Mari, Redraw The Map Of The Ancient World


Mari was discovered in 1933, on the eastern flank of Syria, near the Iraqi border. A Bedouin tribe was digging through a mound for a gravestone that would be used for a recently deceased tribesman, when they came across a headless statue.

Mari has been excavated in annual campaigns published in Syria, 1933–39, 1951–75. The 21 seasons up to 1975 were led by Andre Parrot. Less than half of the 1000 x 600-meter area of Mari has been uncovered as of 2005. Although archaeologists have tried to determine how many layers the site descends, it has not proved possible as of 2008. According to the archaeologist André Parrot, "each time a vertical probe was commenced in order to trace the site's history down to virgin soil, such important discoveries were made that horizontal digging had to be resumed."

The Mari Tablets belong to a large group of tablets . More than 25,000 tablets in Akkadian were found in the Mari archives, which give information about the kingdom of Mari, its customs, and the names of people who lived during that time. More than 8,000 are letters; the remainder includes administrative, economic, and judicial texts. The tablets, according to Andre Parrot, "brought about a complete revision of the historical dating of the ancient Near East and provided more than 500 new place names, enough to redraw or even draw up the geographical map of the ancient world."[  Almost all of the tablets found were dated to the last 50 years of Mari's independence, and most have now been published. The language of the texts is official Akkadian .

 Mari had been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC, but the real significance of the city was during the third and second millennia BC.

The city flourished from about 2900 BC, since it was strategically important as a relay point between the Sumerian cities of lower Mesopotamia, and the cities of northern Syria. Sumer required building materials such as timber and stone from northern Syria, and these materials had to go through Mari to get to Sumer.

After a period of eminence, Mari was destroyed in the mid-24th century BC. This destruction brought a period of relative decline in importance in the region, and the city was reduced to no more than a small village. Historians are divided as to who destroyed the city.

The status of the city was revived again under an Amorite dynasty.   The royal palace of Zimri-Lim, a king of Mari, contained over 300 rooms. The palace was possibly the largest of its time, and its reputation in neighboring cities and kingdoms was well-known. The state archives were also built during this time.

Mari was destroyed again around 1759 BC by Hammurabii, sixth king of Babylon. This is known from the numerous state archives tablets that recount Hammurabi turning on his old ally Zimrilim, and defeating him in battle. After this destruction, it was inhabited sporadically by Assyrians and Babylonians .

The growth of the city from a small village to an important trading center was due to its diverse economy in the ancient world. The city came to control the trade lanes between different regions such as western Iran, Mesopotamia and parts of  Anatolia. Cities that Mari is confirmed to have traded with include Ur, Aleppo, and Ugarit. The cargo brought through the city grew to include dates, olives, pottery, grains and stone.


Maysa Wassouf




Damascus Names and Titles throughout History

 Throughout its long history, Damascus city had more than one name . In  their book, " Damascus Historical Landmarks", researchers Ahmad Ibish and Qutaiba Shehabi, mentioned a historical overview of the history of Damascus city and renamed reason. Among the several  names of Damascus mentioned by the researchers are:

Head of Aram  Countries,  as it is set out  in the Aramic Testament.

The city of Aramean Naaman Leper.

House of Rimmon, it is called so in  a proportion to its altar which is attributed to Rimmon Allodi.

The "Pleasing Village", this is one of its titles  mentioned in the Aramic testament.

The City of Lazarus, it is a proportion to the servant of the prophet Ibrahim.


Jeroen or Jeroen fort.

Dimitrias; which is the name of the Greek community affiliated to the city.

The Eye of East; it was called so by the Roman Emperor You  Lianos.

Al-Sham; which is the synonymous name of Damascus over the ages.

Sham Sharif; this title was launched by Ottoman Turks aiming at honoring Damascus.

Iram of the Pillars; it is named so for the large number of  columns in Damascus. They said also it is the city, Iram of the Pillars, which is mentioned in the Quran.

Virgin; this name is related to Virgin Mary.

Reed of Al-Sham; this title was used by a number of Muslims historians and geographers.

Marquee Muslims ; this title means the resort and sanctuary.

The Door of Kaaba; this title was given to Damascus in the heart of Islam.

The Paradise Land ; it was called so in several eras.

Fayhaa; is one of the most popular titles given to Damascus. It is called so because of its widespread green plains.

Amal Farhat


As'ad Pasha,finest khans of Damascus


Khan As'ad Pasha is the largest khan in the Old City of Damascus, covering an area of 2,500 square meters (27,000 sq.ft.). Situated along Al-Buzuriyah Souq, it was built and named after As'ad Pasha al-Azm, the governor of Damascus, in 1751-52. Khan As'ad Pasha has been described as one of the finest khans of Damascus, and the most "ambitious" work of architecture in the city.

