WONDERFUL MIDDLE EAST ASIA

 

 

  SYRIA

 

 

BOSRA

 

Bosra (also called Bozrah or Bostra; Arabic: Busra ash-Sham) is an ancient city 67 miles (108 km) south of Damascus. Once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, Bosra was an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca.
Bosra's most impressive feature is its superbly well-preserved Roman theater, complete with tall stage buildings. And there are also early Christian ruins and several old mosques to be found within its great walls.
Originally a Nabataean city, Bosra was conquered by the Roman emperor Trajan and made the capital of the Roman province of Arabia. It served as a key Roman fortress east of the Jordan River. The city eventually achieved the title "metropolis" under the Roman emperor Philip, who was a native of the city.
Bosra became a Christian bishopric early in the 4th century and ruins of two early churches can still be seen today. The city fell to the Muslims in 634/635; the ruins of ancient mosques can be seen from this period. As it was situated at the crossroads of trade routes, Bosra was a stop-off point for Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca and Medina.
The Crusaders captured Bosra in the 12th century but failed to hold it. In the same century earthquakes, together with Turkish misrule, hastened its decline.

 

Bosra

 

The monumental remains of temples, theatres, triumphal arches, aqueducts, reservoirs, churches, mosques, and a 13th-century citadel stretch over the modern site.
The famous-for-a-reason Roman theater of Bosra was built in the 2nd century AD and could seat up to 15,000 people. The acoustics were carefully designed so that even those in the cheap seats could hear the actors. The stage was 45 meters wide and 8 meters deep.
In its heyday, the theater was faced with marble and draped in silk hangings, and during performances a fine mist of perfumed water was sprayed over the patrons to keep them comfortable in the desert heart. A large area in front of the stage may have been used for circuses or gladiatorial shows.
A fortress was built around the theater during the Omayyad and Abbasid periods, which accounts for its excellent state of preservation. Unlike many other Roman theaters, which were built into a hillside, Bosra's theater is freestanding.
Other Roman sites at Bosra include the palatial Roman baths, monumental gates and some fine Corinthian columns.
The 13th-century wall still envelopes the theater today. When the Arabs conquered Bosra they immediately blocked all the doors and opening of the ancient theater with thick walls, transforming it into a citadel. But the new threats posed by the Crusaders rendered these early defences inadequate; so in the mid-11th century three towers were built, jutting out from the Roman building; nine other bigger ones followed, between 1202 and 1251.
From the theater a narrow road with ancient pavement runs alongside the southern baths before coming to the decumanus, near a triple arch known as Bab al Kandil (the Gate of the Lantern). It was built in the 3rd century in honour of the Third Cyrenaica Legion, stationed here at Bosra. A double-storied archway marks the western entrance to the city, Bab al Hawa, the Gate of the Wind.
Turning right along the decumanus, one encounters a group of slender columns. The first four, set at an angle to the street, are believed to the remains of a Nymphaeun. On the other side of the street, two columns 25 meters apart, one of which is joined to the neighbouring wall by a rich entablature, are said to have been part of a kalybea, a religious building unique to this region.
The eastern exit to the town was marked by an archway which, unlike the Gate of the Wind (to the west), is said to date from the first century, the Nabatean period. This is the only known Nabatean gateway outside of Petra in Jordan.
Outside of the Nabatean gate on the left are the ruins of the Sts. Sergius, Bacchus and Leontus Cathedral, built in 512. It was the first domed building to be built on a square ground plan. The cathedral is said to have been part of Emperor Justianian's inspiration for the Hagia Sophia.
About 30 meters to the north of the cathedral is a 3rd or 4th century basilica whose walls are intact up to roof level. This is the site of the famous encounter between Bahira and Mohammad. Bahira was a Nestorian Christian monk who is said to have met the Prophet Muhammad when he was 12 years of age. He noticed the seal of prophecy and foretold that the Prophet would have a great future.

 

Stage of Roman theatre

 

The Mosque of Omar in the centre of the town began as a pagan temple. It is the only mosque surviving from the early Islamic period to preserve its original facades, and all its columns remain in place. Many bear inscriptions in Greek, Latin or Nabatean. Its fine square minaret dates from the 12th century.
The al Khidr mosque is one of Bosra's oldest Islamic structures. Built out of black basalt in 1134 on the site of an earlier mosque, its 12-meter-high minaret was built over a meter away from the mosque. Arabic inscriptions can be seen in the plaster above the mihrab.
The al Mabrak Mosque, which recalls a visit by the Prophet Mohammed to Bosra, is in the northeast outskirts of the city. Thousands of graves, with great steal of black basalt on them, keep watch at the foot of its walls. There is an enormous cistern which, at 120 meters by 150 meters is one of the largest the Romans ever built.
The Manjak Hammam, dating back to 1372, is a prototype of Mamluk architecture. Founded by Manjak Al Youssoufi (Governor of the Damascus province), this was the last Islamic structure to be built in Bosra. It shows how important this town was up until late in the Middle Ages.

