Palmyrena: Palmyra and the Surrounding Territory from the Roman to the Early Islamic Period 1784917079, 9781784917074

This book is the first investigation of the relationship between Palmyra and its surrounding territory from the Roman to

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Palmyrena: Palmyra and the Surrounding Territory from the Roman to the Early Islamic Period
 1784917079, 9781784917074

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Table of contents :
Cover
Copyright Page
Contents Page
List of Figures
Preface
Introduction
Figure 1 La Palmyrène du nord-ouest. (PNO fig. 1).
Figure 2 Village of Marzouga in the northern part of Jebel Chaar (PNO fig. 17).
Figure 3 The sanctuary of Abgal at Kheurbet Semrine in the central part of Jebel Abyad (PNO fig. 5).
Figure 4 Relief from Kheurbet Semrine. To the left the god Abgal, to the right the god Achar mounted on horses. (PNO 56; 146; pl. XXII, 1).
Figure 5 The building at Rasm ech Chaar (PNO fig. 18).
Figure 6 Concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 7 Abandoned building at Wadi Giffa southeast of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 8 Dust storm in Palmyra May 2008 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 9 Byzantine/Umayyad handles from Khaleed al-Ali (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 15 Topography of the Palmyrene hinterland (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 16 Drainage from the mountains north of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 17 The landscape at Wadi al-Butmiya 90 km southeast of Palmyra in late April 2006 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 18 Present day precipitation in Syria (Gidske Andersen, University in Bergen).
Figure 19 Vegetation in the protected area at Hwesys northwest of Palmyra in late April 2007 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 20 Terebinth trees in the western part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 21 Population of Terebinth trees in the eastern part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 22 Distribution of springs, wells and cisterns in the southern part of the survey area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 23 Distribution of settlements north of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 24 Distribution of settlements on Jebel Chaar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 25 Site JC13 in the southern part of Jebel Chaar, visited by the author together with the Syrian-Canadian Oil Company (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 26 Distribution of settlement on Jebel Merah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 29 Kheurbet el Fayéh on Jebel Bilaas (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 30 Kheurbet el Fayeh on Jebel Bilaas (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 31 Al-Bwêẓa (JR09) on Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 32 Former Bedouin fields in Wadi Masaadé (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 33 Small wadi west of Palmyra after a short shower in the Jebel Abyad area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 34 The surface of the bādiya on Jebel Chaar in the springtime (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 35 Displaced bitumen pavement northwest of Jebel Merah after heavy showers (J.C. Meyer)
Figure 38 Crushing basin for oil production at site JC21 at Jebel Sorrate ech Chéfé (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 39 The oasis of Arak northeast of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 40 Qanat in Arak
Figure 41 Qanat in Wadi al-Qseïbé west of Arak (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 42 At-Tarfa depression (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 43 The fort of al-Klejbijje (Palmyrena 135, fig. 32)
Figure 44 The fort of al-Klejbijje
Figure 45 Al-Karasi altars (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 46 Al-Karasi alters. Hand holding ears of corn
Figure 47 The Harbaqah dam (J.C. Meyer)
Figure 48 The catchment area behind the Harbaqah dam (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 49 Qasr al-Heir al Gharbi (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 50 Aqueduct north of the castle leading to the birket, water reservoir, and the garden (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 51 The Harbaqah dam (Poidebard 1934, pl. XXXIII).
Figure 52 The Harbaqah fort (Poidebard 1934, pl. XXXII).
Figure 53 The Harbaqah fort (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 54 The Harbaqah dam. The inner side of the wall (Jabbur 1995, 57, fig. 6).
Figure 55 Distribution of forts and stations north of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 56 The ascent to the northern plateau from Wadi Abyad. In the background, the eastern side of Jebel Merah (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 57 Distribution of Aramaic inscriptions southeast of Palmyra and Safaitic inscriptions north and southeast of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 58 Inscription from Hawiyya bir Jalaʽut south of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 59 Safaitic inscription with drawing from Jebel Qurma in northeastern Jordan, showing camel attacked by two lions (Peter M.M.G. Akkermans).
Figure 60 Sites in the Wadi Abyad area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 61 Overview of Wadi Abyad, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 62 Overview of the southern part of Wadi Abyad from the ridge of Jebel Abyad, above al-Khaïrim (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 63 Al-Khaïrem area (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).
Figure 64 Al-Khaïrem. Tell, building and enclosure (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 65 Al-Khaïrem. Overview from the northwest (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 78 Awtayt. Blocks from monumental building in the spring area (Kjetil Bortheim).
Figure 79 Awtayt. Blocks from monumental building on the plain below the spring area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 80 Awtayt. Block from monumental building on the plain below the spring area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 81 Awtayt. Roman cooking pot (2nd ‒ 3rd century) from the building in the spring area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 82 Bir al-Dnejn. Corral on the plain below the spring area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 83 Majouf area
Figure 84 Majouf. The valley, looking W (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 85 Majouf. Plan of the building (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 86 Majouf. Fragment of terracotta water pipe (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 92 Quéchel. Well 2 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 95 Quéchel. Qanat, looking E (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 96 Bir Jouâae’d (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 97 Bir Jouâae’d. Well (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 98 Wadi Abyad dam in the southern part of the Wadi Abyad basin (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 100 Wadi Abyad Basin. Traces of canals (J.C. Meyer, based on Corona Atlas of the Middle East).
Figure 99 Wadi Abyad Basin. Traces of canals (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 105 Antaar. Fragment from burial tower (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 106 Antaar. Fragment from small aqueduct (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 107 Antaar. Inscription from burial tower, Museum of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 108 Jebel Abyad and Wadi al-Takara area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 109 JA306. Wadi Kshebah
Figure 110 JA306. Wadi Kshebah overview from the north (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 111 JA306. Wadi Kshebah. Tombs
Figure 112 Valley Kshebah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 113 Al-Mazraah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 121 Tweihina (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 122 Tweihina. Overview, looking E (J. Krzywinski).
Figure 123 Tweihina. The promontory with the fort
Figure 124 Tweihina. View from the fort towards Wadi al-Takara (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 125 Tweihina. Plan of the fort (PNO 49, fig. 20).
Figure 126 Tweihina. The southern rooms and the courtyard of the fort
Figure 127 Tweihina. Building A in Wadi Masek (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 130 Tweihina. Shrine A and Tomb B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 131 Tweihina. Tomb B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 132 Tweihina. Shrine B, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 133 Tweihina. Worked stones southeast of the promontory (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 134 Tweihina. Supply channel of cistern 3, looking S. In the background, the western supply channel of cistern 1 on the western side of Wadi Masek (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 135 Tweihina. Supply channel of cistern 3 cut into the rock (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 136 Tweihina. Inscription north of cistern 3 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 137 Tweihina. ‘Sun disc’ cut into the rock south of cistern 3 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 140 Shalala. The triangular plain (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).
Figure 141 Shalala. The northeastern part of the plain, looking SE. In the center the tell with buildings
Figure 142 Shalala. Buildings on the plain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 143 Shalala. Building A, B and C
Figure 144 Shalala. Northwestern corner of building A. In the background the tell with building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 145 JA25. Hilltop structure (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).
Figure 146 JA26. Rock-cut tombs (N. Anfinset).
Figure 147 Al-Matna. The triangular valley (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 150 Wadi al-Takara, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 151 Northern end of Wadi al-Takara with the entrance to Wadi al Masek and the watershed to the Plain of Jazal (J.C. Meyer)
Figure 152 Wadi al-Takara S (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 153 Wadi al-Takara S. Building on hilltop and cistern 1, looking SW. In the background the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 154 Wadi al-Takara S. Hilltop building
Figure 155 Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 156 Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure
Figure 157 Al-Khoula
Figure 158 Al-Khoula
Figure 159 Al-Khoula. Wadi al-Khoula, looking SW. In the foreground, the outlet from the supply channels on the hilltop to Cistern 3 and 4 below. In the background Wadi al-Takara (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 160 Al-Khoula. Corral C
Figure 161 Al-Khoula. Corral D (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 162 Al-Khoula. Corral E (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 163 WT42, cross-wadi wall (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 164 WT42, cross-wadi wall, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 165 Wadi al-Takara N (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 166 Wadi al-Takara N, looking E
Figure 169 Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 170 Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments
Figure 171 Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 172 Wadi al-Takara N. Islamic burial ground on the western bank of the wadi (J.C.Meyer).
Figure 173 Bir Jazal. The triangular plain, looking NW (J.C. Meyer).
Survey
Survey area, methodology and implementation
Survey area and strategy
Local knowledge
The impact of modern activities in the survey area
Chronology of the sites
Topography and climate
Water supply
Wells, springs and cisterns
Cisterns and water harvesting systems
Spring areas
Wells
Chronology of wells and cisterns
Sources of water and settlement pattern
Villages and estates
The food supply of Palmyra
Distribution of villages north of Palmyra
Conditions for agriculture and horticulture
Evidence of agriculture and horticulture north of Palmyra
Evidence of agriculture and horticulture east and west of Palmyra
The Harbaqah Dam
The food supply of Palmyra
Forts and stations
Lines of communication
Palmyrene control of the territory
Khans or stations along the route to the north?
Nomads in Palmyrene territory
Conclusion
Gazetteer of surveyed sites
Wadi Abyad
Al-Khaïrem
Awtayt
Bir al-Dnejn
Majouf
Ouéchel
Bir Jouâae’d
WA01-02. Canals and walls
Antaar
Jebel Abyad
JA306. Wadi Kshebah
JA378. Wadi Kshebah
Valley Kshebar
Al-Mazraah
Tweihina (Tahoun al-Masek)
Shalala
JA25. Hilltop structure
JA26
Al-Matna
Wadi al-Takara
Al-Takara S
Al-Khoula
WT42, cross-wadi wall
Al-Takara N
Jazal
Bir Jazal
Jebel Chaar
Madaba
Wadi Jihar – Wadi Masaadé – Wadi Khabar
Bir al-Arfa. Wadi Jihar
WJ01. Wadi Jihar
WJ071. Wadi Jihar
Zer Dghelar. Wadi Jihar
WJ098. Wadi Jihar
WJ538. Wadi Jihar
Shanaeh. Wadi Masaadé
Khabar. Wadi Khabar
Wadi Masaadé, WM01
Jebel Merah
JMW073
Jebel Merah West
JMW035
JMW079
JMW083
JMW089
JMW161
JMW171. Cistern
JMW172
JME215
JMW183 Cistern
JMW190 Cistern
JMW196 Cistern
JMW198 Cistern
JMW199. Cistern
Jebel Merah East
JME222
JME202
JME208. Cistern
JME374
JME209
JME330
JME320
JME318
JME304
JME291
JME298
JME252
JME231
JME245. Cistern
JME247. Cistern
JME256. Cistern
JME257
JME232
JME255. Cistern
JME300
Figure 146. JA26. Rock-cut tombs (N. Anfinset).
Figure 147. Al-Matna. The triangular valley (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 148. Al-Matna. The triangular valley seen from the Hilltop (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 149. Al-Matna. Corral D (Nils Anfinset).
Figure 150. Wadi al-Takara, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 151. Northern end of Wadi al-Takara with the entrance to Wadi al Masek and the watershed to the Plain of Jazal (J.C. Meyer)
Figure 152. Wadi al-Takara S (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 153. Wadi al-Takara S. Building on hilltop and cistern 1, looking SW. In the background the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 154. Wadi al-Takara S. Hilltop building
Figure 155. Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 156. Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure
Figure 157. Al-Khoula
Figure 159. Al-Khoula. Wadi al-Khoula, looking SW. In the foreground, the outlet from the supply channels on the hilltop to Cistern 3 and 4 below. In the background Wadi al-Takara (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 160. Al-Khoula. Corral C
Figure 161. Al-Khoula. Corral D (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 162. Al-Khoula. Corral E (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 163. WT42, cross-wadi wall (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 164. WT42, cross-wadi wall, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 165. Wadi al-Takara N (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 166. Wadi al-Takara N, looking E
Figure 167. Wadi al-Takara N. Fort (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 168. Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island, looking N (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 169. Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 170. Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments
Figure 171. Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 172. Wadi al-Takara N. Islamic burial ground on the western bank of the wadi (J.C.Meyer).
Figure 173. Bir Jazal. The triangular plain, looking NW (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 174. Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun. Rock cut tombs and habitation
Figure 175. Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun. Architectural fragments from sanctuary
Figure 176. Bir Jazal. The oasis (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 177. Bir Jazal. The oasis, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 178. Bir Jazal. Well from the southern part of the oasis (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 179. Bir Jazal. The tell area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 180. Bir Jazal. Walls in the southern part of the digging in the tell. To the left destruction layer with Charcoal
Figure 181. Bir Jazal. Digging in the tell (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 182. Bir Jazal. Oblong ash layers in the eastern face of the digging (J. Krzywinski).
Figure 183. Wadi Jihar, Wadi Masaadé and the southeastern spur of Jebel Chaar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 184. Madaba (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).
Figure 185. Madaba. Overview from the looking northwest (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 186. Madaba. Area A and B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 187. Madaba. Area C (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 188. Madaba. Area D (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 189. Madaba. Area E (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 190. Madaba. Foot of unguentarium, 1st cent. BC/early 1st cent. AD (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 191. Bir al-Arfa (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 192. Bir al-Arfa. The cone-shaped mountain at the entrance to the valley. In the background Wadi Jihar, Jebel Chaar to the left, and the southwestern spur of Jebel Merah to the right (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 193. Bir al-Arfa. The center of the valley with Cistern 4 and the enclosure, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 194. Bir al-Arfa. Cistern 3 with broken-through semicircular dam (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 195. Bir al-Arfa. Cistern 7 with supply channels
Figure 196. Bir al-Arfa. Eastern side of Jebel al-Tarfa with buildings and cisterns (
Figure 197. Bir al-Arfa. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 198. Bir al-Arfa. Building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 199. WJ071. Circular structure (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).
Figure 200. WJ098
Figure 201. WJ098. Building (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 202. WJ098. Wall east of the tell (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 203. WJ098. Fragment of tile
Figure 204. WJ242 (J.C. Meyer, Bing Maps, Microsoft).
Figure 205. Shanaeh (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 206. Shanaeh. Fort and shrine on the hilltop
Figure 207. Shanaeh. Northern wall of fort (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 208. Shanaeh. Overview of the wadi area seen from the hilltop (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 209. Shanaeh. Buildings and wells in the wadi area (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 210. Shanaeh. View towards the southeast and Wadi Jihar from the hilltop
Figure 211. Khabar
Figure 212. Khabar. Fort, buildings and wells (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 213. Khabar. Banks of the fort, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 214. Khabar. Tell on the eastern side of Wadi Khabar (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 215. Khabar. Profile of the tell towards the wadi bed
Figure 216. Khabar. Remains of buildings in the tell
Figure 217. Khabar. Well 11 east of Wadi Khabar
Figure 218. Jebel Merah. The southern section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 219. Jebel Merah. The southern central section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 220. Jebel Merah. The northern central section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 221. Jebel Merah. The northern section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 222. Jebel Merah. The western shoulder looking S. To the left the ridge of the mountain, to the right the hills on the edge of the shoulder (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 223. Jebel Merah. A bowl-shaped valley at the western side at site JMW089 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 224. Jebel Merah. The eastern shoulder at site JME209, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 225. Jebel Merah. A bowl-shaped valley at the eastern site at site JME232 (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 226. View from the southern spur of Jebel Merah towards the northwestern part of Wadi Abyad and the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad. To the right the watershed between Wadi Abyad and Wadi Jihar. In the foreground a Prehistoric cairn (T.P. Schou)
Figure 227. Jebel Merah. The landscape between the Jebel Merah plateau and Wadi Abyad (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 228. JMW073 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 229. JMW073. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 230. JMW073. Building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 231. JMW035 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 232. JMW035. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 233. JMW035. Building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 234. JMW035. Building C (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 235. JMW035. Building D (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 236. JMW035. Building E (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 237. JMW035. Cistern 1
Figure 238. JMW035. Cistern 1, looking S. In the background, the oblong hill on the edge of the shoulder with openings near building A towards the west (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 239. JMW079 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 240. JMW079. Building (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 241. JMW083
Figure 242. JMW083. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 243. JMW083. Building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 244. JMW083. Building B, looking NE. In the background the only passage across Jebel Merah, Tanîyet ez Zerr (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 245. JMW083. Glass bracelet (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 246. JMW089 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 247. JMW089. Overview of the western part of the site (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 248. JMW089. Overview of the eastern part of the site (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 249. JMW089. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 250. JMW089. Building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 251. JMW089. Building C (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 252. JMW089. Building C, lookinwg NW
Figure 253. JMW089. Building D (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 254. JMW089. Building D, looking SW (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 255. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall A, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 256. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 257. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall B, looking N (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 258. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall C, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 259. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall D, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 260. JMW089. Safaitic inscription (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 261. JMW089. Cistern 1, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 262. JMW161 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 263. JMW161. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 264. JMW161. Building B
Figure 265. JMW172 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 266. JME215 and JME222 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 267. JME215. Building A, looking N. In the background Cistern 1 and 2
Figure 268. JME215. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 269. JME222. Building A and B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 270. JME202 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 272. JME202. Cistern 1, looking SE
Figure 274. JME374
Figure 275. JME374. Building on hilltop, looking N. In the background a Prehistoric cairn
Figure 276. JME374. Palmyrene inscription
Figure 277. JME209 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 278. JME209. Building A, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 279. JME209. Building A (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 280. JME209. Building C (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 281. JME330 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 282. JME330. Buildings in the tell area
Figure 283. JME330. Building A, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 284. JME320 (bottom), JME318 (left) and JME304 (top) (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 285. JME320. Building (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 286. JME304. Building A and B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 287. JME298. Building (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 288. JME291 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 289. JME291. Cistern 5, looking S (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 290. JME252 (bottom) and JME263 (Top) (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 291. JME263. Building (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 292. JME257. Stone circles, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 293. JME231 (right) and JME232 (left) (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 294. JME231. Bank north of the wadi, looking NE. To the left the entrance to the cistern (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 295. JME231. Bank south of the wadi, looking S (J.C. Meyer)
Figure 296. JME231. Cistern west of the northern bank, looking W
Figure 297. JME232 area, looking N from building A
Figure 298. JME232. Building A
Figure 299. JME232. Building B (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 300. JME232. Building C and Wall D (J.C. Meyer).
North of Jebel Chaar
Khaleed al-Ali
Fasida
North of Jebel Chaar
Khaleed al-Ali
Fasida
Figure 301. The area north of Jebel Chaar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 302. Khaleed al-Ali (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 303. Khaleed al-Ali. The tell, looking northwest
Figure 304. Khaleed al-Ali. The tell (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 305. Khaleed al-Ali. Diggings in the southern part of the tell disclosing courses of mudbricks
Figure 306. Khaleed al-Ali. Marble blocks in digging B in the northern part of the tell
Figure 307. Khaleed al-Ali. Mosaic stones from digging D (J.C. Meyer).
Figure 308. Fasida. (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).
Figure 309. Fasida (J.C. Meyer).
Appendix
Appendix
Safaitic inscriptions mentioning Tadmur
Safaitic inscriptions mentioning Tadmur
Bibliography
Bibliography
Abbreviations
Bibliography

Citation preview

Palmyrena Palmyra and the Surrounding Territory from the Roman to the Early Islamic period Jørgen Christian Meyer

Palmyrena Palmyra and the Surrounding Territory from the Roman to the Early Islamic period Jørgen Christian Meyer

Archaeopress Archaeology

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© Jørgen Christian Meyer and Archaeopress 2017 Cover image: The city of Palmyra, looking south towards the bādiya (J.C. Meyer)

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Contents List of Figures��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� iv Preface������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ix Introduction������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 1 Survey. Survey area, methodology and implementation��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 Survey area and strategy�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������9 Local knowledge�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������11 The impact of modern activities in the survey area�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������11 Chronology of the sites������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������13 Topography and climate����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������17 Water supply. Wells, springs and cisterns�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 Wells����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 Spring areas���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 Cisterns and water harvesting systems����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 Chronology of wells and cisterns���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������26 Sources of water and settlement pattern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������26 Villages and estates. The food supply of Palmyra�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������28 Distribution of villages north of Palmyra�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������28 Conditions for agriculture and horticulture��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������35 Evidence of agriculture and horticulture north of Palmyra������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������38 Evidence of agriculture and horticulture east and west of Palmyra����������������������������������������������������������������������������41 The Harbaqah Dam���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������46 The food supply of Palmyra������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������54 Forts and stations. Lines of communication.Palmyrene control of the territory������������������������������������������58 Khans or stations along the route to the north?�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������60 Nomads in Palmyrene territory�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������62 Conclusion��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������71 Gazetteer of surveyed sites������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������73 Wadi Abyad������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������74 Al-Khaïrem�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������76 Awtayt������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������82 Bir al-Dnejn����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������84 Majouf�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������84 Ouéchel�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������86 Bir Jouâae’d����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������90 WA01-02. Canals and walls �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������91 Antaar�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������94 Jebel Abyad������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������95 JA306. Wadi Kshebah������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������95 JA378. Wadi Kshebah �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������98 Valley Kshebar����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������98 Al-Mazraah����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������99 Tweihina (Tahoun al-Masek)��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������103 Shalala����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������111 JA25. Hilltop structure�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������114 JA26���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������115 Al-Matna�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������116

i

Wadi al-Takara�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������119 Al-Takara S���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������120 Al-Khoula�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������122 WT42, cross-wadi wall�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������125 Al-Takara N��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������126 Jazal����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������131 Bir Jazal���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������133 Jebel Chaar�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������137 Madaba���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������137 Wadi Jihar – Wadi Masaadé – Wadi Khabar���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������142 Bir al-Arfa. Wadi Jihar��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������142 WJ01. Wadi Jihar�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������146 WJ071. Wadi Jihar���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������146 Zer Dghelar. Wadi Jihar������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������146 WJ098. Wadi Jihar���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������147 WJ538. Wadi Jihar���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������149 WJ242. Wadi Jihar���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������149 Shanaeh. Wadi Masaadé����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������150 Wadi Masaadé, WM01��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������154 Khabar. Wadi Khabar���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������154 Jebel Merah����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������158 Jebel Merah West����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������163 JMW073���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������163 JMW035���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������164 JMW079���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������168 JMW083���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������169 JMW089���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������171 JMW161���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������178 JMW171. Cistern������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������180 JMW172���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������180 JMW183 Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 JMW190 Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 JMW196 Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 JMW198 Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 JMW199. Cistern������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 Jebel Merah East������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 JME215����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������181 JME222����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������183 JME202����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������184 JME374����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������186 JME208. Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������186 JME209����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������188 JME330����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������190 JME320����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������192 JME318����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������193 JME304����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������194 JME298����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������195 JME291����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������195 JME252����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������197 JME263����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������198 JME245. Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������199 JME247. Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������199 JME256. Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������199 JME257����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������199 JME231����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������199 JME232����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������201 ii

JME255. Cistern�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������203 JME300����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������203 North of Jebel Chaar��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������204 Khaleed al-Ali����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������205 Fasida������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������208 Appendix��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������210 Safaitic inscriptions mentioning Tadmur�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������210 Bibliography��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������212

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List of Figures

Figure 1. La Palmyrène du nord-ouest.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 3 Figure 2. Village of Marzouga in the northern part of Jebel Chaar������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 4 Figure 3. The sanctuary of Abgal at Kheurbet Semrine in the central part of Jebel Abyad�������������������������������������������������������������������� 5 Figure 4. Relief from Kheurbet Semrine. To the left the god Abgal, to the right the god Achar mounted on horses. .��������������������� 6 Figure 5. The building at Rasm ech Chaar (PNO fig. 18).������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 Figure 6. Concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 10 Figure 7. Abandoned building at Wadi Giffa southeast of Palmyra ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 Figure 8. Dust storm in Palmyra May 2008 �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 14 Figure 9. Byzantine/Umayyad handles from Khaleed al-Ali ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Figure 10. Green glazed ware from Shanaeh. 7th/8th‒10th cent. AD .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Figure 11. Red glazed ware, 9th cent. AD, and blue glazed ware, 12th‒13th cent. AD from Shanaeh .����������������������������������������������� 15 Figure 12. A follis with the head of Constantine II (337‒340) from Jazal .����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Figure 13. An early Islamic follis from Jazal ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Figure 14. Ottoman clay pipe bowls from al-Khaïrem �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 16 Figure 15. Topography of the Palmyrene hinterland ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17 Figure 16. Drainage from the mountains north of Palmyra ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18 Figure 17. The landscape at Wadi al-Butmiya 90 km southeast of Palmyra in late April 2006 ������������������������������������������������������������ 19 Figure 18. Present day precipitation in Syria (Gidske Andersen, University in Bergen).���������������������������������������������������������������������� 20 Figure 19. Vegetation in the protected area at Hwesys northwest of Palmyra in late April 2007 ������������������������������������������������������ 21 Figure 20. Terebinth trees in the western part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 22 Figure 21. Population of Terebinth trees in the eastern part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen ������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 22 Figure 22. Distribution of springs, wells and cisterns in the southern part of the survey area ���������������������������������������������������������� 25 Figure 23. Distribution of settlements north of Palmyra �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 28 Figure 24. Distribution of settlements on Jebel Chaar ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 29 Figure 25. Site JC13 in the southern part of Jebel Chaar, visited by the author together with the Syrian-Canadian Oil Company ����������30 Figure 26. Distribution of settlement on Jebel Merah �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 31 Figure 27. Distribution of settlements on Jebel Bilaas�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 32 Figure 28. Distribution of settlements on Jebel Abu Riĝmen �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 32 Figure 29. Kheurbet el Fayéh on Jebel Bilaas ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 33 Figure 30. Kheurbet el Fayeh on Jebel Bilaas ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 33 Figure 31. Al-Bwêẓa (JR09) on Jebel Abu Riĝmen ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 34 Figure 32. Former Bedouin fields in Wadi Masaadé ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 35 Figure 33. Small wadi west of Palmyra after a short shower in the Jebel Abyad area �������������������������������������������������������������������������� 36 Figure 34. The surface of the bādiya on Jebel Chaar in the springtime �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 36 Figure 35. Displaced bitumen pavement northwest of Jebel Merah after heavy showers�������������������������������������������������������������������� 37 Figure 36. Flooding in Tadmur after heavy showers in May 2011 (N. Anfinset).������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 37 Figure 37. Former floodwater farming with cross-wadi walls at Hwesys in the valley of Sorrate ech Chéfé������������������������������������ 37 Figure 38. Crushing basin for oil production at site JC21 at Jebel Sorrate ech Chéfé ���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40 Figure 39. The oasis of Arak northeast of Palmyra ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 42 Figure 40. Qanat in Arak ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 42 Figure 41. Qanat in Wadi al-Qseïbé west of Arak ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 43 Figure 42. At-Tarfa depression ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 43 Figure 43. The fort of al-Klejbijje�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 44 Figure 44. The fort of al-Klejbijje ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 44 Figure 45. Al-Karasi altars ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 45 Figure 46. Al-Karasi alters. Hand holding ears of corn ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 46 Figure 47. The Harbaqah dam ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 47 Figure 48. The catchment area behind the Harbaqah dam ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 47 Figure 49. Qasr al-Heir al Gharbi ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 48 Figure 50. Aqueduct north of the castle leading to the birket, water reservoir, and the garden �������������������������������������������������������� 48 Figure 51. The Harbaqah dam.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 49 Figure 52. The Harbaqah fort�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 50 Figure 53. The Harbaqah fort.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 51 Figure 54. The Harbaqah dam. The inner side of the wall�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 53 Figure 55. Distribution of forts and stations north of Palmyra ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 59 Figure 56. The ascent to the northern plateau from Wadi Abyad. In the background, the eastern side of Jebel Merah ���������������� 61 Figure 57. Distribution of Aramaic inscriptions southeast of Palmyra and Safaitic inscriptions north and southeast of Palmyra ����64 Figure 58. Inscription from Hawiyya bir Jalaʽut south of Palmyra ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 65 Figure 59. Safaitic inscription with drawing from Jebel Qurma in northeastern Jordan, showing camel attacked by two lions.� 67 Figure 60. Sites in the Wadi Abyad area ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 74 Figure 61. Overview of Wadi Abyad, looking S �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 75 Figure 62. Overview of the southern part of Wadi Abyad from the ridge of Jebel Abyad, above al-Khaïrim ������������������������������������ 75

iv

Figure 63. Al-Khaïrem area ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 79 Figure 64. Al-Khaïrem. Tell, building and enclosure ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 79 Figure 65. Al-Khaïrem. Overview from the northwest ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 79 Figure 66. Al-Khaïrem. Internal doorway in the tell .��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 80 Figure 67. Al-Khaïrem. Marble door in the tell .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 80 Figure 68. Al-Khaïrem. Room with watertight plaster in the tell .����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 80 Figure 69. Al-Khaïrem. Blocks in the southern end of the tell from monumental building .��������������������������������������������������������������� 80 Figure 70. Al-Khaïrem. Fragment of threshold in the southern end of the tell .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 80 Figure 71. Al-Khaïrem. Fragments of terracotta water pipes .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 81 Figure 72. Al-Khaïrem. Aqueduct northwest of the tell ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 81 Figure 73. Al-Khaïrem. Aqueduct northwest of the tell ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 81 Figure 74. Al-Khaïrem. Well in the spring area .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 81 Figure 75. Al-Khaïrem. Spring area at al-Khaïrim �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 81 Figure 76. Al-Khaïrem. Rock-cut tombs on the face of Jebel Abyad .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 81 Figure 77. Awtayt area.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 82 Figure 78. Awtayt. Blocks from monumental building in the spring area����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 83 Figure 79. Awtayt. Blocks from monumental building on the plain below the spring area ��������������������������������������������������������������� 83 Figure 80. Awtayt. Block from monumental building on the plain below the spring area ������������������������������������������������������������������ 83 Figure 81. Awtayt. Roman cooking pot (2nd ‒ 3rd century) from the building in the spring area ���������������������������������������������������� 83 Figure 82. Bir al-Dnejn. Corral on the plain below the spring area ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 84 Figure 83. Majouf area ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 85 Figure 84. Majouf. The valley, looking W ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 85 Figure 85. Majouf. Plan of the building �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 85 Figure 86. Majouf. Fragment of terracotta water pipe ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 85 Figure 87. Quéchel area ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 87 Figure 88. Quéchel. Overview from the west������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 88 Figure 89. Quéchel. The fort, looking NE������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 88 Figure 90. Quéchel. Plan of the fort ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 88 Figure 91. Quéchel. The entrance to the fort, looking W.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 89 Figure 92. Quéchel. Well 2 ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 89 Figure 93. Quéchel. Well 4 with stone troughs �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 89 Figure 94. Quéchel. Qanat, looking W ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 89 Figure 95. Quéchel. Qanat, looking E ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 89 Figure 96. Bir Jouâae’d ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 90 Figure 97. Bir Jouâae’d. Well ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 90 Figure 98. Wadi Abyad dam in the southern part of the Wadi Abyad basin ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 91 Figure 99. Wadi Abyad Basin. Traces of canals �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 92 Figure 100. Wadi Abyad Basin. Traces of canals ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 92 Figure 101. Wadi Abyad Basin. Northern canal ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 93 Figure 102. Wadi Abyad Basin. Southwestern canal (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).�������������������������������������������������������������������� 93 Figure 103. Wadi Abyad dam. In the background Jebel Abyad and the spur Râss al-Rhechem. In 2011 the reservoir was silted up. The depression behind the dam is the outlet from the reservoir ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 93 Figure 104. Antaar. Scattered displaced blocks from monumental buildings below the dam .������������������������������������������������������������ 94 Figure 105. Antaar. Fragment from burial tower ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 94 Figure 106. Antaar. Fragment from small aqueduct ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 94 Figure 107. Antaar. Inscription from burial tower, Museum of Palmyra ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 94 Figure 108. Jebel Abyad and Wadi al-Takara area ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 95 Figure 109. JA306. Wadi Kshebah ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 96 Figure 110. JA306. Wadi Kshebah overview from the north ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 97 Figure 111. JA306. Wadi Kshebah. Tombs ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 97 Figure 112. Valley Kshebah ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 98 Figure 113. Al-Mazraah ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 100 Figure 114. Al-Mazraah. The triangular plain, looking S ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 101 Figure 115. Al-Mazraah. Plan of the site ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 101 Figure 116. Al-Mazraah. Overview of the eastern part of the site, looking N��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 101 Figure 117. Al-Mazraah. Building A .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 102 Figure 118. Al-Mazraah. Southwestern corner of enclosure B���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 102 Figure 119. Al-Mazraah. Building B, looking NE .��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 102 Figure 120. Al-Mazraah. Iron arrowhead .��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 102 Figure 121. Tweihina ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 105 Figure 122. Tweihina. Overview, looking E ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 106 Figure 123. Tweihina. The promontory with the fort ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 106 Figure 124. Tweihina. View from the fort towards Wadi al-Takara ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 106 Figure 125. Tweihina. Plan of the fort��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 107 Figure 126. Tweihina. The southern rooms and the courtyard of the fort ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 107 Figure 127. Tweihina. Building A in Wadi Masek �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 107 Figure 128. Tweihina. Building A and Tomb A in Wadi Masek ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 108 Figure 129. Tweihina. Shrine A �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 108 Figure 130. Tweihina. Shrine A and Tomb B ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 108

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Figure 131. Tweihina. Tomb B ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 109 Figure 132. Tweihina. Shrine B, looking NE ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 109 Figure 133. Tweihina. Worked stones southeast of the promontory ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 109 Figure 134. Tweihina. Supply channel of cistern 3, looking S. In the background, the western supply channel of cistern 1 on the western side of Wadi Masek ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 110 Figure 135. Tweihina. Supply channel of cistern 3 cut into the rock ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 110 Figure 136. Tweihina. Inscription north of cistern 3 �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 110 Figure 137. Tweihina. ‘Sun disc’ cut into the rock south of cistern 3 ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 111 Figure 138. Tweihina. Displaced Aramaic inscription from the fort on the eastern slope of the promontory.������������������������������� 111 Figure 139. Tweihina. Animal tracks on the eastern side of Wadi Masek 1 km south of Tweihina.�������������������������������������������������� 111 Figure 140. Shalala. The triangular plain ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 112 Figure 141. Shalala. The northeastern part of the plain, looking SE. In the center the tell with buildings ������������������������������������ 113 Figure 142. Shalala. Buildings on the plain ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 113 Figure 143. Shalala. Building A, B and C ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 114 Figure 144. Shalala. Northwestern corner of building A. In the background the tell with building B ��������������������������������������������� 114 Figure 145. JA25. Hilltop structure �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 115 Figure 146. JA26. Rock-cut tombs.���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 116 Figure 147. Al-Matna. The triangular valley ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 117 Figure 148. Al-Matna. The triangular valley seen from the Hilltop ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 118 Figure 149. Al-Matna. Corral D���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 118 Figure 150. Wadi al-Takara, looking S ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 119 Figure 151. Northern end of Wadi al-Takara with the entrance to Wadi al Masek and the watershed to the Plain of Jazal �������� 119 Figure 152. Wadi al-Takara S ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 120 Figure 153. Wadi al-Takara S. Building on hilltop and cistern 1, looking SW. In the background the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ 120 Figure 154. Wadi al-Takara S. Hilltop building ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 121 Figure 155. Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 121 Figure 156. Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 121 Figure 157. Al-Khoula ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 122 Figure 158. Al-Khoula ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 123 Figure 159. Al-Khoula. Wadi al-Khoula, looking SW. In the foreground, the outlet from the supply channels on the hilltop to Cistern 3 and 4 below. In the background Wadi al-Takara ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 123 Figure 160. Al-Khoula. Corral C �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 124 Figure 161. Al-Khoula. Corral D �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 124 Figure 162. Al-Khoula. Corral E �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 124 Figure 163. WT42, cross-wadi wall �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 125 Figure 164. WT42, cross-wadi wall, looking NE ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 126 Figure 165. Wadi al-Takara N ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 127 Figure 166. Wadi al-Takara N, looking E ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 127 Figure 167. Wadi al-Takara N. Fort.�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 128 Figure 168. Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island, looking N����������������������������������������������������������������������� 128 Figure 169. Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 129 Figure 170. Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 129 Figure 171. Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 129 Figure 172. Wadi al-Takara N. Islamic burial ground on the western bank of the wadi���������������������������������������������������������������������� 130 Figure 173. Bir Jazal. The triangular plain, looking NW ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 131 Figure 174. Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun. Rock cut tombs and habitation ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 132 Figure 175. Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun. Architectural fragments from sanctuary ������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 132 Figure 176. Bir Jazal. The oasis .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 133 Figure 177. Bir Jazal. The oasis, looking NE ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 134 Figure 178. Bir Jazal. Well from the southern part of the oasis �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 134 Figure 179. Bir Jazal. The tell area ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 134 Figure 180. Bir Jazal. Walls in the southern part of the digging in the tell. To the left destruction layer with Charcoal ������������� 135 Figure 181. Bir Jazal. Digging in the tell ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 136 Figure 182. Bir Jazal. Oblong ash layers in the eastern face of the digging (J. Krzywinski).��������������������������������������������������������������� 136 Figure 183. Wadi Jihar, Wadi Masaadé and the southeastern spur of Jebel Chaar .������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 137 Figure 184. Madaba (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 138 Figure 185. Madaba. Overview looking northwest ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 140 Figure 186. Madaba. Area A and B ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 141 Figure 187. Madaba. Area C ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 141 Figure 188. Madaba. Area D �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 141 Figure 189. Madaba. Area E ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 141 Figure 190. Madaba. Foot of unguentarium, 1st cent. BC/early 1st cent. AD ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 141 Figure 191. Bir al-Arfa .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 143 Figure 192. Bir al-Arfa. The cone-shaped mountain at the entrance to the valley. In the background Wadi Jihar, Jebel Chaar to the left, and the southwestern spur of Jebel Merah to the right ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 144 Figure 193. Bir al-Arfa. The center of the valley with Cistern 4 and the enclosure, looking S ���������������������������������������������������������� 144 Figure 194. Bir al-Arfa. Cistern 3 with broken-through semicircular dam ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 145 Figure 195. Bir al-Arfa. Cistern 7 with supply channels ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 145 Figure 196. Bir al-Arfa. Eastern side of Jebel al-Tarfa with buildings and cisterns ����������������������������������������������������������������������������� 145

vi

Figure 197. Bir al-Arfa. Building A ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 146 Figure 198. Bir al-Arfa. Building B ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 146 Figure 199. WJ071. Circular structure.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 147 Figure 200. WJ098 ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 148 Figure 201. WJ098. Building �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 148 Figure 202. WJ098. Wall east of the tell ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 149 Figure 203. WJ098. Fragment of tile ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 149 Figure 204. WJ242 ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 149 Figure 205. Shanaeh .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 151 Figure 206. Shanaeh. Fort and shrine on the hilltop �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 152 Figure 207. Shanaeh. Northern wall of fort ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 152 Figure 208. Shanaeh. Overview of the wadi area seen from the hilltop ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 153 Figure 209. Shanaeh. Buildings and wells in the wadi area ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 153 Figure 210. Shanaeh. View towards the southeast and Wadi Jihar from the hilltop �������������������������������������������������������������������������� 153 Figure 211. Khabar ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 155 Figure 212. Khabar. Fort, buildings and wells .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 156 Figure 213. Khabar. Banks of the fort, looking SE ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 156 Figure 214. Khabar. Tell on the eastern side of Wadi Khabar ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 156 Figure 215. Khabar. Profile of the tell towards the wadi bed ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 157 Figure 216. Khabar. Remains of buildings in the tell �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 157 Figure 217. Khabar. Well 11 east of Wadi Khabar �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 157 Figure 218. Jebel Merah. The southern section of the mountain .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 159 Figure 219. Jebel Merah. The southern central section of the mountain .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 159 Figure 220. Jebel Merah. The northern central section of the mountain .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 160 Figure 221. Jebel Merah. The northern section of the mountain .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 160 Figure 222. Jebel Merah. The western shoulder looking S. To the left the ridge of the mountain, to the right the hills on the edge of the shoulder �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 161 Figure 223. Jebel Merah. A bowl-shaped valley at the western side at site JMW089 ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 161 Figure 224. Jebel Merah. The eastern shoulder at site JME209, looking SE ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 161 Figure 225. Jebel Merah. A bowl-shaped valley at the eastern site at site JME232 ������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 162 Figure 226. View from the southern spur of Jebel Merah towards the northwestern part of Wadi Abyad and the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad. To the right the watershed between Wadi Abyad and Wadi Jihar. In the foreground a Prehistoric cairn162 Figure 227. Jebel Merah. The landscape between the Jebel Merah plateau and Wadi Abyad ������������������������������������������������������������ 162 Figure 228. JMW073 .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 163 Figure 229. JMW073. Building A ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 164 Figure 230. JMW073. Building B ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 164 Figure 231. JMW035 .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 165 Figure 232. JMW035. Building A ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 166 Figure 233. JMW035. Building B ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 166 Figure 234. JMW035. Building C ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 166 Figure 235. JMW035. Building D ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 167 Figure 236. JMW035. Building E ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 167 Figure 237. JMW035. Cistern 1 ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 167 Figure 238. JMW035. Cistern 1, looking S. In the background, the oblong hill on the edge of the shoulder with openings near building A towards the west ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 167 Figure 239. JMW079 .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 168 Figure 240. JMW079. Building ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 168 Figure 241. JMW083 ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 169 Figure 242. JMW083. Building A ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 170 Figure 243. JMW083. Building B ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 170 Figure 244. JMW083. Building B, looking NE. In the background the only passage across Jebel Merah, Tanîyet ez Zerr ������������� 170 Figure 245. JMW083. Glass bracelet ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 170 Figure 246. JMW089 .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 173 Figure 247. JMW089. Overview of the western part of the site ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 173 Figure 248. JMW089. Overview of the eastern part of the site ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 174 Figure 249. JMW089. Building A ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 174 Figure 250. JMW089. Building B ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 175 Figure 251. JMW089. Building C ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 175 Figure 252. JMW089. Building C, lookinwg NW ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 175 Figure 253. JMW089. Building D ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 175 Figure 254. JMW089. Building D, looking SW ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 176 Figure 255. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall A, looking S ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 176 Figure 256. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall A ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 176 Figure 257. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall B, looking N ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 177 Figure 258. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall C, looking S ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 177 Figure 259. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall D, looking S ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 177 Figure 260. JMW089. Safaitic inscription ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 178 Figure 261. JMW089. Cistern 1, looking S ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 178 Figure 262. JMW161 .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 179

