy its beautiful nature.

Al-Dalieh, which is about 65 km away from Lattakia and about 800-1150m above the sea level, has got distinguished tourist and archaeological attractions enabling it in the future to be "a city hewn in the rock". During the French occupation of Syria, the area was used by Syrian revolutionaries as a burial site and as a hiding place so as to fight the occupation soldiers.

At the heart of the village, there is a large yard called "Sheikh Abdullah yard", which dates back to more than 400 years. Villagers and their visitors from other villages used to gather in the yard to celebrate social festivities and national occasions like the Evacuation Day in April 17th of every year. This feast is called by people of the Syrian coast as "al-Rabee'”.

Al-Dalieh is one of the Syrian coast villages which have so far maintained some traditional crafts as a means for living.

The "oven bread" baking profession, is among the naturally created jobs in the village. It is the grandparents' profession. Women, in particular, have contributed significantly to preserving the oven bread industry and to transferring it from one generation to another. In the past, most skillful girls in bread baking, were the luckiest and the soonest to marry. 

The straw industry is also among the famous folk household crafts in the village. It is often practiced by housewives during their leisure time and is considered as a source of living for the people of the area. One can rarely find a woman who doesn't master this craft in the village.

Amal Farhat

Magdlon al -Boustan : Permanent Green, Fresh Water Around the Year

Magdlon al-Boustan village is located on the slopes of a forest –clad mountain, about 8 kilometers to the west of Safita in Tartous. The fertile land of the village, which is irrigated by permanent Fresh water springs, is situated at the bottom of the slops.

Magdlon al-Boustan or "orchard’s heaven" was called so because of the wonderful orchards, particularly of citrus trees, that distinguished the village since old ages. These orchards have been associated with the existence of two water sources; "Aein al-Kanesah " and "Aein alkarm " in addition to the winter river of Ghamqa" which keeps running until the end of Spring.

The village is of great historical importance as it contains Phoenician and Byzantine ruins, including rooms, corridors, roads, bathrooms and old houses from which villagers benefited in building their houses.

 Between 1968 and 1969, two old stones were discovered in the village. The first had a rectangular shape on which scripts in three languages including the Roman and the Greek were written. The other was basaltic and had prismatic shape. On its faces, different shapes and pictures including a snake, a naked woman, a bunch of grapes and a child were drawn. These two pieces of antiquities were transferred to Tartous Museum.

Villagers have benefited from the beautiful nature of Magdlon al-Boustan and its fresh water springs, which cross the village from end to end, by setting up parks, restaurants and resorts on both sides.

Aein al-Kaneseh (eye of the church) spring has a historical significance as lots of ancient archeological sites, which go back to the Phoenicians, were discovered there, while Aein al-Karm spring was named so due to the citrus orchards which exist so close to it.

Amal Farhat