 


Entrance early Orthodox Church

 

Druze, Middle Eastern religious sect and its members, who live mainly in mountainous regions of Lebanon and southern Syria. The members, also called Druse, are an industrious people who have terraced the mountainsides with soil brought from river valleys. Their religion completely dominates their habits and customs.

The basis of the Druze religion is the belief that at various times God has been divinely incarnated in a living person and that his last, and final, such incarnation was al-Hakim (al-Hakim bi-Amrih Allah), the sixth Fatimid caliph, who announced himself at Cairo about 1016 as the earthly incarnation of God. In 1017 the new religion found an apostle in Hamzah ibn Ali ibn Ahmad, who became vizier to Hakim. Hamzah gave the religion form and content and coordinated its various dogmas into a single creed. The religion probably derives its name from al-Darazi (Muhammad ibn-Ismail al-Darazi), an 11th-century follower of Hakim.
 


Altar

 

The Druze believe that in Hakim God made a final appeal to humans to redeem themselves and that God, incarnated as Hakim, would again return to establish the primacy of his religion. The religion itself is an outgrowth of Islam but is admixed with elements of Judaism and Christianity. The Druze believe in one God, whose qualities cannot be understood or defined and who renders impartial justice. They do not believe in proselytizing. The seven cardinal principles to which they adhere are as follows: (1) veracity in dealing with each other, (2) mutual protection and assistance, (3) renunciation of other religions, (4) belief in the divine incarnation of Hakim, (5) contentment with the works of God, (6) submission to his will, and (7) separation from those in error and from demons. The Druze believe in the transmigration of souls, with constant advancement and final purification. The teachings demand abstinence from wine and tobacco and from profanity and obscenity. The Druze do not pray in a mosque. Meetings for prayer and religious instruction, held on Thursday evenings, take place in inconspicuous buildings outside their villages. In order to protect their religion and not divulge its secret teachings, they worship as Muslims when among Muslims, and as Christians when among Christians. Jesus Christ is acknowledged by the Druze as one of the divine incarnations.

 

Church floor mosaic of the map of the Eastern Roman Empire

 

The Druze were under the nominal rule of Turkey from the 16th century until 1918, during World War I, but they maintained virtual autonomy by their fierce opposition to any forces sent by the sultans to subjugate them. In 1860 a conflict broke out between the Maronites, Syrian Christians in communion with the pope, and the Druze, in the course of which several thousand Maronites were killed and large numbers driven from their homes. European powers intervened to protect the Christians, and a French force occupied Lebanon for nearly a year. A Christian governor-general was appointed administrator in 1864, and a large measure of autonomy was conferred on Lebanon. These events marked the end of the political importance of the Lebanese Druze, who until 1918 remained an aloof, conservative community.
 

Orang Druze
 

The Syrian Druze were engaged periodically in struggles against the Turkish government until 1910, mainly on the questions of taxes and military service. During World War I most of the Druze remained neutral. On September 1, 1918, however, an armed force of Syrian and Lebanese Druze gave assistance to the Arab leader Faisal, who in turn helped British forces capture the city of Damascus a month later. Late in 1920 the Druze entered into negotiations with the French government, which controlled Syria through a mandate from the League of Nations. On March 4, 1921, an agreement was concluded that granted autonomy to the Syrian plateau region of Jabal ad-Duruz. In April 1925 the Druze petitioned the French authorities for a hearing to discuss French breaches of the agreement. On July 11, 1925, General Maurice Sarrail, the high commissioner for the French mandate, ordered his delegate at Damascus to summon the Druze representatives. On arrival the petitioners were seized and exiled by the French to the distant oasis of Palmyra, precipitating a Druze revolt that gave impetus to the independence struggles of Syria and Lebanon.

According to the latest available statistics, the Druze in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan number about 350,000. Because of the Druze practice of outwardly conforming to the faith of the people among whom they live, their exact number is difficult to determine.