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Figure 263. JMW161. Building A ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 179 Figure 264. JMW161. Building B ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 180 Figure 265. JMW172 .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 181 Figure 266. JME215 and JME222 .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 182 Figure 267. JME215. Building A, looking N. In the background Cistern 1 and 2 ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 183 Figure 268. JME215. Building A �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 183 Figure 269. JME222. Building A and B ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 184 Figure 270. JME202 .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 185 Figure 272. JME202. Cistern 1, looking SE �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 186 Figure 274. JME374 ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 187 Figure 275. JME374. Building on hilltop, looking N. In the background a Prehistoric cairn �������������������������������������������������������������� 187 Figure 276. JME374. Palmyrene inscription ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 187 Figure 277. JME209 .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 189 Figure 278. JME209. Building A, looking S �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 189 Figure 279. JME209. Building A �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 190 Figure 280. JME209. Building C ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 190 Figure 281. JME330 .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 191 Figure 282. JME330. Buildings in the tell area ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 192 Figure 283. JME330. Building A, looking S �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 192 Figure 284. JME320 (bottom), JME318 (left) and JME304 (top) .��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 193 Figure 285. JME320. Building ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 193 Figure 286. JME304. Building A and B ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 194 Figure 287. JME298. Building ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 195 Figure 288. JME291 .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 196 Figure 289. JME291. Cistern 5, looking S ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 197 Figure 290. JME252 (bottom) and JME263 (Top) .��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 197 Figure 291. JME263. Building ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 198 Figure 292. JME257. Stone circles, looking SE �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 199 Figure 293. JME231 (right) and JME232 (left) .�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 200 Figure 294. JME231. Bank north of the wadi, looking NE. To the left the entrance to the cistern ���������������������������������������������������� 200 Figure 295. JME231. Bank south of the wadi, looking S (J.C. Meyer)������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 201 Figure 296. JME231. Cistern west of the northern bank, looking W ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 201 Figure 297. JME232 area, looking N from building A �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 202 Figure 298. JME232. Building A �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 202 Figure 299. JME232. Building B ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 203 Figure 300. JME232. Building C and Wall D ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 203 Figure 301. The area north of Jebel Chaar .������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 204 Figure 302. Khaleed al-Ali .���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 206 Figure 303. Khaleed al-Ali. The tell, looking northwest ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 206 Figure 304. Khaleed al-Ali. The tell ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 207 Figure 305. Khaleed al-Ali. Diggings in the southern part of the tell disclosing courses of mudbricks ������������������������������������������� 207 Figure 306. Khaleed al-Ali. Marble blocks in digging B in the northern part of the tell �������������������������������������������������������������������� 207 Figure 307. Khaleed al-Ali. Mosaic stones from digging D ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 208 Figure 308. Fasida. .����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 209 Figure 309. Fasida ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 209

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Preface The topic of this book is the relationship between the city of Palmyra and its hinterland in the historical period up to the early Islamic era. It springs out of the Norwegian research project Palmyrena: City, Hinterland and Caravan trade between Orient and Occident. The project, which was hosted by the University of Bergen and funded by the Meltzer foundation, University of Bergen (2008), and the Research Council of Norway (2009‒2013), had two main objectives. The first was to investigate why and how Palmyra evolved into one of the most important centers of the caravan trade between the Mediterranean and the Red sea in the first three centuries AD.1 The second was to investigate the relationship between the settlement in the oasis and the hinterland in the longue durée from the Neolithic up to the early Islamic period.2 This part of the project involved surveys north of Palmyra as a joint Syrian-Norwegian project between Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées, Ministère de la Culture (DGAM) in Syria, and the University of Bergen, and a large part of this book is a gazetteer of surveyed sites, which are no longer accessible due to the ongoing war in Syria. The surveys, in April 2008, April and May 2009 and April and May 2011, were directed by Waleed al-As‛ad and Jørgen Christian Meyer, and divided into two teams, a “prehistoric” team, lead by Nils Anfinset, University of Bergen and a “historic” team lead by Jørgen Christian Meyer. The Syrian members of the survey from the museum were Abdelbasit Kanawi (2008, 2009, 2011), Adeeb al-As‛ad (2008, 2009, 2011), Omar Daas (2008), Azam Daas (2008, 2009). Khaleed Kiwan at the Musée National de Damas was responsible for the analysis of the numismatic finds. The Scandinavian members were Eivind Heldaas Seland (2008, 2009, 2010), Jonatan Krzywinski (2008, 2009), Kristina Josephson Hesse (2009, 2011), Eva Marie Sund (2009, 2011), Kjetil Bortheim (2009, 2011), Pål Steiner (2009), Hildegunn M. H. Ruset (2009), Torbjørn Preus Schou (2010, 2011), Dorthe Nistad (2011), Michael Hyttel Meyer (2011). Elisabeth Katzy, University of Tübingen (2008, 2009, 2010) participated as pottery expert together with Roberta Tomba (2010). David Sterry, Petro-Canada, shared his registration and knowledge of new sites in Jebel Chaar with the survey (2009). Knut Krzywinski, University of Bergen, has carried out pollen analyses and carbon-14 datings. Waleed alAs‛ad and Jonatan Krzywinski have been co-authors on the section about the Harbaqah Dam in chapter VI. Finn-Ove Hvidberg Hansen and John Møller Larsen, University of Aarhus, Chiara Della Puppa and Ahmad al-Jallad, University of Leiden, Michael MacDonald, University of Oxford, and Jean Baptist Yon, Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, have contributed to the translation of Palmyrene and Safaitic inscriptions. I am obliged to many colleagues who have contributed with their knowledge, generosity and experience: Peter M.M.G. Akkermans, Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen, Erik Christiansen, Haian Dukhan, Michaeł Gawlikowski, Denis Genequand, Manar Hammad, Stefan Hauser, Jens Ulrich Kromann, John Lund, Grzegorz Majcherek, Bodil Wickstrøm Meyer, Richard Holton Pierce, Christiane Römer Strehl, David Tucker, Gjert Vestrheim and Tomasz Waliszewski. I want to thank the Sheik Mhana of the Mawali tribe, Khaleed Gusaiban al-Assry Malouh of the local al-Umur tribe for sharing their local knowledge of the territory and the staff at the Museum in Palmyra. Also thanks to the Finnish SYGIS project on Jebel Bishri, which introduced me to the Syrian Desert in 2004. A successful survey is very dependent on its logistic support. Sincere thanks to the Turki family, Ahmad, Naim and Muhammad and their staff for professional support, hospitality and friendship up through the years. I am extremely grateful to Richard Holton Pierce for revising my English and for critical comments. Not least, I would like to thank Eivind Heldaas Seland, Nils Anfinset, Kristina Josephson Hesse, Jonatan Krzywinski and Torbjørn Schou for fruitful co-operation and discussions during our project. I am obliged to Dr. Bassam Jamous and Dr. Michel al-Maqdissi at DGAM and Ing. Waleed al-As‛ad, Directeur des Musées de Palmyre for their co-operation, assistance and generosity during the project. Special thanks to Khaleed al-As‛ad and Waleed al-As‛ad, who supported the project from its earliest tentative ideas, and to Adeeb al-As‛ad, who introduced me to the bādiya north and south of Palmyra in 2005. Adeeb has been a faithful friend, guide, interpreter and driver up through the years, and his local knowledge of the bādiya has been inestimable. Without them, the project would never have been implemented. This book is dedicated to the memory of Khaleed al-As‛ad, to the people of Tadmur and the bādiya with the hope of a better future in peace, and to Jonatan Krzywinski (1973‒2017) who sadly passed away. The results of this part of the project have been published by Eivind Heldaas Seland in Ships of the Desert and Ships of the Sea. Palmyra in the world trade of the first–third centuries CE. (2016) and in a series of papers. See the bibliography. 2  Results of the prehistoric part of the project have been published by Torbjørn Preus Schou in Mobile pastoralist groups and the Palmyrene in the late Early to Middle Bronze Age (c. 2400-1700 BCE): An archaeological synthesis based on a multidisciplinary approach focusing on satellite imagery studies, environmental data, and textual sources (2014); Hesse 2016; Anfinset 2009; Anfinset and Hesse 2013. 1 

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x

Introduction In March 1912 the Czech theologian, orientalist and explorer Alois Musil visited the oasis of Tadmur, or Palmyra as it was called in antiquity, on his long expedition in central Syria. At that time, habitation was confined to the precinct of the ancient temple of Bel and its immediate surroundings, and the population only counted about 350 families.1 According to Musil the gardens of Tadmur, irrigated by the Efqa spring and the spring at Abu al-Fawares west of Palmyra, were full of olive trees, date palms and fruit trees, and the oasis was also a favourable place to grow barley.2 However, the output of the gardens was not sufficient to feed the inhabitants, and they were compelled to import wheat and barley to meet their needs:

contrast between the fertile oasis and the surrounding territory must have been striking, especially outside the rainy season, but Palmyra is not located in a sand desert, but on a huge dry-steppe, in Arabic bādiya, even if it is often called the ‘The Bride of the Desert’ in modern literature. In antiquity, there had been more sources of water than in 1912,5 but the size of the population was also much bigger. There have been several attempts to estimate the population of the city, ranging from 30,000 to 200,000.6 Two hundred thousand is a far too high number. The population of Aleppo in the 18th century did not exceed 100,000 to 120,000 people, and the city ranged as the third largest city in the Ottoman Empire, and even though Aleppo is located in the relatively fertile part of Syria, the population suffered from periodically recurring starvation because of drought and failing crops, and the government had to import cereals from neighbouring districts.7 Palmyra covered an area of twenty square kilometres within the greatest extent of its walls, but gardens and open space occupied much of the city area.8 Thirty to fifty thousand is a much more realistic figure, but even at such a low estimate, it is highly unlikely that the oasis could have supported the population, even if we increase the amount of water available from the springs compared to 1912, when there were only 350 families.

The output of the gardens falls short of what the inhabitants need, causing them to buy not only wheat but barley flour as well. [---] But the main source of the Palmyrenes’ income is the salt which they gather in the nearby salina, disposing of it again to the fellâḥîn from around Ḥoms and Ḥama’ either for money or in exchange for wheat and barley.3 This is in contrast to Pliny’s famous description of Palmyra:

We have every reason to trust Musil’s observation of the limited agricultural potential of the oasis. A small settlement like Tadmur could meet a shortfall by importing cereals in exchange for salt. Larger cities like Aleppo in the Ottoman Empire imported cereals overland as a response to a failing harvest in years with insufficient rain. For a city like Palmyra, which could be compared with the largest and most influential cities in the eastern part of the Roman empire, it was no realistic alternative to bring in essential foodstuffs annually by long caravans with heavily loaded pack animals from the fertile Orontes valley over 150 km, 5 day’s travel away, or from Doura Europos and the Euphrates valley, 230 km, 7 day’s travel away.9 Like all other cities in antiquity without access to the sea, Palmyra needed more stable sources of nutrition within its own territory, and we have to turn our attention to the hinterland.

Palmyra is a city famous for its situation, for the richness of its soil and for its agreeable springs; its fields are surrounded on every side by vast circuit of sand, and it is as it were isolated by nature from the world, having a destiny of its own between the two mighty empires of Rome and Parthia, and at the first moment of a quarrel between them always attracting the attention of both sides.4 Pliny gives us an impression of a city isolated in an inhospitable sand desert in central Syria ‒ a city that could only survive because of abundant springs watering its fertile land. Pliny had never been in Palmyra and it is obvious that his source was not familiar with the landscape around the oasis. For Mediterranean people the Palmyrena 145–146. Palmyrena 136, 145. Irrigated fields are visible close to the habitation on Poidebard’s aerial photo of Palmyra from 1932 (Poidebard 1934, pl. LXVII). Musil mentions ‘the lukewarm creek’ of Nahr al-Balad. It must be identical with the Efqa springs, as the water from the springs was 33 degrees Celsius hot when functional, and the people of Tadmur also call the springs as-Nahr, ‘river’. I am indebted to Haian Dukham for the information. 3  Palmyrena 145–146. 4  Pliny, Historia Naturalis, 5.88. Transl. Rackham: Palmyra, urbs nobilis situ, divitiis soli et aquis amoenis, vasto undique ambitu harenis includit agros ac, velut terris exempta a rerum natura, privata sorte inter duo imperia summa romanorum parthorumque est, prima in discordia semper utrimque cura. 1 

Earlier research in the hinterland:

2 

The first scholar to carry out more systematic research of the hinterland was Alois Musil (1868–1944). He was Crouch 1975; Barański 1997; Yon 2009; Juchniewicz and Żuchowska 2012. 6  Crouch 1972 7  Marcus 1989, 123–130 8  Hammad 2010, 24–54, 64–66. 9  For a different view, see Smith II 2013, 156–157. 5 

1

Palmyrena well versed in ancient and Islamic history and the sources to both. After having made investigations in Petra/the old Nabataean kingdom, and the Umayyad castle of Qasr ‘Amra in Jordan in 1901,10 he ventured on several longer expeditions from 1908 to 1915 in Syria, Jordan and the Arabian Peninsula.11 He collected a huge amount of archaeological, geographical and ethnographical material, which was later published by the American Geographical Society between 1926 and 1928. Musil had already visited Tadmur in 1897 when he studied Arabic in Beirut.12 His larger expeditions to the Palmyrene area took place in 1908 and 1912. In 1908, he travelled from Damascus to Resafa via Isriye and back via Qasr al-Heir al-Sharqi, following a route south and southwest of oasis. He began the registration of the temple at Isriye (the ancient Seriane), Qasr al-Heir alSharqi with its long aqueduct coming from the springs of al-Kawm to northwest and the Roman forts along the Strata Diocletiana. In 1912, he approached Tadmur from Homs. He visited the huge dam at Harbaqah, and he registered the ruins of al-Bazuriyeh and al-Bakhra about 20 km south of Palmyra. After a short stay in Tadmur, he crossed the mountains north and northeast of the oasis and continued up to the ruins of Resafa, which he registered more in details. The diaries were published in 1928 in Palmyrena, a Topographical Itinerary, with drawings of the larger archaeological sites. This work has a larger appendix where he discusses all the historical periods in the region, primarily from the Roman period into the Islamic era, in relation to the archaeological remains and the written accounts, including geographical sources such as Antonine Itinerary and the Peutinger Table. Modern research and excavations have of course outdated the appendix and the description of the larger, more famous sites, but Musil also mentions smaller ruins, Roman milestones, roads, inscriptions, foundation walls of ancient buildings and other relics from sites, later destroyed by modern activity or not yet properly investigated. Many geographical names have since changed and his map does not live up to later cartography.13 Distances are also stated in time between the locations, but this can easily be converted into kilometres.14 The diaries are extremely detailed and in a class by itself, and it is in fact possible to follow his route in the landscape or on satellite images and to identify most of the sites.

and the Bedouins. Musil spoke several Arabic dialects fluently, was well adapted to Arab and Bedouin culture and was able to gather information in a professional way in relation to the proper social and cultural context. Of special importance for modern research are his ethnographic and geographical accounts. We get information about the landscape, vegetation, fertile areas, access to water, the Bedouins tribes, the more sedentary groups and how they exploited available resources. Musil opens for us a window on the region in the late Ottoman period, when the population of Tadmur lived within the precinct of the temple of Bel and the immediate surroundings. There can be no doubt that the landscape and its inhabitants as seen through the eyes of Musil is more relevant for an understanding of the Palmyrene hinterland in the ancient period than the landscape we see today after the modernization of Syrian society with the introduction of trucks, modern agriculture, new patterns of grazing and the need of fuel in the growing city of Palmyra.15 After the First World War, French scholars took over in the region, and they introduced a new revolutionary means of conducting archaeological fieldwork: the aeroplane equipped with high resolution cameras developed during the war for aerial photo reconnaissance. Between 1925 and 1932, the Jesuit missionary Antoine Poidebard (1878–1955) flew over Syria and photographed from the air, as well as on the ground, larger settlements, forts, structures and ancient roads.16 The results were published already in 1934 in La trace de Rome dans le désert de Syrie. Le limes de Trajan a la conquère arabe. Recherches aériennes (1925–1932). Poidebard’s main interest was the Roman frontier, military installations and main communication routes, and his work is fundamental for any study of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, even if his dating of most of the structures to the Roman period must be revised. Some of them probably belong to the Umayyad period. He also classified prehistoric cairns as Roman watchtowers or signal towers.17 For our purpose, the photographs of the landscape and sites closer to Palmyra are a valuable supplement to Musil’s descriptions from the ground before trucks and 4-wheel drives scarred the landscape. From 1934 to 1937, Poidebard continued his aerial reconnaissance north and northeast of Palmyra up to the region of Chalkis, and many, especially minor sites were added to the map in the mountain area near Palmyra. Together with René Mouterde (1880–1961), who made investigations on the ground, he published Le limes de Chalcis. Organisation de la steppe en haute Syrie romaine in 1945. Of special interest is the more detailed registration of water systems close

Musil also gives a very accurate description of areas outside his main route, undoubtedly basing himself on interviews with the local population in Tadmur Kuseir Amra und andere Schlösser östlich von Moab, Topographischer Reisebericht, Wien 1902, Kusejr Amra, Wien 1907. Arabia Petraea I-III, Wien 1907/1908. 11  The expeditions were supported by the Austrian government, and were part of the politics of the European powers in the Middle East. Bauer 1989, 125–130. 12  Palmyrena 135; Brauer 1989, 40. 13  Musil 1928b. 14  One hour is about 4‒5 kilometers on horse- or camelback. 10 

See p..11. Nordiguian and Salles 2000; Denis and Nordiguian 2004. 17  Poidebard 1934, 108, 168–169, pl. LXVIII, CIV, CVI. Also Musil classified them as watchtowers (Palmyrena 3); Schou 2015, 192–193. 15  16 

2

Introduction

Figure 1. La Palmyrène du nord-ouest. (PNO fig. 1).

to the sites, underground aqueducts, fogara, cisterns and water reservoirs, birke. They proposed that even if pastoralism dominated the dry steppe in the Roman period, some agriculture and horticulture based on irrigation were practised close to the sites.18

The results of his pioneer campaigns northwest of Palmyra were published in 1951 in La Palmyrène du nord-ouest. Villages et lieux de culte de l’époque impériale. Recherches archéologiques sur la mise en valeur d’une région du désert par les Palmyréniens. Schlumberger excavated 15 settlements in the Jebel Chaar tableland about 50 km northwest of the oasis (Figure 1).20 The largest settlements, Kheurbet Semrine, Ras ech Chaar, Kheurbet Farouâne, Hassan Madhour, Kheurbet Ouadi Souâné, Kheurbet Ramadane, Kheurbet Abou Douhour and Marzouga consisted of a cluster of smaller and larger buildings, enclosures and shrines (Figure 2).21

Concurrently with Poidebard’s and Mouterde’s research the French archaeologist Daniel Schlumberger (1904–1972) began a much more detailed study of the hinterland of Palmyra. From 1933 to 1935, he carried out surveys and excavations in the mountains northwest of Palmyra. From 1936 to 1938, he excavated the impressive Umayyad castle, Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi, 60 km west-southwest of Palmyra, and investigated the Harbaqah dam, 16 km south of the castle, which had also been visited by Musil and Poidebard.19 18  19 

PNO 2. Schlumberger’s map also show other settlements not investigated, but visited during his surveys, including sites in Jebel Bilaas. 21  PNO 13–44. 20 

Poidebard 1934, 170–187; Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 234–235. Schlumberger 1939c.

3

Palmyrena

Figure 2. Village of Marzouga in the northern part of Jebel Chaar (PNO fig. 17).

As the excavations were part of an emergency campaign to protect the sites from clandestine diggings by the locals, only the shrines were excavated.22 The shrines were solidly built with larger stones and blocks.23 The smaller ones are simple structures, only measuring about 6 x 4 meters, but at Kheurbet Semrine, Marzouga and Kherurbet Ramadane the shrines contained several rooms including banquet halls, with courtyards in front (Figure 3), and the doorposts are more monumental, 22  23 

some of them decorated with floral designs. Schlumberger stressed, however, that influence from the Hellenistic-Roman culture was slight in the rather rustic appearance of the architecture and of the reliefs with deities and animals.24 Moreover, the reliefs and the inscriptions show a divine world different from the combination in Palmyra.25 Bel-Shamin, Alglibol, Malakbel, and Allat, equivalent to the Greek Athena, which are known from Palmyra, are represented, but

PNO xi. PNO 93–106.

24  25 

4

PNO 133. PNO 124–128. See also Drijvers 1976, 20–21.

Introduction

Figure 3. The sanctuary of Abgal at Kheurbet Semrine in the central part of Jebel Abyad (PNO fig. 5).

otherwise local and Arabian deities dominate, e.g. Maʽanû, Saʽadû or Ašar, mounted on a camel and Šalmân together with local gods for the villages and gardens. The Arabian god Abgal, mounted on a horse was the most popular and the sanctuary at Kheurbet Semrine was dedicated to him (Figure 4). The inscriptions are

also exclusively in Aramaic, not in combination with Greek, which is common in the official inscriptions of Palmyra, and there are several examples of graffiti in Safaitic, the language spoken in antiquity by some Bedouin groups in southern Syria, northeastern Jordan

5

Palmyrena

Figure 4. Relief from Kheurbet Semrine. To the left the god Abgal, to the right the god Achar mounted on horses. (PNO 56; 146; pl. XXII, 1).

and northern Saudi Arabia.26 The other buildings were not investigated in detail, but only marked on the maps of the sites. The larger buildings have a rectangular or square layout, measuring up to 50 x 50 m, with small rooms facing an internal courtyard. Schlumberger noted the absence of springs in the area and found no traces of irrigation systems.27 The main source of water was cisterns, which were scattered in large numbers in the landscape and in relation to the settlements.28

Schlumberger suggested that the villages with cisterns were founded with the financial support of the great merchants of Palmyra as centres of horse breeding and herding, which would explain why many of the gods are depicted on horseback.32 Horses were essential for Palmyrene military power, and the forts in Jebel Chaar and Jebel Abyad show the importance the elite and the authorities attached to the northern territory.33 This would not, however, explain the cultural difference between the villages and the centre in the oasis, but Sclumberger suggested that the villages were part of a larger, relatively independent pattern of nomadic transhumance from north to south.34 The Palmyrene investment in cisterns made Jebel Chaar an attractive area during the hot summer months, and some of the nomadic population could have used the villages as more permanent bases during the winter months, when the rest of the group had left. He also paid attention to Musil’s description of some agriculture in modern times immediately northwest of Palmyra, albeit not on a regular basis, and he did not exclude some limited rainfed agriculture in connection to the villages.35

Apart from the villages with the shrines, Schlumberger also investigated three forts. Two of them are outside the Jebel Chaar area, in the northwestern part of Jebel Abyad.29 At Tahoun el Masek, or Tweihina, a small rectangular fort on an oblong promontory controlled an important communication line through the mountain range. At Ouéchel, or Shalalah, a small square fort is located above an important spring area at the edge of Jebel Abyad. The forts are solidly built with large blocks, and inscriptions in Greek and Latin testify to the presence of Roman military units.30 The last fort is located at Rasm ech Chaar in the northern part of Jebel Chaar (Figure 5).31

Schlumberger dated all settlements and the forts to the three first centuries AD on the basis of artefacts, inscriptions and coins.36 Nothing could be dated to the

PNO 133–134. PNO 131. 28  PNO 10–11. 29  PNO 44–50. The fort at Ouéchel is also mentioned by Musil (Palmyrena 149). 30  PNO 85–87. 31  The building is most probably an Umayyad estate. See p. 16. 26  27 

PNO 133. PNO 108, 130. 34  PNO 129–132. 35  PNO 131; Palmyrena 147. 36  PNO 132–133. 32  33 

6

Introduction

Figure 5. The building at Rasm ech Chaar (PNO fig. 18).

Hellenistic period, and there were only a few objects datable to after AD 300, among them some coins from the Constantinian period.37 He concluded: La fin brutale de la grandeur de Palmyre marque certainement aussi la fin de la prospérité de notre region.38

patrons of caravans could have been direct owners of large herding estates around Palmyra.41 Other scholars have stressed the possibility of some agriculture in the villages and a much closer economic relationship to the centre.42 G. K. Young advanced a more radical view.43 Strongly influenced by M. I. Finley’s Ancient Economy,44 he proposed that the elite of Palmyra originally was a landowning aristocracy with large estates based not only on herding and pastoralism, but also on agriculture in Jebel Chaar, which is characterized as an ‘important area of farming’.

Schlumberger’s pioneer work marked a turning point in the study of Palmyra. For the first time, data were available for a discussion of the relationship between the oasis city and the surrounding territory. It became obvious that Palmyra could not be understood as an isolated caravan city par excellence, as proposed by M. Rostovtzeff in his Caravan Cities from 1932,39 and Schlumberger’s idea of herding or pastoral villages was widely accepted. E. Will proposed that the Jebel Chaar area was essential for the organisation of the caravan trade, not only as a provider of horses, but also of camels and personnel.40 M. Gawlikowsky suggested that the

It is obvious, however, that Schlumberger’s investigation of the settlements in Jebel Chaar only allow speculations. The number of sites is relatively Gawlikowsky 1957, 31. Teixidor 1984, 71–72; Mathews 1987, 162; Bowersock 1989, 68; Kennedy 1991, 74; Millar 1993, 299–300; Yon 2002, 128; Sommer 2005, 214; Hauser 2012; Smith II 2013, 73, 156–157. 43  Young 2001, 137, 150–151, 154. 44  Finley himself, however, accepted Palmyra as one of the few exceptions to rule that all cities in the ancient world were centers of consumption and that the elites had an agrarian basis, from an economic, social and psychological point of view. Finley 1973, 59. 41  42 

PNO 61, 63. PNO 133. 39  Rostovtzeff 1932, 103–104, 125. 40  Will 1957, 271–273; Will 1992, 22–24. 37  38 

7

Palmyrena small, and only the shrines were investigated in detail. The purpose of the Syrian-Norwegian survey north of Palmyra from 2008 to 2011 was to provide new data, andsome initial results have already been published.45

45 

This book contains both a gazetteer of the sites surveyed and an analysis of the relationship between the city in the oasis and the surrounding territory from the Roman to the early Islamic period based on new material not only from the survey, but also from other areas around Palmyra.

Meyer 2013; Meyer 2016; Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016.

8

Survey Survey area, methodology and implementation Survey area and strategy

to the Jebel Chaar plateau with the Sheik of the local tribe of Mawali (2007) and with the Syrian-Canadian oil company (2009).4 Some of Schlumberger’s sites were now identified with certainty, and many more sites were added to the list, most of them outside the concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey, which only covered the rim of the southwestern and western part of the plateau.

The area of the survey was chosen to serve two purposes. The first was to supplement Sclumberger’s investigations in Jebel Chaar to give better data for an understanding of the relationship between the city of Palmyra and the surrounding territory. Were villages only confined to Jebel Chaar? The second was to identify a possible route from Palmyra to Isriye, with connections up to Chalkis and Antioch. That is why the survey area forms an inverted S, measuring about 87 km long and 25 km wide (Figure 6). Apart from R. Mouterde and A. Poidebard’s registration of some sites in the northern part of the area,1 Schlumberger’s investigation of two small forts in Jebel Abyad and a very brief visit to the area by a mission from the University of California in 1966,2 no other surveys have been carried out within the area.

The first survey in 2008 concentrated on selected sites up to the area north of Jebel Fasida and Jebel Chaar. It became apparent, however, that the mission was not able to cover the entire area up to Isriye in a satisfactory way. In 2009 the survey was concentrated primarily in Jebel Abyad, Wadi Abyad, the plain of Jazal, the southwestern part of Jebel Chaar and, in 2011, around Jebel Merah. The survey was divided between a ‘prehistoric’ and a ‘historic team’. As they covered slightly different areas and shared information, it was possible to achieve a more intensive coverage, and especially to note areas with a low concentration of sites. Only remains of buildings, water catching systems, wells and cisterns were registered, not concentrations of ceramics outside sites, and the survey did not cover the landscape systematically in parallel transects.

Due to the size of the area, the surveys were carried out extensively, after previous reconnaissances from 2005 to 2008, and also before each season, combined with studies of maps and available satellite images. Up to 2010, the only satellite imagery available was old Corona images from 1968 with a resolution of 1.8 m and a relatively low-resolution coverage by Google Earth showing only larger sites. The Corona images still have some value because they show the landscape before heavy traffic became dominant.3 The project did not have funds sufficient to acquire high-resolution satellite images of the entire survey area, but only of selected areas from European Space Imaging in the southern part, primarily as a supplement to previous surveys and to check areas that had only been covered more sporadically. From 2010 to 2011, high resolution images in Google Earth and in Digital Globe for Bing Maps with a resolution of 0.50 m became available for the mountain ranges north of Palmyra. By comparing surveyed sites on the images with corresponding features on other images to distinguish them from geological features and modern activities, the investigations could be expanded to Jebel Bilaas, Jebel Abu Riĝmen and new areas of Jebel Chaar. The Syrian-Norwegian survey also had reconnaissances

The mission only had permission to conduct a ground survey, and no excavation or test trenches were made, though we were allowed to take samples of mudbricks from one site for pollen analysis and carbon-14 dating in Bergen.5 A ground penetrating radar would have been an excellent tool at many sites to acquire information about the buildings in depth. This would, however, have been very time-consuming, and, from a cost-effectiveness perspective, would have reduced the area the survey could to cover. A total station theodolite from the Museum of Palmyra was employed at one site, but its use also turned out to be very time-consuming, and the survey was kept at a low-technological level. All artifacts from the surface of sites were picked up for a closer analysis in Palmyra. As most of the surface of the bādiya is a hard impervious crust, baked by the sun, sherds are very often displaced by runoff water during heavy showers in contrast to ploughed surfaces.

Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 89–96. The survey was carried out by Giorgio Bucccellati, Marilyn K. Buccellati from the University of California, Los Angeles and Ali Taha and Khaleed al-As‛ad from the museum in Palmyra between al-Qaryatayn and Jebel Bisri. They visited some sites in Jebel Chaar, investigated by Schlumberger, and a single site east of Jebel Chaar, Shnai (probably identical to Shanaeh) without registering any finds. Buccellati and Buccelatti 1966. Unfortunately the short report is unpublished. 3  See Gazetteer 92, Figure 100. 1  2 

We would like to express our thanks to the Sheik of Mawali for hospitality and generosity. In January 2009, Abdelbasit Kanawi and the author, as representatives from the museum in Palmyra, and representatives from DGAM in Damascus visited sites registered by David Sterry, supervisor in Petro-Canada, during the seismological investigations. 5  Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016. 4 

9

Palmyrena

Figure 6. Concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

10

Survey In the initial phase, larger sites were divided into sectors, separated by the smaller wadis. It soon became apparent that the finds did not allow any detailed dating of individual buildings and that the diagnostic sherds only provided a very rough dating of a site as such, so procedures were simplified to save time.

of movement. Generally, the modern Bedouins have only a faint recollection of life and what the territory looked like before these changes.9 Moreover, the elder generation in Palmyra itself has almost no knowledge of the conditions around Palmyra and the economic activities close to the oasis before the modernisation of Syrian society.10 Our best source for the pre-industrial life and the ecological conditions in the Palmyrene territory and the bādiya is the Czech explorer Alois Musil, mentioned in the introduction, and Jibrail S. Jabbur (1900–1991) from al-Qaryatayn southwest of Palmyra, whose book about the Bedouin in the Middle East contains important personal observations about the region.11

Local knowledge When we planned our survey, we expected to make use of local knowledge about remains of ancient buildings and relics. On early reconnaissances, we had observed that Bedouin burial grounds were frequently located close to or on the top of small tells with visible remains of ancient structures, and we had the ‘romantic’ idea that the distant past had some importance for the Bedouin groups. We soon realized that the modern people of the bādiya are unable to identify ancient relics, except for columns or artifacts which they know from Palmyra itself.6 Bronze Age cairns are considered to be heaps of stones with no historical significance. Even if they are shown drawings or pictures of ancient walls, they cannot recognize them. They bury their dead close to the tells, because they will be on high ground protected from the seasonal floods, and because they can reuse the stones from the ancient walls to construct and mark burial chambers. At Shalala in Jebel Abyad,7 which is a very popular camping ground, a large obvious tell was used as a burial site, but nobody had noticed or paid any attention to several stretches of clearly visible walls in the tell. After our registration of the site, however, the Bedouins made several diggings along the walls in search of saleable antiquities, but without doing any serious damage because the material around the walls in the top of tell consists of fallen stones and accumulated windblown material. This had the positive effect that the survey was able to return later and see how deep the walls were buried in the tell.

The impact of modern activities in the survey area Tadmur and the surrounding territory were only lately included in the modernization of Syrian society, and up to the 1960s the city was more or less isolated with bad communication with the rest of Syria. The territory north of the city has been almost unchanged since the late Ottoman period, even though there was an increasing exploitation of the scattered population of Terebinth trees for charcoal. The trees are now almost completely gone from Jebel Chaar, Jebel Abyad and the western part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen.12 The archaeological sites north of Palmyra have been more or less untouched by human activity since they were abandoned in late antiquity and the early Islamic period, even though there had been some clandestine diggings in Jebel Chaar after the First World War.13 After 1980, Tadmur has experienced growth and become an important regional centre and target for international tourism, and the northern territory has been included in the development. Between 1984 and 1986, a new barrage was constructed in the southern part of Wadi Abyad, which destroyed the ruins of Antaar below the dam and submerged the area around Bir Hafir.14 Modern motorized traffic in the Wadi Abyad basin has also disturbed the surface extensively and made observations difficult.

The Bedouins have a very practical knowledge of the territory: where to find good grazing ground, campsites and access to water in functional cisterns and wells. Normally their historical memory is very selective and goes back three generations at the most, which is enough to connect the living and maintain social relations. All before that is just very old. This has great consequences also for our understanding of the territory and its resources. The Bedouin way of life has changed dramatically over the last 50 years since the abolition of tribal law and traditional grazing rights (Urf) in 1958.8 The introduction of the lorry, permitting large-scale movements and transport of additional feed and water, has changed the seasonal pattern

From 2000, the Syrian government has started seismological investigations in search of oil and gas in central Syria. In some areas, this posed a severe threat to archaeological sites, as bulldozers were used to make a grid covering the landscape. Fortunately, David In the 1960’s the central government tried without success to introduce the cultivation of barley in the territory in an attempt to settle its Bedouin population. Only a few very old people could provide information about that. 10  An exception was Khaleed Gusaiban al-Assry Malouh of the local al-Umur tribe, who was governmental keeper in the Wadi Abyad area. See pp. 36 and 92. 11  Jabbur 1995. 12  See pp. 21‒23. 13  PNO X. 14  Gazetteer 91‒94. 9 

The only exception was the Sheik Mhanna of the Mawali tribe who had a more detailed knowledge of ancient sites in Jebel Chaar. 7  See Gazetteer 111. 8  Masri 2001, 16–18; Wirth 1971, 258–261; Sanlaville 2000, 14; Chatty 2006, 740–741. 6 

11

Palmyrena Sterry from Petro-Canada, who was responsible for geological survey north of Palmyra, was aware of this, and bulldozers were only used in a very limited way to keep the environmental impact as low as possible, and as a protection, the archaeological sites were marked. Otherwise, there is one modern installation covering a small valley in the northern part of Jebel Merah that might conceal remains of an ancient settlement.15 The new asphalt roads across Jebel Chaar (1988) and across

15 

Jebel Abu-Riĝmen (2003) further to the northwest towards Isriye do not seem to have damaged any sites seriously. Apart from the Antaar ruins the only site which has suffered from modern activities is the ruins at al-Khaïrem at southern end of Wadi Abyad, where a bulldozer has destroyed the tell.16 Generally, impact of the modern development in the survey area has been very limited and the conditions for a survey were excellent.

See p. 160, Figure 220.

16 

12

Gazetteer 76.

Chronology of the sites The chronology of the sites surveyed by the SyrianNorwegian mission is based on the collection of surface finds: mainly pottery, some coins and in one instance a carbon-14 dating of a mudbrick. Most of the surface finds were brittle ware and coarse ware of undefinable body shapes, undiagnostic and undatable. There are only very limited safe chronological sequences for the common ware of the region, and many dates can only be given with uncertainty and great margin of error.1 It soon became evident that the finds from surface survey have obvious limitations in establishing a more accurate chronology for the sites. Sherds are very often displaced by runoff water during heavy showers in contrast to ploughed surfaces. Sites heavily eroded by water, floods, or wind display a predominance of relatively early finds, whereas the pottery from sites with less erosion shows a much later distribution. At Khabar the underlying structures are only visible as banks, and the few finds show a very late distribution.2 On the other side of the wadi, however, floods have cut through a hill with a small tell, and the finds show a much earlier distribution.3 The building at Wadi alTakara South, which lies on a small hilltop, has been exposed to rain and wind, and the finds are relatively early.4 When we started our survey, we thought that the visible walls were foundation walls for mud-andstraw brick structures, which is a very common, ageold technique in the Middle East and in Palmyra itself, where doorposts and columns are the only visible remains of former houses. At Khaleed al-Ali the decomposed walls had even formed a marked tell with the mudbricks clearly visible in the top of the tell.5 A few sites such as al-Khaïrem and Jazal,6 where solidly built walls where visible, were regarded as exceptions to the rule that such walls were only used in connection with monumental buildings.