The building follows a typical khan layout with two floors giving onto a central courtyard. Khan As'ad Pasha is entered from souq al-Buzuriyyah, through a monumental gateway decorated with stone carvings and roofed by a muqarnas semi-dome. The entrance leads to a square-shaped courtyard with old shops on the ground floor. The second floor, accessible by a staircase located to the right of the main entrance, was used mainly for lodging and has eighty rooms arranged along a gallery facing the courtyard.

The space of the central courtyard is divided into nine equal square modules, where each module is covered with a dome raised on a drum pierced with twenty windows. The domes are supported by pendent that transfer the load onto four piers and to the courtyard walls. An octagonal marble fountain occupies the center of the courtyard below the central dome. Each of the four courtyard walls has three doorways on the ground floor, flanked by two rectangular windows. The symmetry is maintained on the second floor where each gallery façade has three archways flanked by two smaller ones. The khan is built of alternating courses of basalt and limestone.

 Three of the courtyard domes were destroyed in an earthquake in 1758. The openings were covered with wooden planks until 1990 when the khan was restored and the domes rebuilt. At the beginning of the 20th century, Khan As'ad Pasha was no longer used for commercial purposes. Until its restoration in 1990, it was used for manufacturing and storage. Today, it is designated as a tourist site and hosts the Natural History Museum of Damascus.


Raghda Sawas




Bab Touma!

I was never upset by standing there while I was waiting hours for…

I used to hear laughter and listen to talks there.

I used to smell the various kinds of perfumes when the beautiful ladies passed by...

I used to smell the scents of fresh fruits and nuts.

That was the only place where I felt  satisfied.

In that place, I feel that all people like me, and I feel that I know every person.

Every trip from that place must have ended with a small bag of nuts.

Every story about love passed from that place.

Every bird must have flown over place to learn something.

And now, how can I stop my inner soul shedding tears of pain and agony!


Maher Taki

Damascus Citadel

Damascus Citadel, better known as "Qalaat Dimashq", is the only fortress in Damascus. It is located in the heart of the capital.

Historical records indicated that it was built by the Seljuks in 1078 A.D. with several gates. During the reign of Seljuks until 1104 and after, additional construction works were carried out in the citadel.

After attacks by the Crusaders and other invaders against the city of Damascus, some restorations were made in the citadel and more defenses were added to fortify the citadel against attacks. 

Between 1203 and 1216, King al-Adel, brother of the Ayyubid Sultan Salahuddin, ordered Damascus Citadel to be demolished only to be rebuilt again. Sons of King al-Adel contributed to the rebuilding of the citadel's towers and walls which took 15 years.

The castle was surrounded by a deep water trench. Each corner of the castle had a tower. There were two towers in the eastern side, one of which includes the eastern entrance to the castle, and three towers in the northern and southern fronts.

The towers are connected by thick walls, and behind the towers there is a roofed corridor around the castle securing the link between them and it is known as the defensive corridor.      

During the eras of Nur addin Zanki and Salahdin al-Aaubi, the Citadel played a vital role in protecting Damascus from the threat of Crusaders, and supported the politics of the city.

Since it was built, the citadel was a very important military castle. It was the residence for the Ayyubid sultans, and a place where political and social events were held.

It was a city within a city. New parts were discovered during its restoration in 1985, so the citadel could be seen from all sides. 

 The citadel `was surrounded by palaces, baths, mosques, houses and schools.

In mid-thirteenth century, however, the citadel was the main target for Tatar and Mongol attacks which damaged it severely.

When the Mongols were driven out by the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Qutuz, in the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, his successor Baibars rebuilt the citadel.

Between 1300 and 1401, Damascus Citadel was again under siege by Mongols, this time under Timor Lank.  In 1405, the Mamluks ruled Damascus, and the citadel was rebuilt again. However, Damascus and the citadel were surrendered to the Ottomans in 1516.

During the 18th century Damascus Citadel was badly damaged by earthquakes, but was restored by the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III.

Later, the citadel was used as military barracks and  as prison under the French Colonization.

The present shape of the citadel is rectangular with 13 large towers and several dilapidated gates.

Damascus Citadel is really unique in Syria, as it was built on a flat ground at the same level of the rest of the city and not on a higher location.

One of the most important monuments in the citadel is the mosque of Abi al-Dardaa, one of Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) companions whose tomb is still being visited.

Damascus citadel is considered as a symbol of old and modern civilization in Damascus, the most ancient continuously inhabited city in the world.

Raghda Sawas