 

 

 

EUPHRATES RIVER

 

Kota-kota menggunakan waterwheels sungai Euphrates di Syria

 

Euphrates (Arabic Al Furāt, Turkish Furāt), river in southwest Asia, rising in Turkey and flowing through Syria and Iraq before joining the Tigris to form the Shatt al Arab. The Euphrates, along with the Tigris River, provided much of the water that supported the development of ancient Mesopotamian culture (see Mesopotamia). Mesopotamia literally means "between the rivers" in Greek, and this area was the site of such early states as Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria.

 

 

Fortifications at Halebiye

The Euphrates is 2,700 km (1,700 mi) long and drains an area of 444,000 sq km (171,000 sq mi). Although less than 30 percent of the river’s drainage basin is in Turkey, roughly 94 percent of the river’s water originates in the Turkish highlands. The Korasuyu (Karasu), the Murat, and several other Turkish rivers join near Elāzżš, in east central Turkey, to form the upper Euphrates. The Euphrates reaches Syria 120 km (75 mi) northeast of the city of Ḩalab (Aleppo). In eastern Syria it is joined by the Khābūr River, a major tributary originating in southeastern Turkey.

 

Sungai Euphrates

The course of the Euphrates roughly parallels that of the Tigris River; shortly after the rivers enter Iraq they are never more than 160 km (100 mi) apart. In northern Iraq the Euphrates forms the western boundary of the area known as Al Jazīrah (Arabic for "The Island"), while the Tigris forms the eastern boundary. To the southeast the alluvial lands between the two rivers was the site of the glorious Babylonian civilization of ancient times. After flowing within 40 km (25 mi) of the Tigris, the Euphrates splits into two branches, and comes together again 180 km (110 mi) away. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers join in southeastern Iraq near Al Qurnah to form the Shatt al Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.

Dura Europos
(Roman fortification on its Euphrates frontier)

The Euphrates has an average annual flow of 28 billion cu m (990 billion cu ft); the flow is heaviest in the months of April and May. Major cities on the Euphrates include Ar Raqqah and Dayr az Zawr in Syria, and Karbalā’, Al Hillah, and An Najaf in Iraq.

Foundations of a pre Constantine Christian church in Dura Europos
(only after Constantine became Roman Emperor, 300 AD,
was government money used to built churches)

 

Too shallow for navigation by all but small boats, the Euphrates is important solely for its water supply. The river is the source of significant political tension, as Turkey, Syria, and Iraq all compete for the use of its waters for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectric power. Turkey will divert a significant amount of Euphrates water as part of a long-term plan for the development of rural Anatolia.

Resafe
church built in 600 AD by ANASTASIA, first Byzantine Emperor

This plan, called the Southeast Anatolia Project, or GAP for its Turkish acronym, involves the construction of 22 dams and 19 power plants by 2005 to capitalize on the steep descent of the Euphrates from the Anatolian mountains. The centerpiece of GAP is Atatürk Dam, one of the largest dams in the world. It was completed in 1990. The reservoir behind the dam covers an area of 816 sq km (315 sq mi) and requires periodic one-month interruptions in the flow of the river for filling.

Rossafa
Fortified by Byzantine Emperor JUSTINIAN

 

Downstream, the decrease in the flow of the Euphrates is of serious concern to Syria, which has invested heavily in power generation and irrigation from its Euphrates dam, the Al Thawrah, or Revolution, Dam. Completed in 1973 in north central Syria, the dam creates a reservoir of 640 sq km (247 sq mi) called the Assad Reservoir.

 

Assad dam and reservoir

 

GAP has reduced the volume of the reservoir and thus the amount of power generated by the dam’s hydroelectric facility. Iraq, in turn, has protested the use of Euphrates water associated with Syria’s project, and war between the two was only narrowly averted in 1975. Agriculture in Iraq, which is carried out under extremely arid conditions, is dependent on the supply of water from the river system. Fluctuations in flow, whether from month to month or year to year, make Iraqi agriculture particularly vulnerable to drought or supply shortages. A dam at Ḩadīthah, in west central Iraq, was completed in 1986 to provide a water reserve for the country, but its usefulness has been limited.

 

 

The river bank

 

Since the 1950s a flood-control project on the Tigris has allowed the diversion of water from that basin through the Tharthar depression in central Iraq and into the Euphrates, but this, too, has been of limited value in solving water supply problems. Iraq also must deal with high salt content in the Euphrates, a result of leaching and chemical applications in upstream areas.

 

Agriculture of sheep and goats

 

 


    

GOD IS THE LORD WHO DOES MIRACLES

 

 

         

 

 

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