Figure 7. Abandoned building at Wadi Giffa southeast of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer).

foundations for mud-and-straw-brick structures.7 The walls go down at least 1 ½ m into the tell (Figure 283). They are visible upper parts of preserved walls with larger inner and outer stones and a filling of smaller ones and clay in the middle, a technique widely used in the modern oasis of Palmyra. When the buildings were abandoned, the walls were no longer maintained, rain slowly eroded them from the top down, leaving debris at the foot of the walls (Figure 7). Frequent dust storms too are a strong force in forming the landscape (Figure 8). In the open landscape, they bring in loose surface material and also dust from as far away as Sahara. If the buildings are located in a depression or on lee sides of slopes, windblown material will accumulate between the walls filling up the rooms, and protecting them against further erosion. It is a race against time. When the windblown material has reached the top of the preserved walls, the surface will even out and obtain a hard impervious crust through combined effects of rain

At site JME 330 in Jebel Merah, however, Bedouin diggings show that the visible stretches of walls are not Elisabeth Katzy, Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients, University of Tübingen, has been responsible for the analysis of the pottery from the 2008 survey. I am also deeply grateful to Grzegorz Majcherek, Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, Denis Genequand, The Council for British Research in the Levant and Roberta Tomber, British Museum, for assistance. Unfortunately, Agnès Vokaer’s La ‘Brittle Ware’ en Syrie. Production et diffusion d’une céramique culinaire de l’époque hellénistique à l’époque omeyyade  from 2011 came too late to be included in the chronological analysis of the brittle ware, and at the moment there is no access to the material in the archives of the museum of Palmyra. 2  Gazetteer 154. 3  Gazetteer 156. 4  Gazetteer 120. 5  Gazetteer 205. 6  Gazetteer 76 and 133. 1 

7 

13

Gazetteer 190.

Palmyrena

Figure 8. Dust storm in Palmyra May 2008 (J.C. Meyer).

and sun, very often reinforced by a thin layer of grass roots. The former buildings will appear as small tells with stretches of walls in the upper surface and at some sites a slight depression in the middle where there have been large open courtyards. This also means that the existence of tells does not necessarily indicate deep cultural layers. Small wadis may later cut into a tell and bring sherds to the surface, but generally the amount of surface finds at this type of site is surprisingly low. At site JME 330, only a few scattered sherds were visible on the surface.8 At Madaba in the southeastern part of Jebel Chaar the amount and diversity of pottery gathered was surprisingly small considering the size and complexity of the site.9

period’ and thirdly the ‘assumption that all sites were continuously occupied to their maximum extent for the whole period’. Even at sites with large amounts of finds, the quantitative and chronological distribution cannot reveal fluctuations in the intensity of human activities. The absence of datable finds from specific periods does not necessarily mean that a site has not been occupied in those periods. It may depend on the degree of erosion or the accumulation of windblown material. In other words, we often ask questions, which can only be answered by excavating the individual sites. Still, with all these limitations in mind, some general conclusions may be drawn from the surface finds. When we started our survey in 2008 we thought it likely the finds would correspond with Sclumberger’s dating of the sites in Jebel Chaar solely to the three first centuries AD, perhaps with some limited material from the Hellenistic period, in light of the results from the Syro-German/Austrian mission’s investigation of the so-called ‘Hellenistic city’ in Palmyra itself from 1997.11 It was therefore a great surprise that a larger part of the datable sherds from the 2008 survey belonged to the period after AD 300, when Palmyra lost its position as a major caravan city and was reduced to a Roman

In connection with the early Islamic period in Syria, Alan Walmsley has rightly summed up the problems using surface finds to reconstruct the history of the individual sites.10 Firstly the ‘utter unreliability of surface sherding as an accurate reflection of the underground reality’, secondly the ‘presentation of survey results in terms of historical periods, and the failure to adjust settlement levels in line with the relative length of each Due to the termination of the survey in May 2011, no sherds were collected for further analysis. 9  Gazetteer 137. 10  Walmsley 2007, 108–109. 8 

11 

14

Schmidt-Colinet and al-As‛ad 2013.

Chronology of the sites

Figure 9. Byzantine/Umayyad handles from Khaleed al-Ali (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 10. Green glazed ware from Shanaeh. 7th/8th‒10th cent. AD (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 11. Red glazed ware, 9th cent. AD, and blue glazed ware, 12th‒13th cent. AD from Shanaeh (J.C. Meyer). Figure 12. A follis with the head of Constantine II (337‒340) from Jazal (J.C.

military stronghold at the Strata Diocletiana. Byzantine and early Islamic pottery was quite frequent at many sites (Figures 9‒11).12 This dating was later corroborated by the carbon-14 dating of the mudbrick to soon after AD 600 at Khaleed al-Ali, where the surface finds also showed a late distribution to the Byzantine and early Islamic period.13 There was also a sherd datable to the Ayyubid period (12th and 13th century) at the fort of Shanaeh (Figure 11).14 This tendency continued on the sites surveyed in 2009 and 2011, and also the coins showed a chronological distribution from the 2nd century to the middle of the 4th century (Figure 12), and one coin datable to the Umayyad period (Figure 13) and another to the 13th century.15 There is a At Khabar station and Fasida only Byzantine and Islamic pottery was registered. Gazetteer 154, 208. 13  Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016, Gazetteer 205. 14  Gazetteer 150. 15  Tweihina: Antoninus Pius 138–161. Shanaeh: Volusianus 251–253. Wadi Takara south: Maximinianus 285–306 and Mameluke, al-Mazrah: 12 

Figure 13. An early Islamic follis from Jazal (J.C. Meyer).

15

Palmyrena the fall of Zenobia.20 He did not register insignificant surface finds. This is obvious at the small fort on the hilltop at Tweihina in Jebel Abyad.21 Our survey not only registered a building in the wadi below the fort, which he did not include in his investigations, but also gathered sherds from the slops of the hilltop that can be safely dated after AD 300.22 At Tweihina, there can be no doubt that the activities continued up into the Byzantine period. Schlumberger’s dating of the villages in Jebel Chaar and the forts in Jebel Abyad to the first three centuries AD must be revised. They had a much longer history. According to Schlumberger, no artifacts from his excavations were datable to the Hellenistic period, which is consistent with the surface finds of our survey. The earliest find is a foot of an unguentarium belonging to a type, datable to the 1st century BC and the early 1st century AD at Madaba in Jebel Chaar (Figure 190).23 Future excavations of some selected sites may change that, but at present, the first expansion into the northern hinterland must be dated to the Roman period. It is also interesting to note that nearly all Schlumberger’s sites in Jebel Chaar can be safely dated to the Roman period. The only exception is a well-built square building (20 x 26 m) at Rasm ech Chaar with rounded buttresses at the corners, along the walls and on each side of the main entrance (Figure 5). Sclumberger classified it as a small fort and dated it to the Roman period.24 The layout, however, has clear parallels to Umayyad estates,25 and the only registered datable find from the site is a fragment of a Roman relief, showing the head of a man. It was found in debris and may come from an earlier edifice at the site or have been brought in from somewhere else.26 With some caution, the dating of the first phase of the villages in Jebel Chaar to the early Roman period can also be applied to the majority of the sites surveyed where datable surface pottery makes a later impression. It would be surprising if the chronology of the sites at other places differed markedly in this respect.

Figure 14. Ottoman clay pipe bowls from al-Khaïrem (J.C. Meyer).

sharp decline in pottery datable to after the Umayyad period,16 and the only finds from the Ottoman period were a few fragments of terracotta tobacco pipe bowls (Figure 14).17 Sclumberger’s dating did not seem to apply for the other areas north of Palmyra. Is it possible that the sites at Jebel Chaar were more or less abandoned at the end of the third century, while the occupation in Jebel Merah, Jebel Abyad and Wadi Abyad continued to be occupied rather intensively into the Byzantine and early Islamic period? The surface finds from Madaba in the southeastern part of Jebel Chaar too have a late tendency,18 and we need to have a closer look at the material Schlumberger used to date his sites. As mentioned in the introduction, Schlumberger did not excavate ordinary buildings, but only places of worship. This was probably due to priorities, for his excavations were also an emergency campaign with emphasis on monumental architecture, inscriptions and finer artefacts on which he based his chronology.19 Only a few coins could be dated to the period after

PNO 132–133. (Maxentius 309–312. Maximinianus 286–305). PNO 48–50; 86–88. 22  Gazetteer 103. 23  Gazetteer 137. 24  PNO 44–46, 85, pl. XLII, 4. PNO 107. 25  Genequand 2004, 18; Genequand 2012, 184–186. 26  Immediately south of the building there are stretches of walls belonging to a less monumental and perhaps earlier building, measuring about 45 x 45 m, with a large central courtyard. The site was visited in 2007 and the banks are visible on satellite images: N34.932989 E37.955688. 20  21 

Theodosius II 408–450. Jazal: Constantinus II: 335–340 and Umayyad. 16  Undiagnostic red-glazed ware has been found at Al-Takara N, alKhoula, al-Mazraah. JMW035, JMW079, JMW089, Madaba (Gazetteer 126, 122, 99, 164, 168, 171, 137) and blue-glazed ware at Shanaeh, alMazrah, Bir Jazal (Gazetteer 150, 99, 133). 17  Kshebar, Bir Jazal, al-Khaïrim, al-Mazraah (Gazetteer 98, 133, 76, 99). 18  Gazetteer 137. 19  PNO xi–xii.

16

Topography and climate Palmyra is located in a depression about 400 m above sea level at the eastern part of a huge basin, formed by the Palmyra Basin to the east and the adjacent adDaw Basin to the west, measuring about 14,000 km². (Figures 15‒16). The centre of the depression is the great inhospitable salt plain, Sabkhet al-Moûh, south and southeast of the oasis. Palmyra is often labelled as a ‘Desert city’ or ‘Queen of the desert’, not only in popular literature but also in scientific works. Ernest Will called it La Venise des sables.1 However, the term ‘desert’ is very imprecise. Even if, as Pliny states, the oasis were surrounded by sands on all sides,2 there is obviously a huge difference between the Empty Quarter of Inner Arabia or Sahara, on the one hand, and the hinterland of Palmyra, on the other. In Arabic, there are two words for desert: sahra, which have given name to Sahara in Africa, and bādiya.3 They are very often used without any distinction, but the Bedouin themselves call the landscape around Palmyra bādiya (from the same root, bdw, as Bedouin), which means a territory inhabited by

Bedouin in search of pasture and water. In contrast to sandy deserts, where vegetation rarely grows outside the oases, the bādiya receives rain every year mainly between November and May, and the surface turns green from the sprouting grass. The most precise translation of bādiya is ‘dry steppe’. The average yearly precipitation for Palmyra during the period from 1934 to 1966 was 125 mm, but there has been great variations from year to year.4 In drier years, often 3 to 4 years on end, the annual rainfall can be as low as 60–80 mm; in wetter years very rarely as high as 255 mm. There are, however, great differences between the northern and the southern territory both geographically and climatically. The southern territory is a huge dry steppe that continues across the SyrianIraqi border and al-Ḥamâd towards the Arabian Desert to the southeast (Figure 17). The landscape is relatively level with no mountain ranges, but with smaller and larger shallow wadis, some fanning into the Palmyra

Figure 15. Topography of the Palmyrene hinterland (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Will 1992. Pliny NH 5, 88. 3  Jabbur 1995, 43–46. 1  2 

4 

17

Wirth 1971, 88–92.

Palmyrena

Figure 16. Drainage from the mountains north of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Basin, others leading to the Euphrates valley. The growth and flowering season is from early winter to spring. The area has much lower precipitation than the northern territory, and by early summer vegetation has wilted, except in the wadi beds, which have more moisture.

The area west, north and northeast of Palmyra is dominated by mountain ranges and broad valleys.5 The Palmyra range runs towards the southwest in the direction of Damascus. North of this range the landscape opens out into an approximately 30 km For a more detailed description of the landscape within the concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian see the gazetteer. 5 

18

Topography and climate

Figure 17. The landscape at Wadi al-Butmiya 90 km southeast of Palmyra in late April 2006 (J.C. Meyer).

broad plain, Ad Daw, stretching from Palmyra almost to Homs. The landscape north of ad-Daw and Palmyra is a mountainous uprising up to 1300 m above sea level, with the mountains Jebel Abu Riĝmen, Jebel Abyad, Jebel Chaar, Jebel Bilaas and Jebel Merah. Jebel Abu Riĝmen stretches as far as Es Sukhne with two southwestern spurs, Jebel Safra and Jebel Marbat al-Hassâne. It is separated from Jebel Abyad by the large Wadi Abyad basin, measuring about 250 km². Wadi Abyad means ‘the White Wadi’, and on satellite images the area has a distinctive whiteness due to heavy erosion by floods during the rainy season. Wadi Abyad collects water from all the surrounding mountainsides before it enters the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ and the et-Tarfa depression at the eastern end of the ad-Daw Basin through a narrow opening between Jebel Abyad and Jebel Marbat al-Hassâne. Jebel Abyad makes a curve, with steep sides towards Wadi Abyad, encompassing the Plain of Jazal south of the mountains. The water from the northeastern and eastern parts of the mountain range enter Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ through Wadi al-Matna and Wadi al-Takara. The landscape north of Wadi Abyad, between Jebel Chaar to the west and Jebel Abu Riĝmen to the east, is dominated by a 19 km long mountain ridge, Jebel Merah. Jebel Chaar can be characterized as a large undulating mountain plateau, covering more than 400 km², with easy access from the south, east and north. To the southwest broad valleys between Jebel Souâné

ech Chéfé and Jebel ech Chéfé open out to a broad plain and Wadi Jihar north of Jebel Abyad, leading to Bir Jihar and the at-Tarfa depression west of Palmyra, and the Plain of ad-Daw between Palmyra and Homs. The deep narrow valley of Sorrate ech Chéfé separates Jebel Chaar from another mountain plateau, Jebel Bilaas, to the west, before the level landscape flattens towards alSalamiyah and Hamah. The drainage from the northern part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen, Jebel Chaar, Jebel Bilaas and Jebel Merah runs towards the north and the huge plain up to Euphrates. The climatic conditions in the mountains differ from the plain south of Palmyra and also from Palmyra itself. When Musil travelled through Wadi Abyad and Jebel Abu Riĝmen in 1912 he remarked: Our guide asserted that in summer the districts north of Tudmor swarm with gazelles, but that, on the other hand, these animals are rarely seen in winter or spring, when they remain in the neighborhood of al-Ḥamâd. Not until all the grass there has wilted and dried up do they return to Palmyrena, which, with its more adequate moisture, keeps the grass in good condition until late in the autumn.6

6 

19

Palmyrena 149.

Palmyrena

Figure 18. Present day precipitation in Syria (Gidske Andersen, University in Bergen).

Greater moisture may be due to lower temperatures at higher altitudes and to occasional mist, but the mountain ranges lie within the 200–250 mm isohyet, which in theory is adequate for the cultivation of barley (Figure 18). Notwithstanding, yearly variations with much lower precipitation and several years of continuous drought make traditional dry-farming a risky business and stable agriculture generally needs about 400 mm.7 The changing grazing possibilities during year were not important only for the population of gazelles. They have also been the basis for Bedouin tribes and their seasonal movements from north to south and vice versa throughout their history.8

use on the basis of fluctuations in precipitation.9 In his view the zenith of Palmyra and Petra coincided with a more humid period, and the decline of Palmyra at the end of the 3rd century with a steadily deteriorating climate. From the 5th century the conditions improved, and the Byzantine Empire flourished. In the 7th century a new phase of desiccation began, and the Levant was lost to the Arabs. Nobody will maintain that the climatic conditions were absolutely constant, but such historical determinism is very problematic, as pointed out by several scholars.10 Since it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact bounds of periods of dry and wet years, with historical data being used to a large extent to date transitions, discussions ends in circular reasoning.11 Further the archaeological data

How, then, were climatic conditions in antiquity? Some scholars, e.g. A. S. Isaar have tried to explain political history, and changes in settlement patterns and land 7  8 

Isaar 2003, 25–28; Isaar and Zohar 2004, 213–217; Issar and Ginat and Zohar 2011. 10  Haiman, 1995; A. M. Rosen 2007, 150–171; S.A. Rosen 2000; Waliszewski 2014, 86–92.  11  A. M. Rosen 2007, 165. 9 

Wirth 1971, 92; Genequand 2012, 12. See pp. 35‒36. Wirth 1971, 254–258; Raswan 1930.

20

Topography and climate

Figure 19. Vegetation in the protected area at Hwesys northwest of Palmyra in late April 2007 (J.C. Meyer).

from the Negev and, as we shall see later, also from Palmyra, seem to contradict a decline in settlement intensity in the arid zones of the Near East in the late Byzantine period and after the Arab conquest, in the Umayyad period.12 The general climatic conditions in the Hellenistic-Roman period, both in arid zones in the Middle East and North Africa, have probably not been markedly different from those of the present, though there have been minor fluctuations between cooler/ moister and warmer/drier periods.13

grazing.16 The traditional Bedouin pattern of movement has also been obstructed after the abolition of tribal law and traditional grazing rights, Urf, in 1958.17 In recent times the Syrian government has established several protected areas, with very restricted Bedouin grazing, in the mountains north of Palmyra in order to restore the original vegetation of the bādiya (Figure 19). Even after the hot summer months the landscape retains its green colour.18 We should, however, bear in mind that nomads with their livestock have been an integral part of the ecological system throughout the history, and that present conditions in the protected areas are artificial. Still, we do gain an impression of the potential of the bādiya for grazing in pre-industrial society and, as we shall see later, also for some agriculture dependent on actual yearly precipitation.

This does not mean that the landscape around Palmyra, as we see it, was the same in antiquity. Nowadays the dry steppe, the bādiya, leaves a ‘desert-like’ impression with only sparse vegetation most of the year, except during the winter, when the landscape may get a green tinge, both north and south of Palmyra. This is partly due to deep economic and social changes in Syrian society. Population growth from 5.9 million in 1967 to 21.8 million in 2010 has caused an increased consumption of livestock products, mainly sheep, which have become the dominant livestock on the bādiya at the expense of the much hardier camel.14 The introduction of the lorry has permitted large-scale movements and transport of additional fodder and water to the Bedouin.15 They are now able to keep their flocks on pasture during the hot, dry season from late spring to early autumn, instead of moving the livestock to areas with better vegetation towards the north. This has resulted in a deterioration of the grazing lands. Seasonal movements are vital for the regeneration of forage plants, but these are now replaced by other fast-growing species unsuitable for

In the area north of Palmyra there has been another dramatic change in vegetation. Nowadays there are only a few scattered terebinth and fig trees in the western part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen and Jebel Bilaas (Figure 20), but Musil gives us a description of how the landscape looked in 1912: (Jebel Abu Riĝmen) All the ridges are wide and undulating. Terebinth trees grow everywhere, making the country look like a vast natural park. Their fruit is picked for the oil it contains, which the settlers use in preparing food, the Tadâmre even preferring it to olive oil. The Terebinth resin is also gathered and sold at Aleppo.19 (Jebel Abyad – Wadi al-Takara) The nearer we approached, the more distinctly could be seen

S. A. Rosen 2000, 52–54; Haiman 1995, 48. Wirth 1971, 98; Barker 2002; A. M. Rosen 2007, 150–171; Van der Veen and Grant and Barker 1996, 259; Gilbertson 1996, 291–299; Barker and Gilbertson 1996, 345–346. 14  Wirth 1971, 265–267. 15  Wirth 1971, 258–265; Lancaster and Lancaster 1999, 214; Masri 2001, 16–18. 12  13 

Wirth 1971, 131–134. Chatty 2006. 18  The protected area 75 km WNW of Palmyra at Hwesys in southern end of Jebel Bilaas was visited both in April and October. 19  Palmyrena 149. 16  17 

21

Palmyrena

Figure 20. Terebinth trees in the western part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 21. Population of Terebinth trees in the eastern part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

22

Topography and climate the groups of trees in the western part of al-Abjaz mountains. These are especially numerous on both sides of Wadi Dekara, which end in the lowland of al-Ehcej.20

valuable resource. It provided fuel, oil and resin, and according to Musil its leaves and offshoots were also gathered and used for animal feed.25 The morning dew from the trees must have been important for the local flora. Geographic names southwest of Palmyra in the vicinity of al-Qaryatayn also reflect a different vegetation in former times.26 The toponym al-Butmīyāt, the area south of Manqura, 40 km southeast of alQaryatayn,27 means ‘the Terebinths’, al-Khadrīyāt, 30 km east of al-Qaryatayn,28 means ‘the Green Ones’ and Wadi al-Tīn, 17 km northeast of al-Qayatan,29 means ‘the Wadi of the Fig Trees’.

(Jebel Merah) To the northwest stand the wooded cones of al-Mra’.21 French photos from the 1930s confirm Musil’s observations,22 and satellite images show a large, dense population of terebinth trees still surviving in the remoter eastern part of Jebel Abu Riĝmen (Figure 21). The demand for charcoal and fuel of the growing population of modern Palmyra has almost annihilated these trees.23 Terebinths grow very slowly, become several hundred years old and are extremely vulnerable to felling. Ancient Palmyra too must have exploited the population, but correctly managed, pollarding the branches and not cutting the stems, the trees could still be the source of energy without causing deforestation, whereas the date palms of the oasis have only a very limited value as fuel.24 There can be no doubt that the mountains in the Ottoman period and the ancient period were covered with trees. The terebinth was a

The climate around Palmyra in antiquity most probably did not differ from the modern conditions with fluctuations between wet and dry years. In years with high precipitation the northern territory fell within the 200 mm isohyet, which is sufficient for the cultivation of barley. The vegetation was, however, markedly different from that of the present, with a large population of trees in the mountains north of Palmyra, and this may have affected the micro-climate with a higher local precipitation, though this is a disputed theory.30

Palmyrena 146. Jabbur 1995, 56. 27  Palmyrena 105 (al‒Buṭmijjât). German map 1940, 1:200 000, Blatt 22, Saba – Biar (El Boutmiyate). 28  German map 1940, 1:200 000, Blatt 15, Karatein (Koudriate). 29  Musil 1928 (At Tîn), 126. German map 1940, 1:200 000, Blatt 15, Karatein (Ouadi et Tiné). 30  Spellman 2000, 36–37. 25  26 

Palmyrena 147. Palmyrena 149. PNO pl. I, 4, XI, 1, XVI, 1; PNO pl. XX, 1–3. See also Wirth 1971, 130– 131; Rowton 1967, 271–273; Zohary 1940, 158–161. 23  Jabbur 1995, 56. 24  Krzywinski 2001; Christensen 2001. 20  21  22 

23

Water supply Wells, springs and cisterns Access to water is of paramount importance for life and settlements in the bādiya. North of Palmyra there are three sources: wells, spring areas and cisterns (Figure 22).

the eastern slope of Jebel Abyad, and at Jazal at the northwestern corner of Jebel Abyad south of the mountain range. Nowadays they are only visible as small ponds of water or green patches (Figure 75), and at Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun 5 km northwest of Bir Jazal a large spring-fed reservoir was empty.3 At Ouéchel a qanat only delivers water to a small reservoir, provisionally constructed across the opening (Figures 94–95).4 For some unknown reason, the amount of water in aquifers has dwindled dramatically since Musil traveled through Wadi Abyad in 1912, where he gave the following description of Ouéchel (Ouéchel):

Wells Most wells are located in connection with the larger wadis, Wadi Abyad, Wadi Masaadé and the Wadi Jazal. This is due to the fact, that the surface of the bādiya generally forms an impervious crust not allowing water to penetrate into the subsurface in larger quantities, and most of it runs into the wadi systems. In the wadi, some of the floodwater will percolate deeply into sedimentary layers of the wadi-bed and thereafter follow the prevailing drainage in the landscape. Geological features at the bottom of the bed may create subsoil reservoirs with water, accumulated over a very long period, which can be reached by digging shafts into aquifers. Another source is aquifers in the mountains. The opening of most wells is circular or semi-circular, measuring up to 2 m in diameter, with a stone lining at the top to prevent soil from the top layers entering the well, very often with deep grooves after the rope hoisting the well bucket, and in depth the shaft narrows and becomes four-sided (Figure 92). At Bir Jazal1 and Bir Jouâae’d west of Jebel Safra in Wadi Abyad2 where the water is very close to surface, the opening of the wells can be huge up to 12 m in diameter forming a slightly truncated conical open reservoir with well-constructed stone lining at the top (Figure 97, Figure 178). Nowadays the water is pumped up to water gardens.

(March 24) At 7.10 we saw north of us in about the center of the eastern slope of al-Abjaẓ a green meadow irrigated by the spring of al-Wešel, on the side of which is a small ruin.5 There can be no doubt that the capacity of the springs must have been much greater in antiquity than observed today, as is also indicated by a qanat and an aqueduct constructed at Ouéchel. The water in the spring areas, which is of very high quality, is collected in two ways. At al-Khaïrim,6 Majouf7 and Ouéchel8 wells or shallow reservoirs are cut into the rock to collect the water from the aquifers. The wells that are located in gorges close to the mountainside are, like wells close to the wadis, very vulnerable to floods. At Ouéchel, heavy rainfalls in 2008 and 2009 filled wells with contaminated surface water, rendering them unsuitable as a source for human consumption for a long period. The other way, which we find only at Ouéchel, is to cut a horizontal channel into the sloping bedrock as is done in a qanat system.

The wells are sunk into outer edge of the wadis, preferably as far away as possible from the bed of the wadi on higher ground or at least on small low islands in broader wadis to minimize the destructive force of floods during heavy showers. Floods can fill up wells with stones and other material, and earth and dust can render water unpotable. High concentrations of salt or sulphur are not a problem north of Palmyra and the water is generally of good quality for human consumption.

Cisterns and water harvesting systems Cisterns are fed with runoff from the surface, mountainsides or small wadis during showers. At the top most of them look like wells, with a stone lining, but in depth they widen up and form bottle-shaped reservoirs. They are either cut into the rock or built up with stones covered with plaster, also allowing impurities of the runoff water to settle at the bottom and not least preventing the water from evaporating during the hot

Spring areas All spring areas in the northern territory are located in Jebel Abyad: at al-Khaïrim, Awtayt, al-Dejn, Majouf and Ouéchel in bowl-shaped valleys and gorges on 1  2 

Gazetteer 131. Gazetteer 86. Palmyrena 148–149. 6  Gazetteer 76. 7  Gazetteer 84. 8  Gazetteer 86. 3  4  5 

Gazetteer 133. Gazetteer 90.

24

Water supply

Figure 22. Distribution of springs, wells and cisterns in the southern part of the survey area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

season. Other cisterns are rectangular with a vaulted roof, and occasionally natural caves are used to store water.9 It is very difficult to calculate the capacity of the cisterns. Many are largely filled up, no longer maintained 9 

or have a roof which has collapsed. The depth down to the water level of functional cisterns ranges from two to six m, but the survey was not equipped to measure the depth and width of the reservoirs.

Gazetteer 184, 116.

25

Palmyrena The capacity of a cistern is not just a question of volume, but also of the size of the catchment area and how the water is collected and conducted into the cistern. Smaller wadis can be dammed up by low crosswadi walls. In some cases, these walls are constructed as small dams (Figure 194, Figure 238).10 Natural geological features in a mountainside such as natural grooves or smaller gorges can be utilized, with short supply channels close to the opening of the cistern.11 Larger wadis and gorges are avoided because of the destructive force of the torrents during heavy showers. Catchment areas can be further extended by constructing supply channels diagonally across the slopes of mountainsides to intercept all the rills flowing from the summit (Figure 195). Some supply channels are over 300 m long. Normally they are constructed using large rocks bound together with mud and smaller stones, but occasionally they are cut into the rock. Runoff from steep, bare mountainsides has the advantage of containing less sediment. Adjoining cisterns may have overlapping systems embracing entire summits (Bir al-Arfa, Tweihina) or low hilltops (al-Koullah), in some cases supplemented with supply channels along the foot of the hill.12 Even small differences in height can be exploited. At the southern end of a large wadi island in Wadi al-Takara two cisterns with supply channels collect all the runoff from the flat inclining plateau, and the difference in height between the catchment area and the cisterns is less than two meters.13

the nine cisterns. Evaporation and percolation are no serious problem, for rain does not fall in the hot season, and water moves rapidly over the rocky mountainsides and the hard surface of the bādiya.16 Chronology of wells and cisterns Wells and cisterns are extremely difficult to date. The mouths of many functional wells and cisterns have been reinforced with concrete and supplied with an iron lid. Some supply channels are definitely more recent constructions, with rows of stones held together partly with concrete. Filled in and partly covered systems obviously go far back in time. Concentrations of wells and cisterns at least indicate hydraulic conditions favourable for digging wells and constructing water catchment systems, and even if they do not necessarily belong to the Roman period, their presence strongly indicates the existence of forerunners if they are close to ancient settlements. According to local information, the Bedouin do not dig wells and cisterns, but only maintain older systems.17 Modern supply channels very often reinforce older channels cut into the bedrock, and the wells and the cisterns are generally very well constructed. The foursided shafts of many wells have been evenly cut into the limestone rock to reach the aquifers. Both the technology and expertise presuppose a much more complex organisation than that of the traditional Bedouin society or of the small community in the oasis in the Ottoman period. At several wells and cisterns there are old weathered troughs of limestone, some of them in fragments and replaced by modern concrete troughs. It is not unusual to find high concentrations of ancient pottery around the cisterns in the debris dug out off from the underground reservoirs, even if the supply channels and the opening are reinforced with concrete.

Cisterns and supply channels need constant maintenance. The accumulated sediments in the bottom of a cistern must be removed frequently to prevent silting up, and the openings of cisterns are frequently surrounded by heaps of fine-grained particles which are visible from a long distance, some even discernable on satellite images. Supply channels constructed with stones and mud are easily washed away and must be rebuilt. Under normal conditions, however, cisterns are a reliable source of water. Experiments in the Negev desert, where the average rainfall is about 100 mm, have shown that even in years with low precipitation the runoff is still sufficient to fill up a cistern.14 At Bir al-Arfa in the northeastern part of Jebel Abyad, there is a high concentration of cisterns with long supply channels along the mountainsides.15 The catchment area measures about 840,000 m². If the yearly precipitation is 100 mm, which is below the average for the region, the area will receive 84,000 m³ of water (84,000,000 l). Even if annual precipitation is reduced to the absolute minimum, 60 mm, there will still be plenty of water (about 50,000 m³) to fill up

There can be no doubt that the distribution and concentration of wells and cisterns gives us a fairly accurate picture of how water resources were utilized in the ancient period, and there were probably many more systems now covered with windblown material and no longer maintained by the Bedouin. Sources of water and settlement pattern Cisterns with supply channels allow settlements in areas without springs or the possibility of drawing water from wells sunk into underground reservoirs. According

Gazetteer 142, 164. Gazetteer 181. 12  Gazetteer 142, 103, 122. 13  Gazetteer 126. 14  Evenari and Shanan and Tadmor 1982, 156–166. 15  Gazetteer 126, 128.

In May 2009, a shower in Jebel Abyad, only lasting about 15 minutes, filled the wadi systems with water and flooded the road from Palmyra to Homs 25 km away. 17  In recent years, many Bedouins bring water out to their camps on trucks in big tanks, and they do not maintain cisterns to the same degree as before.

10 

16 

11 

26

Water supply to Schlumberger, the settlements in Jebel Chaar were mainly dependent on cisterns,18 and the same applies for most of the settlements in our survey area. There are no wells or springs in Jebel Merah, but the foot of the range is one of the most densely settled areas north of Palmyra. The settlement of al-Mazraah in a shallow valley at the eastern edge of Jebel Abyad relied on a single cistern.19 This also means that water catchment systems, if needed, were constructed wherever possible, not just in connection with mountainsides with larger catchment areas such as Bir al-Arfa. Even small differences in height in the landscape can be utilized. Jebel Chaar has an undulating tableland and many of the cisterns in Jebel Merah is located on the broad shelf of the mountain. The stations at the northern and southern ends of Wadi al-Takara20 were obviously built not to control important water resources but rather the most important route through Jebel Abyad, and the surrounding area is not optimal for water harvesting. At Tweihina the conditions are excellent with steep, bare mountainsides, and it is possible that the function of the small fort on the hilltop was both to control an important crossroad and secure access to clean runoff from the surrounding mountainsides, and that the buildings in the wadi below the fort served the same purpose.

Shanaeh at the southern end of Wadi Massaadé between Jebel Chaar and Jebel Merah overlooks a well field in the wadi below, only 1 km south of another concentration of wells.24 The buildings undoubtedly served several purposes.25 They could be stations along the principal routes through the territory, for they controlled the surrounding landscape and access to important sources of water. The importance of the latter is obvious at Ouéchel (Ouéchel),26 where the fort guarded the spring area with wells and an aqueduct, far away from any lines of communication, and the small fort could hardly have exercised any control of Wadi Abyad below. Some settlements relied totally on springs or wells: Khaleed al-Ali at Jebel Fasida north of Jebel Chaar, site WM01 in Wadi Masaadé, Bir Jazal on the Plain of Jazal and al-Khaïrem at the eastern side of Jebel Abyad. At al-Khaïrem, a small aqueduct led water from the spring area to a monumental building, surrounded by smaller ones with courtyards, and a large enclosure, probably a garden.27 At Awtayt and Majouf there are remains of buildings in the spring area and at Awtayt there are some scattered blocks from a monumental structure on the plain below.28 At Shalala, the village on the plain above the spring area might have had cisterns with supply channels, but there are no trace of any, and the people most probably preferred to take their water from the spring. The qanat system and a short stretch of an aqueduct leads towards the plain, which Musil described as a green meadow in 1912, but there are no visible traces of any buildings below, though some might be covered by windblown material. Wells on the eastern side of Wadi Abyad, west and north of Jebel Safra, support modern settlements and gardens, and at Bir Jouâae’d there are remains of several stretches of long walls, probably from an ancient settlement, but the area was not investigated in detail by the survey. There are no traces of any buildings close to the wells in the center of Wadi Abyad. This may be due to heavy water-erosion, but the area was probably unsuitable for settlement owing to frequent floods in the rainy season.

At a few sites in Jebel Abyad, Bir al-Arfa and al-Matna,21 there are concentrations of cisterns with an elaborated system of long supply channels covering an extended catchment area without any trace of larger settlements or stations, apart from a few buildings at Bir alArfa, which may have controlled the area. The steep mountainsides are optimal for water harvesting and they have probably been exploited in connection with the pastoral economy north of Palmyra. The same may apply to the elaborated system at the much smaller site of al-Koullah, on a tributary to Wadi al-Takara.22 There are no traces of buildings, but concentrations of corrals, and though they are extremely difficult to date, they were probably animal pens for seasonal gathering of sheep and goats.

Even if the northern territory has greater precipitation than the bādiya south of Palmyra, water from wells and springs for human and animal consumption was in relatively short supply. As emphasized by Schlumberger a precondition for the development of the resources of the northern area was a heavy investment in cisterns, which would enable settlements to spread into areas where no other sources were available.

Wells and springs determine where some settlements and stations are located. The station at Khabar at the northern end of Wadi Khabar northwest of Jebel Merah lies close to one of the largest concentrations of wells north of Palmyra.23 Thirteen wells have been registered on both sides of the wadi bed in a 600 m long sector north of the station. Some of them are still in use and maintained by the local Bedouin; others are only visible as shallow depressions in the surface. The fort at PNO 130–131. Gazetteer 99. 20  Gazetteer 120, 126. 21  Gazetteer 142, 116. 22  Gazetteer 122. 23  Gazetteer 154.

Gazetteer 150. For a discussion of the function of the buildings see the chapter Forts and station, pp. 60‒62. 26  Gazetteer 86. 27  Gazetteer 76. 28  Gazetteer 82, 84.

18 

24 

19 

25 

27

Villages and estates The food supply of Palmyra

Figure 23. Distribution of settlements north of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

This chapter will discuss the distribution and economic basis of villages north of Palmyra (Figure 23, list of sites pp. 55‒57) and also other sites around Palmyra that may have contributed to the food supply of Palmyra.

identified, except for Labda with a small shrine.1 Most of sites Schlumberger investigated are located in the northern part of the plateau, except for Kheurbet Madaba and Kheurbet Messaadé in Jebel Madaba to the south, Kheurbet es Souâné in Jebel Souâné ech Chéfé, and Kheurbet Ramadane and al-Moghara in Jebel ech Chéfé to the southwest.2 Thirty-four new sites can now safely be added to the list, showing a dense pattern all over the plateau.3

Distribution of villages north of Palmyra Jebel Chaar (Figure 24) Jebel Chaar area is an undulating mountain plateau, reaching 1300 m above sea level, with easy access from the south, east and north. In contrast to Jebel Abyad, Jebel Merah and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen, there are no marked ridges or larger wadis cutting through the plateau. All Schlumberger’s sites can now be safely

PNO 29. Schlumberger did not investigate either Kheurbet Messaadé or alMoghara, which is identical with the modern village of Huwesys (Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 55–56), but they are marked on his map. The Syrian-Norwegian survey visited the sites in 2007 and 2009. 3  JC04, JC11 and JC17 are doubtful sites. 1  2 

28

Villages and estates

Figure 24. Distribution of settlements on Jebel Chaar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

The size of the settlements differs greatly. In Schlumberger’s list Kheurbet Semrine,4 Ras ech Chaar,5 Kheurbet Farouâne,6 Hassan Madhour,7 Kheurbet Ouadi Souâné,8 Kheurbet Ramadane,9 Kheurbet Abou Douhour,10 Kheurbet Marzouga11 and Kheurbet Messaadé are all large settlements with a cluster

of larger and smaller buildings, with rooms facing a central courtyard, and shrines. Of the new sites, Kheurbet Duwayzin, Kheurbet Salih Hamid, JC13 (Figure 25), JC18, Kheurbet as Sawwa and Madaba12 belong to the same category. The solidly built structure at Rasm ech Chaar, which Schlumberger classified as a fort,13 is probably an estate from the Umayyad period.14 The distance between the larger sites varies from 3000 to 6000 m with many smaller sites in between. The rest of the sites, identified mostly from high-resolution

PNO 13, fig. 2. PNO 23, fig. 10. 6  PNO 25, fig. 11. 7  PNO 27, fig. 12. 8  PNO 31, fig. 13. 9  PNO 35. 10  PNO 37, fig. 15. 11  PNO 41, fig. 17. 4  5 

Gazetteer 137. PNO 44–46. 14  Genequand 2012, 184–186. XLII, 4. See also Genequand, 2004, 18. 12  13 

29

Palmyrena

Figure 25. Site JC13 in the southern part of Jebel Chaar, visited by the author together with the Syrian-Canadian Oil Company (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

satellite images include at least one larger building, and may have comprised many more structures. If the locals have not made any excavations in relation to the buildings generating dumps, the buildings are not visible on the images. Further, windblown material has covered many of the demolished buildings, and there are probably many more sites, which can only be discovered by ground survey. All the settlements in Jebel Chaar relied on cisterns.

level, surrounded on both sides by broad shoulders in the northern and central parts. Several bowl-shaped valleys cut into the mountainside, separated by marked ridges. At its southern end, the mountain divides into two spurs towards Wadi Abyad. The sites in the Jebel Merah area are located on the shoulders, in or in connection with the bowl-shaped valleys and close to the two spurs in the south, with the highest concentration in the centre and at the southern end of the mountain. JMW035 on the western shoulder is the largest settlement on Jebel Merah, covering an area about 300 m long and 100 m wide with the remains of several buildings and probably two

Jebel Merah (Figure 26) Jebel Merah is a prominent mountain ridge about 19 km long, 3 km wide, reaching 1200–1300 m above sea 30

Villages and estates

Figure 26. Distribution of settlement on Jebel Merah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

smaller shrines. Otherwise most sites only comprise one, two or three buildings, some of them with rooms facing a central courtyard; on the western side JMW079, JMW083, JMW089, JMW161, JMW172,15 in the southern end JMW073, JME215, JME22216 and on the eastern side JME202, JME209, JME330, JME320, JME304, JME263, JME232 and perhaps also JME298.17 Some of them have small shrines attached, JMW073, JMW089, JME209, JME215.18 All the settlements on Jebel Merah relied on cisterns. The distance between the sites is between 500 and 2000 m.

satellite images, which do not permit a more detailed analysis of their size and composition. Kheurbet el-Fayéh on Jebel Bilaas is a large site with a big monumental square building, measuring about 100 x 100 m with rounded towers or buttresses in the corners and along the outer walls, surrounded by numerous smaller buildings (Figures 29–30).19 The interior of the large building is filled up with stones from collapsed rooms and it is probably an Umayyad castle.20 During his travel in 1912 Musil recorded two sites with ruins in Jebel Abu-Riĝmen.21 Dubejs south of the alḲdejm basin must be identical with JR06.22 Al-Bwêẓa close by is described as having ‘large ruins’ and must be identical with JR09. The large square structure with banks clearly seen on the satellite photo, measuring

Jebel Abu-Riĝmen and Jebel Bilaas (Figures 27–28) Jebel Bilaas and Abu-Riĝmen are mountain plateaus like Jebel Chaar. Most of the sites have been identified from Gazetteer 168, 169, 171, 178, 180. Gazetteer 163, 181, 183. 17  Gazetteer 184, 188, 190, 192, 194, 195, 198, 201. At JME298 no buildings are visible, but the high concentration of cisterns and surface finds strongly indicates the existence of a perhaps larger settlement. 18  Gazetteer 163, 171, 188, 181.

Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 57–58, pl. XXV; PNO 2, map. The site was visited in 2006. 20  For parallels, see Genequand 2012, 199–233. 21  Palmyrena 149–150. 22  The site is also marked on French maps (Palmyre. Levant 1:200 000, N 1 37-XV) as Kheurbet Dbeïss.

15 

19 

16 

31

Palmyrena

Figure 27. Distribution of settlements on Jebel Bilaas (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 28. Distribution of settlements on Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

32

Villages and estates

Figure 29. Kheurbet el Fayéh on Jebel Bilaas (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 30. Kheurbet el Fayéh on Jebel Bilaas (J.C. Meyer).

33

Palmyrena

Figure 31. Al-Bwêẓa (JR09) on Jebel Abu Riĝmen (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

about 45 x 45 m, is either an estate or a small fort (Figure 31). The distance between the sites on Jebel Bilaas and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen resembles that characteristic of the distribution in Jebel Chaar.

washed away the sediments down to the rock (Figure 110, Figure 150–151). The runoff may have removed any traces of buildings, but the landscape was probably not different in antiquity, even if the mountainside had been covered with Terebinth trees. There are also no sites close to Wadi al-Takara or on the wadi islands, except for the structures at Wadi Takara North and South, which, however, must be classified as forts or stations.23 The buildings at Bir al-Arfa must be understood in relation to the large concentration of cisterns.24

Jebel Abyad (Figure 108) Jebel Abyad is a prominent, curved mountain range with steep slopes down to Wadi Abyad to the east and to Wadi Jihar to the north. Most of the water from the mountains flows towards Wadi al-Matna and Wadi al-Takara in the eastern part, and towards the plain around Bir Jazal in the western part. There are only a few settlements in the Jebel Abyad area, Shalala and alMazraah on plains at the edge of the mountain range towards Wadi Abyad, and Bir Jazal on the large plain south of the mountain range. The survey has found no settlements in the narrow wadis leading down to Wadi Takara from the top of the mountain. This is probably due to the relatively steep slopes, where the water has

Wadi Abyad (Figure 60) All the settlements in the Wadi Abyad lie at the edge of the huge plain. The greatest site is al-Khaïrem,25 probably a monumental estate watered from the nearby spring via an aqueduct. On the eastern side remains of See pp. 58‒62. Gazetteer 142. 25  Gazetteer 76. 23  24 

34

Villages and estates long walls close to two wells at Bir Jouâae’d probably belong to a larger settlement,26 as do the ruins with remains of burial towers at Antaar south of the modern dam as well.27 It is very difficult to get a comprehensive picture of the settlement pattern in Wadi Abyad. The center of the plain is heavily eroded by floods. The western side has deep sedimentary layers of windblown material, and there may have been more settlements there.

central Europe, where the economic basis is traditional agriculture. Of course, the short spacing is in itself no proof of an agricultural economy, but it indicates a much more intensive exploitation of the land than would a pastoral economy or husbandry, which normally presuppose much more space around the centres. The layout of the buildings, with rooms facing a central courtyard, is multifunctional. They can be related to both a pastoral economy and agriculture/ horticulture, though their more monumental character and the associated shrines show a close connection to the centre at Palmyra, rather than to nomadic groups entering Palmyrene territory seasonally, even if the settlements may been involved in their movements, as we will discuss it in the next chapter.

Wadi Jihar and Wadi Masaadé (Figure 183) Only a few sites have been registered in the broad valleys north of Jebel Abyad. The remains of a larger building at WM01 in Wadi Masaadé may indicate a denser settlement pattern, for the area is covered with deep sedimentary layers of windblown material.

Conditions for agriculture and horticulture The mountain ranges north of Palmyra lie within the 200–250 mm isohyet, which is enough for the cultivation of barley, which needs 200 mm of annual precipitation. In the landscape, there are several traces of former fields, appearing as parallel stripes not marking property but sowing boundaries (Figure 32).28 The cultivation of barley, even close to the 100 mm isohyet, was part of a larger program at the end of the 1950s initiated by the central government to settle the Bedouin after the abolition of tribal law in 1958.29 According to local Bedouin informants, the yield wasgood in years with optimal precipitation, over one to two seasons every three years, but agriculture had low prestige, it was women’s work and the barley was not used for human consumption but for animal fodder. In drier years, sometimes

Villages and estates are located primarily in the mountain ranges of Jebel Bilaas, Jebel Chaar, Jebel Merah and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen. None of the settlements on Jebel Merah are as large as the villages on Jebel Chaar, apart from JMW035 on the western shoulder, and there are several isolated buildings around Jebel Merah, but the distance between the sites is shorter, between 500–2000 m as compared to the 3000–6000 m between the sites on Jebel Chaar. This is due to topography. Jebel Chaar has an undulating open tableland, whereas Jebel Merah is a long mountain ridge with deep, separate, bowl-shaped valleys and relatively narrow shoulders on both sides. The distribution of settlements and estates exhibits a dense pattern comparable to the spacing of villages in

Figure 32. Former Bedouin fields in Wadi Masaadé (J.C. Meyer). Many of the fields are indicated on Russian maps. 1:100 000, 1-3741, Бир-Беттар (1984). 29  Mètral 2000, 130–133; Sanlavill 2000, 14; Chatty 2006, 740–741. 28 

Gazetteer 90. 27  Gazetteer 94. 26 

35

Palmyrena several years in succession, the work and the seed was wasted, and the program was quickly abandoned. Also in earlier times, there were attempts to cultivate the bādiya. In 1912 Musil came across several fields on the Plain of Sahl Feïf el Mazraâ northwest of Palmyra: These fields depend upon the moisture from the rains only; for this reason they are called ba‛l (sunfields), because, when the rain is insufficient, they may easily be destroyed by the sun. Anyone can cultivate a piece of land for himself if he wishes to. If he does it for three successive years, the land becomes his property (mulk). If it rains enough in March and April, the crops are good; if it fails to rain in April, the grain is quite poor; but if there is no rain in March also, the grain dries up before it can ripen; the peasant then loses his seed, and his hard work goes for nought.30

Figure 33. Small wadi west of Palmyra after a short shower in the Jebel Abyad area (J.C. Meyer).

This type of opportunistic agriculture with dry farming, depending only on rain, is very risky in the zone with an average annual rainfall between 200–250 mm, and it cannot sustain permanent settlements because of the variation in rain from year to year. In fact, only a 400 mm average precipitation guarantees a yield in drier years.31 Aleppo, which has an average annual precipitation of 365 mm, has experienced years with inadequate rainfall and a need to import cereals.32 Even if we assume that the climate has been slightly wetter in antiquity, it would not have changed the fact, that the Palmyrene territory is an absolutely marginal area in relation to traditional agriculture based on dry farming and yearly precipitation.

Figure 34. The surface of the bādiya on Jebel Chaar in the springtime (J.C. Meyer).

However, there are some areas on the bādiya where the conditions are much more favourable. In former times, it was not unusual for the Bedouin to have small gardens with vegetables and some agriculture either in depressions or in the wadi beds close to their camps.33 In Wadi al-Butmiyah, a tributary wadi to Wadi al-Miyah, and Wadi al-Akfan 120 km southeast of Palmyra satellite images show distinct traces of Bedouin fields in the wadi bed.34 Some agriculture has also been practiced in Wadi al-Swab 40 km further to the southeast on the Iraqi side of the border beyond the 100 mm isohyet.35 Until recently, a local branch of the al-Umur tribe cultivated barley and even wheat in the branches of Wadi Abyad north of Palmyra on a more permanent basis. They sold the yield together with melted butter (ghee), lamb and wool in Palmyra, where they purchased dates, sugar, salt, clothes, seed and flour.36

Wadi beds and depressions collect water from the surrounding territory during rainfall (Figure 33). The surface of the bādiya generally forms an impervious crust, baked by the sun, very often reinforced by a thin layer of grassroots (Figure 34), preventing water from penetrating the subsurface in larger quantities, while most of it runs into the wadi systems. The surface of the wadi beds is loose and absorbs moisture, and even in very dry areas, this is sufficient to grow cereals. The technique is called ‘floodwater farming’. However, the farmers are faced with a severe challenge during rainfall when water is concentrated in the wadi systems. The torrents can gain a tremendous momentum, washing away earth and stones, leaving only a layer of pebbles and smaller stones in the bed, which becomes unsuitable for any cultivation. During heavy showers, the water may remove not only tracks, but also modern asphalt roads crossing the wadis (Figures 35–36). If someone is

Palmyrena 147. Wirth 1971, 92; Rosen 2007, 7–8; Genequand 2012, 12. 32  Marcus 1989, 132. 33  Beawes 1929, 31; Wirth 1971, 441. See also Musil 1926, 85. He describes Bedouin agriculture in the ‘Uvda valley near Aqaba. 34  Tucker 2009, 5. 35  N33.711568 E39.589094. The areas of cultivation are also shown on Russian maps. 1:200 000. I-37-22, Aкашат, (1985). 36  I am indebted to Khaleed Gusaiban al-Assry Malouh of the al-Umur 30  31 

tribe, a former guard of the area. His tribe is also mentioned by Musil north of Palmyra (Palmyrena 148).

36

Villages and estates

Figure 35. Displaced bitumen pavement northwest of Jebel Merah after heavy showers (J.C. Meyer)

Figure 36. Flooding in Tadmur after heavy showers in May 2011 (N. Anfinset).

Figure 37. Former floodwater farming with cross-wadi walls at Hwesys in the valley of Sorrate ech Chéfé (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

caught in a wadi, it is in fact possible to drown in the ‘Syrian Desert’.37

the moist sediments to settle between the walls ready for cultivation. Until recently, this type of floodwater farming has been practised 75 km west northwest of Palmyra at Hwesys village, at the southern end of the valley of Sorrate ech Chéfé between Jebel Chaar and Jebel Bilaas (Figure 37).38 More solidly constructed

One of the ways to tame the water is to construct a series of walls across the wadis to control the fluvial erosion and sediment entrainment. Such walls slow down the torrent and create turbulent flows, allowing some of

The wadi is now included in a protected area and agriculture has been abandoned. North of Jebel Merah several walls are visible on satellite images across a broad tributary wadi to Wadi Khabar (N35.023949 E38.176654). We have no information as to the date and 38 

My friends Adeeb al-As‛ad and Ahmet Turki were once caught on a small, flooded wadi island in a larger wadi during a heavy shower. They were hauled to safety by a rope. 37 

37

Palmyrena single walls can also create an adequate environment for cultivation.39 On the upstream side, fine-grained moist sediment accumulates and is suited for cereal crops. On the downstream side, the overflow from the wall creates a more fissured landscape suited for tree crops away from the main wadi floor. Another type of wadi farming involves constructing walls at the edge of the wadi, roughly following the orientation of the flood, diverting some of the water to adjoining fields, gardens and reservoirs. All these systems are well attested in the Middle East and North Africa throughout history, even in regions with annual precipitation as low as 50–100 mm, as evidenced by examples in the Negev desert and in Libya in north Africa.40 Runoff in smaller wadis can also be collected into cisterns using supply channels or captured behind dams, and then diverted to the fields or gardens through canals as a supplement to the annual precipitation.41 The last technique relevant for the Palmyrene area is the construction of qanats or foggaras to conduct water from springs or aquifers to settlements for human and animal consumption and for irrigation of gardens and fields.42

Conditions in the domain of the Syrian Desert differ from one part to another, but generally speaking it is possessed of very good soil, especially in the volcanic regions around Hawran, in the outlying districts of al-Qaryatayn, Tadmur, and Jazira, and in the heartlands of the Hamad. I have seen lands subject to flooding by torrential streams that benefit some people engaged in agriculture by making their lands more productive than any irrigated lands of the finest agricultural districts.45 E. Wirth confirms Jabbur’s observation as to the Palmyrene area.46 According to Wirth, the yield in years with sufficient rain reached 3 tons of barley or 1.5 ton of wheat per hectare in the area west of Palmyra south of Jebel Abyad, mentioned by Musil, before the dam was constructed.47 In the area around Wadi Raouda northeast of al-Qaryatayn the yield was between 3 to 5 tons of wheat per hectare in good years. This stands comparison with the best districts in Syria.48 Evidence of agriculture and horticulture north of Palmyra

Agriculture and horticulture in semi-desert areas based on proper water management are much more resistant to drought than their counterparts in regions with higher precipitation and dry-farming.43 Smaller variations in rainfall do not make the difference between a successful harvest and a failed crop because the water is concentrated where it is needed. When water management is employed, the dry-steppe, bādiya, is not an agriculturally marginal area, but it depends on an extra investment in constructing and maintaining water harvesting systems, cross-wadi walls and canals.

Regarding foodstuffs (ṭ‘mt’), as in the law, I have decreed for a load that a denarius will be levied, when it will be collected, whenever it is being imported from outside the territory or exported. Whoever exports to the villages or imports from the villages (qry’) is not liable to tax as they also agreed. (Palmyrene text, 109–113)49 Rostovtzeff was the first to pay attention to this important section in the Palmyra tariff.50 According to the tariff, the population of the villages needed provisions from Palmyra, and they also produced foodstuffs for the city. The tax exemption shows that the villages were an important and integrated part of the Palmyrene economy. The foodstuffs cannot have included animals for slaughter, as this is mentioned in a preceding section,51 but unfortunately, the tariff does not specify the products. The tariff gives no clue as to the location of the villages. Rostovtzeff proposed the area close to Euphrates or in a ‘second oasis’.

The region around Palmyra too is very fertile if the fields receive enough water from their surroundings because it contains fresh fine-grained material.44 Jibrail Jabbur, who came from the small city of al-Qaryatayn, 100 km southwest of Palmyra noted: status of the system. 39  Barker and Gilbertson and Hunt and Mattingly 1996, 266–268. 40  North Africa: Barker and Gilbertson and Hayes and Hunt 1984, 32–47; Barker 1985, 297–300; Gilbertson and Hunt 1996; Scott and Dore and Mattingly 1996, 86, 131, 150, 162, 165, 173, 200, 208, 234, 252, 255, 273, 279; Barker and Gilbertson 2000, 45–70; Rosen 2000. Southern Syria: Newson 2000, 88–95. Southern Jordan: Barker 2000; Braemer and Davtian 2009. Nabataean area: Lavento and Huotari 2004; Oleson 2007; Gentelle, 2009; Lavento 2010. Negev area: Evenari and Shanan and Tadmor 1982, 191–219; Haiman 1995; Wilkinson 2003, 170–172; Rosen 2007, 161–167. The technique can also be used in desert areas, where there is no guarantee of rain every year. In Wadi Bahla in Oman a series of modern concrete walls have been constructed across the wadi close to the village of Ghul, 5 km west of al-Hamra. The area between the walls is cultivated in years with enough rain. 41  Braemer and Geyer 2010, 103–107; Newson 2000, 88–95; Oleson 2007; Lavento 2004; Lavento 2010; Geyer and Rousset and Besançon 2016. 42  Lightfoot 1997; al-Dbiyat 2009; Braemer and Geyer 2010, 98–101. 43  Wilkinson 2003, 172; Rosen 2007, 45. 44  Wirth 1971, 441.

Jabbur 1995, 63. Wirth 1971, 441. 47  Palmyrena 147. 48  Wirth 1971, 236. 49  Healey 2009, 182–183. Greek text (187–191): As for foodstuffs (βρωτός), I decree that a tax of one denarius should be exacted according to the law for each load imported from outside the borders or exported there; but those who convey [provisions] to the villages (χώρα) or from them should be exempt, as was agreed upon them. Fox and Lieu and Ricklefs 2005, 45; Matthews 1984, 162, 179. 50  Rostovtzeff 1957, 662 note 28. 51  Greek text (181–183): The tax on animals for slaughter should be collected in denarii, as Germanicus Caesar also made clear in his letter to Statilius, to the effect that taxes should be collected in Italian asses (Palmyrene text 102–107). Fox and Lieu and Ricklefs 2005, 44; Healey 2009, 182–183; Matthews 1984, 179. 45  46 

38

Villages and estates Teixidor in his comment in the tariff translated qry’ with banlieue, suburbs, indicating a close vicinity to the oasis in Palmyra.52 Other scholars assume that they are identical with the villages in Jebel Chaar Schlumberger investigated.53

It is very difficult difficult to get a comprehensive picture of the settlement pattern in Wadi Abyad because of the erosion by the floods and in other parts the accumulation of windblown material. The springs in the eastern sloops of Jebel Abyad seem to have been utilized, e.g. at al-Khaïrem, where water was brought to an estate and gardens through a small aqueduct.60 The Qanat at Ouéchel, close to the small fort, had a much bigger capacity, for Musil mentions that the springs irrigated a green meadow on the plain below in 1912.61 Unfortunately, the water system has been destroyed by floods from the ravines on the mountain, and there are no traces of any settlements on the plain, though they may have been covered with windblown material. This was obviously the case with the buildings below the spring of Awtayt. There are several more monumental architectural fragments scattered on the plain, but otherwise no traces of the walls in the area.62 It was probably an estate like the one at al-Khaïrem.

Neither Schlumberger’s investigations nor the SyrianNorwegian surface survey can form the basis for a detailed investigation of the individual sites and their economic basis. Schlumberger excavated the shrines and only mentions the cisterns briefly.54 It is very difficult to find traces of ancient cross-wadi walls, if they have not been kept up through the ages after heavy showers. At other sites, windblown material may have covered traces of canals, smaller aqueducts and terrace walls, and only excavations can reveal the complexity of the systems. Some of the settlements or sites north of Palmyra most probably are connected with to some form of animal husbandry or pastoralism. Al-Mazraah at the edge of Jebel Abyad has a large enclosure, and the surrounding mountain plain is well-suited as grazing ground.55 Bir al-Arfa in the northern part of the mountain range has one of the largest concentrations of cisterns in the area, but there are only traces of a few buildings.56 At al-Matna57 in the northern part of wadi al-Matna and al-Kouhla58 in the southern part of Wadi al-Takara there are no traces of buildings, only concentrations of cisterns. The low density of settlements in Jebel Abyad, apart from Bir Jazal on the Plain of Jazal and Shalala at the edge of Jebel Abyad, indicates that this part of the territory was exploited more extensively. The only possible exception is the 170 m long wall across Wadi al-Takara (WT42), constructed with large stones deeply embedded into the ground.59 The exact date of the wall is an open question, but it is extremely unlikely to be a recent construction. Sporadic fragments of grinding stones, pottery on the surface and filled in wells or cisterns in the vicinity testify to human activity near the wall, and it may have functioned as a single crosswadi wall with fields upstream. Another function of the wall may have been to slow down the floods in Wadi al-Takara during heavy showers, for the relatively narrow Wadi al-Takara receives all the water from the northeastern and eastern parts of Jebel Abyad (about 65 km²) before it enters the broad Plain of Sahl Feïf el Mazraâ northwest of Palmyra.

The Wadi Abyad basin undoubtedly had the potential for agricultural production especially in the branches of the big wadi, as mentioned above, where the local al-Umur tribe cultivated barley and wheat on a more permanent basis. However, the long walls and the channels west of the main wadi show a regulation of the water flow in the basin, which cannot have anything to do with agriculture in the basin itself. All the water from the slops of Jebel Abyad south of and on both sides of Râs al-Rhechem was diverted into the main wadi bed of Wadi Abyad and to the area behind the modern dam, which is not suitable for agriculture.63 The amount of water in the main wadi bed during showers and the strong flows would wash away any fields and the al-Umur tribe preferred the branches of the wadi. According to the former guard of the district, the area behind the barrage formed a large shallow depression already before the construction, about 100 m in diameter, with easy access to water by digging in the surface. In the rainy season, the area was covered with water and silt, and the ‘wells’ needed to be cleared when the water level sank.64 Musil called the area ‘waters of alHafâjer’ and on French maps from 1944 it is named Bîr el Hafîré.65 ‘Hafir’ is an Arabic word from the same root as ‘hafr’ – to dig. It means ‘water reservoir’ or ‘dam’.66 It is obvious that the modern dam was constructed on the southern edge of a shallow depression in the main wadi bed, which narrows at this point due to long underground spur from Râs Antaar (Figures 60–62), and this raises the question whether there has been any ancient forerunner Gazetteer 76. Gazetteer 86. Palmyrena 148–149. Gazetteer 82. 63  Gazetteer 91. 64  I am indebted to Khaleed Gusaiban al-Assry Malouh of the local al-Umur tribe for the information (Interview January 2011 together with Adeeb al-As‛ad). 65  Palmyrena 148. French map: Palmyre. Levant 1:200 000, N 1 37-XV. I am indepted to Eivind Seland, who paid my attention to this. 66  Robertson 1950, 2. 60  61 

Teixidor 1983, 242. Matthews 1984, 162; Young 2001, 137; Smith II, 2013, 72–73 54  PNO 131–132. 55  Gazetteer 99. 56  Gazetteer 142. 57  Gazetteer 116. 58  Gazetteer 122. 59  Gazetteer 125. 52 

62 

53 

39

Palmyrena to the modern barrage. According to a worker engaged in the construction of the dam between 1984 and 1986, stretches of ashlar, 1 m high at a maximum, were preserved in the same area as the new dam, but he was not able to give any details as to the exact position and length of the stretches.67 The existence of the long walls and the channels in the western part of the basin strongly suggests some kind of regulation of the flow in and from wadi Abyad in the rainy season before it entered the Plain of Sahl Feïf el Mazraâ to the southwest. During heavy showers, the settlement of Antaar68 just south of the modern dam close to the eastern side of the wadi bed must have been extremely exposed to destructive floods, as would have been the agricultural district in the atTarfa depression, which we will discuss below. In 1980, a flood reached as far as the agora in Palmyra, depositing 50 cm of silt.69 The primary purpose of an ancient dam would not have been to store water for the dry season, but to control and regulate the runoff from the huge catchment area covering 600 square kilometres before it entered fields below the dam in the season where the crops needed the water. The construction of the modern barrage has destroyed all possible traces of an ancient forerunner, and it must remain an open question.

Figure 38. Crushing basin for oil production at site JC21 at Jebel Sorrate ech Chéfé (J.C. Meyer).

diameter is 50–80 cm, and very seldom more than 100 cm.74 It is not a base for pressing, being precluded by the socket in the centre, and there are no traces of any channels leading oil to a vat. Most likely, it is the remains of a crushing basin.75 According to the local Bedouins, there should be some grinders in the Jebel Abyad area, too, but the Syrian-Norwegian survey has not yet been able to identify them. The Bedouins cannot remember any exact position and the information may be incorrect.

In Jebel Merah there are instances of series of crosswadi walls at site JMW089.70 They are solidly built close to the the wadi bed, and their position in the landscape indicates terraces, either for fields or gardens. The small dam east of JME232 may have irrigated fields on the shoulder below.71 The long wall that closes the valley near site JME232 indicates some kind of husbandry northwest of the site in the bowl-shaped valley.72 Otherwise, most of the sites in Jebel Merah have been covered with windblown material, and there are no direct clues to the economic basis of the individual settlements or buildings.

Even if the exact function of the stone cannot be determined for certain, there can be no doubt that it has been used in oil production, but what kind of oil was produced around site 21? The olive tree needs as a minimum 200–250 mm of precipitation,76 and in modern times olive trees only grow in the oasis of Palmyra. In North Africa, however, cultivation of olive trees is welldocumented in antiquity below the 200 isohyet, and the area was even an exporter of oil.77 The olive tree is relatively resistant to drought, when the root system has penetrated deep into the ground, but it will not survive longer periods of drought or insufficient precipitation, and the most the critical phase is the planting of young trees.78 A precondition for cultivation is a proper water management system with cisterns or smaller dams as a supplement to the yearly precipitation.

At site JC21 at Jebel Sorrate ech Chéfé, a southwestern spur of Jebel Chaar with a large concentration of cisterns and remains of several well-constructed square building, there is a unique surface find, a large heavily eroded circular stone (Figure 38).73 The stone is about 125 cm in diameter, 25 cm thick and has a slightly raised socket with a 35 cm wide irregular hole in the centre. It resembles a crushing stone used in olive oil production, but the diameter is rather large, compared to other known devices from the region, where the normal

Another possibility is oil from the Terebinth tree, which is not dependent on extra water, as mentioned by Musil: Their fruit is picked for the oil it contains, which the settlers use in preparing food, the Tadâmre even

The interview was made in 2010 by Waleed al-As‛ad, just before the worker died. 68  Gazetteer 94. 69  I am grateful to Michaeł Gawlikowski for the information. In May 2011, the center of Palmyra was flooded after heavy showers north of the city (Figure 36). 70  Gazetteer 171. 71  Gazetteer 199. 72  Gazetteer 201. 73  The site was identified by David Sterry, Petro-Canada, and visited briefly in January 2009. 67 

Waliszewski 2014, 405–512. I am grateful to Tomasz Waliszewski for sharing his expertise. 75  For parallels from Jordan, see Waliszewski 2014, 476–477 (C.31), 494–495 (C28.1). 76  Waliszewski 2014, 75, 83. 77 Mattingly and Dore 1996, 135–140; Mattingly and Flower 1996, 278– 285; Barker and Gilbertson and Hunt and Mattingly 1996, 278–285.  78  Masmoudi and Masmoudi-Charfi and Mahjoub and Ben Mechlia 2007. 74 

40

Villages and estates preferring it to olive oil. The Terebinth resin is also gathered and sold at Aleppo.79

springs in the northern hills water gardens via two qanat systems (Figure 40). There are several remains of ancient buildings in the oasis, and northwest of the modern habitation banks from a 150 x 150 m large building are visible,88 probably a station along the road. Four km west of the oasis in Wadi al-Qseïbé a long qanat can be followed for 1.2 km parallel to the wadi bed, but there are no traces of any habitation in the vicinity (Figure 41).89 Arak must have been an important oasis before the establishment of the Strata Diocletiana. An altar with an Aramaic inscription from 209 AD, found in Arak, is dedicated to ‘Yarhibol, who irrigates Araq, the Gad of the village, the bountiful god’.90

The Terebinth tree has been a valuable resource throughout history.80 The resin was used as incense and as a flavouring for oil, perfumes and unguents, and was an important commercial item already in the Bronze Age. The bark and the galls have been used for dying and tanning. The fruits could be eaten raw, but they also contain a high content of oil, which can be extracted the same way as olive oil, and in former times the same facilities were often used. The fruits were dried and then crushed in a mill or a heavy cylindrical stone was rolled over the fruits on a hard surface. The pulp was gathered in palm-leave sacks and pressed between a stone basin and an upper stone, pushed down by a long lever with attached stone weights.81

The huge synclinal Plain of ad-Daw with its deep sedimentary layers dominates the area west of Palmyra between Palmyra range to the south and the mountains to the north.91 It stretches as far as 120 km towards Homs, the difference in elevation from west to east being only about 250 m, and there are no larger wadis from west to east. Closer to Palmyra the landscape almost forms a depression at at-Tarfa, north of the modern road from Palmyra to Homs (Figure 42). It receives water from numerous wadis coming from the Jebel Abyad range and Wadi Jihar to the north northeast and from the southern Palmyra range and the Wadi Abyad basin to the northeast (Figure 16).92 Some of the water enters Wadi al-Qubur, which runs through Palmyra towards the great salt plain south and southeast of the city, Sabkhet al-Moûh.

At Khaleed al-Ali, 71 km northwest of Palmyra, on the Plain of Sheeb Khaleed just north of Jebel Fasida, modern local diggings in the top of a tell have revealed courses of mud bricks with organic material.82 The mud bricks, which can be dated between the last quarter of the 6th century and the first half of the 7th century,83 contained pollen from domesticated barley, hordeum, both as single grains and in lumps.84 As pollen from barley only has a short range distribution, the bricks must have been made where barley was cultivated, and where there was access to local mud from standing water. It is highly unlikely that the bricks, had been made elsewhere and then brought to Khaleed al-Ali, and the barley must have been cultivated relatively close to the tell, probably in connection with the broader wadi running towards the northeast through the village of Fasida 3 km east of Khaleed al-Ali.85 Pollen from ovoid faeces in the mudbricks shows that goat/sheep roamed close to tell in a relatively open ruderal landscape.86

In recent times, at-Tarfa is the most important agricultural district of Palmyra covering at least 4000 hectares.93 The fields are irrigated by pumping up groundwater, as a supplement to rain and floods from the surrounding wadis. They produce wheat, barley and cotton. Closer to the modern habitation there are gardens with fruit and olive trees. The surface is heavily disturbed by deep tillage and the construction of flumes, and there are only few ancient remains. Musil gives us an excellent description of the area before the introduction of modern agriculture, when on the 20th of March 1912 he travelled from al-Bȇẓa gendarme station southwest of at-Tarfa.94 After a short detour to the north, where he intended to visit Ḫân al-Leben (Khan al-Turab) on the ancient route from Palmyra to Homs, a soft and muddy salt marsh (sabha) hindered further advance,95 and he turned northeast

Evidence of agriculture and horticulture east and west of Palmyra Arak, the ancient Aracha, lies 33 km east northeast of Palmyra, on the Strata Diocletiana (Figure 39).87 Two Palmyrena 149. For a discussion of the different products from the Terebinth tree and references both to modern travelers and ancient authors, see Peachey 1995, 76–82. 81  I am indebted to Waleed al-As‛ad for gathering information about the production in earlier times. Nowadays, the ripe fruits are exposed to the sun for two weeks, and then grinded between basalt stones, and mixed and washed with lukewarm water, before the oil is separated in a manual ‘machine’ extractor. I am grateful to Haian Dukhan for information about the modern process. 82  Gazetteer 205. 83  Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016 180–181. 84  The pollen analysis of the mud bricks has been carried out by Knut Krzywinski, Department of Botany, University of Bergen. Kryzwinski and Krzwinski 2016, 175–177. 85  A modern cross-wadi wall leads the water from the wadi into a large reservoir irrigating several gardens. 86  Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016, 177–178. 87  Butcher 2003, 416; Palmyrena 84–86. The site was visited in 2006. 79  80 

N34.645860 E38.561881. N34.631707 E38.525781. See also Musil, 1928, 87. Musil calls the Qanat system Bijâr al-ʽAmmi. 90  Kaizer 2002, 148; Teixidor 1979, 99–100; Starcky 1962; PAT 1622. 91  Wirth 1971, 51–53. 92  Palmyrena 134. 93  Bounni and al-As‛ad 2000, 129 (1977). Satellite photos from after 2000 show about 6000 hectares under cultivation. 94  The exact position of the station cannot be determined. 95  Palmyrena 134. Ḫân al-Leben can be identified on satellite images: N34.538035 E37.869328. 88  89 

41

Palmyrena

Figure 39. The oasis of Arak northeast of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 40. Qanat in Arak (J.C. Meyer).

42

Villages and estates

Figure 41. Qanat in Wadi al-Qseïbé west of Arak (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 42. At-Tarfa depression (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

crossing Wadi ar-Raml, one of the larger wadis from the southern mountain range, at the western end of the atTarfa depression. He gave the following description:96

At 8.40 we halted before a rise, where the fortified camp of al-Klejbijje had been built. Northeast of this camp a bank had been thrown up 464 paces long from south to north by 400 paces wide. East of the bank are visible the foundation walls of ruined houses, an olive press, and a fragment of a column seventy centimetres in diameter.

At 8.08 we crossed the wide but shallow valley of ar-Raml in which are ruins of numerous old dams designed to hold back the run-off and prevent the soil from being washed away. Here and there could be seen the foundation walls of demolished farms. 96 

Leaving these ruins at 9.10, we rode through the lowland of aṭ-Ṭarfa, grown over with nothing but sorrel, as far as two Palmyrene altars, where we

Palmyrena 134–135.

43

Palmyrena dismounted at 10.25. I had visited these in 1897 and copied all the inscriptions from them. Wadi ar-Raml comes from the southern mountain range and enters the western end of the at-Tarfa depression with the modern fields. The small, fortified camp of alKlejbijje (Figure 43), measuring about 50 x 60 m, has not been securely identified; but some square banks of the same size are visible on satellite images about 3.5 km west of Wadi ar-Raml just south of the lowland of atTarfa (Figure 44), 1 km southeast of a late Roman bath at the locality of the same name, al-Kilībiyya.97 This would fit well with Musil’s description and his timetable. The two large altars can be safely identified in the middle of the modern fields at al-Karasi,98 about 3 km north of the modern road and 2.3 km south of the Roman road from Palmyra towards Bir Jihar (Centum Putea?).99

N34.531633 E38.016208. Palmyrena 135, fig. 32; W. al-As‛ad 2014. The fort is not located on the road marked with milestones, and its function may have been control with the agricultural district. See pp. 68‒69 98  Palmyrena 135. N34.543780 E38.076337. 99  Palmyrena 135; Schlumberger 1939b; Gregoratti and Magnani and Cremaschi and Perego 2017. 97 

Figure 43. The fort of al-Klejbijje (Palmyrena 135, fig. 32)

Figure 44. The fort of alKlejbijje (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

44

Villages and estates

Figure 45. Al-Karasi altars (J.C. Meyer).

We do not know the exact date of the ruined houses, the cross-wadi walls and the olive press. There are many ruins in the area, but most of them are old houses from after 1912, abandoned when the population moved into modern concrete buildings along the modern road in the later part of the 20th century.100 In 1912, there was no agriculture in the area, and according to Musil, the at-Tarfa depression was covered with sorrel. He does not mention any habitation. Closer to Palmyra, from the springs at Abu al-Fawares at the southwestern end of Jebel et Thar, the plain was partly cultivated in 1912 around the ancient underground aqueduct, qanat, recently repaired when Musil followed it to Palmyra.101 At that time, the springs gave water to the fields along the aqueduct and the northern part of the oasis in Palmyra.102 In the Ottoman period, the population of Palmyra lived in and close to the temple of Bel in the oasis, and it was partly dependant on the import of wheat and barley in exchange for salt from the saline

south of the city.103 Musil only talks about foundation walls and so the buildings, the cross-wadi walls and the olive press must predate the Ottoman period. The altars at al-Karasi also indicate agricultural activities in the at-Tarfa depression. The altars are monumental, almost 1.7 m high, and there is a basis for a third (Figure 45).104 They are dedicated to the anonymous god, ‘blessed be his name forever’, alias Baʿalshamîn, Lord of the Heaven, and the bringer of rain and fertility.105 On the front, they have a relief with a hand holding not a thunderbolt, which is also common for the anonymous god, but ears of corn (Figure 46) on one altar and a tree on the other, stressing the aspect of agricultural fertility.106 The altars have inscriptions in both Greek and Aramaic, and they tell us that the city (mdynt’) dedicated them on the 21st of March 114 AD and give us the names of the treasurers.107 The 21st of March is the spring equinox, and the altars must have been part of an agricultural spring festival.108 The

The faint shadows of some covered building with a central courtyard on satellite images south of the curve of the modern road towards Homs close to Wadi ar-Raml probably belong to the ancient period: N34.514034 E37.969718. Bing map has the best resolution. Other possible ancient buildings east of al-Klejbijje: N34.532520 E38.025491 and N34.533111 E38.030504, and in the northern part of the cultivated area, just south of the Roman road: N34.576839 E37.995425. The latter may be a small station on the road. 101  Palmyrena 136. 102  Palmyrena 145; Bounni and al-As‛ad 2000, 132. After 1950, the source almost dried out and the qanat is no longer in use. 100 

Palmyrena 146. Pillet 1941. For a detailed and updated discussion with references, see Mior 2014, 36–41. 105  Drijvers 1976, 13–16; pl. XXVIII, 1–2 and XXIX, 1–2; HvidbergHansen 1998, 16–17. 106  Pillet 1941. The author and Adeeb al-As‛ad visited the altars in 2005. See photo collection: http://kark.uib.no/antikk/Dias/Syria/ PalmyraW/Bel%20Alters/index.htm. 107  PAT 0340 108  Pillet 1941, 17; Mior 2014, 103  104 

45

Palmyrena probably there was, as mentioned above, some kind of regulation in the southern end of the Wadi Abyad basin. The at-Tarfa depression has a great potential for growing cereals, but the area under cultivation in antiquity must have been smaller than the modern fields, which are irrigated by pumping up ground water. Let us assume that the ancient fields covered 2000 hectares and that the main crop was barley. A minimum yield of 1000 kg/ ha on a simple fallow system is not an unrealistic figure.111 The soil in itself is very fertile, and manure from sheep, brought in for grazing after the harvest at the beginning of the hot season on the bādiya, would have increased the productivity.112 The annual yield will then be 2,000,000 kg. According to the Roman author Cato the elder, a male slave doing hard manual labour needed 340 kg of wheat a year with a small supplement of wine, olives and oil, other slaves and shepherds only 240 kg a year.113 If we suppose that wheat is superior as human nutrient than barley in the proportion 2 to 3,114 the yield can then feed a population between 4000 to 5500 grownups living on Cato’s diet. Of course, not all members of the Palmyrene society were grownup males. Women, children and elderly persons needed less, and the problem for the poorer part of the population was probably not the amount of hard labour, but the lack of employment to supply the family income. Olives, oil, animal fat, cheese, vegetables, fruit and especially dates from the gardens of the oasis would have been an important supplement to the daily diet for the normal population. The date has a very high nutritional value, contains many essential vitamins and minerals and has been among the staple foods for the population in the Middle East in premodern times.115 Two thousand hectares could certainly support a much larger number than 4000 to 5500 people.

Figure 46. Al-Karasi alters. Hand holding ears of corn (J.C. Meyer).

bilingual inscriptions, which are totally absent from the settlements in Jebel Chaar,109 and the fact that the city is the dedicator, stress that the altars belong to the public sphere of Palmyra. The official community shows a deep concern about a successful harvest from the fields and gardens in the at-Tarfa depression.

The Harbaqah Dam116 The Harbaqah dam (Figure 47) is a gravity dam, located about 2 days’ travel (69 km) southwest of Palmyra at the edge of the ancient Palmyrene territory.117 Together with the barrage south of Homs at the northern end of Lake Qatina,118 it is the largest and most impressive dam

The cultivation cannot have been the opportunistic agriculture mentioned by Musil in the Plain of Sahl Feïf el Mazraâ with the sunfields (ba‛l) totally exposed to fluctuations in the yearly precipitation with frequent failure of the crops.110 Musil’s observations at Wadi ar-Raml indicate that floodwater farming with crosswadi walls was practised in some places at the margin of the depression. The centre received water from all the surrounding wadis and from Wadi Abyad and Wadi Takara through the Plain of Sahl Feïf el Mazraâ. Even in drier years, the humidity of the soil must have been sufficient for growing cereals and to support gardens, even if the outer area under cultivation was reduced. We do not know how the ancient farmers controlled the water in years with strong, sudden floods after heavy rainfalls especially from the huge Wadi Abyad basin, or how they distributed it to the fields and gardens, but 109  110 

Weiss 1985, 74–75; Potts1997, 80–82. Wirth 1971, 236, 441; Oweis and Hachum 2003; Oweis and Hachum 2004. For a much lower yield (40 modii per ha = 267 kg) see Mango 2011, 118. 112  See p. 38. 113  According to Cato (Agr. 56), a slave doing hard manual labour needed 4–4 ½ modii (1 modius = 6.67 kg) of wheat a month dependent on the season. See also Foxhall and Forbes 1982. 114  Clark and Haswell 1967, 58; Rosen and Finkelstein 1992, 50. 115  al-Shahib and Marshall 2003; Lancester and Lancester 1999, 176– 177; Dickson 1949, 189. 116  This paragraph about the Harbaqah dam has been written together with Waleed al-As‛ad and Jonatan Krzywinski. 117  Palmyrena 131–2; Poidebard 1934, 187–189, pl. XXXII–XXXVII; Schlumberger 1939c, 200–203; Schlumberger 1986, 2–3; Jabbur 1995, 52–4; Calvet and Geyer 1992, 79–92; Geyer 2004; Genequand 2006, 66–69; Qenequand 2012, 255–259. 118  Calvet and Geyer 1986, 27–39; Kamash 2009, 56, 69–70. The barrage at Homs should probably be dated to late Roman period. 111 

PNO 143–176. Palmyrena 147.

46

Villages and estates

Figure 47. The Harbaqah dam (J.C. Meyer)

Figure 48. The catchment area behind the Harbaqah dam (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

in the Near East and the Mediterranean area before the industrial period. The wall of the dam is 365 m long and 20.5 m high, 18.5 m wide at the base. It dammed up and controlled all the water coming from the mountain

area and the valleys to the south in the Palmyra Range, before the flow entered the northern Plain of ad-Daw through the al-Barda pass in Jebel Rawaq (Figure 48). The capacity of the reservoir behind the dam is about 47

Palmyrena

Figure 49. Qasr al-Heir al Gharbi (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 50. Aqueduct north of the castle leading to the birket, water reservoir, and the garden (J.C. Meyer).

48

Villages and estates 5,000,000 cubic metres.119 In the Umayyad period, the water was led via an aqueduct to Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi, built on the site of an earlier pre-Islamic structure, probably a Byzantine monastery (Figures 49–50).120 It watered a large garden with watermills.121 Later it silted up and the water ran over the top of the dam; but when Musil, Poidebard and Schlumberger visited the site, a breach at the bottom of the dam led water with deposits to the wadi below, creating a fissured landscape with deep ravines behind the wall and exposing the inner side of the dam (Figure 51). The breach was closed with concrete in the 1960s and silt filled the ravines.122

dating of the first phase was based on the material used, hard limestone, not soft local limestone, and the construction technique, which Schlumberger compared with the funerary towers in Palmyra.124 He also distinguished between two phases with two outlets from the Roman period at the ground level and a third outlet at a higher level from the Umayyad period.125 Musil observed some blocks with carved ornaments like those in Palmyra, and several architectural fragments, half columns and various ornaments below the dam,126 but Schlumberger was not able to identify them.127 Later Jibrail Jabbur, who was born in the small town of al-Qaryatayn close to Harbaqa and became professor in Arabic literature and Semitic studies at the American University in Beirut, visited the site. It was still possible to get down into the fissured landscape behind the dam and he noticed an inscription from the Roman period at the bottom of the inside of the dam, but he did not record any details.128

Schlumberger suggested that the dam fed a larger urban settlement or oasis north of the dam, and he dated the construction to the first century AD. It fell out of use with the fall of Zenobia at the end of the 3rd century, but the Umayyads later restored and enlarged the dam, when they built Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi.123 The

Figure 51. The Harbaqah dam (Poidebard 1934, pl. XXXIII). For a different estimates of the capacity see Geyer 2004, 298; Calvet and Geyer 1992, 86; Poidebard 1934, 188; Saliby 1990, 485. 120  Schlumberger 1939c; Schlumberger 1986; Genequand 2001, 69–74; Qenequand 2012, 161–174. 121  Schlumberger 1986, 3–5. 122  Jabbur 1995, 53–54. The area was then used for cotton cultivation. Nowadays large amounts of water is pumped up from the deposits. 123  Schlumberger 1986, 25. 119 

Schlumberger 1986, 16–17, 25. Schlumberger 1986, 3. 126  Palmyrena 131. 127  Schlumberger 1986, 3, note 22. 128  Jabbur 1995, 53. The date of Jabbur’s visit is uncertain. 124  125 

49

Palmyrena Almost all scholars accepted Schlumberger’s dating to the Roman period. An exception was the Syrian archaeologist Ch. Safadi who suggested in 1987 a dating to the Umayyad period.129 Admittedly, the actual dating evidence for the Harbaqa dam is meagre. The use of the construction technique, compared with the funerary towers in Palmyra, as basis for the chronology of the dam is not convincing. There is no reason to doubt the observations of Musil or Jabbur. Musil had visited many ancient sites during his travels, and he was the first to register the famous Umayyad castle Qasr ‘Amra in Jordan. Even so, the relationship between the dam and the architectural fragments is uncertain, and we do not know if Musils dating is correct. Moreover, the Umayyads frequently reused architectural fragments from earlier periods in their buildings. Jabbur was an expert in Umayyad poetry, and he was surely able to identify a Latin, Greek or Umayyad inscription. The Roman inscription at the bottom of the dam may have been a construction mark, but the Umayyads may have employed Roman architects.

Damascus via al-Qaryatayn,134 or a prestige project designed to demonstrate the power of the Roman Empire and to impress the local Bedouin.135 None of these explanations is satisfactory. The size of the dam does not indicate just a road station. It is highly unlikely that the Romans initiated such a large project only for political or symbolic reasons. We assume there is at least some rational economic relationship between the size and the purpose of the dam. Recently D. Genequand, an expert in the Umayyad period, has argued strongly for an Umayyad date.136 He points out that no other hydraulic structures of this kind have been found in the Palmyrene area from the Roman period. Instead, he compares the construction with similar Umayyad dams in Jordan, though none of them is of the same size as the Harbaqah dam.137 He does not deny the existence of two phases regarding the outlets, but dates them both to the Umayyad period, as a response to heavy silting, which the engineers had not take into account when they built the dam.138 He points out that the only site in the area from the Roman period is a medium sized fort, measuring about 60 x 66 m, 3.7 km north of the dam (Figures 52–53),139 and that this fort and the surrounding settlement did not need such a large construction. Instead, he relates the fort

Another problem is the function of the dam. What was the purpose of constructing a dam of this size, isolated from any larger Roman settlement 69 km southwest of Palmyra? Some scholars see it as part of a larger agricultural landscape in the Palmyrene region with a permanent occupation in the area, possibly identical with the ancient Heliaramia at the site where the later Umayyad castle was constructed.130 The problem with this scenario is that there are no traces of any habitation for several thousand people north of the dam. Even if we suppose the existence of an earlier Roman settlement at Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi, the ancient Heliaramia, and assume windblown material has covered the foundation walls of the houses, we should still expect some more monumental remains of temples and other public buildings.131 Schlumberger dated some architectural fragments and some sculpture at Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi to the Roman period, but they were not found in situ.132 It is uncertain whether they belong to an earlier Roman occupation at the site, or were imported from elsewhere, even from Palmyra, a phenomenon not uncommon in the Umayyad period.133 Others have suggested that the dam was at a road station, not along the Strata Diocletiana, which is 10 km to the south of the site, but between Palmyra and

Figure 52. The Harbaqah fort (Poidebard 1934, pl. XXXII).

In Saliby 1990, 485. See also Kennedy and Riley D. 1990, 75. Teixidor 1984, 7; Schlumberger 1986, 25; Will 1992, 21; Kamash 2009, 64. On the Peutinger table Heliaramia is located 32 Roman miles from Palmyra (47 km). The actual distance between Palmyra and Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi is about 42 Roman miles (62 km). 131  Poidebard marked some Roman habitation in the northeastern corner of the enclosure attached to the castle on his map, but this was not confirmed by Schlumberger. Poidebard 1934, pl. XXXII. Satellite photos show no traces of buildings. 132  Schlumberger 1986, 25. 133  Genequand 2001, 72; PNO 130 note 2. 129 

Kennedy 1990, 70–71; Butcher 2003, 163. Geyer 2004, 299. Genequand 2004; 21–22; Genequand 2006, 66–69. 137  Genequand 2001; Genequand 2012, 259–280. 138  Genequand 2001, 69. 139  N34.279215 E37.634123. Poidebard 1934, 188–189, pl. XXXII; Schlumberger 1986, 16–17; Genequand 2004, 20–21, fig. 16; Lenoir 2011, 88–89. The construction of the fort can be dated to the early Roman period, based on surface finds, but the site was later occupied by the Umayyads. 134 

130 

135  136 

50

Villages and estates

Figure 53. The Harbaqah fort (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

to the Roman road passing through the al-Barda pass, registered by Poidebard.140 According to Genequand, the position of the dam only makes sense in connection with Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi as an integrated part of the water system of the castle and the attached garden 2 km to the northwest. It appears as ‘an extensive single planned operation’.141 The Umayyads had both the means and the ability to mobilize manpower to initiate a project of this size. In other words, it was the building of the castle as part of a larger Umayyad project that determined the position of the dam, not the other way round.

kilometres, discussed above, and there there had been some regulation of the flow from the basin. The existence of two outlets at different levels shows that silting must have been a problem, but silting is a problem with all dams, ancient as well as modern.142 What is special with the Harbaqah in that respect? Would it not make all dams more or less useless, irrational enterprises? Still man has initiated wellthought-out hydraulic projects throughout history to make arid landscapes fertile with great success.143 Of course, the reservoir of the dam would have needed more or less continuous cleaning, not necessarily every year, to keep the outlets fully functional. This could have been done by emptying the reservoir in the later part of the hot season, when the water level was low, or by opening all outlets at longer intervals to wash away the silt, when the torrential streams were at the strongest during the rainy season. The underlying issue is a question about organisation and manpower.144 If the Umayyads had the organisation and manpower to build the dam, they must also have been able to maintain it.

As pointed out by Genequand we do not find similar large dams in the Palmyrene territory, but this is probably because there are only a few places in the Palmyrene territory that are suitable for such large hydraulic projects. The catchment area behind the Harbaqah dam is huge, covering 600 square kilometres, and the run-off is concentrated in the narrow al-Barda pass. The only other place in Palmyrene territory equivalent to this is the Wadi Abyad basin, also covering about 600 square

Kamash 2006a, 64. Schnitter 1994; Calvet and Geyer 1992. 144  Morris and Fan 1998, 3, 2. 142 

Poidebard 1934, 101, pl. XXXII, pl. XXXIV. 141  Genequand 2001, 67. 140 

143 

51

Palmyrena The modern dam north of Palmyra in the Wadi Abyad basin, mentioned above, had a capacity of 5,000,000 cubic meters in 1988, but now it is reduced to about 1,250,000 because of silt.145 This shows how easily a dam can be filled up, but according to local information, this is largely due to the lack of governmental funding and prioritization.

al-Heir al-Gharbi would have over 5000 mm of water at the disposal. We might reduce the water available to 1,250,000 cubic meters, but we would still have a similar paradox as with the Roman dating in relation to the small Roman fort north of the dam. On the other hand, Genequand stresses that many of the Umayyad building programs in remote areas show an ability to mobilize manpower and to initiate large costly projects in a very short time, but also exhibit poor quality of workmanship and ‘very frequently display ‘a certain incongruency between their purpose and the magnificent way in which they were realised’.151 In the case under consideration, pictures of the inner side of the wall of the Harbaqah dam do not seem to show a poor quality of workmanship (Figure 54),152 and the engineers imported hard limestone instead of using the soft local stone. The dam appears as a well-planned and well-constructed project, which has been able to withstand the forces of nature up to the present. The proportions of the project, compared to the size of the gardens at Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi, would show not just a ‘certain’, but a huge disparity between purpose and construction.

The crucial question is the dating of the different levels of the dam and the outlets. The upstream side of the wall is well preserved, and old pictures show that the lower courses of blocks are thinner than the upper.146 This may indicate two chronological phases or at least two marked different stages in the construction. The erosion of the downstream side, probably due to the overflow of water when the reservoir had silted up, has exposed the rubble core of the dam. Zena Kamash from the University of Oxford has made a study of the core and done some extremely important observations.147 There is a clear difference in the composition of the rubble in the lower courses compared to the upper courses, and also in the mortar used to bond the ashlars. This indicates that there were two clearly chronological separated phases in the construction of the dam, a Roman and Umayyad, and also that the original Roman dam must have been lower than the dam we see today and the capacity less.

In all our calculations above, we have assumed that the main purpose of the dam was to store water for the dry season and that the crops needed irrigation all through the year. In this scenario, the capacity of the reservoir is crucial. If, however, we change the purpose of the dam and the crops it watered our calculations become misleading. The dam not only stored water, it also controlled the flow of water from the catchment area in the Palmyra Range. It covered about 600 square kilometres. If the yearly precipitation was 100 mm, i.e. below the average of the region (125 mm), the area could have received 60,000,000 cubic metres of water in good years, but in very dry years (60 mm) only 36,000,000 cubic metres. Not all of rain would reach the dam as surface water of course. Some of would evaporate; some of it would penetrate the surface. Since, however, the Palmyra Range is a rising mountain range and the sedimentary layers in the catchment area are relatively thin, in contrast to the Plain of ad-Daw north of the mountains,153 the drainage of the catchment area would lead ground water towards the dam. If the crops were cereals, the fields did not need water in the dry summer months, but in the rainy season, especially in March and April, which are the critical months.154 In this scenario, an important function of the dam would be to control the flow from the catchment area, not to store the water, to ensure that the fields were watered at the right moment as a supplement to the rain, and to secure the crops against being washed away

The last argument against a redating of the dam is that the agricultural potential of the dam far surpasses the Umayyad garden at Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi, which only covers about 46.5 hectares.148 Of course, we cannot be sure that this has been the only garden in the area. There are, however, no indications that they should have been even close to the size of the enclosures at the much larger Umayyad castle complex at Qasr al-Heir alSharqi 100 km east of Palmyra, which measured about 1000 hectares and received water from the springs at alQawm and Umm al-Tlal 25 km northwest of the castle via a long aqueduct.149 Even if we reduce the capacity of the dam in the two phases proposed by Genequand due to silting, the amount of water available greatly surpasses the needs of the Umayyad castle with gardens. Let us for the sake of argument assume that the water available was 2,500,000 cubic meters, half the capacity accepted by Genequand,150 and that the crops in the garden demanded 400 mm, which is an extremely high figure. The dam could then support 625 hectares of intensive and highly water-requiring agriculture or horticulture. The actual garden at Qasr According to Ing. Waleed al-As‛ad, director of the Museum in Palmyra. 146  Denise and Nordiguian 2004, pl. 268; Palmyrena 132, fig. 31; 147  Kamash 2006a, 66; Kamash 2006b. 148  Schlumberger 1986, 4–5. 149  Genequand and al-As‛ad 2006‒2007, 181, 187–190; Genequand and al-Razzaq Moaz 2009. 150  Genequand 2012, 257. 145 

Genequand 2006, 69. Denis and Nordiguian 2004, pl. 268; Jabbur 1995, 57, fig. 6. 153  Wirth 1971, 51–53. 154  Palmyrena 147. 151  152 

52

Villages and estates

Figure 54. The Harbaqah dam. The inner side of the wall (Jabbur 1995, 57, fig. 6).

during heavy rainfall. The dam would then have a huge agricultural potential. Starting from an extremely low estimate, 5,000,000 cubic metres, the dam could supply water to at least 5000 hectares of fields with barley, which needs 200 mm of precipitation (100 mm rain + 100 mm extra water). According to our calculations above, 5000 hectares would then produce 5,000,000 kg of barley, which could feed a population of 10000 to 14000 adults, based on the slave rations recommended by Cato the Elder, but this does not take into account the composition of the population in Palmyra and the possibility of supplementing cereals, with for example, dates. Five thousand hectares could certainly have supported a much larger population.

this size needed investment and initiative.155 Palmyra was the political and economic centre, and it was there the foodstuffs were needed. This, however, raises another problem. Ploughing and sowing in the early winter months and harvest in May imply access to manpower. Even if larger nomadic groups did not enter the area from the south before after the harvest, the fields also needed to be guarded, especially during the growth and ripening of the cereals. The water systems had to be maintained, and the water distributed to the fields. Where did the ancients get the necessary labour force from? The requirement for a labour force in this type of agriculture is not constant through the year. From harvest to ploughing and sowing, the fields do not need much attention, whereas the harvest is the most labour-intensive period. A smaller and sedimentary population could have maintained and guarded the fields, and during the harvest extra manpower could be brought in from Palmyra and live in temporary shelters. Mobilisation of extra labour during the harvest of cereals and other crops was a very common phenomenon in the Mediterranean and the Near East in the ancient period and is still widespread in

These calculations are based on absolutely minimum figures. The amount of water passing through the alBarda pass has, of course, been considerably higher than 5,000,000 cubic metres, even in dry years with only 60 mm of precipitation. We do not need to take into account evaporation and waste during the transport and distribution or less rain on the plain than in the Palmyra range. This gives us an idea of the agricultural potential of the dam and the size of the population it could support as a stable source of nutrition independent of fluctuations in the rainfall. It makes sense to connect this agricultural potential to the city of Palmyra, not to Heliaramia or any other settlement at the plain. The construction of a dam of

155 

53

Yon 2002, 129.

Palmyrena modern agriculture.156 The owners of the fields could have lived in Palmyra using tenants to take care of the most basic tasks, as did the Roman coloni or Arab fellâhîn. The tenants did not necessarily need to live close to the fields all year.157 In this way, a large area with fields, is compatible with a very low population density, simple houses (constructed either with mud bricks or walls with larger inner and outer stones and a filling of smaller ones and clay in the middle), and no monumental temples or public buildings. This would explain why the only visible remains from the early Roman period are the small fort, which was more solidly constructed and probably guarded the dam and the communication line through the al-Barda pass.158 All other structures would have eroded and their walls been covered with windblown sediments.159

agriculture and horticulture, with olives at some places, combined with husbandry. The settlements in the mountains have undoubtedly been providers of foodstuffs to Palmyra, as mentioned in the Palmyra tariff, but it is highly unlikely that they alone could have supplied the centre with the necessary provisions. There have been regulations of the water flow in the Jebel Abyad basin, and it is probable that there has been a forerunner for the modern dam, not necessarily a gravity dam storing water for the hot season but a solid wall to control the floods in the rainy season, which is essential for agriculture on the plain below. Bir Arak and especially the at-Tarfa depression were important agricultural areas. At present the date of the Harbaqah dam and to what extent the plain around Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi was cultivated in the preIslamic period are open questions.

The most serious objection to this scenario is the absence of any traces, so far, of more complicated water systems from the Harbaqah dam to the plain, apart from the aqueduct leading to the Umayyad castle.160 Has windblown material covered other aqueducts and side branches? How did the Umayyads deal with the extra run-off water from the catchment area? At the present, these questions cannot be answered. Both the dam and the plain below need to be reinvestigated. The food supply of Palmyra So far, the surveys north of Palmyra have not found any water management systems, which can be compared in sophistication with the sites in North Africa and Hauran, only the rather simple system with cross-wadi walls. The high number of cisterns north of Palmyra is certainly not related to agriculture but rather to human and animal consumption and perhaps for smallscale irrigation of gardens. The classification, however, of the settlements north of Palmyra as pastoral holdings or centres for horse or camel breeding is no longer satisfactory. The new evidence, including the high density of sites in Jebel Bilaas, Jebel Chaar, Jebel Merah and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen, suggests a much more differentiated economy, probably a mixture of Garnsey 1980, 34–47. In southeastern Turkey it was not uncommon in 1990 that small villages were almost abandoned during the hot season after the local harvest. The families moved to western Turkey, where they lived in temporary shelters in the fields, taking part in the harvest of cotton and tobacco. 157  In the area around the modern Palmyra, several smaller scattered settlements are only occupied part of the year. 158  Mior 2014. 159  The surroundings of Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi and the castle itself has partly been covered with windblown material after Schlumbergers excavations. 160  Lenoir 2011, fig. 42; Poidebard 1934, pl. XXXII.The canals are still visible on the eastern side of the wadi below the dam, and southeast of the water reservoir north of the castle. A 600 m stretch of a qanat is visible north of the Harbaqah fort (N34.28082 E37.634098), and another stretch 500 m long 3.5 km north of the fort, just south of the modern road (N34.310507 E37.635041). 156 

54

Villages and estates Settlements and estates north of Palmyra

Jebel Chaar Schlumberger: Kheurbet Semrine Large Sanctuary/Buildings PNO 13–22, 51–62 N34.920874 E37.965545 Syr/Nor, al-As‛ad 2007 Kheurbet Leqteir Small sanctuary PNO 22, 62–64 N34.918000 E38.004920 El Mkemlé Sanctuary/Buildings PNO 23, 64–66 N34.957615 E37.953897 Ras ech Chaar Sanctuary/Buildings PNO 23–24, 66–67 N34.975538 E37.954012 Kheurbet Farouâne Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 25–26, 67–68 N35.005015 E37.974773 Hassan Madhour Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 27–29, 68–69 N34.954491 E37.901464 Labda Small sanctuary PNO 29, 69–70 N34.952372 E37.857188? Kheurbet Chteib Small sanctuary PNO 29–31, 70 N34.928539 E37.894250 Kheurbet Ouadi Souâné Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 31–33, 70–74 N34.923730 E37.844532 Kheurbet es Souâné Sanctuary PNO 33–34, 74–75 N34.881476 E37.840749 Kheurbet Madaba Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 34, 75 N34.840870 E37.879743 PetroCanada Kheurbet Ramadane Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 35–36, 76–78 N34.843461 E37.740152 Kheurbet es Sané Sanctuary PNO 36–37, 78–79 N34.881476 E37.840749 Ploix de Rotrou and Seyrig 1933 Kheurbet Abou Douhour Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 37–41, 79–83 N34.967004 E37.820475 PetroCanada Marzouga Sanctuaries/Buildings PNO 41–44, 84–85 N35.032017 E37.847214 PetroCanada, al-As‛ad 2007 Rasm ech Chaar Estate/buildings PNO 44–46, 85 N34.933489 E37.955557 Genequand 2012, 184–186 Syr/Nor, al-As‛ad 2007 Kheurbet Messaadé Buildings PNO map, Syr/Nor N34.874339 E37.951595 PetroCanada, al-As‛ad 2007 Al-Moghara (Huwesys) Buildings PNO map, Syr/Nor N34.831606 E37.684384 Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 55–56. Other sites: JC544 Buildings Satellite N35.100682 E37.846899 JC546 Buildings Satellite N35.097044 E37.892900 JC548 Concentration wells Satellite N35.089925 E38.000695 JC545 ? Satellite N35.079818 E37.904616 JC549 Building/wells Satellite N35.077000 E38.001508 JC547 ?/cisterns Satellite N35.058307 E38.147968 JC02 Building/cisterns Satellite N35.048510 E37.891129 JC03 Buildings Satellite N35.006257 E37.902747 Kheurbet Duwayzin Buildings PetroCanada, al-As‛ad 2007 N34.986669 E37.867989 Kheurbet Umm al-Mikbas Buildings PetroCanada N34.978777 E37.786639 JC04 Cisterns Satellite N34.978321 E38.021019 JC542 Buildings Satellite N34.967494 E37.929768 JC05 Buildings PetroCanada N34.957855 E38.002457 Rasm Hamdawi Buildings PetroCanada, al-As‛ad 2007 N34.944094 E37.949839 JC06 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.942927 E37.979657 JC07 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.936060 E38.019430 JC08 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.930522 E37.934943 Kheurbet Salih Hamid Buildings PetroCanada, al-As‛ad 2007 N34.928085 N37.895076 JC11 ? Satellite N34.915291 E37.986053 Kheurbet Shutayb Buildings PetroCanada, al-As‛ad 2007 N34.913448 E37.877421 JC12 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.913150 E38.022150 JC541 Buildings Satellite N34.910294 E37.773620 JC10 Cisterns, small building Syr/Nor N34.907866 E37.957359 JC540 Buildings Satellite N34.890139 E37.759658 JC14 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.896473 E37.958035 JC15 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.892322 E37.980310 JC16 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.892358 E37.991001 JC17 Building Satellite N34.893885 E38.029115 JC13 Buildings Syr/Nor N34.889397 E37.915165 JC18 Buildings PetroCanada N34.856000 E37.997899 JC19 Buildings Satellite N34.854450 E37.973917 JC21 Buildings, crushing stone PetroCanada, Syr/Nor N34.845950 E37.797830 JC20 Buildings PetroCanada N34.832555 E37.778786 JC543 ? Satellite N34.830495 E37.991599 Madaba Buildings/estate Gaz. 137 N34.824280 E37.963470 Kheurbet as Sawwa Buildings PetroCanada, Syr/Nor N34.823281 E37.929751 JC22 ? Satellite N34.810192 E37.861461 JC23 Building Satellite N34.814855 E37.917795 Abu Hayaya Buildings PetroCanada, Syr/Nor N34.804890 E37.684020 Jebel Merah: Jebel Merah West: JMW073 JMW035 JMW079 JMW083 JMW089

Buildings Buildings, shrines Building Buildings Buildings, shrines, cross-wadi walls

Gaz. 163 Gaz. 164 Gaz. 168 Gaz. 169 Gaz. 170

N34.810289 E38.073760 N34.824591 E38.069207 N34.837997 E38.069869 N34.848699 E38.083306 N34.846806 E38.095899

55

Palmyrena JMW161 JMW172

Buildings Buildings?, enclosures

Jebel Merah East: JME215 Building JME222 Buildings JME202 Buildings, large cistern JME208 Cistern, building? JME374 Sanctuary, Palmyrene inscription JME209 Buildings, shrine JME330 Buildings JME320 Cistern, small building JME318 Cistern, small building JME304 Buildings JME298 Building JME291 Concentration cisterns JME252 Cistern, small building JME263 Building JME231 Dam JME232 Buildings, enclosure

Gaz. 178 Gaz. 180

N34.882448 E38.099168 N34.907000 E38.105016

Gaz. 181 Gaz. 183 Gaz. 184 Gaz. 186 Gaz. 186

N34.830741 E38.103175 N34.832731 E38.109711 N34.844281 E38.128488 N34.853985 E38.131892 N34.853944 E38.107886

Gaz. 188 Gaz. 190 Gaz. 192 Gaz. 193 Gaz. 194 Gaz. 195 Gaz. 195 Gaz. 197 Gaz. 198 Gaz. 199 Gaz. 201

N34.865746 E38.135612 N34.866651 E38.118397 N34.874640 E38.136327 N34.880633 E38.129784 N34.883461 E38.134997 N34.885600 E38.135862 N34.893071 E38.141433 N34.901272 E38.147036 N34.903431 E38.141508 N34.915657 E38.153380 N34.918364 E38.148277

Jebel Bilaas JB47 Buildings? JB49 Buildings/tells JB48 Building JB46 Buildings JB34 Building/tells/cisterns JB45 Buildings?/cisterns JB52 Buildings?/cisterns Kheurbet el-Fayéh Estate/village JB32 Buildings JB30 Buildings JB29 Buildings JB28 Buildings JB44 Buildings Kheurbet el-Malah Buildings JB33 Building JB51 Tells/cisterns JB27 Buildings JB31 Buildings JB43 Buildings?/cisterns Kheurbet Touonane Buildings JB42 Buildings JB39 Buildings JB40 Buildings JB38 Buildings JB37 Buildings JB41 Buildings JB35 Buildings JB36 Buildings

Satellite N34.768798 E37.511761 Satellite N34.771784 E37.558992 Satellite N34.780667 E37.531177 Satellite N34.790175 E37.512357 Satellite N34.814680 E37.576340 Satellite N34.818041 E37.523079 Satellite N34.849998 E37.689098 Syr/Nor N34.850779 E37.604258 Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 57. Satellite N34.898485 E37.628442 Satellite N34.893933 E37.570995 Satellite N34.930119 E37.680026 Satellite N34.945246 E37.655048 Satellite N34.966247 E37.703829 PNO map, Satellite N34.967667 E37.737499 Satellite N34.985805 E37.607363 Satellite N34.989193 E37.638795 Satellite N34.992390 E37.750816 Satellite N35.000588 E37.687507 Satellite N35.005788 E37.667221 PNO map, Satellite N35.020736 E37.756340 Satellite N35.027724 E37.730911 Satellite N35.039019 E37.785550 Satellite N35.036603 E37.800968 Satellite N35.047095 E37.756560 Satellite N35.067144 E37.746226 Satellite N35.069568 E37.720008 Satellite N35.079361 E37.780483 Satellite N35.070543 E37.784518

Wadi Massaadé: WM01

Large building

Gaz. 154

N34.843721 E38.045538

Wadi Djihar: WJ01

Small building and cistern

Gaz. 146

N34.771387 E38.056739

Gaz. 142

N34.746560 E38.062777

Gaz. 116 Gaz. 133

N34.757875 E38.087569 N34.694745 E38.014789

Gaz. 111 Gaz. 114 Gaz. 122 Gaz. 99 Gaz. 125

N34.747113 E38.120341 N34.761997 E38.107458 N34.674510 E38.141760 N34.685842 E38.183479 N34.666791 E38.127939

Gaz. 76

N34.690519 E38.191335

Jebel Abyad, Wadi al-Takara: Bir al-Arfa Buildings, concentration of cisterns Al-Matna Concentration cisterns Jazal Buildings, concentration of wells Shalala Buildings JA25 Hilltop sanctuary? Al-Koullah Concentration of cisterns Al-Mazrah Buildings, shrine, enclosure WT42 Cross wadi wall Wadi Abyad: al-Khaïrem

Buildings, garden, spring, aqueduct

56

Villages and estates Awtayt Springs, buildings Gaz. 82 Majouf Springs, well, building Gaz. 84 Bir Jouâae’d Buildings, enclosures, wells Gaz. 90 Ouéchel Wells, spring, cisterns, aqueduct, fort Gaz. 86 WA01-02 Cross wadi channels and walls Gaz. 91 Antaar Burial towers and buildings Gaz. 94

N34.702056 E38.184325 N34.736694 E38.149911 N34.717005 E38.240113 N34.757982 E38.115351 N34.672635 E38.218600 N34.669979 E38.206247 N34.660006 E38.221758

Jebel Abu Riĝmen: JR01 JR02 ? JR03 ? JR04 JR05 JR06 (Dubejs) JR07 ? JR08 JR09 Fort/Estate?, Buildings (al-Bwêẓa) JR10 Building JR11 Buildings JR12 JR13 ? JR14 JR15 ? JR16 JR17 JR18 JR19 JR20 JR21 JR22

N34.875273 E38.210120 N34.851736 E38.230868 N34.897843 E38.243298 N34.858567 E38.301293 N34.853391 E38.314469 N34.881066 E38.278127 N34.892261 E38.275218 N34.890050 E38.286516 N34.882706 E38.292653 N34.911677 E38.288745 N34.926796 E38.267240 N34.889759 E38.315226 N34.886549 E38.342121 N34.900371 E38.347099 N34.874738 E38.360548 N34.860413 E38.370438 N34.871788 E38.384797 N34.885682 E38.386393 N34.869548 E38.396473 N34.856185 E38.406989 N34.842332 E38.409474 N34.843441 E38.451771

Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite Satellite

North of Jebel Chaar: Khaleed al-Ali Tel Gaz. 205 N35.155465 E38.029414 Fasida Enclosure? Gaz. 208 N35.164506 E38.022360 JF01 Building/cisterns? Satellite N35.178174 E38.004988

57

Palmyrena 149. Palmyrena 150.

Forts and stations Lines of communication Palmyrene control of the territory North of Palmyra there are several buildings, which cannot be classified as villages or estates (Figure 55). The two buildings investigated by Schlumberger in Jebel Abyad, at Tahoun al-Masek and Ouéchel can safely be identified as small forts.1 They are both solidly built with large slabs and blocks. At Tahoun al-Masek two steles with Greek inscriptions mentioning a cohort of δρομεδάριος,2 and a slab with a Latin inscription with two Thracian names dated to the consular year of 156,3 leaves no doubt as to the Roman military presence at the site. The fort, measuring 25 x 10 m, is located on a narrow promontory above Wadi al-Masek (Figure 123), overlooking an important Y-junction on the main corridor through Jebel Abyad from the plain northwest of Palmyra to the northern territory, and the route to the large Plain of Shalala in the northeastern part of Jebel Abyad.4 The building at Ouéchel, measuring 19.30 x 19.90 m, stands on a small promontory below the Plain of Shalala, overlooking a spring area with numerous deep wells cut into the rock and remains of an aqueduct (Figure 88).5 A Latin inscription, too fragmented to make any sense, indicates the presence of a Roman military unit.6 The function of the forts has undoubtedly been control of the territory: the main communication line through Jebel Abyad and an important water resource. The solidly constructed building in the village of Jazal close to several deep wells may belong to the same category.7 Only an entrance with traces of destructionlayers by fire is visible in a flat tell, and the exact layout, size and function of the building cannot be determined. It cannot have been an Umayyad estate as the surface finds also include Roman material among them a coin datable to the first half of the 4th century.

the route through Jebel Abyad (Figure 151, Figure166).8 The surface finds are very rich and show great diversity, including terra sigilliata africana, green glazed ware, iron nails, tacks and arrowheads and an unidentifiable coin. Shanaeh is located between Jebel Chaar and Jebel Merah on a hilltop above Wadi Massaadé with a concentration of wells and some buildings below (Figures 208–209).9 Khabar lies in the open landscape west of the northern part of Jebel Merah close to Wadi Khabar with the largest concentration of wells in the northern territory (Figure 211).10 The building at site WJ242 lies on a small hilltop west of a junction between one of the major wadis from Jebel Chaar and Wadi Jihar (Figure 204). The site was not investigated in detail as it was outside the concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey, but the size and the construction correspond to the other buildings.11 The large square structure at site JR09, AlBwêẓa in Jebel Abu-Riĝmen (Figure 31), identified from satellite imagery, has some towers at the corners, but it measures only 45 x 45 m and it may be a large estate.12 The second group comprises two smaller isolated buildings with the same construction technique on smaller hilltops in the landscape. Wadi al-Takara S, measuring about 17 x 21 m, is located at the entrance to Wadi al-Takara (Figure 153).13 Site WJ098 lies close to Wadi Jihar in the open landscape between Jebel Abyad and Jebel Chaar, measuring about 30 x 30 m (Figure 200).14 It has the same layout as the large square building at Shanaeh, with a shift in the orientation of the rectangular corner rooms, indicating that both buildings were perhaps erected by the same organisation. The surface finds from both buildings are surprisingly rich, compared to those at other small isolated buildings in the territory, which are almost void of finds. At site WJ098, the surface finds include a sherd of terra sigilliata africana and a roofing tile, which is extremely rare in the settlements as most buildings

The other buildings can be divided into two groups. The first comprises large square buildings measuring roughly 60 x 60 m, much larger that the buildings in the villages, but with the same construction technique: walls with outer larger stones and a filling of smaller stones and clay in the middle, about 90–120 cm thick. Wadi alTakara N is located on a wadi island in northern end of Wadi al-Takara at the entrance to Wadi al-Masek and

Gazetteer 126. Gazetteer 150. A coin from one of the buildings can be dated to the middle of the 3rd century. 10  Gazetteer 154. The site has been completely covered with windblown material, and the surface finds are scarce and late. 11  N34.757611 E37.910583. The site was visited in 2007 and 2008. 12  Palmyrena 149–150. N34.882706 E38.292653. About 36 km west of Palmyra, on the Roman road from Palmyra to Bir Jihar (Figure 42), there are remains of an isolated building, measuring about 40 x 40 m, at a small mountain pass up to Bir Jihar close to wadi, most probably a road station (N34.597055 E37.873491). The site was visited in 2005. 13  Gazetteer 120. 14  Gazetteer 147. 8  9 

The building at Rasm ech Chaar, classified as a fort by Schlumberger (PNO 44–46), is most probably an Umayyad estate. Genequand 2012, 184–186. See page 16. 2  PNO 86–87. 3  PNO 87. 4  PNO 48–50. Gazetteer 103. 5  PNO 46–48; Palmyrena 149. Gazetteer 86. 6  PNO 86. 7  Gazetteer 133. 1 

58

Forts and stations

Figure 55. Distribution of forts and stations north of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

had flat roofs.15 The surface finds from Wadi al-Takara S include a Roman follis from the end of the 3rd century.

note that Palmyra maintained some military presence in its immediate hinterland at the two forts at Tahoun al-Masek and Ouéchel, even with Roman military personnel, only one day’s travel from the centre. This cannot have been due to a severe military threat from outside or from raiders. The garrisons are too few and none of the villages has any defensive walls. It is highly improbable that the other buildings had any military defensive function. They differ markedly from the two small forts in Jebel Abyad and the much larger, solidly built forts along the Strata Diocletiana from Palmyra to Damascus.17

The surface finds from all investigated sites show the same chronological tendency as the finds from the settlements.16 All buildings continued in use after Palmyra lost its independence after the fall of Zenobia. What was the function of these buildings in the northern territory? In the first place, it is interesting to The only known example of roofing tiles is from Kheurbet Semrine in Jebel Chaar (PNO 20), and Al-Khaïrem (Gazetteer 76). 16  See p. 16. 15 

17 

59

Poidebard 1934, 34–40, Pl. XIV–XLIV; Gregory 1995, 189–239.

Palmyrena The layout of the larger structures ‒ an open courtyard in the middle with facing rooms, and even small towers in the corners ‒ is multifunctional and may have served several purposes, and is common in stations or khans along the main lines of communication.18 To what extent do the buildings north of Palmyra fit into this picture?

Palmyrene territory from the north.26 From Seriana one route leads about 120 km, via Amsareddi27 and Acadama (Qdeym)28 to Sukneh and Oriza (Tayibé) to the southeast through a long mountain pass between Jebel Abu-Riĝmen to the south and Jebel Muqaybirah to the north. To the south, the plain opens up towards Jebel Chaar and Jebel Merah and Palmyra itself. The distance from Palmyra to Antioch via Seriana, Androna/Andarin and Chalcis is about 290 km, compared to 330 km via Occaraba and Apamea. Could this route via Seriana have been an alternative for caravans, even if it is more dependent on properly protected and maintained water stations along the route passing a more arid territory up to Chalkis? How was Palmyra connected to Seriana?

Khans or stations along the route to the north? A good starting point is to look at the natural lines of communication from Palmyra to the northern area. According to the Peutinger table, probably from the 5th century AD, the main route of communication to the northwest from Palmyra went via Centum Putea, Occaraba and Theleda to Apamea. The first stage of the route can be identified by a series of milestones, most of them datable to the Severan age.19 It started at the western gate of Palmyra, went straight west for about 35 km along the aqueduct from the springs of AbuFawares and the northern edge of the depression at atTarfa, where it turned northwest passing the village of Bir Jihar, where there is a great concentration of wells. Some scholars have identified Bir Jihar with Centum Putea, but the exact identification is uncertain.20 The route then traversed Jebel Bilaas via Khirbet Bilaas, where a Palmyrene boundary stone has been found,21 down to the plain, continuing via ‘Uqayribat (Occaraba) and Tell ‘Ada’ (Theleda) into Apamean territory with connections to the north along the Orontes valley up to Antioch.22

According to Mouterde and Poidebard and Schlumberger, the main route from Palmyra to the north went up through the narrow passage between Jebel Marbat el Hassâne and the southeastern spur of Jebel Abyad to the Wadi Abyad basin. In the northern end of the basin, it ascended to the valley between Jebel Merah and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen, before it turned northwest towards Seriana.29 This is also marked on French and Russian maps as the main line of communication in the second half of the last century. This route has its drawbacks, however, as you have to cross numerous small, twisting, very often deep wadis coming from Jebel Merah and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen, and this slows down the pace. During heavy showers, flash floods wash away the tracks, create steep sides at the banks of the smaller wadis, and in 2000, a new road was constructed towards the northeast from the basin across Jebel Abu-Riĝmen to the plain north of the mountains. Morover, the ascent to the plateau north and northwest of the Wadi Abyad basin is very steep with deep ravines with only a few tracks, and these are extremely vulnerable to floods (Figure 56, Figure 227).30 This landscape constitutes no serious obstacle to a donkey or a mule. Their hoofs give them excellent climbing powers and enable them to negotiate steep slopes and narrow tracks with heavy loads.31 Camels, however, prefer level ground. They become unsteady in hilly terrain, especially when loaded. Moving up and especially down slopes, crossing even small wadis with steep banks, not only slows down a camel, but might

The Antonine Itinerary, which was probably first published around AD 200 with later additions in the beginning of the 4th century, does not mention Palmyra or any roads in Palmyrene territory, but the register of settlements and stations includes Seriana, the modern Isriye about 100 km north-northwest of Palmyra, twice. One route starts in Seriana and goes to Damascus.23 This is part of a longer natural line of communication from Damascus up to Sergioupolis, Resafa, which Musil followed in 1908.24 The other goes through Beroa (Aleppo) in the north and passes Calcidia/Chalkis (Qinnasrin) and Androna (el-Andarin) to Seriana in the south.25 Seriana was not a large city in antiquity, but obviously an important settlement on the road from Resafa to Damascus, and it was also the gateway to the

Gogräfe 2005; Palmyrena 55–60. Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 95–96, 106–109. 28  Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 106–111. 29  PNO 2, fig. 1; Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 95–98. 30  After heavy showers in May 2011, all access to Jebel Merah was hampered for over a week. 31  The donkey was probably a much more common sight in ancient caravans than our sources indicate. The donkey was originally a semi-desert animal. It is hardy, easy to handle and has an excellent carrying capacity compared to its weight (Fielding and Starkey 2004). When Carsten Niebuhr travelled from Bagdad to Aleppo in 1766, donkeys and mules are listed as pack animals together with camels (Niebuhr 1778, 374). According to Varro (Rust. 2, 6) trains of donkeys with panniers brought oil, wine and grain down to the coast in Southern Italy. 26  27 

Dentzer, 1994. Palmyrena 135, 244; Schlumberger 1939b; Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 48; Gregoratti and Magnani and Cremaschi and Perego 2017. The route and the milestones were visited by the author and Adeeb As‛ad in 2005 as far as Bir Jihar. See fig. 42. 20  Palmyrena 244; Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 56–57. 21  Schlumberger, 1939a 22  Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 41–59. 23  Antonine Itinerary 195, 5–198, 6, Cuntz 1929, 26–27. 24  Palmyrena 22–64. 25  Antonine Itinerary 194, 11–195, 3, Cuntz 1929, 26. 18  19 

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Forts and stations

Figure 56. The ascent to the northern plateau from Wadi Abyad. In the background, the eastern side of Jebel Merah (J.C. Meyer).

also cause the animal to loose balance and even fall, displacing the cargo, and at worst break a leg.32

at the edge of the shoulder (Figure 222). There is a natural corridor to the north with no major obstacles up to the northern part of Jebel Merah. From there, you have to cross the wide Wadi Khabar to enter the plain to the northwest (Figure 211), joining the route from Sukhne to Seriana.

There is, however, an alternative much more favourable for trains of heavily loaded pack animals, including camels. Instead of going north through Wadi Abyad, you head northwest across the broad level Plain of Sahl Feïf el Mazraâ for the wide mouth of Wadi al-Takara. Wadi al-Takara, which has several good tracks, leads up to the main corridor through Jebel Abyad, Wadi al-Masek (Figure 151). The pass through Jebel Abyad is relatively narrow and surrounded by steep mountainsides, but there are no serious obstacles for human or animal transport, and the route is widely used by the Bedouin today with their heavy trucks and pickups. Only during heavy showers and shortly after, is all traffic hampered, but caravans normally stop in rainy weather. Camels are reluctant to move during showers because of the slippery ground.33

This route has the same length to Seriana as the route via Wadi Abyad, about 110 km, but it has many advantages. It runs along Wadi al-Takara and Wadi alMasek, which gives a gradual climb to the plateau. A minimum of smaller wadis cut across the track and by following the watershed north of Jebel Abyad this route avoids the fissured landscape at the edge of the Wadi Abyad basin. It also connects Palmyra with the villages in Jebel Chaar and the western and southern part of the Jebel Merah area. Access to the plateau is also possible from the northwestern part of Wadi Abyad, but the track follows a narrow ridge and it is very steep, and there can be no doubt that communication from Palmyra to the settlements in Jebel Chaar and part of Jebel Merah went through the pass in Jebel Abyad.

In the northwestern corner of Jebel Abyad, the pass opens up towards the plain and the watershed between Wadi Abyad with deep fissures to the east, and Wadi Jihar between Jebel Abyad and Jebel Chaar to the west. Larger and smaller wadis dominate the landscape between Jebel Chaar and Jebel Merah, making transport much more difficult even if you try to follow Wadi Masaadé in the southern end and Wadi Khabar in the northern end. From the watershed, however, there is an easy access to the western shoulder at the foot of Jebel Merah (Figure 226). The shoulder is wide, and all the small wadis from the mountainside broaden without cutting deeply into the ground, before they enter the plain below through openings between a series of hills

How do the buildings fit into this route? The smaller building at the mouth of Wadi al-Takara (Wadi al-Takara S), the big square building in the northern end of the wadi (Wadi al-Takara N), the small fort at Tweihina and the large square building at Khabar are all located on the route. The normal travelling speed for humans and pack animals, with shorter breaks included, is not more than 4 km an hour.34 This will give the following travelling distances and timetable: Palmyra – Wadi al-Takara S 16 km = 4 hours Wadi al-Takara S – Wadi al-Takara N 8 km = 2 hours

Wolseley 1871, 37; Grant 1937, 43, 147; Thesiger 1996, 35, 154–6, 194; Raunkiaer 1969, 87–8, 115; Musil 1927, 131, 154, 245–6, 315, 320, 405, 465; Palmyrena 14, 28–9, 98, 168, 223. 33  Musil 1927, 87–8, 384, 407; Palmyrena 95; Raunkiaer 1969, 107. 32 

Wolseley 1871, 37; Grant 1937, 146–148; Naval Intelligence Division 1944, 470; Trench 1964, 20; Bulliet 1975, 319. 34 

61

Palmyrena Palmyra – Wadi al-Takara N Wadi al-Takara N – Tweihina Tweihina – Khabar Wadi al-Takara N – Khabar Khabar – Amsareddi Amsareddi – Seriana

24 km = 6 hours 3 km = < 1 hour 34 km = 8–9 hours 37 km = 9–10 hours 26 km = 6–7 hours 32 km = 8 hours

located on a natural route from Shanaeh to Bir Jihar along Wadi Jihar, but they do not fit into a scheme of one day’s travel. The distance to Bir Jihar from site WJ248 is 13 km. It is highly unlikely that Bir Jihar was an important settlement in antiquity and a centre in an interregional network from west to east with attached stations, even if it has been a good watering place on the northwestern route up to Apamea. Musil mentions some small ruins, but Mouterde and Poidebard were not able to identify them, only a cluster of wells, and nothing is visible today.38

Wadi al-Takara N and Khabar fit well with a connection from Palmyra to Seriana as khans or caravanserais. The buildings are spacious and offer good protection for caravans against theft and robbery during the night, and at Khabar the wells give abundant access to water of good quality for humans and beasts of burden. The longest leg is between Wadi al-Takara N and Khabar, but all distances can easily be covered within one day’s travel.

To sum up: the two smaller forts in Jebel Abyad with Roman military personnel have no function as overnight strongpoints along the lines of communication, but Tweihina controls a strategic junction in the network, and Ouéchel an important water resource.39 The large square buildings at Wadi al-Takara N and Khabar have undoubtedly functioned as khans on a route from Palmyra through Jebel Abyad up to Seriana with connections to the north and northwest. Khabar is also located at the largest concentrations of wells in the territory. The rest of the buildings do not fit into a regional network as stations along routes between important centres, but Shanaeh controls important water resources, and the overall picture is that the Palmyrenes wanted to exercise a relatively tight control in the northern territory very close to the centre. The reason for this should not be sought in the interaction between the city and the hinterland, but in the much larger interregional context.

The small building at Wadi al-Takara S and the fort at Tweihina, however, do not make any sense as smaller stations on a caravan route, even though it was not unusual in the Roman Empire to have hostels and inns between the larger road stations (mansiones).35 The small fort at Tweihina is only 3 km from Wadi al-Takara N, and the military presence indicates an entirely different purpose, though the buildings below in the wadi may have functioned as overnight accommodation.36 The building at Wadi al-Takara S is too small to be a mansio and it is located on a small hilltop with only limited access to water, but it occupies a strategic location at the mouth of Wadi al-Takara with an excellent view toward the plain to the south and the track to the north. What about the other buildings outside the supposed caravan route from Palmyra to Seriana? The large square structure at Shanaeh has the same dimensions as the buildings at Wadi al-Takara N and Khabar. It is 37 km, 9–10 hours’ travel from Palmyra, and 24 km, 8 hours’ travel, south of Khabar, and there is good access to water from the wells close to the wadi. This would fit well with an alternative route, skipping Wadi al-Takara N. As noted above, however, the landscape along Wadi Masaadé and Khabar is much more difficult to negotiate than the western shoulder of Jebel Merah. The location of a khan on the top of the hill is peculiar. It would have been much more convenient to build the station closer to the wells 30 m below near the wadi bed where there are remains of smaller buildings.37 On the other hand, the hilltop position gives it an excellent view toward the landscape to the west, southwest and south, and it also controls a large concentration of wells in the southern end of Wadi Masaadé.

Nomads in Palmyrene territory In the old law of the Palmyra tariff there is an important entry dealing with grazing rights:40 It has been agreed that payment for grazing rights (ἐννóμιος) is not to be exacted [in addition to the normal?] taxes; but for animals brought into Palmyrene territory for the purpose of grazing, the payment is due. The tax collector may have the animals branded, if he wishes. (Greek 233–237) Palmyrena 244  ; Mouterde and Poidebard 1945, 56–57, pl XXVI; Nordiguin and Sallers 2000, 220, pl. 55. Mouterde and Poidebard noted some watchtowers on the surrounding hills, but they are actually prehistoric cairns. Bir Jihar was visited in 2005 and 2007. 39  The same phenomenon can be observed 20 km southwest of Palmyra. A small well-constructed fort, Hân al-Abyad or Hân at Trâb, probably from the end of the 3rd century, measuring about 46 x 46 m, was built 8.5 km northwest of Khan al-Hallabat (the ancient Veriaraca), which was an important military stronghold on the Strata Diocletiana. The small fort has no function on the route to the southwest, but it controls a pass through the mountain range to the Plain of ad-Daw to the north. N34.411951 E38.121971. Poidebard 1934, 49, pl. XXXIX, XLIII, 2; Lenoir 2011, 83–85. 40  Ἐννόμιον συνεϕωνήθη μὴ deῖν πράσσε[ιν ἐκτὸς τῶν] τελῶν· [τ]ῶν δὲ ἐπὶ νομὴν μεταγομένων [εἰς Παλ]μυρηνὴν θρεμμάτων ὀϕείλεσθαι· χαρα[κτη]ρίσασθαι τὰ θρέμματα ἐὰν θέλῃ ὁ δημο[σιώνης,] ὲξέστω. Mathews 1984, 180; Gardner, Lieu and Parry 2005, 46, 54. 38 

The small isolated building at site WJ098, 8 km west of Shanaeh and the larger one at site WJ248 are both Casson, 1974, 185. Gazetteer 103. 37  Gazetteer 150. 35  36 

62

Forts and stations According to the tariff there are two kind of grazing rights. Animals that belong to the Palmyrene territory and are exempt from this special tax. This category certainly also include sheep and goats owned by the Palmyrenes. We do not know whether the city dwellers made an agreement with nomadic tribes to take care of their animals, a system which is known from Syria in the last century, or engaged local shepherds who tended the flocks closer to the city.41 The second category, liable to tax, includes animals brought in from outside the Palmyrene territory for the purpose of grazing.

there are no larger cities with territories and the extent of Palmyrene political and by fiscal control there is uncertain. An Aramaic inscription found in the Qa’ara basin in Iraq on the old caravan route from Palmyra to Hit about 220 km southeast of the city mentions a group of persons who were at the borderland (qṣt’).48 Another inscription at pump station T-1 close to the Euphrates 275 km east-southeast of Palmyra mentions an Abgar son of Shalman who was at the borderland.49 We do not know exactly what ‘borderland’ means. Was it a political borderland, or just far away?

According to the Palmyrene version of the entry, which is more fragmented, sheep brought into the city (lmdytʼ) from outside the territory for shearing (mgz) are not liable to tax (mks lʼ ḥybʼ) (145–149) and it does not mention grazing.42 There is not necessarily any contradiction between the Greek and the Palmyrene version, as there is great lacunae in the preceding Greek text (205–229). They are dealing with two sides of the same issue.43 Sheep brought in for shearing are exempt, whereas sheep brought in only for grazing are liable to tax. We do not know if there were several species of sheep on the Syrian dry steppe in antiquity, some of them producing wool of higher quality for finer cloth,44 but it is more likely that the wool, or some part of it, was considered as payment for the grazing rights, as the sheep also needed fodder.45

Apart from these two inscriptions, not many Aramaic inscriptions have been found south and southeast of Palmyra: 11 at Rijelat Umm-Kubar in the northeastern end of the Wadi Hauran,50 and 1 at Wadi Miqat in western Hauran in northeastern Jordan,51 and most of them are graffiti (Figure 57). Some of them use the Seleucid calendar and even mention a strategos (sṭrṭg). Literacy was widespread among the nomadic groups on the Arabian Peninsula up to the fourth century AD,52 and the graffiti only tell us that some Aramaic speaking Bedouins using the Palmyrene calendar had been camping at a place, not their affiliation to a political centre or their movement of migration. Two inscriptions are not graffiti. The first, an inscription probably from a relief, was found at Oumm as-Selabih at Wadi al-Miyah about 110 km southeast of Palmyra, where Poidebard registered remains of a building close to the wadi.53 The wadi has a very high concentration of wells and was, around 1900, an important gathering place for surrounding Bedouin tribes.54 Wadi al-Miyah is a strategic place in relation to control over both the territory, and the caravan route towards Hit, which crosses here.55 After Wadi al-Miyah, access to water is much more limited, and over some stretches, there is two days’ travel between wells.56 The other inscription is on an oval plaquette at the Museum of Palmyra, found

The tariff testifies that there were pastoral nomadic groups, which were not totally integrated into the political and social structure of the city, but still exploited the territory.46 It is very difficult to define the territory exactly. To the west, it probably went as far as Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi and to the northwest as far as Jebel Bilaas, where we also find a very high concentration of estates or villages.47 To the south, southeast and east Naval Intelligence Division 1943, 270; Wirth 1971, 264; Lancaster and Lancaster 1999, 212–214; Métral 2000, 127. 42  Healy 2009, 184–185; PAT 0259. [……mt]ʼʽlʼ lmdytʼ lmgz mks lʼ ḥyb[ʼ] 43  Healy 2009, 204–205. 44  The most common breed has probably been the fat-tailed sheep, which are known already in the Bronze Age, and are also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 3) and by Pliny as the ‘Syrian sheep’ (NH 8, 75). This specis is well adapted to desert life. The tail stores energy and the fat is highly appreciated in cooking. The quality of the wool for cloth, but not carpets and kilims, is, however, inferior to that of other species, at least in the modern period. The tariff also mentions Italian wool (Aramaic 89–97: ‘mr’ ’yṭlyq’), but the context is uncertain. It probably refers to the breed of sheep, not to the place of origins of the wool (Pliny NH 73). See also Naval Intelligence Division 1944, 467–468, and Schmidt-Colinet and Staufer and al-As‛ad 2000, 10, 49, 52. 45  The shearing probably took place close to the city or in the open space between the habitation and the outer city walls (Hammad 2009, 96–115). 46  I have chosen to use ‘nomads’ as a broad term, covering pastoral groups or parts of them that move with their livestock over larger distances from winter to summer pastures. This does not exclude elements of sedentarism. For a more detailed discussion as to terminology see Khazanov 1984, 15–39; LaBianca 1990, 33–49; Cribb 1991, 18–20; Szuchman 2009. 47  Schlumberger 1939a. See pp. 31‒34. 41 

Teixidor 1963, 33–46 (PAT 2730): dkyryn wbrykyn ḥṣryʼ ’ln dy hww ʽm ʼbgr br ḥyrn bqṣtʼ tnn šlm (To the memory of and blessed be those storemen (ḥṣryʼ), who were together with Abgar, son of Hairan, at the borderland (qṣtʼ). Peace!). In the first reading of the text, the persons were ḥṣdyʼ, reapers, but Teixidor later changed that to ḥṣryʼ, which was translated ‘storemen’, and he proposed a connection to the caravan trade from Hit (Teixidor 1984, 25), which passed through the depression (Stein in Gregory and Kennedy 1985, 183–237; Meyer and Seland 2017). See also Mathews 1984, 162–163. Yon 2002, 128, note 248. 49  Starcky 1963; PAT 2810). 50  Safar 1964; PAT 2732–2742. 51  Caquot 1970, PAT 2811. 52  Macdonald 2009. 53  Poidebard 1934, 109–112, pl. CIII, 2, CIV. Cantineau 1933, 178–180; PAT 2757. The provenience in PAT to ‘near Aleppo’ is not correct. The exact location of Oumm as-Selabih in Wadi al-Miyah cannot be determined (Meyer and Seland 2017, xx). 54  Musil 1927, 42–48. 55  Sir Aurel Stein in Gregory and Kennedy 1985, 183–237. See also Bell 2000, 116–126, 231–237. For a detailed discussion of the caravan route from Palmyra to Hit, see Meyer and Seland 2017. 56  Sir Aurel Stein in Gregory and Kennedy 1985, 214. 48 

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Figure 57. Distribution of Aramaic inscriptions southeast of Palmyra and Safaitic inscriptions north and southeast of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Palmyrena

64

Forts and stations

Figure 58. Inscription from Hawiyya bir Jalaʽut south of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer).

at Hawiyya bir Jalaʽut about 110 southeast of Palmyra and about 50 km southwest of Oumm as-Selabih (Figure 58).57 The inscription is rather rude, but framed by a tabula insata, which is common around more official inscriptions. It was made in 90 AD by Haggagū, son of Yarḥay, son of ʽOgaylū, and brother of the strategos ʽOgā from Banī Komarâ tribe. Banī Komarâ was a famous tribe in Palmyra, and even if we do not know the purpose of his visit to Hawiyya bir Jalaʽut, it still shows Palmyrene involvement in the area. All available evidence seems to indicate that Palmyra had some kind of territorial control as far as Wadi Miyah and to a line

almost identical to the modern Syro-Iraqian border. On the other side of the border, there was probably some kind of control along the caravan route towards Hit with strongholds at Qasr as-Swab, al-Qa’ara, Qasr Muhaiwir, Qasr Amij and Qasr Khabbaz towards Hit.58 The limits of Palmyrene control to the south and southeast have certainly not been a frontier in the traditional sense, but rather a combination of territorial control closer to the centre and control over water resources and important lines of communication deeper into the interior of the Arabian Peninsula.59 We do not know how the surrounding Bedouins tribes were organized in the ancient period, and the location of the winter and summer pastures for the different tribes.60 Mathew suggests that the flocks exempt from tax moved from

Inventory no.: 1509/A/9249. Al-Asʽad 2005; Yon 2013, 360: byrḥ nysn šnt 402 mṣbʾ dnh nṣb ḥggw br yrḥy br ʿgylw dy mn bny kmrʾ bʾsṭ[r]ṭgwt ʿgʾ ʾḥwhy [n]ṣb mṣbʾ dnh šlm (In the month of Nisan 402. This stela was dedicated by Ḥagegū son of Yarḥay, son of ʽOgeilū, of the Banī Komarâ, while his brother ʽOgā was strategos. He erected this stela. Peace!). According to K. al-Asʽad (Al-Asʽad 2005), Hawiyya bir Jalaʽut with a caravanserai is located 140 km southeast of Palmyra on the commercial route between Palmyra and Hit. However, according to Waleed al-Asʽad and Adeeb al-Asʽad, who visited site and talked to Ali Hamed, who found the inscription, the position is further to the southwest outside the caravan route, and there are no traces of ancient buildings at the site. I am grateful to Finn O. Hvidberg-Hansen and John Møller Larsen for having reexamined and commented the text. Yon 2002, 69–71. 57 

The stations along the route have not been probably investigated properly, some of the surviving buildings probably belonging to the Umayyad period (Qenequand 2012, 143, 186‒187), but there have most likely been much earlier predecessors. Moreover, we do not know who was responsible for the more eastern forts closer to the Euphrates. See Meyer and Seland 2017. 59  See also Whittaker 1994, 79–97. 60  In the modern times, Palmyra is situated almost in the middle of the Maouali territory, but the landscape is also used by other tribes. Wirth 1971, 268, Karte 11. 58 

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Palmyrena winter to summer pasture within Palmyrene territory,61 but the seasonal migration of nomadic groups cut across political borders.62 To be regarded as part of Palmyrene territory seems to have been a question of social/political affiliation not a strictly geographical definition.

so far in the black basalt region (Figure 59).72 They testify to a nomadic strategy of survival with seasonal movements to new pastures, control of water resources and occasional raiding.73 They were organized in smaller and bigger tribes, competing for pasture and water, and occasionally fighting each other. Long genealogies were important for the social structure and territory was marked by inscriptions and cairns.

The Aramaic inscriptions southeast of Palmyra are too few and uninformative to reconstruct the nomadic pattern of migration. Several Safaitic graffiti (Figure 57) have also been registered in an otherwise Aramaic speaking region, at Kheurbet Semrine (2), el-Mkemlé (1), Kheurbet el-Sané (1), Kheurbet Abou Douhour (1) in Jebel Chaar, Ouéchel (2) in Jebel Abyad, together with three of unknown provenance,63 and a larger one cut into the rock at site JM089 in Jebel Merah.64 A few inscriptions have been found in Palmyra itself or in the immediate hinterland.65 From the area south, southeast and east of Palmyra, 3 Safaitic graffiti, two of them partly bilingual Aramaic/Safaitic, mentioning pasture at the site, have been found at Rijelat Umm-Kubar, in the northeastern end of the Wadi Hauran,66 2 at Qasr Muhaiwir east of the the al-Qa’ara basin,67 4 in Wadi al-Miyah 190 km east of Palmyra near Euphrates,68 1 at Murabba 80 km south of Palmyra,69 several at atTanf, 120 km south of Palmyra,70 11 at Mudaysis 30 km southeast of at-Tanf.71

The Safaitic graffiti from the Palmyrene area give the name of the person, the name of the father, and very often an affiliation (ʼl) to something at a higher level than the close family, either to a tribe or a place, but most probably a lineage.74 One inscription from the Jebel Chaar area, unfortunately without exact provenance, mentions a Ramyân, of the Mâʽis tribe, and pasture (rʽy).75 Language in itself is no indicator of geographic affiliation or connection to a specific ‘ethnic’ group, and perhaps some groups have been bilingual,76 but seven of the fourteen graffiti from Palmyrena have an affiliation to a linage attached to the name.77 This is an extremely high percentage compared with the Safaitic core area, where a person normally identifies himself by stating a genealogy with bn, son of, several links back.78 This strongly indicates that the authors of the Safaitic graffiti belonged to a group that differed not just linguistically from the authors of the Aramaic graffiti, which have no references to a lineage. They were far away from home and felt a need to state their affiliation. The inscription from Jebel Merah site JMW089 also mentions journey (mṭy) in connection with the lineage.79

Safaitic was the language spoken by the nomadic groups in southern Syria, northeastern Jordan and northwestern Saudi Arabia. Over 30,000 inscriptions, roughly datable from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD, some with drawings, have been registered Matthews 1984, 173. Coon 1965, 263; Wilkinson 2000. 63  PNO 143–176, nr. 2 quater, 21 bis, 34 ter, 54, 60, 63 bis (Ociana, Damascus Museum 4205, with corrections of the text in PNO), 63 quater, 80, 81, 82. 64  See Gazetteer 171‒172, and Figure 260. 65  A relief from Louvre (AO 19801), most probably from Palmyra, with the triad Bel-Shamin, Alglibol and Malakbel, has both Aramaic and Safaitic inscriptions (Seyrig 1949, 29–33, 35–40; Dentzer-Feydy and Teixidor 1993, 144–145). The Polish mission in Palmyra found at least three inscriptions in the Allat sanctuary (Gawlikowski 1995, 107). I am grateful to Michaeł Gawlikowsky for having given me access to photos of the graffiti and permission to use them, and to MacDonald for reading them. Another unpublished inscription is found in the quarries northeast of Palmyra, according to personal information from Finn Ove Hvidberg-Hansen, Khaleed al-As‛ad and Jean-Baptiste Yon. 66  Safar 1964, nr. 3, nr. 6, nr. 7, PAT 2734, PAT 2737, Macdonald 1993, 348, note 284. 67  Sir Aurel Stein in Gregory and Kennedy 1985, 201, 409, note 201. The texts are illegible. 68  Abū ‛Assāf 1975; Ociana, Palmyra Museum 1357.1, Palmyra Museum 1357.2, Palmyra Museum 1357.3 and Palmyra Museum 1357.4. 69  Abū ‛Assāf 1975; Ociana, Palmyra Museum 1374. 70  Poidebard 1934, 126, pl. XCVIII a–b. Abū ‛Assāf 1975; Ociana, Palmyra Museum no number 1. 71  Ociana, Damascus Museum 17748, Damascus Museum 17749.1, Damascus Museum 17749.2, Damascus Museum 17751.1, Damascus Museum 17751.2, Damascus Museum 17752, Damascus Museum 17753.1, Damascus Museum 17753.2, Damascus Museum 17754.2, Damascus Museum 17747+17750.1, Damascus Museum 17747+17750.2. 61 

Macdonald 1993; Macdonald 1995; MacDonald 2015. An online database at the University of Oxford, OCIANA Project, The Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia, has given access to over 30,000 graffiti. http://krcfm.orient.ox.ac.uk/fmi/webd#ociana. 73  Ociana, KRS 117, KRS 169, KRS 3249, KRS 1542, KRS 1812. 74  For a critical discussion of so-called tribal names, see Macdonald 1993, 352–367. 75  PNO 175, pl. LXIII, 4. … Ramyân, of the Mâʽis tribe. And he has pastured at T..... oh Lât and Dushara [grant that he may] return to the family of wt…. (– – – rmyn d’l mʽs wrʽy bt…… s f h lt w ds²r ḥwr l ʼhl wt…). According to Ryckmans, the text should also mention Hauran, the black basalt region in southern Syria (PNO 175, pl. LXIII, 4), but the rendering of the text in PNO is not correct according to the photograph as shown by M. MacDonald (MacDonald 1993, 364). I am very grateful to Finn Ove Hvidberg-Hansen, who has also reexamined the text. 76  See also Yon 2002, 93–94; Macdonald 1993, 309–310. Safaitic inscriptions have also been found in Pompeii (Gysens 1990, 1–7). Safaitic speaking people obviously travelled to distant destinations not related to a nomadic lifestyle. 77  PNO 143–176, 60 (ʿwḏ), 63 bis (ṣwkt), 63 quarter (ʿwḏ), 80 (mʿṣ), 81 (nmrt), 82 (ṅsr andʿwḏ); Jebel Merah JMW089, Gazetteer 172, (ʿ/gḏl). One of the inscriptions from Polish excavations of the Allat sanctuary also have an affiliation to a lineage, unfortunately missing. One inscription at the museum, without any provenance (Abū ‛Assāf 1975; Ociana, Palmyra Museum no number 2) contains an affiliation to ʿwḏ, and another from at-Tenf (Abū ‛Assāf 1975; Ociana, Palmyra Museum no number 1) an affiliation to gfft. 78  A quick search in Ociana shows that an affiliation to a lineage is a relatively rare phenomenon (3–4%). 79  Gazetteer 172.

62 

72 

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Forts and stations

Figure 59. Safaitic inscription with drawing from Jebel Qurma in northeastern Jordan, showing camel attacked by two lions (Peter M.M.G. Akkermans).

A series of inscriptions from Hauran itself demonstrates closer connections with the Safaitic core area and Palmyrena. Six graffiti testify to travels over long distances to and from Tadmur (tdmr), though they do not state the purpose of the visit.80 Two graffiti from north of al-Namarah in Wadi Sham mention people ‘on the lookout’ (ẖrṣ) for the people of Tadmur,81 and one mentions a conflict with the Palmyrenes.82 Another graffito from Wadi as-Su in southern Syria mentions a group that has probably been plundered by men from Tadmur and Ṭyʾ.83 The expression ‘to be on the lookout for’ is commonly used in other Safaitic graffiti in connection with enemies.84 It indicates that the encounters with people who were defined as coming from Palmyra and probably belonged to nomadic groups were not always peaceful.

seasonal migrations. The number of graffiti outside the Safaitic core area is extremely small, 11 from the area northwest of Palmyra, 6 from Palmyra and at least 22 south, southeast and east of Palmyra, as mentioned above. It would, however, be methodologically unsound to conclude from the actual numbers that Safaitic speaking people were a rare sight in the Palmyrene area. If only a few people very infrequently visited the Palmyrene area and left graffiti there, the likelihood of finding anything would be tiny. It is remarkable that the Safaitic graffiti south, southeast and east of Palmyra amount to about 70% of all the inscriptions found, including 15 Aramaic ones. Northwest of Palmyra the percentage is over 40% of the graffiti and small dedications, as the bulk of the Aramaic inscriptions is from reliefs and altars. The registered finds represent a much larger number. Furthermore, the scarcity of finds applies not only to the Safaitic but also to the Aramaic inscriptions and graffiti. Most of the inscriptions from the Palmyrene area come from Schlumberger’s excavations in Jebel Chaar. This strongly indicates that conditions for preservation are decisive for the actual number registered. Geologically the Safaitic core area consists of hard, black volcanic basalt stone, and the engravings stand up well to erosion over the centuries, even by the wind, which carries sharp, grinding grains of sand. Outside this area, the rock is softer, often

How representative are these graffiti? The graffiti from the Safaitic core area seldom mention geographical names, and the evidence from there strongly suggests that some groups included the Palmyrene area in their See appendix A 1–6. See appendix A 7–8. See appendix A, 9. 83  See appendix A, 10. 84  Ociana, LP 184, LP 210, LP 469, LP 606, LP 618, LP 698, LP 708, C 1432, C 974, C 994, C 2023, C 2762, C 2772, C 2816, C 3062, C 3754, C 4261. 80  81  82 

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Palmyrena limestone, and engravings exposed to the wind will soon disappear. The destructive force of wind can be observed in Palmyra, where some old columns are deeply sandblasted close to the ground where the wind carries the highest concentration of grains during the storms.

The more nomadic and the sedentary ways of life can thus be regarded as two complimentary economic systems. Nomadic groups, or better semi-nomadic groups, may also practice agriculture in relation to their territories, and part of the tribes may inhabit villages and even have small houses in the cities,94 but from a political and fiscal point of view, the relationship can be more complicated. Interaction between nomadic groups and sedentary or urban populations in the Middle East have changed throughout history, ranging from armed conflicts to co-operation.95 The population of Palmyra descended from the Syrian dry steppe, and maintained an extensive network with nomadic groups.96 Nomads provided beasts of burden, drivers and security for caravans, when they crossed the bādiya down to Hit.97 Military units of dromedarii and archers were available in case of trouble along the route,98 but in other respects, Palmyra was able to keep the border area safe without constructing heavily built forts up to the fall of Zenobia. From the end of the Hellenistic period, however, Palmyra was more than just a centre in a larger tribal network. The settlement in the oasis had grown into a great city ‒ a city-state in the proper sense of the word ‒ with its own institutions, culture, identity and relationship to the Roman and Parthian Empires.99 The mountainous area north of Palmyra still offered an attractive summer pasture when the vegetation on the bādiya south of Palmyra had wilted, but it was also filled with numerous villages, estates, gardens and fields. The at-Tarfa depression west of Palmyra was covered with extensive fields. Arable stubbles and access to water from cisterns increased the grazing capacity of the hinterland. The old tribal networks alone were inadequate to cope with the new situation.

The graffiti from southern Syria and northeastern Jordan very seldom mention which areas the authors moved to with their livestock. Sometimes they mention Ḥamad, the inner desert to the east, which is a common grazing ground in the rainy season,85 but it is impossible to decide how common it was for some groups to include Palmyra in the seasonal migrations. We do not know, either, from what direction they came to Palmyra. Some may have come from the southwest, roughly following the territory of the modern al-‘Umûr tribe, through which the Austro-Hungarian orientalist and explorer Alois Musil travelled in 1928.86 Others may have entered Palmyrene territory from Ḥamad, but the Safaitic groups that came to Palmyra must have been large enough to leave their visiting cards in the mountainous area to the northwest. The mountainous area north of Palmyra with lower temperatures and more moisture must have been an attractive summer pasture,87 and, as Schlumberger emphasized, the construction of cisterns increased the pasture capacity of the area.88 During the winter, sheep and goats can roam for very long periods, even months, without water if they have abundant access to green pasture, but, in the hot season especially, sheep must be watered at very short intervals.89 Harvested fields around Palmyra were also an excellent grazing ground at the approach of the hot season, and after the harvest flocks of sheep and goats fertilized fields and gardens with their manure before the ploughing.90 The city itself was purchaser of their animal products: wool, skin, animal fat and animals for slaughter, all of which were liable to tax and thus contributed to the revenues of the city.91 Sheep probably became a more important part of the livestock.92 The market offered cereals and dates, both important in the diet of the Bedouin, oil, wine, items of prestige, finer clothes, specialist products from the copper- and blacksmith and salt, which is important for effective stock raising during periods when herds are watered frequently.93

The normal grazing season on the bādiya south of Palmyra is from October to April,100 and the arrival of nomadic groups, including Safaitic speaking nomads, at the end of spring must have posed a great challenge for the central authorities, for the harvest of cereals takes place from the beginning of May. Probably already in April some groups arrived with their sheep for shearing, as mentioned above.101 Other groups, which entered need extra salt as they can supply their needs with salty plants. In the summer season, when the herds are watered frequently, salt is necessary to preserve the right dietary balance. 94  Dickson 1949, 108; Castillo 2005, 142–144; Szuchman 2009, 2–3. 95  Coon 1965, 198–200; Khazanov 1984, 263–294; Marcus 1989, 139– 142; Lewis 2000; Castillo 2005. Van der Steen 2009. 96  Sommer 2005, 175–181; Smith II 2013, 33–54; Seland 2016, 77–79, 83–85. 97  For the organisation of the caravan trade and the trade route to Hit, see Seland 2016, 45–79; Meyer and Seland 2017. 98  Young 2001, 163–165. 99  Will 1992, 33–46; Yon 2002, 9–56; Sommer 2005, 170–183; Smith II 2013, 121–149. 100  Lancaster and Lancaster 1999, 214. 101  According to our ancient sources, the shearing took place primarily in April (Columella Rust. 11, 2, 35; Varro Rust. 2, 11, 6) as is common in the Middle East today (Lancaster and Lancaster 1999, 214).

Macdonald 1993, 319–322. Palmyrena 24. See also Raswan 1930; Wirth 1971, 268, Karte 11. 87  PNO 133. 88  Palmyrena 149. 89  Barclay Raunkiær 1969/1913, 143; Dickson, 1949, 405; Dahl, Hjort, 1976, 249–250; Lancaster and Lancaster 1999, 215. 90  The system is described in Naval Intelligence Division 1943, 270. 91  Many of the goods are mentioned specifically in the tariff. Other goods were probably only charged by the camel or donkey load (Greek 9–14, Aramaic 7–10). 92  Dickson 1949, 108–111; Wirth 1971, 262–264. 93  Dickson 1949, 414; Williamson and Payne 1965, 275; Spencer 1973, 18; Dahl and Hjort 1976, 250. In the winter season the animals do not 85  86 

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Forts and stations the territory only for the purpose of grazing, may also have arrived before the harvest around Palmyra was finished. From modern history, we know that it is a source of conflict between villagers and nomads when the herds enter fields of ripening grain, especially in years with low precipitation on the bādiya.102 Even after the harvest, sheep and especially goats can inflict great damage on gardens if not controlled. Areas around cisterns, wells and springs must have been crowded in the hot season, and there was undoubtedly fierce competition for the best pasture, which caused tensions between different nomadic groups. All that called for conflict management. The city needed to be present with military power out in the countryside to guarantee law and order, and to prevent the grazing season from developing into chaos. The small forts and other installations recorded above fit perfectly into this scenario. Together with small mobile military units, they controlled the territory, access to some of the more important water resources and lines of communication from the bādiya in the south to the mountains in the north.

hinterland were liable to tax, too. It was not exceptional for military personal to supervise or even be responsible for collecting taxes and duties in some circumstances, as attested from Numidia in North Africa.106 Moreover, we should not expect the tariff to deal with all the taxes in Palmyrene territory. The purpose of the law was not to guarantee the income for the city from all taxable areas or items. It is stated in the introduction to the law that the main purpose is to fix the dues, which previously had been exacted by convention, and by so doing to avoid dispute between the merchants and the tax farmers because of overcharging (Greek 1–13, Aramaic 1–11). The last possible function of the forts and installations to be mentioned is as contraband checkpoints to prevent smuggling of goods liable to duty, even if the fees in the tariff were relatively modest, being approximately equivalent to the Roman portorium, which normally was between 2 ½ and 5 % of the value.107 The Caravan trade through Palmyra from the Arabian Gulf also brought highly valuable goods from the East. The ancients were no doubt just as creative and eager as we to escape duties and taxes.

The practical administration of the different kinds of grazing rights must have been a very complicated matter, as indicated by the remark in the tariff that ‘the tax collector may have the animals branded, if he wishes’ (Greek 235–237). We do not know how the tax was paid, but the collection must have happened out in the territory at strategic points where the movement of the livestock could be controlled, not at the city gates of Palmyra.

So the forts and stations north of Palmyra served several purposes. Some of them were caravanserais, khans, on the route from Palmyra to the north. Others maintained control over the territory and law order when the nomadic groups entered the territory from the bādiya, and furnished the tax farming out in the hinterland with the necessary infrastructure. The forts and stations continued until and even after AD 300, but their exact function in the later phase, apart from control of the territory and the main communication lines, cannot be determined.

The tariff also mentions access to water in the Aramaic introduction to the old tax-law: The Tax Law of Tadmūr and the water-springs and salt which are in the city and its territories according to the contracts which were drawn up before the governor Marinus.103 (Aramaic 63–65) The new law (Aramaic 58, Greek 88) only mentions the use of two sources of water in the city itself, for the use of which was charged the huge sum of 800 denarii each year.104 This must be related to the irrigation system of the oasis, not to the watering of camels, sheep and goats.105 The introduction to the old law includes, however, both the city and the territory, and the location of the fort at Ouéchel above the spring area makes it highly probable that some water sources in the Naval Intelligence Division 1943, 270. Healey 2009, 180–181; Matthews 1984, 177–178. nm[wsʼ dy mk]sʼ dy tdmer wʽyntʼ dy myʼ wml[ḥʼ d]y b[m]dytʼ wtḥwmyh hyk ʼ[gwryʼ d]y ʼ[t]ʼgr qdm mryns hygmwnʼ. 104  Healey 2009, 178–179. [ltš]myš ʽynn trtn dy m[y] dy bmdytʼ d 8 × 100 (Aramaic 58). Χρήσεος πηγῶν βˊ έκάστου ἔτους Ӿωˊ (Greek 88). 105  Teixidor 1983, 250; Mathews 1984, 177, note 22. 102  103 

106  107 

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Cherry 1998, 55, 66. De Laet 1949, 242.

Palmyrena Forts and Stations Wadi al-Takara S 17 x 21 m Gaz. 120 N34.642060 E38.145422 Wadi al-Takara N 66 x 52 m Gaz. 126 N34.699753 E38.091358 Tweihina 25 x 10 m Gaz. 103 N34.725410 E38.093190 Building in wadi, PNO 48–50, 86–88 shrines, tombs, inscriptions Ouéchel 19 x 20 m Gaz. 86 N34.757667 E38.120140 Inscriptions PNO 46–48, 85–86 Shanaeh 57 x 57 m Gaz. 150 N34.800026 E38.031538 Buildings in wadi WJ098 30 x 20 m Gaz. 147 N34.763823 E37.961800 WJ242 60 x 60 m Gaz. 149 N34.757611 E37.910583 Khabar 60 x 60 m Gaz. 150 N35.004326 E38.115241 Buildings on other side of wadi. High concentration wells JR09 (al-Bwêẓa) 45 x 45 m. Satellite N34.882706 E38.292653 Fort/estate? Buildings Palmyrena 150 Wadi Jihar West Station? 45 x 45 m. Satellite N34.597055 E37.873491 al-Klebijje Fort Satellite N34.531633 E38.016208 Palmyrena 135 Han al-Leben Fort Satellite N34.538035 E37.869328 Palmyrena 134 Han al-Abyad/at-Trab Fort Satellite N34.411951 E38.121971 Poidebard 1934: 49

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Conclusion The occupation of the Palmyrene hinterland is related to the growth of the city from the 1st century BC onwards and the opening of a caravan route across the dry steppe to Hit with connections to the Arabian Golf and the Indian Ocean.1 Numerous villages and estates appeared in the mountains north of Palmyra with high density especially on Jebel Bilaas, Jebel Chaar, Jebel Merah and Jebel Abu-Riĝmen. The economic basis of the villages in the mountains has most probably been a mixture of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. The absence of bilingual inscriptions in Greek/Aramaic and the dominance of local and Arabian deities in the small sanctuaries show that the villages belonged to another social sphere than the public one in Palmyra itself, just as Aramaic was dominant in Palmyrene sepulchral culture. Other districts, such as the at-Tarfa depression, Bir Arak and possibly also the plain around Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi were cultivated to meet the demand for foodstuffs in the growing city.

Palmyra became a bishopric and in the 5th and 6th century, Christian basilicas were built north of the colonnaded street.5 The settlement in the oasis had changed considerably since the early Roman period,6 but Palmyra remained an important centre that needed provisions from the hinterland. The surface finds show that villages, forts and other installations continued on into late antiquity, but it is not possible to decide if there were fluctuations in the intensity of human activities in the different areas. Palmyra was still able to control the nomadic groups that entered its territory from the south and to ensure peaceful coexistence with the villages. It is interesting to note, however, that Schlumberger did not register any artefacts, reliefs, or Greek inscriptions, Pagan or Christian, dated after AD 300, when Aramaic disappeared in the city of Palmyra. All the shrines seem to belong to the early Roman period. The transformation of Palmyra into a military strongpoint does not seem have changed the distribution of villages, but the social relationship between the city and villages probably assumed another character.

So far, none of the settlements north of Palmyra can be dated to the Iron Age or the Hellenistic period.2 There might have been some settlements from the late Hellenistic period, yet to be discovered by excavations of the earliest strata at some of the registered sites. This does not mean that the hinterland was not exploited earlier. The mountainous area north of Palmyra and the oasis with its springs must have been part of nomadic seasonal migrations, but they have left no traces in the landscape. In the Roman period, the hinterland was still an integrated part of a larger nomadic network, including Safaitic groups from southern Syria and northern Jordan. The construction of cisterns and harvested fields gave the nomadic groups new possibilities in the hot season in symbiosis with the settled population.

In the Umayyad period, when large ‘desert castles’ or palaces (Qasr al-Heir al-Sharqi and Qasr al-Heir alGhabi) were constructed in the region, Palmyra was a thriving regional centre with a large suq between the columns of its colonnaded street,7 though already in the late Roman period some of the habitation sites became more rural as centres of agricultural production.8 The old route from Palmyra to Hit was still an important line of communication across the dry steppe in the early Islamic period,9 though not for caravans bringing goods from the Indian Ocean.10 Umayyad Palmyra also needed provisions from the hinterland, and the occupation of the mountains north of Palmyra continued into the early Islamic period. It is difficult to decide if there were any changes or even a decline in the settlement pattern in the Umayyad period. The Umayyads seem to have exercised some degree of control of the dry steppe, and they were able to negotiate peaceful relations with the powerful Banu Kalb tribe, which had dominated the territory since the 6th century,11 and were thus also to maintain a symbiosis between settlements and nomads.

After the fall of Zenobia, the city was transformed into a military and administrative stronghold, and habitation was confined to the area north of Wadi al-Qubur within the Diocletian walls.3 The Romans had to invest in a new limes with military forts along the Strata Diocletiana,4 for they lacked the former diplomatic and social networks that linked them to the nomadic population. Later Seland 2016, 75–77. The size and character of the Hellenistic settlement in Palmyra is still an open question. The earliest finds in the lowest strata from sector 1 in the so-called ‘Hellenistic’ city south of Wadi al-Qubur, excavated by the Syrian-German/Austrian mission in Palmyra, can be dated to the 3rd century BC. The earliest building in sector 2 can be dated to the first half of the first century BC. al-As‛ad and SchmidtColinet 2006-2007; Schmidt-Colinet 2013; Plattner 2013; Römer-Strehl 2013; Ertel and Ployer 2013; Römer-Strehl 2016; Ertel and Ployer 2016. 3  Hammad 45–49. 4  Gawlikowski 1997, 41–45; Butcher 2003, 416–421. 1  2 

Gawlikowski 2003; Majcherek 2013. Gawlikowski 2009. 7  al-As‛ad and Stępniowsky 1989; Genequand 2008; Genequand 2012, 45–68, 8  Gawlikowski 2007; Gawlikowski 2009; Waliszewski 2014, 188–189. 9  Seland and Meyer 2016; Genequand, 2012, 143, 186–7. 10  Seland 2016, 85–88. 11  Dixon and Fück 1997. 5  6 

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Palmyrena In the 9th and 10th century habitation in the oasis began to dwindle.12 In the 12th century, the population moved to the precinct of the ancient temple of Bel, which was fortified,13 and in the early 13th century, the Uyyabids built the castle, Qalaat Shirkuk, on the summit in the western part of the oasis.14 There are a few surface finds from this late phase in the hinterland, testifying to some activity, but it is obvious that the central authorities had lost control of the hinterland and that the population of the oasis needed defensive measures. In the Ottoman period, a Bedouin strategy of survival took over entirely in the northern hinterland. The early Roman investment in cisterns and wells still made the mountainous area north of Palmyra an attractive grazing ground in the hot season and the Bedouin have maintained many of the water systems up to the present. Even so, the disappearance of Palmyra as a huge market for animal products, such as meat, wool and skins, and as a provider of cereals, combined with the abandonment of the villages with fields and gardens must have dramatically influenced the Bedouin movements, their opportunities, the composition of their livestock and probably also their organisation, but we have no data to elucidate that.15 The lack of Ottoman control of the territory made the relationship with settled populations very problematic. The settlement in Bir Arak east of Palmyra suffered from numerous Bedouin raids at the end of the Ottoman period, and its population preferred to move to Tadmur behind the protecting walls of the Bel temple.16 The population did not exploit the agricultural potential of the at-Tarfa depression west of Palmyra to meet their subsistence needs but, as mentioned in the introductory chapter, preferred to import cereals from the fertile areas of western Syria. The hinterland of Palmyra could support a large population with a heavy investment in watermanagement systems as long as there was a long-term peaceful co-existence among the city, villages and the surrounding nomadic groups. The Umayyads were the last rulers in Syria to guarantee that.

Gawlikowski 2009. Hammad 2010, 54–58. Bylinski 1994; Bylinski 1995. 15  See also Haiman1995, 46–48, for the relationship between state, settlements and Bedouins in the Negev Desert. 16  Lewis 2000, 41–42; Palmyrena 85–86. 12  13  14 

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites The gazetteer comprises all surveyed sites within the Syrian-Norwegian concession area. It is divided into the following areas: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Wadi Abyad Jebel Abyad and Wadi al-Masek Wadi al-Takara Jazal. Jebel Chaar Wadi Jihar, Wadi Masaadé and Wadi Khabar Jebel Merah North of Jebel Chaar

Unless otherwise stated, walls are constructed with larger outer and inner stones and a filling of smaller ones and clay in the middle, a technique widely used in the modern oasis of Palmyra, where the surfaces of the walls are covered with a blend of clay, fine aggregate and fibers. The thickness of the walls varies from 60 to 110 cm. The outer walls of buildings are normally thicker than the internal walls. Only buildings differing markedly from this are described more in detail. The size of internal rooms is not stated, but is evident from the drawings of the buildings. At several sites there are remains of small square buildings, measuring about 4‒6 x 4‒6 m. Most of them are solidly built with larger stones at their entrances. The purpose of the buildings is uncertain, but they are comparable to corresponding buildings in Jebel Chaar, which Schlumberger identified as small shrines.1 Most fragments of grinding stones are from basalt hand mills with a diameter up to 55 cm, only a few from rubbing stones.

1 

PNO 93–98.

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Wadi Abyad The Wadi Abyad Basin measures about 250 km². Wadi Abyad means ‘the White Wadi’, and on satellite images the area has a distinctive white colour due to heavy erosion by floods during the rainy season (Figures 60–62). Wadi Abyad receives most of its water from the northern and northeastern mountains (Jebel Merah and Jebel abuRiĝmen), whereas most of the water from the eastern part of Jebel Abyad drains towards Wadi al-Takara to the west. In the southern end of the basin (Figure 62), Wadi Abyad passes through a narrow opening between Jebel Marbat al-Hassâne, with the spur Jebel Antaar to the east, and Jebel Mqeïtaa to the west, before it enters the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ.

Figure 60. Sites in the Wadi Abyad area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 61. Overview of Wadi Abyad, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 62. Overview of the southern part of Wadi Abyad from the ridge of Jebel Abyad, above al-Khaïrim (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena Al-Khaïrem

of an internal wall, which indicates an entrance to the building. East of the tell there are a few traces of walls, but their relationship to the building in the tell area is doubtful. The limit to the west is much more difficult to establish due to the bulldozer activities. A short stretch of a western wall in the southwestern corner turns towards the northwest, indicating that the block has run parallel to a small wadi coming from the promontory. A short stretch of a 1 m thick wall on the flat ground west of the tell may be part of the original building. The size of the block can thus be estimated to be about 45 m N‒S, and 50 m E‒W in the northern part, and about 35 m E‒W in the southern part.

N34.69200 E38.19022, altitude 762 m asl. (Figures 63–76). This site lies six kilometers north-northwest of the narrow opening between Jebel Marbat al-Hassâne and Jebel Antaar at the foot of a lower promontory from Jebel Abyad . There are several springs in a gorge between the promontory and the steep face of Jebel Abyad. From the springs a deep wadi leads around the promontory and then turns to the southeast towards the plain, where it flattens out. There is access to the edge of Jebel Abyad and the valley above via a steep narrow path from the promontory and the spring area. Alois Musil visited the site in 1912 on his northern trip through Wadi Abyad. He mentions ‘the extensive ruins of al-Ḫêrem, near a spring of the same name’.2

Only a few traces of the interior walls have survived the destructions. In the northwestern part of the tell a 6 m long, 1 m high north‒south wall, at a right angle to the northern wall, has a distinct, 2 m wide opening in the middle. The wall is solidly constructed, with large elaborated square stones at the bottom of the doorpost. Two meters east of the opening there is another short stretch of an interior wall on the top of the tell.

The site consists of the following: 1. Tell area, with monumental building, 2. Building southeast of the tell, 3. Enclosure east of the tell, 4. Aqueduct between the springs and the tell area, 5. Springs and wells in the gorge, and 6. Rock-cut tombs and cressets at the steep face of Jebel Abyad.

In the eastern part of the tell there are traces of two small rooms next to each other along the northern wall. In the western room, its northern wall forms a slight vault into the interior, but it is possible that upper layers have just been displaced. An eastern wall is visible for 2.5 m, but the size of the room could not be determined. Along the eastern wall, there is a 30 cm wide bench. The lower part of the northern wall and the bench are covered with grey watertight plaster. The next room is about 3 m wide, and an eastern wall is visible for about 2 m. The lower part of wall and the floor are covered with grey watertight plaster mixed with small pebbles. South of the digging, there are several fragments of slabs of conglomerate stones with broad furrows to bind the plaster to the surface. The function of the rooms is related to water, either as part of a bath or as small water reservoirs.

1. The tell area has been heavily destroyed by recent bulldozer activity, both by making tracks through the site and by piling up debris in the western and northwestern parts of the site. Modern diggings in the disturbed area have contributed to the destruction, but they have also revealed some internal structures. According to local Bedouin information, a monumental building with large rooms was visible only a few years ago, and that would fit well with Musil’s description of the ruins as ‘extensive’. The Bedouin detailed description of the rooms, however, does not fit with the visible remains in the tell, and the internal layout of the building can no longer be determined. Unfortunately, all available high-resolution satellite images are from after the bulldozer activities, but the shadows on Corona images from 1968 suggest the existence of a dominant tell in the northwestern corner of the site. This indicates that the main building of the block has been in the northern part.

In the debris east of the room there is a 2 m long, and 90 cm broad, 65 cm high rectangular sarcophagus-like block, roughly cut, with a rectangular cutting at the top, depth about 20 cm, forming a shallow ‘trough’. The position in the debris indicates that it is secondary to the rooms and its purpose could not be determined.

Some outer walls are preserved and give an impression of the overall size of the block. A stretch of a northern wall, 1.80 m thick and 10 m long bounds the building to the north. An eastern wall, 23 m long and 80–90 cm thick, and remains of southern wall, 35 m long and 80–90 cm thick, with a marked southeastern corner, bounds the building to the east and south. In the southern wall, there is an opening and a small stretch

In the tell and in the lower southern part of the building there are several monumental architectural fragments. At the southern end of the tell there is a large fragment of an undecorated marble door, 75 cm wide, 25 cm thick, with a pivot, 25 cm in diameter. The preserved height of the door is 1.60 m. Even though the door was partly covered by debris, its position on the surface is clearly secondary. In the lower area south of the tell a modern digging near the opening in the south wall, has revealed a worked L-shaped conglomerate stone, either

Palmyrena 148. On French (1943) and Arabic (1976) maps the site is called Bîr el Khaïrem, which is also used by the local population with variations. Tell el Khaïrem 1.2 km north of the site on the maps does not refer to an ancient site, but to a mountain peak. (See Aytayt below). 2 

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites a threshold or a doorpost. A few meters south of the opening, there are two worked, weathered rectangular conglomerate stones, the largest measuring 210 x 70 x 35 cm, and a fragment of a threshold with a 10 cm wide hole for the door pivot. There are no indications in this part of the area that the position of the stones is due to bulldozer activity, so they must belong to monumental structures in the southern part of the block, probably a gateway to an open courtyard south of the main building.

drainage in this sector since the construction of the walls. The enclosure covers an area of about 12.000 m². 4. Aqueduct between the springs and the tell area (N34.69203 E38.18951). At the foot of the promontory, about 60 m northwest of the tell, a 3 m long stretch of a small aqueduct is visible where a small path has crossed it course. It is constructed with roughly cut rectangular blocks of limestone, varying in length from 60–90 cm and about 40 cm wide. A 20 cm wide and 10 cm deep channel is cut into the surface. The blocks do not fit exactly together, and the space between them is filled with smaller flat stones and a kind of mortar, which now has a grey, porous texture. The aqueduct was an open surface canal, and is comparable to the aqueduct near Funerary Temple no 86 in Palmyra, though of more modest size.4 The aqueduct must have followed the contours of the landscape around the promontory from the spring area in the gorge, but its source and exact course are unclear. The present-day springs in the gorge are all on the western side of the wadi at the foot of Jebel Abyad and at a lower level, and the original source of the aqueduct must have been different.

Eight fragments of terracotta water pipes (Figure 71), including two joints, were collected from the area, most of them from the tell area and one from the area east of the tell. They all have thick calcareous deposits inside. The internal diameter of the pipes can be calculated to be 18–20 cm. The type is known from Palmyra and can be dated to the Roman period.3 2. The building southeast of the tell lies about 10 m southeast of the northern block at a slightly lower level. The ground falls gently towards the wadi from the promontory to the south and the southwest. To the east this building is bounded by the western wall of the enclosure. A 45 m long southern wall turns slightly toward the northwest, following the edge of the wadi. Remains of a 45 m long northern wall and remains of the western wall in the northwestern corner 13 m further to the west bound the building to the north. The exact course of the western wall could not be determined, but it probably followed the edge of the wadi. Along the northern wall there are traces of a series of rooms, 6 m deep, facing the interior. A small stretch of an internal wall near the northwestern corner, may indicate at least some rooms along the western wall, too. In the center of the structure, there is a 12 m long stretch of a wall, but its relationship to the other walls is uncertain. The building most probably had an open southern courtyard, but its detailed layout could not be determined.

The short stretch of the aqueduct heads towards the northeast and the open landscape north of the tell, but its final destination must have been the tell area, where there are rooms with watertight plaster and remains of installations with terracotta water pipes. The distance to the tell is only 60 m, but the difference in height is about 10 m. A fall of 10 m within such a short distance is unusual, but from an ancient technological point of view, not an insoluble problem. In Pompeii water towers 10 m high are evenly spaced to compensate for the fall from the reservoir at the highest point to the city below, generating a water pressure of one atmosphere in the lead pipes between the towers. A small water reservoir at the top, and a larger water reservoir in the tell area, connected with terracotta water pipes with tight joining, would have secured a steady flow of water to the area below.

3. The enclosure east of the tell lies on the western part of an oblong plateau, bounded on the north and south by the wadis coming from the promontory. A smaller wadi, starting inside the area, runs towards the east. The enclosure is well defined by walls. Its western wall, 125 m long, is partly identical with the eastern wall of the building southeast of the tell. Its northern wall, 145 m long, and its southern wall, 90 m long, curve to follow the edge of the plateau. The eastern wall, 115 m long, curves slightly to the west and crosses the small wadi in the interior of the enclosure 4 m below the plateau. The wall is clearly visible in the wadi bed. The close relationship between walls and the surrounding wadis shows that not much has changed in the landscape and 3 

5. Springs and well in the gorge (N34.69221 E38.18686). The spring area lies 300 m west of the tell, in the gorge between the promontory and the steep face of Jebel Abyad. The local Bedouin fetch water of excellent quality to their camps on the plain below from a well and two springs. The well lies at the upper end of the gorge on a tongue of debris from the mountainsides. The opening is square, measuring 2 x 2 m, with rounded corners lined with stones down to the water level 3 m below. The well is surrounded by a semicircular stone setting 6 m across.

Barański 1997, 11, pl. V–VI (Type I, M, N).

4 

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Barański 1997, 9, pl. XIII.

Palmyrena Spring 1 lies on a lower level 44 m from the well, at the western side of the gorge at a path leading down to the plain. The water from the spring is collected in a circular 2 m wide depression, 70 cm deep. Spring 2 lies 20 m further down the path. The water is collected in a 6 x 4 m large pond, artificially cut into the mountainside. A small irregular channel leads runoff water from the pond into the wadi below.

spring area. The function of the building can only be speculative. The marble door indicates the existence of either a sanctuary or a tomb as part of the complex. The two small rooms with watertight plaster may be part of a bath. The exact relationship between the building in the tell and the southeastern building could not be determined. There is no difference in the chronological distribution of the surface finds from the two areas, but many of the sherds from southeastern building may have been washed down from the tell area, and they are relatively few.

6. Rock-cut tombs and cressets on the steep face of Jebel Abyad (N34.691800 E38.184865). Just below the edge of Jebel Abyad plateau (altitude 932 m asl) above the springs there are two rock-cut tombs. One is visible from below with a well-worked rectangular opening, but climbing equipment is necessary to gain access.

As the southeastern building shares its eastern wall with the large enclosure, they must have been contemporary and interconnected. The function of the enclosure is uncertain. Was it an animal pen or a garden? There is no trace of any water system from the tell area to the enclosure or within the enclosure, apart from the fragment of the terracotta water pipe east of the tell, but the location of that find may be secondary. On the other hand, a water system may have been constructed with lighter materials, such as rammed earth with smaller stones, leaving no trace inside the precincts. Secondly, a large animal enclosure also needed access to water. The area is short of runoff water, and even in the rainy season the vegetation is extremely sparse. The function of this site depended on the capacity of the springs and the aqueduct. The size of the aqueduct is not impressive, but the diameter of the water pipes (18–20 cm) corresponds to the water pipes of the same type in Palmyra.5 A steady flow of water would probably have been sufficient for daily consumption, the bath in the main building and a garden at a lower level, perhaps reusing some of the water.

The other tomb can be reached by a narrow path leading up along the face of the mountain from the gorge, or from the edge of the plateau. The tomb consists of three adjoining rooms, one of them circular. All rooms were undecorated. No finds were registered and the date of this tomb is uncertain. The absence of Arabic graffiti and soot on its walls and ceilings indicates that it was not reused in the Islamic period. Along the path leading from the tombs up to the plateau there are several cressets, about 15–25 cm wide, cut into the rock and a cylindrical cutting 40 cm wide, with a short narrow channel leading to it from the rock above, probably a small cistern. Finds Most of the finds come from the tell area and the building southeast of the tell, and comprise sherds of brittle (142), white coarse (106) and blue glazed (1) wares, fragments of green glass (3), iron and bronze, a fragment of a roofing tile and two fragments of Islamic clay pipe bowls with simple engravings (Figure 14). The finds from the enclosure comprise sherds of brittle (40) and white coarse (23) wares. The bulk of the datable pottery shows a chronological distribution from the Roman to the Byzantine periods, but the blue glazed ware, which can probably be dated to the 12th or 13th century, and the clay pipe bowls show that activities continued into the Islamic and Ottoman periods. Conclusion The architectural fragments, the marble door, the wellconstructed walls in the northern part of the tell and the terracotta water pipes testify to a monumental building with sophisticated hydraulic devices. The main building has probably been in the northern part of the block. As the plain around the site only receives very limited runoff water from the steep mountainside of Jebel Abyad during the rainy season, the importance of the site is related to the water sources in the

5 

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Barański 1997, 11.

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 63. Al-Khaïrem area (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

Figure 64. Al-Khaïrem. Tell, building and enclosure (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 65. Al-Khaïrem. Overview from the northwest (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 66. Al-Khaïrem. Internal doorway in the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 67. Al-Khaïrem. Marble door in the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 68. Al-Khaïrem. Room with watertight plaster in the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 69. Al-Khaïrem. Blocks in the southern end of the tell from monumental building (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 70. Al-Khaïrem. Fragment of threshold in the southern end of the tell (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 71. Al-Khaïrem. Fragments of terracotta water pipes (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 72. Al-Khaïrem. Aqueduct northwest of the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 73. Al-Khaïrem. Aqueduct northwest of the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 74. Al-Khaïrem. Well in the spring area (J.C. Meyer). Figure 75. Al-Khaïrem. Spring area at al-Khaïrim (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 76. Al-Khaïrem. Rock-cut tombs on the face of Jebel Abyad (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena Awtayt

plain 400 m from the foot of the mountain, the locals have made some diggings in a concentration of larger stones. They have exposed three chiseled blocks of stone, about 1 m long. Two of them are doorposts or thresholds. The third has a shell-like elaboration at the top. There are no traces of walls in the area.

N34.702134 E38.184213 (Figures 77–81). This site lies 1.2 km northwest of al-Khaïrem. Several ravines down the mountainside converge on a broader wadi at the foot of the mountain. Near the top of the southern ravine, half way up the mountainside, there are aquifers, producing small ponds of water and green patches.

Finds The finds from the building in the ravine comprise a rim and handle from cooking pot in red clay, datable to the 2nd or 3rd century, and a sherd of white coarse ware. The finds from the building on the plain comprise sherds of undiagnostic brittle ware (3).

The site consists of the following: 1. Remains of a building at the southern ravine, and 2. Remains of a building on the plain below. 1. Remains of a building at the southern ravine (N34.702134 E38.184213). Close to a spring area in the southern ravine the locals have done some diggings on a small plateau on the southern mountainside. They have exposed six chiseled blocks of stone, now scattered in the area. Two of the blocks are clearly thresholds for a door, with distinct holes for the door pivot. There are no traces of walls on the plateau.

Conclusion The architectural fragments testify to the existence of monumental buildings near the spring in the ravine and on the plain below. The function of the building in the ravine is uncertain, but must be related to the springs. The building on the plain probably relied on the water from the springs or on water from the wadi, but there are no traces of cisterns.

2. Remains of a building on the plain below (N34.70392 E38.18943). On the southern side of the wadi on the

Figure 77. Awtayt area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 78. Awtayt. Blocks from monumental building in the spring area (Kjetil Bortheim).

Figure 79. Awtayt. Blocks from monumental building on the plain below the spring area (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 80. Awtayt. Block from monumental building on the plain below the spring area (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 81. Awtayt. Roman cooking pot (2nd ‒ 3rd century) from the building in the spring area (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena

Figure 82. Bir al-Dnejn. Corral on the plain below the spring area (J.C. Meyer).

Bir al-Dnejn

1. The building lies on the oblong tongue in the center of the valley. It measures about 13 m E‒W and 8 m N‒S. The eastern part of the complex consists of two adjoining rectangular rooms, about 3 m wide and 7 m long. The southern room may have continued to the west, but its relationship to the walls in the western part of the building is uncertain, as the walls in the western part have a slightly different orientation. A stretch of a curved wall encloses the space between the northern and southern room in the northwestern corner. It is possible that the curved wall is part of a small water reservoir, as several pieces of hydraulic plaster were visible on the surface around the building, and the surface finds also included a fragment of a terracotta water pipe.

N34.7249 E38.1635 (Figure 82). Bir al-Dnejn lies about 3.3 km northwest of Awtayt in another important spring area on Jebel Abyad.6 The springs lie in a semicircular valley in the mountain. The sloping sides of the valley are cut through by deep ravines. No remains were registered in the area. About 900 m east of the foot of the mountain between the two main wadis coming from the spring area lies a 50 m long, about 15 m wide corral, divided into five sections (N34.73046 E38.17734, altitude 759 m asl). The surface finds from inside the corral are surprisingly rich and comprise sherds of brittle (100) and white coarse (13) wares, ranging from the Roman to the Byzantine periods. The corral must be dated to the ancient period and was probably connected to activities on the plain, irrigated by water from the springs.

2. The well lies about 100 m southwest of the building near the edge of the wadi. It has a circular opening, about 1 m in diameter, constructed with large slaps of stones. It is lined with smaller stones down to the water level 1.5 m below.

Majouf N34.736694 E38.149911, altitude 905 m asl. (Figures 83–86).

3. Rock-cut tomb. The door to a rock-cut tomb is visible from the plain below close to the edge of Jebel Abyad. Climbing equipment is necessary to gain access to the tomb.

This site lies in a semicircular valley 1.8 km northwest of Bir al-Dnejn. There are several springs in the valley, which is intersected by two deep ravines down the mountainside, creating an oblong tongue in its center. Majouf is internationally famous as one the few natural breeding grounds for the Northern Bald Ibis, threatened with extinction, and access to the area is forbidden in the breeding season, which coincides with the survey season, and restricted the rest of the year. A very short stay was allowed in October 2009 outside the breeding season, and a provisional registration of the site was done.

Finds The finds from the building comprise sherds of brittle (4) and white coarse (8), terra sigilliata (2) wares, and a fragment of a terracotta water pipe with a diameter of 12 cm. Conclusion The small building obviously had some hydraulic function related to the water resources of the spring area.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building, 2. Well, and 3. Rock-cut tomb. 6 

The spring is also mentioned by Musil (ad-Dnȇn). Palmyrena 148.

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Figure 83. Majouf area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 84. Majouf. The valley, looking W (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 86. Majouf. Fragment of terracotta water pipe (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 85. Majouf. Plan of the building (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena Ouéchel

other impurities, making it only suitable for animal consumption.10

N34.75743409 E38.12016882, altitude 960 m asl. (Figures 87–95).

Well 1 lies at the western end of the plateau. It has a rectangular opening (70x140 cm), built up by stones to the north and south, and cut into the rock to the east and west. The well is filled in, and is only preserved to a depth of 1.80 m. Close to the well there is a fragment of an old stone trough.

This site lies on the eastern mountainside in the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad. Schlumberger surveyed the site in 1935 and registered a small fort. That fort is situated on a small promontory overlooking Wadi Abyad, south of a narrow ravine coming from the steep mountainside. A path leads up to the Plain of Shalala 775 m south of the site. Schlumberger named the site Ouéchel, which is also used on French maps from 1943 (Bir Quéchel). It is identical with al-Wešel, mentioned by Alois Musil on his trip north through Wadi Abyad in March 1912. According to him there was ‘a green meadow irrigated by the spring of al-Wešel, on the side of which is a small ruin’.7 The modern Bedouin call the site Shalala, which means ‘water rapids’, a name also used on the French maps, Tell Chellâlé, for the promontory at the edge of the Plain of Shalala.

Well 2 lies about 35 m north-northeast of Well 1. The opening is almost circular, has a diameter of 3 m and is lined with stones to a depth of about 60 cm, with deep grooves from the rope hoisting the well bucket. Then the shaft becomes quadrangular, for 1 m lined with stones, thereafter cut into the bedrock. The well is still in use, and the depth down to the water level is 15.50 m. Close to the well there is a fragment of an old stone trough. Well 3 lies about 10 m east-northeast of Well 2 on the northern side of the ravine. It is now completely filled in and discernible as a semicircular cutting in the rock with a diameter of 3.50 m.

The site of Shalala fort consists of the following: 1. Fort on the promontory (Schlumberger),8 2. Spring area and wells, 3. Qanat/aqueduct.

Well 4 lies 20 m east of Well 3. The opening is almost circular, has a diameter of 5 m, is partly lined with stones to a depth of 1 m and is thereafter cut into the bedrock. The shaft narrows and becomes quadrangular as it becomes deeper. The well is very deep, but at the time of the survey, surface water had entered it and its depth down to the water level was uncertain.11 On the edge of the quadrangular shaft, there are deep grooves from the rope hoisting the well bucket. Close to the well, there are three weathered stone troughs cut into large natural stones.

1. The fort on the promontory measures 19.30 m N‒S and 19.90 m E‒W. The entrance is to the east, surrounded by two smaller rooms leading to an oblong central courtyard (17.30 x 7 m). A staircase between the entrance and the northern room probably lead to a flat roof over the rooms. The western part of the building is divided into three smaller rooms of different sizes, with another staircase leading to the roof over the rooms. In the northwestern room, there is a raised banquette arrangement. The building is solidly built. The outer walls are 1.10 to 1.20 m thick with large blocs on the faces. Some of the blocs are up to 1.5 m high and 2 m long. After Schlumberger’s visit to the site, locals constructed a modern, now ruined building on top of the western walls. Schlumberger registered two very fragmentary Latin inscriptions from the central courtyard.9

Well 5 lies 20 m east of Well 4. It is completely filled in and discernible as a quadrangular cutting, 1 x 1.4 m in the sloping bedrock. It cannot be excluded that the opening is an access shaft to the qanat system on the eastern end of the plateau. 3. The qanat/aqueduct system lies near the eastern end of the plateau in the spring area. In the western end of the system, a horizontal tunnel has been cut into the sloping bedrock. The opening is 2.5 m high and 1.5 m wide with a slightly arched top. It has been partly filled up with stones and mud, and the length of the tunnel into the bedrock could not be determined. From the opening an open canal, 16 m long and 1.5 m wide, has been cut into the sloping bedrock towards the east at the end of the plateau.

2. The spring area lies in the ravines from Jebel Abjad about 250 m east of the fort. The aquifers are at different levels and are reached by cutting shafts into the rock. The wells are concentrated on a 200 m long narrow, sloping, oblong plateau in the ravine at the foot of the steep mountainside. The runoff from the ravine has cleared the ground down to the bedrock, and then cuts deep into the sediments east of the plateau. During heavy showers, the runoff from the ravine may fill up the wells with water mixed with earth and

After the heavy winter rains 2007/2008, the water level in one of the wells was several meters higher than usual, and was covered with green algae. 11  The site was visited in 2006 and 2007, but no measurements of the depth were made. 10 

Palmyrena 148–149. PNO 46–48, 85–86, 167–168. 9  PNO167–168. 7  8 

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites Nowadays the capacity of the spring has dwindled, and the local Bedouin have closed the eastern end of the canal with a low stone wall, creating a small reservoir. In former times, the capacity must have been much greater, as the construction also implies. As mentioned above, Alois Musil describes a green meadow on the plain below, irrigated by the spring at al-Wešel, but there are no traces of any continuation of the aqueduct to the east along the slopes of the ravine or of any buildings on the plain in Wadi Abyad. We should bear in mind, however, that this is a changing landscape. During the winter 2008/2009 heavy rainfalls changed the landscape east of the plateau dramatically. The torrents down the mountainside washed away the path to Wadi Abyad and removed up to 4 m of sediment down to the bedrock east of the plateau. This is certainly not the first time in history this has happened. The area has a white colour on satellite images, which testifies to heavy erosion. On the plain, windblown sediments may also have covered remains of buildings, as was obviously the case with Awtayt, 9 km southeast of Ouéchel.12 12 

Finds No surface finds were collected from the area around the fort. The spring area was void of finds. Conclusion In construction the fort is comparable to the small fort at Tweihina,13 and the finds of Latin inscriptions testify to the presence of personnel from the Roman army. In contrast to Tweihina, the fort is not situated at any important line of communication. The natural access to the Plain of Shalala above the fort is through Wadi Shalala from Tweihina, not along the narrow path up the mountainside from Wadi Abyad. There can be no doubt that the fort at Ouéchel is related to the control of an important spring area in the northwestern corner of Jebel Abyad.

Gazetteer 82.

13 

Gazetteer 103.

Figure 87. Quéchel area (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

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Palmyrena

Figure 88. Quéchel. Overview from the west (J. Krzywinski).

Figure 89. Quéchel. The fort, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 90. Quéchel. Plan of the fort (Schlumberger 1951, 47, fig. 19).

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Figure 91. Quéchel. The entrance to the fort, looking W (J. Krzywinski).

Figure 92. Quéchel. Well 2 (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 93. Quéchel. Well 4 with stone troughs (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 94. Quéchel. Qanat, looking W (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 95. Quéchel. Qanat, looking E (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena Bir Jouâae’d

huge, open wells. A large filled in well is close to Wadi Jerrah. The site was visited outside the survey season, and no detailed registration was made. South of the gardens on a higher plateau there are remains of a 250 m long wall extending towards the southwest. It then turns 270 m to the west on the edge of the wadi. There are several smaller stretches of walls on the plateau, with no connection to each other. The date is uncertain, but only the tops of the walls are visible on the surface, and they must belong to an early period.

N34.71700 E38.24011, altitude 672 m asl. (Figures 96–97). This site lies 8.4 km north-northeast of the narrow opening between Jebel Marbat al-Hassâne and Jebel Mqeïtaa, west of Jebel es Safra, on the southern bank of Wadi Jerrah, a tributary wadi from the east to Wadi Abyad. Today there is small modern habitation with surrounding gardens, which are watered from two

Figure 96. Bir Jouâae’d (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 97. Bir Jouâae’d. Well (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites WA01-02. Canals and walls

landscape clearly visible. On modern satellite images, it is discernible as a trench with some vegetation, apart from the last 120 m in the western end, where it is discernible as a bank with a distinct northern shade. The line does not follow the drainage in the landscape, and it is obviously a man-made construction, a canal, from the period before the construction of the dam in 1984‒1986 and the regulation of the landscape related to that.

N34.673200 E38.215695 (Western end), N34.671896 E38.223171 (Eastern end). N34.668719 E38.203933 (Southwestern end), N34.669979 E38.206247 (Northeastern end). (Figures 98–103).

About 900 m southwest of the western end of this canal, there is another straight line on both the Corona and the modern satellite images. This line starts close to the wadi leading in the direction of the area south of the modern dam from the gorge south of Râss al-Rhechem, and goes 375 m 57º toward the northeast, where it meets a wadi coming from the southeastern part of Râss alRhechem, which leads to the intersection of the two wadis from Râss al-Rhechem and the western end of the northern canal. The line is almost straight, which is an uncommon feature for wadis and the normal drainage in the area is towards the southeast. It is obviously also a man-made construction.14

On satellite images, there is a faint 700 m long line west of Wadi Abjad leading to the northern part of the water reservoir behind the modern Wadi Abyad dam. The line starts where the two wadis from each side of the promontory of Râss al-Rhechem converge into a larger wadi, which runs towards the southeast and the southern part of the water reservoir. The line goes 102º towards the southeast and crosses many smaller wadis, the track from Palmyra to the north, and the asphalt road leading across Jebel abu-Riĝmen. The survey members have crossed the line several times without noticing any remarkable features. There are many lines on the images from modern tracks due to heavy motorized traffic, but if we compare the modern images with older Corona satellite images from 1968, which has much lower resolution, it is the only line in the

Of course, one should be cautious about drawing definitive conclusions based on satellite images

Figure 98. Wadi Abyad dam in the southern part of the Wadi Abyad basin (J.C. Meyer). I am very grateful to Knut Krzywinski for discussions about the interpretation of the line on satellite image. 14 

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Palmyrena without ground survey, but the evidence invites an educated guess. The east‒west canal was constructed to divert the water in the two large wadis coming from Râss al-Rhechem. There must have been a solid wall across the wadi bed at the intersection. From that point a wall directed the water eastwards, before it entered the canal. The other canal was part of the same system, directing the water from the area south of Râss al-Rhechem northwards. There are no traces in the satellite images of any solid walls across the wadi beds, and the present wadis seem to have followed their course to the southeast for a very long time. This indicates that the system fell out of use many centuries ago.

The destination was the area in the northern part of the modern reservoir. On the French map from 1944/1950,15 there is a well behind the modern barrage called Bîr el Hafîré, and Alois Musil mentions the ‘waters of alHafâjer’.16 Hafir means ‘dam’ or ‘water reservoir’. According to a former guard of the district, the area behind the barrage formed a large shallow depression, about 100 m in diameter, with easy access to water by digging into the surface,17 and it would have been an excellent place to collect the water in the rainy season. Palmyre. Levant N 1 37-XV. Service Géographique des F.F.L (1944), l’Institute Geographique National (1950), surveyed 1943. 16  Palmyrena 148. 17  I am indebted to Khaleed Gusaiban al-Assry Malouh of the local al-Umur tribe for this information (Interview January 2011 together with Adeeb al-As‛ad). 15 

Figure 99. Wadi Abyad Basin. Traces of canals (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 100. Wadi Abyad Basin. Traces of canals (J.C. Meyer, based on Corona Atlas of the Middle East).

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Figure 101. Wadi Abyad Basin. Northern canal (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 102. Wadi Abyad Basin. Southwestern canal (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 103. Wadi Abyad dam. In the background Jebel Abyad and the spur Râss al-Rhechem. In 2011 the reservoir was silted up. The depression behind the dam is the outlet from the reservoir (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena Antaar

from a tomb found at Jebel Antar, now in the Museum of Palmyra, with a very incomplete inscription from AD 249.20 The site has been heavily disturbed by floods and by the construction of the modern dam. In the fissured landscape there are several displaced architectural remains of burial towers and a broken block from a small aqueduct. On the flat plateau immediately to the east, there are several short stretches of walls exposed by small wadis.

N34.660006 E38.221758 (Figures 104–107). Antaar lies about 270 m south of the modern dam, west of Râss Antaar, 18 km north of Palmyra.18 Musil visited the site in 1912 and found a marble column with a Greek inscription.19 It is probably identical with the doorpost 18  19 

The site was visited briefly in January 2011. Palmyrena 148.

20 

Al-As‛ad and Gawlikowsky 1997, 70‒71 (A 1497/9191).

Figure 104. Antaar. Scattered displaced blocks from monumental buildings below the dam (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 105. Antaar. Fragment from burial tower (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 106. Antaar. Fragment from small aqueduct (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 107. Antaar. Inscription from burial tower, Museum of Palmyra (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Jebel Abyad Jebel Abyad is one of the largest mountain ranges north of Palmyra (Figure 108). The mountain has steep faces towards Wadi Abyad in the east and Wadi Jihar in the north, and most of the precipitation drains towards Wadi alMasek and Wadi al-Takara in the eastern part and towards the plain south of the range in the western part. Wadi al-Masek is the main corridor through the mountain range from Palmyra to the northern territory.

Figure 108. Jebel Abyad and Wadi al-Takara area (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

JA306. Wadi Kshebah

The site consists of the following: 1. Rock-cut tombs and niches, 2. Cistern, 3. Corrals.

N34.71372 E38.14035, altitude 870 m asl. (Figures 109– 111).

1. The tombs and niches are cut into the soft rock north of the wadi about 50‒60 m above the wadi bed. The face of the soft rock has been worked, forming a vertical frontage. The harder rock forms a broad shoulder in front of the tombs, and a protecting overhang and a new shoulder above them. The site is heavily weathered, but five tombs (A‒E from east to west) and some niches are preserved. The Bedouin have used the tombs as shelters and storage rooms and have enlarged most of the entrances by cutting into their jambs. The walls and the roofs are sooted and the floors covered by a deep layer of sheep and goat droppings. Numerous recent and ancient Arabic inscriptions have been carved into walls of these tombs.

This site is located in a tributary wadi to Wadi alTakara, Wadi Kshebah, about 3 km from Wadi alTakara, where it makes two sharp turns from the eastsoutheast to the west-southwest, surrounded by steep mountainsides. Geologically the mountain consists of alternate, horizontal layers of soft and hard rock forming shoulders and overhangs with several natural caves. The site was visited in 2006 and in 2008 outside the survey season, and no detailed registration was made.

95

Palmyrena The eastern tomb, Tomb A, has a well-preserved doorway, about 1.5 m high and 65 cm wide, with traces of the doorframe on the inside. The chamber is formed as a barrel vault, about 4 m long, 3 m wide and 1.8 m high. In the back wall there is an about 60 x 60 cm arched niche, and in the right wall an oblong niche, formed as an alcove. To the left and right of the doorway there are trapezoidal niches, and in the roof several smaller niches with flat floors and tapering tops.

to the right of the entrance to the side chamber and in the right wall there are two alcoves, which meet at the corner. To the right of the main entrance there is a tall arched niche with flat floor and tapering roof. Tomb E lies south of the shoulder at a small promontory. The entrance and the outer part of the tomb are missing and its original plan could not be determined. Between Tombs C and D there is a series of rock-cut steps, forming a U-turn (3/8 steps), leading up to the shoulder above.

Tomb B has a 1.6 m high doorway with faint traces of the doorframe inside. The chamber is about 3 m long 2.5 m wide and is formed as a barrel vault close to the entrance, but the back wall forms an arch. There are faint traces of small niches in the walls. Tomb C has been heavily damaged, and its original layout could not be determined. There is a large rectangular block of stone to the left of its entrance on the shoulder.

Between Tombs A and B and east of the entrance to Tomb A several niches have been cut into the face of the rock. Most of them are small and have uncharacteristic shapes, but one of them is monumental, forming a 180 cm tall ‘T’. The horizontal upper part of the ‘T’ is cut into the rock as a rectangle. The vertical part of the ‘T’ has been put into relief by cutting away the surrounding rock. The niche has probably been some kind of altar.

Tomb D has a 1.8 m high 70 cm wide doorway with a slightly arched top. The chamber is about 4 m long and 4 m wide, and has almost vertical walls and horizontal roof. In its left and back walls there are entrances to small side chambers with vaulted roofs. In its back wall,

2. The cistern lies about 50 m southeast of the shoulder. It has a circular, 1 m wide opening cut into the rock. The cistern is filled in. There are faint traces of a rock-cut channel conducting water from the northeast. Northwest of the cistern there

Figure 109. JA306. Wadi Kshebah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 110. JA306. Wadi Kshebah overview from the north (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 111. JA306. Wadi Kshebah. Tombs (J.C. Meyer).

is a small stretch of a well-constructed wall. It may be remains of a supply channel or a retaining wall for a track leading down the mountainside.

fragment of a grinding stone, a blue glass bead and a fragment of an ornamented clay pipe bowl with green glaze from the Ottoman period.

3. The corrals lie on the plain on both sides of the wadi. There are several old Islamic tombs in the vicinity.

Conclusion The tombs are comparable to the more sophisticated and larger tombs at Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun 5 km northwest of Bir Jazal21 and probably belong to the Byzantine period.

Finds No finds were registered in connection with the tombs. All surface finds come from a circular corral north of the wadi, and comprise sherds of brittle ware (19), a

21 

97

Gazetteer 131.

Palmyrena JA378. Wadi Kshebah

Valley Kshebar

N34.70525 E38.15824, altitude 962 m asl.

N34.69637 E38.18283, altitude 1021 m asl. (Figure 112).

This site lies 1.9 km southeast Wadi Kshebah 306, 50 m north of the wadi. It consists of a square structure, measuring 3 x 3 m. The eastern wall and northeastern corner are clearly visible with several upright flat stones, deeply embedded in the ground. The center of the building is covered with large irregular stones. Twenty meters m north of the structure there is a row of larger stones forming part of a circle with a diameter of about 9 m. Its relation to the square structure is uncertain, and it may part of a corral.

Valley Kshebar is an oblong bowl-shaped valley, about 700 m long and 250 m wide, at the eastern edge of Jebel Abyad. The drainage runs down Wadi Kshebar towards the west-northwest along the edge of Wadi Abyad, and towards the west in a wadi that meets Wadi al-Takara south of Wadi Kshebar. There are no paths down from Jebel Abyad, and the natural access to the valley is from Wadi Kshebar. At the eastern edge of the valley, there is a relatively modern, well-constructed enclosure, measuring 21 x 21 m, but otherwise there are no traces of recent activities in the area.

Finds

The site consists of the following: 1. Cisterns, and 2. Islamic tombs.

The finds around both structures comprise sherds of brittle (17), white coarse (4) and red glazed (1) wares, an iron fragment and a blue glass bead. The brittle ware cannot be dated, and the red glazed ware belongs to the Islamic period.

1. Cisterns. Near the southern edge of the valley, two small open irregular cisterns, measuring about 2 x 2 m, are cut into the rock to a depth of only 20 cm. West of these cisterns there is a stone wall to retain the water. There are no traces of supply channels.

Conclusion The purpose of the structures could not be determined.

Ninety meters further to the west there are three open cisterns in a row cut into the rock, about 30 cm deep,

Figure 112. Valley Kshebah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

98

Gazetteer of surveyed sites reinforced with larger stones towards the valley bottom. There are traces of a supply channel from the east. On the northern side of the valley there are faint traces of a filled in cistern with no visible supply channels.

to the east, north and west, forming a square structure measuring 30 m E‒W, with an opening 10 m from the northeastern corner. The eastern wall runs 15 m up the slope. The western wall runs about 20 m to the vertical face of the plateau. There are no traces of interior walls, and the structure is most probably an enclosure. The center of the plateau is covered with big stones forming a slightly circular corral. The corral is clearly later than the walls. In the eastern face of the plateau, there is a collapsed opening into a grotto. The grotto is divided into two irregular, interconnected rooms, about 1 m high, partly cut into the rock and partly built up with big stones. The grotto has been used by the Bedouin as a shelter, and its roof is covered with soot. Its relation to the surrounding walls is uncertain, as no finds were registered there.

2. Islamic tombs. On the northern side of the wadi leading towards the west, there are at least 15 very old Islamic graves. Some of them have well defined chambers, varying in shape from circular to elliptical. All the tombs have been looted. Finds The finds come from the bottom of the valley and comprise sherds of brittle (13) and white coarse (3) wares, some fragments of iron and yellow glass, a fragment of an Ottoman clay pipe bowl with simple engravings, and several fragments of grinding stones of different thicknesses close to the open cisterns (4). A single sherd can be dated roughly to the late Roman or early Islamic period.

3. This cistern lies 50 m southwest of Building A and 20 m north of Enclosure A at the bottom of the valley. It is bottle-shaped, cut into the rock with a depth down to the silt of 4.40 m. The opening is circular, 1.30 m wide, with a 1.50 m deep stone lining covered with plaster, and an inlet from a 175 m long supply channel. The channel runs diagonally down the mountainside from the northwest, and on satellite images there are faint traces of a continuation up to the summit.

Conclusion There are no traces of any buildings in the valley. The finds and the cisterns should most probably be related to some seasonal animal husbandry.

4. Enclosure B. On the southern slope of the northern mountainside of the valley, a long stretch of wall forms a large enclosure. It starts 20 m northwest of Building A, then runs 40 m towards the west, curves towards the north, runs for about 100 m up the mountainside, and then turns towards the northeast for about 18 m. The enclosure is bounded to the east by the edge of Jebel Abyad.

Al-Mazraah N34.686093 E38.183524, altitude 883 m asl. (Figures 113–120). This site lies near the eastern edge of Jebel Abyad at the northern part of a large triangular plain with an astonishing view over the southern part of Wadi Abyad and al-Khaïrem below.22 The drainage runs towards the west in Wadi al-Khoullah. Al-Mazraah lies north of an oblong hill that divides the plain into two valleys near the edge. The southern valley was void of finds.

5. Building B lies 40 m north of Building A inside Enclosure B. Modern diggings have exposed the inner northwestern corner and the inner faces of a northern and western wall of a small square building, measuring about 4.50 x 4.50 m. The walls are well constructed and deeply embedded in the ground. The purpose of the building is uncertain, but it resembles in size and layout corresponding buildings at Tweihina (Tahoun al-Masek) and Shanaeh,23 most probably small shrines,24 even though its location within the enclosure is peculiar.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A near the edge. 2. Enclosure A on northern slope of the hill. 3. Cistern. 4. Enclosure B. 5. Building B in the enclosure. 6. Corrals, and 7. Islamic tombs. 1. Building A lies close to the edge of Jebel Abyad. It measures 27 m N‒S with a series of three 6 m deep internal rooms in the eastern part. The building extended further to the west probably with an open courtyard.

6. Corrals. Between Building A and the cistern there are stretches of large stones from corrals or one big corral. They are most probably contemporary with the corral inside Enclosure A, i.e. later than Building A. A large concentration of big stones north of the corral may be remains of a prehistoric cairn.

2. Enclosure A. Fifty meters southwest of Building A, a natural plateau cuts into the northern side of the oblong hill with sharp low vertical faces to the south and east. The plateau is surrounded by straight walls 22 

23 

Gazetteer 76.

24 

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Gazetteer 103, 150. PNO 93–98.

Palmyrena 7. The Islamic tombs (N34.68521 E38.18155, altitude 876 m asl) lie 240 m southwest of the site at the southern bank of the wadi. There are at least ten tombs deeply embedded in the ground. The wadi has cut into the tombs, and they must belong to an early Islamic graveyard.

belongs to the Roman, late Roman and Byzantine periods, but the glazed pottery also covers the 8th and 9th century up to the 12th and 14th century. Conclusion The amount, diversity and chronological range of the surface finds show that al-Mazraah was an important site for several hundred years, even though the buildings there are few and unimpressive. No path leads down to the plain below, and there does not seem to be any relation to the monumental site of al-Khaïrem in Wadi Abyad. We do not know the chronological relation between the building and the large northern enclosure, but the enclosure may indicate that the importance of the site involved horse herding, rather than sheep and goat herding, which must have been a common sight everywhere. The triangular plain, and also the plain north of Al-Mazraah, where no sites were registered, may have been used as grazing grounds parts of the year, either by a wealthy family or by the military authorities, which could explain the finds of coins.

Finds Most of the surface finds come from Building A, and from the area between the Cistern and Building A. The finds comprise sherds of brittle (464), white coarse (122), green glazed (2), red glazed (4) and blue glazed (4) wares, fragments of grinding stones (2), fragments of green and blue glass (3), bronze (6) and iron (1), an iron arrow or small spearhead, a fragment of an Ottoman clay pipe bowl with simple engravings and, in Building A, two coins. One coin is a Roman follis (1.90 gr.) with the head of Theodosius II (408‒450) on the obverse, and a statue of Victoria with the text Salus Reipublicae on the reverse. The other is a small bronze piece (0.30 gr.), which cannot be dated. The datable sherds show a remarkable chronological range. Most of the pottery

Figure 113. Al-Mazraah (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites Figure 114. Al-Mazraah. The triangular plain, looking S (J. Krzywinski).

Figure 115. Al-Mazraah. Plan of the site (J.C. Meyer)

Figure 116. Al-Mazraah. Overview of the eastern part of the site, looking N (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena

Figure 117. Al-Mazraah. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 118. Al-Mazraah. Southwestern corner of enclosure B (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 119. Al-Mazraah. Building B, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 120. Al-Mazraah. Iron arrowhead (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites Tweihina (Tahoun al-Masek)

rock on the plateau contain maritime fossils. In the courtyard, there are U-formed cuttings in the blocks at the entrance to the northern rooms for tying animals, but the date is uncertain. After Schlumberger’s visit to the site, the locals have cut deep cavities in the floors of the northwestern and southeastern rooms.

N34.72496 E38.093444, altitude 910 m asl (the fort), 863 m asl (Wadi bed). (Figures 121–139). Tweihina lies in Wadi al-Masek 26 km northwest of Palmyra and 2.8 km north of the fort, al-Takara N,25 at an intersection with Wadi Shalala coming from the Plain of Shalala in the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad, and a smaller wadi coming from the mountains in the north. Between the smaller wadi and Wadi alMasek, a marked 200 m oblong promontory protrudes from the mountains. The site is surrounded by steep mountainsides, and Wadi al-Masek makes a series of sharp turns, first to the east, then south, southeast and finally, where it meets Wadi Shalala, to the south towards Wadi al-Takara. This has slowed down the torrents in the wadi during the rainy season, and has created an oblong point bar at the foot of the slightly bowl-shaped mountain west of the wadi and a triangular bar south of the promontory between Wadi al-Masek and the smaller wadi coming from the north.

Two small steles with Greek inscriptions were found in the southwestern room. One commemorates Phalios and Sabinos, members of the camel cavalry, dromedarii, of the second cohort, the other Alexandros of the same unit.27 Another small rectangular slab, found in the northwestern room, carries a Latin inscription, mentioning Eptemalus and Mucateralis, both Thracian names, and the names of the consuls of the year 156 AD.28 Schlumberger registered four short commemorative Palmyrene inscriptions on the outer and inner walls of the courtyard,29 but they are no longer visible in situ. One of the inscriptions was found by the SyrianNorwegian survey on the slope about 20 m east of the fort.30 Two other weathered inscriptions with crude, almost illegible Arabic letters were found nearby on fragmented blocs.

Daniel Schlumberger surveyed the site in 1935 and registered a small fort on the promontory.26 He named it Tahoun al-Masek. Tahoun means ‘grinding stone’. The modern Bedouin call the site Tweihina, the small Tahoun’. The reason for this naming is unknown. Perhaps it is a topographical description of the promontory situated between steep mountainsides.

2. Building A lies on the point bar west of Wadi al-Masek. The Bedouin have cleared a track for heavy traffic behind the building along the foot of the mountain, and the western limit of the building could not be determined. Piles of stones from collapsed upper courses cover some of the walls in the interior. The locals have made several, up to 50 cm deep, diggings in the interior in search of antiquities, thereby revealing that the walls are deeply imbedded in the ground. This indicates that there has been a substantial accumulation of sediments in the wadi bed since antiquity, as is also confirmed by the fact that the floor of rock-cut tomb A behind the building is at much lower level than the present wadi bed and the point bar.

The site of Tweihina consists of the following: 1. Fort on the promontory (Schlumberger). 2. Building A west of Wadi al-Masek. 3. Rock-cut tomb A west of Wadi al-Masek. 4. Shrine A south of the promontory. 5. Shrine B southwest of the promontory. 6. Unfinished rock-cut tomb B south of the promontory. 7. Worked stones southeast of the promontory. 8. Cisterns and 9. Inscription and symbol cut into the rock at the foot of the promontory.

The building is rectangular, and approximately 55 m long N‒S, but irregular in plan. Its northeastern corner is clearly visible, whereas its southern limit is more uncertain, as sediments cover most of the walls. Its eastern outer wall follows an almost straight line with a slight inward curve in its southern end, following the course of the wadi bed. The building is divided into two sections by a partition wall 27 m from its northeastern corner. It is up to 150 cm thick and makes a sharp bend. The reason for this solid construction is uncertain. The entrance to the northern section is in the northern wall. A corridor has divided this section into an eastern and western part, with a series of internal rooms of varying sizes and shapes along the outer eastern wall. The

1. The fort lies on the southern tip of the promontory. It measures about 25 m N‒S and 10 m E‒W, with an oblong central courtyard and two smaller rooms in the northern and southern end. The entrance to the building is from the east, with remains of staircases on both sides of the entrance, probably leading to a flat roof over the smaller rooms. The building is solidly constructed. The outer walls and the inner walls facing the courtyard are constructed with large, upright slabs on the faces in the lower course. A lower, narrow plateau has been cut into the rock immediately south of the fort, and it is possible that some of the large slabs and blocks for the construction of the fort have been quarried there, as both the stones in the fort and the

PNO 86–87. PNO 87. 29  PNO 49–50, 168–169. 30  PNO 169 (inscription 66). 27 

25  26 

28 

Gazetteer 126. PNO 48–50, 86–88, 168–169.

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Palmyrena layout of the western rooms could not be determined because of the overlying piles of stone. In the southern section, there have also been rooms along the outer eastern wall, but the layout of this section is uncertain due to the sediments covering its walls.

channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the west and northwest. Cistern 2 lies west of the wadi al-Masek behind Building A, north of the rock-cut Tomb B. It has two short supply channels at the foot of the mountain, one 8 m long from the south and another 26 m long from the north. Close to the cistern there is a fragment of a stone trough.

3. Rock-cut tomb A is cut into the shelving mountainside behind Building A. The threshold and the floor of the tomb are at a much lower level than the point bar. In the interior there is a central column, but the Bedouin have extended the room for storage of tents and other equipment, leaving debris on both sides of the entrance, and the original layout could not be determined.

Cistern 3 lies east of the wadi, 15 m north of the southwestern corner of the promontory. A northern supply channel, 138 m long, runs diagonally down the western side of the promontory. The last 40 m before the cistern, the channel, about 10 cm deep and 10 cm wide, is cut into the rock. A 64 m long supply channel runs diagonally down the mountainside from the southeast and east, embracing the southwestern corner of the promontory.

4. Shrine A lies at the southern foot of the promontory. It measures about 5.5 x 5.5 m with a 1 m wide entrance in the southern wall. The walls are 1 m thick and constructed with up to 70 cm of large stones and slabs on their faces. The solid construction and the layout are comparable to the shrines in the villages on Jebel Chaar investigated by Schlumberger.31

Cistern 4 lies at the southeastern corner of the promontory. A western 64 m long supply channel runs diagonally down the southern side of the promontory. A 140 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the eastern side of the promontory for about 70 m, before it turns towards southwest close to the foot of the mountain in a rock-cut channel.

5. Shrine B lies southwest of the promontory on the triangular bar, about 35 m west of Shrine A. It measures about 2.5 x 2.5 m. Its walls are constructed with large, partly worked stones, the largest measuring 130 x 80 x 40 cm. Its southwestern corner is missing, but its entrance must have been in the southern wall. The function of the building is uncertain, but it has probably been a small shrine.

9. Inscription and symbol cut into the rock at the foot of the promontory. Three meters north of Cistern 3, an inscription has been engraved in the bedrock, 55 cm long and 30/14 cm high, tapering to the south. It has two lines with large letters, which resemble Aramaic script, but the inscription does not make any sense. Ten meters south of Cistern 3 a symbol in shape of the sun with a diameter of about 70 cm has been cut into the bedrock. The center is composed of two overlapping deep hollows. The irregular rays have different lengths and widths. The edge of the center and the rays are coloured with a black substance. The meaning and date of the symbol are uncertain.

6. Unfinished rock-cut Tomb B south of the promontory. Two and a half meters east of shrine B there is a 2 m long and 1.5 m wide cutting into the shelving rock of the promontory with clear chisel markings. The height of the end wall is 1 m above ground level, and at least 60 m below. This can be identified as an unfinished rockcut tomb. 7. Worked stones southeast of promontory. At the southeastern foot of the promontory, the locals have made diggings which have revealed two worked stones with10 cm broad half circular grooves cut into them. Other large stones on the surface surround the diggings, and they are most probably remains of a wellconstructed building. The layout and purpose of the building could not be determined.

Finds The surface finds come from the slopes of the promontory and from the diggings in the interior of the building west of the wadi. The finds from the promontory comprise sherds of brittle (2) and white coarse (33) wares, and fragments of green glass (2). A few sherds of brittle ware seem to date to the Byzantine period and a few sherds of the white coarse ware to the Roman period. The finds from the building comprise sherds of brittle (13), white course (20) and green glazed (2), terra sigilliata (1) wares, fragments of white glass (1) and green glass (2), grinding stones, and a bronze coin. One sherd of green glazed ware comes from the neck of a Parthian flask or small amphora, datable to 1st to the 3rd cent. AD. The terra sigilliata sherd is of African origin from the 4th to the 7th cent. AD. The bronze

8. The cisterns are still in use, and their openings are reinforced with concrete and covered with iron lids. Cistern 1 lies west of Wadi al-Masek at the foot of the southern corner of the mountain range where Wadi alMasek turns towards the south. A 53 m long southern supply channel, partly cut into the rock, drains the southern corner of the mountain. A 257 m long supply 31 

PNO 93–98.

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites coin is an as (7.95 gr.), with the head of Antoninus Pius (138‒61) on the obverse, and SC (Senatus consulto) one the reverse, from the mint of Antioch.

period. The date of the rock-cut tombs is uncertain, but they may belong to the Christian era. From the fort there is a splendid view along Wadi alMasek to the south and along Wadi Shalala to the northeast. There can be no doubt that the function of the fort was to control an intersection on the most important route through Jebel Abyad. Old animal tracks are visible in the hard rock of the lower mountainsides of Wadi al-Masek south of the Tweihina, and Wadi alMasek was the main corridor in connection with the seasonal migrations of livestock from the bādiya south of Palmyra to the mountains north of the city.

Conclusion The fort can be safely dated to the Roman period when personnel from the Roman army were stationed in the small fort. The diversity and date of the finds from the building in the wadi, including imported ware, indicate that this building must be related to the fort. The shrines south of the promontory most probably belong to the same period. The finds clearly show that the fort and the building were still in use in the Byzantine

Figure 121. Tweihina (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 122. Tweihina. Overview, looking E (J. Krzywinski).

Figure 123. Tweihina. The promontory with the fort (J. Krzywinski).

Figure 124. Tweihina. View from the fort towards Wadi alTakara (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 125. Tweihina. Plan of the fort (PNO 49, fig. 20).

Figure 126. Tweihina. The southern rooms and the courtyard of the fort (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 127. Tweihina. Building A in Wadi Masek (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena

Figure 128. Tweihina. Building A and Tomb A in Wadi Masek (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 129. Tweihina. Shrine A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 130. Tweihina. Shrine A and Tomb B (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 131. Tweihina. Tomb B (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 132. Tweihina. Shrine B, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 133. Tweihina. Worked stones southeast of the promontory (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena

Figure 134. Tweihina. Supply channel of cistern 3, looking S. In the background, the western supply channel of cistern 1 on the western side of Wadi Masek (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 135. Tweihina. Supply channel of cistern 3 cut into the rock (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 136. Tweihina. Inscription north of cistern 3 (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 137. Tweihina. ‘Sun disc’ cut into the rock south of cistern 3 (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 138. Tweihina. Displaced Aramaic inscription from the fort on the eastern slope of the promontory (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 139. Tweihina. Animal tracks on the eastern side of Wadi Masek 1 km south of Tweihina (J.C. Meyer).

Shalala

1. Building A lies 50 m west of the path leading down to Quéchel. It measures 34 m N‒S and 37 m E‒W. Along the northern and western walls there are series of internal rooms facing an internal courtyard. The arrangement of the northwestern corner of the building is peculiar, forming an inward angle of unknown purpose.

N34.75044 E38.12151, altitude 990 m asl. (Figures 140–144). This site lies on a large triangular plain at the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad, about 1 km south of the small fort at Ouéchel32 and 4 km northeast Tweihina. A 1.5 km long side valley stretches towards the north-northwest and the mountain peaks of Jebel al-Matna, a northern spur of Jebel Abyad. The northern edge of the plain forms the watershed to Wadi Abyad, and all drainage goes to the southwest in Wadi Shalala down to Wadi al-Masek. The slopes down to Wadi Abyad are relatively steep, but from the northwestern corner of the plain a path winds along the mountainside down to the fort and spring area at Quéchel. At the northern edge of the plain close to the path down to Quéchel there is distinct tell, covered with large stones from old Islamic burials, with remains of several buildings.

2. Building B lies very close to the edge of the plain northwest of Building A. Recent diggings in the northwestern corner show that the walls are deeply imbedded in the ground. The overall dimensions are 41 m N‒S and 60 m E‒W. It is divided into an eastern and western section. The relation between the two sections is not clear due to overlying Islamic tombs and disturbances in the surface, and the southern walls of the eastern and western sections have slightly different directions. The eastern section is about 20 m wide E‒W and slightly trapezoidal in the southern end. In the northeastern corner there is an inward angle, perhaps an adaptation to the edge of the plain. In the northern part of the section and in the southwestern corner there are internal partition walls, forming a series of rooms facing an internal courtyard. The western section is 40 m wide E‒W with distinct remains of internal rooms along

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, and 4. Building or Enclosure D in the center of the plain. 32 

Gazetteer 86.

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Palmyrena the northern and western outer walls facing an interior courtyard. In the southwest corner, there is a small 2 m wide and 5 m long room. Its function is uncertain, but it may be part of a staircase to the roof or an upper floor.

Finds The finds from the tell area comprise sherds of brittle (17) and white coarse (12) wares, and fragments of grinding stones (2). A few sherds seem to date to the late Roman/Byzantine period. The surface finds around building/enclosure D comprise sherds of brittle (29) and white coarse (34) wares, fragments of green glass (2) and a fragment of a grinding stone. A few sherds probably date to the late Roman or Byzantine period.

3. Building C lies just southwest of Building B. Its layout is difficult to establish. The building consists of a series (N‒S) of four rooms measuring 6 x 6 m. The rooms may have faced an internal courtyard to the east, measuring about 23 m E‒W, bounded to the north by a 15 m long stretch of a wall from the southwestern corner of Building B, and an internal room in the northeastern corner of the courtyard. The exact relation between the series of rooms, the northern wall and the northwestern room is uncertain, but the rooms may have faced an internal courtyard to the west.

Conclusion The surface finds from tell area are extremely few, considering the complexity of the site. This indicates that the tell and also the plain are covered with deep sediments of windblown material. It is uncertain whether the walls south of the tell belong to an enclosure or to a building, but the relatively large amount of surface finds may indicate the latter and that the settlement at Shalala extended to the center of the plain. There are no traces of cisterns on the plain, so the settlement at Shalala may have relied on water from the spring area at Ouéchel.

4. Building or Enclosure D in the center of the plain (N34.74695 E38.12059, altitude 990 m asl). Three hundred and sixty meters south of the tell a 15 m long eastern wall and a 22 m long southern wall form a corner. There are no traces of internal partition walls.

Figure 140. Shalala. The triangular plain (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

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Figure 141. Shalala. The northeastern part of the plain, looking SE. In the center the tell with buildings (J. Krzywinski).

Figure 142. Shalala. Buildings on the plain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 143. Shalala. Building A, B and C (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 144. Shalala. Northwestern corner of building A. In the background the tell with building B (J.C. Meyer).

JA25. Hilltop structure

Finds

N34.76191589 E38.10740807, altitude 1250 m asl. (Figure 145).

Three sherds, fitting together, from the bottom of a jar in white coarse ware were found inside the enclosure. Their date is uncertain.

This site lies on a narrow, oblong ridge on the eastern side of Jebel al-Matna, a spur from the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad, about 2 km north-northwest of Shalala, with steep slopes to the east and west and with a grand view to Wadi Abyad below. The structure is slightly trapezoidal, 38 m long N‒S with a 38.5 m long northern wall and a 31 m long southern wall. In the southern wall, there is a 1.5 m wide entrance, 8 m from its southeastern corner. The preserved walls are up to 50 cm high, and solidly constructed with large stones in the outer faces, some of them up to 6o cm long, especially in the corners and at the entrance. Inside the structure, there is an accumulation stones and debris along the eastern and western walls, and a pile of stones, 3.5 m in diameter, in the northwestern corner. Two hundred meters north of the structure there is a series of small, adjoining, semicircular corrals on a narrow shoulder below the ridge.

Conclusion The purpose and date of the structure are uncertain, but it is certainly not a recent construction. The circular pile of stones may be remains of a prehistoric cairn, such as are very frequent in the landscape north of Palmyra on the summits.33 It does not make sense to have an enclosure for animals on the top of the mountain, and the very solid construction indicates another function. It may be compared to site JME374 on one of the summits of Jebel Merah, where a Palmyrene inscription suggests the existence of a hilltop sanctuary.34

33  34 

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Schou 2015, 116‒128. Gazetteer 186.

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Figure 145. JA25. Hilltop structure (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

JA26

with only an entrance cut into the face of the mountainside. Tomb C measures about 3 x 3 m. Tomb D measures about 4 x 4 m with several small niches in its walls. Tomb E measures about 2 x 3 m with several small niches in its walls. Tomb F measures about 3 x 3 m with a niche in its back wall. At the foot of the waterfall there is a cistern, cut into the rock, now silted up. There is another silted up cistern below the tombs with traces of a supply channel down the mountainside. South of the tombs there is a small plateau with concentrations of large stones, probably remains of corrals, and some more recent Islamic burials.

N34.71740 E038.07904, altitude 860 m asl. (Figure 146). This site lies about 2 km north of the site Wadi al-Takara N, east of a narrow wadi running from the northern part of Jebel Abyad close to a small waterfall from a tributary wadi.35 In the steep mountainside west of the waterfall, a series of tombs (A‒F from north to south) have been cut into the rock. The roofs of the tombs are covered with soot and their entrances enlarged or modified by stone walls. The Bedouin have reused these tombs as shelters. On the walls of the tombs there are several recent Arabic inscriptions.

Conclusion

The northern tomb, Tomb A, measures about 6 x 6 m, with a niche in its eastern wall. Tomb B is unfinished

The site resembles the tombs at Kshebar.36 The tombs probably belong to the late Roman-Byzantine period.

The prehistoric team visited and recorded a brief description of the site. 35 

36 

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Gazetteer 95.

Palmyrena

Figure 146. JA26. Rock-cut tombs (N. Anfinset).

Cistern 3 (N34.76009 E38.09317, altitude 1095 m asl) lies 310 m east of Cisterns 1 and 2, beside a small ravine in the mountainside. It is bottle-shaped and cut into the rock. Its opening is 80 cm wide and is lined with stones to a depth of 2 m. It is fed from the ravine, and from a 56 m long supply channel leading diagonally down mountainside from the north and a 69 m long supply channel from the south.

Al-Matna N34.75787 E38.08756 (Figures 147–149). This site lies in the northeastern part of Jebel Abyad, surrounded by the steep mountainsides of Jebel alMasek to the west and Jebel al-Matna to the east. It is a triangular valley, 1.6 km wide in the northern end and 2.5 km deep, tapering to the south with Wadi al-Masek in its center. The northern part of the valley forms the watershed to the plain north of Jebel Chaar.

Cistern 4 (N34.75788 E38.08757, altitude 1035 m asl) lies 330 m southwest of Cisterns 1 and 2 close to the eastern bank of Wadi al-Masek. It is bottle-shaped and cut into the rock. The opening has been repaired recently with concrete. It receives most of its water from a small wadi.

The site consists of the following: 1. Cisterns. 2. Hilltop structure. 3. A small cave, and 4. Corrals. 1. Cisterns

Cistern 5 (N34.75023 E38.09257, altitude 1000 m asl) lies at the southern end of the valley east of Wadi al-Masek close to the foot of the mountainside. It is bottle-shaped and cut into the rock. The opening is 80 cm wide and is lined with stones at the top. It is fed by water from a ravine. Higher up the mountainside there are several shorter supply channels leading water from smaller rills into the ravine.

Cistern 1 (N34.76001 E38.08959, altitude 1050 m asl) lies east of Wadi al-Masek, 400 m east-southeast of the watershed. It is bottle-shaped and cut into the rock. Its opening is 50 cm wide and lined with stones at the top. A 150 m long supply channel leads down the western side of a small hilltop north of the cistern. Close to the opening there is a fragmented trough.

Cistern 6 (N34.74834 E38.09264, altitude 990 m asl) lies 200 m south of Cistern 5, east of Wadi al-Masek. Its interior is a large natural cave. It has a 1.5 m square opening, and is lined with stones at the top. It receives water from a ravine, and there are no traces of any supply channels.

Cistern 2 lies 25 m north of Cistern 1. The interior is a large natural cave. Its irregular opening is cut into the rock and has deep grooves from the rope hoisting the well bucket. A 215 m long supply channel leads down the eastern side of the small hilltop from the north. 116

Gazetteer of surveyed sites Cistern 7 (N34.74782 E38.09118, altitude 972 m asl) lies 140 m southwest of Cistern 6, close to the western bank of Wadi al-Masek. It is bottle-shaped and cut into the rock. It has a 1 m wide opening, recently reinforced with concrete. Two indistinct supply channels lead diagonally down the mountainside from the northwest and southwest.

1 m high opening. The cave measures about 10–15 m². A rectangular slab has a series of 18 holes drilled into it in two rows, forming a right angle. This is probably a game board. Finds from the cave comprise some sherds of brittle (3) and white coarse (2) wares of uncertain date, and a fragment of a grinding stone. The Bedouin use the cave to store tents.

2. The hilltop structure (N34.76191400 E38.08991900, altitude 1130 m asl) lies 200 m north of Cisterns 1 and 2 close to the watershed. It is rectangular, measuring about 20 m x 8 m, constructed with large irregular stones, and has an open space at its center. Outside the structure there is a big accumulation of stones. This structure is not a cairn, but its function is uncertain, perhaps a small watchtower. From the hilltop there is an excellent view over the valley. No finds were registered and the date is uncertain.

4. Corrals Corral A (N34.76090969 E38.07863508, altitude 1053 m asl) lies north of the watershed at the northern foot of Jebel al-Masek. It measures about 25 x 25 m and consists of two interconnected circles and a semicircle. Fifty meters north of the corral there is a shallow depression in the ground, measuring about 5 m in diameter, close to a small wadi from the mountainside. It is probably a filled in and covered cistern. Finds from the corral comprise sherds of brittle ware (9), fragments of green glass (2) and a grinding stone. A fragment of a handle can be dated to the Byzantine or early Islamic period.

3. The small cave (N34.76237333 E38.09072000, altitude 1120 m asl) lies 90 m northeast of the hilltop structure at the foot of the hill, and has an irregular 2 m wide and

Figure 147. Al-Matna. The triangular valley (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Palmyrena Corral B (N34.762326 E38.088686, altitude 1110 m asl) lies 120 m west-northwest of the hilltop structure at the northern end of the valley. The corral is heavily eroded, but consists of at least two interconnected semicircles. The finds comprise three sherds of brittle ware of uncertain date.

brittle ware. A handle probably belongs to the Byzantine period. Corral E (N34.74636 E38.08950, altitude 998 m asl) lies 60 m northwest of Corral D. The corral is rectangular, measuring 10 x 15 m, with rounded corners and entrances from both east and the west. The only find is a single sherd of brittle ware of uncertain date.

Corral C (N34.763010 E38.090151, altitude 1115 m asl) lies 150 m east-northeast of Corral B. It measures 40 x 20 m and consists of two interconnected circles and a semicircle. The finds comprise sherds of brittle (7) and white coarse (1) wares of uncertain date.

Conclusion There are no traces of buildings or settlements in the valley. The high concentration of cisterns and corrals with ancient pottery does, however, show the importance of valley, most probably in connection with animal husbandry and the seasonal migrations of livestock from the bādiya south of Palmyra to the northern territories.

Corral D (N34.74560 E38.09008, altitude: 985 m asl) lies at the southern end of the valley 70 m west of Wadi al-Masek. It measures about 50 x 28 m and consists of several rectangular rooms. In its center there are circular and elliptical piles of stones, probably from prehistoric cairns. The finds comprise ten sherds of

Figure 148. Al-Matna. The triangular valley seen from the Hilltop (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 149. Al-Matna. Corral D (Nils Anfinset).

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Wadi al-Takara Wadi al-Takara (Figure 108, Figure 150) is a southern continuation of Wadi al-Masek, which drains the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad. Wadi al-Takara receives almost all its water from the entire eastern and northeastern part of the Jebel Abyad though some comes from Jebel Homr ez Jazal to the west, before it enters the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ northwest of Palmyra. In the northern part of Wadi al-Takara, there is a corridor across the watershed to the Plain of Jazal (Figure 151).

Figure 150. Wadi al-Takara, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 151. Northern end of Wadi al-Takara with the entrance to Wadi al Masek and the watershed to the Plain of Jazal (J.C. Meyer)

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Palmyrena Al-Takara S

m long E‒W and about 300 m broad N‒S, and is divided by a small 300 m long wadi coming from the eastern part of the hilltop.

N34.64211 E38.14544, altitude 584 m asl. (Figures 152–156). This site lies on and around a small hilltop sixteen kilometers northwest of Palmyra, at the mouth of Wadi al-Takara, east of the wadi bed. The hilltop is about 500

The site consists of the following: 1. Building on hilltop, 2. Cisterns, and 3. Elliptical structure north of the hilltop.

Figure 152. Wadi al-Takara S (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 153. Wadi alTakara S. Building on hilltop and cistern 1, looking SW. In the background the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 155. Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 154. Wadi al-Takara S. Hilltop building (J.C. Meyer).

1. The building lies on the western part of the hilltop, south of the small wadi. A northern wall has a length of 17 m with marked corners. The eastern and western walls are preserved for about 21 m, but the southern part of the building has been eroded away down to the rock, so the exact length of the building could not be determined. There are several remains of inner partition walls, but the walls in the eastern part of the building are not aligned to the walls in the western part, and the exact inner layout of the building is uncertain.

Figure 156. Wadi al-Takara S. Elliptical structure (J.C. Meyer).

2. Cisterns

fragment of a grinding stone. A few datable sherds date to the Roman period. In the area around the elliptical structure there is a large concentration of finds, mostly sherds of brittle ware (82), some datable between the Roman and Byzantine/early Islamic periods, a few sherds of coarse (8) and green glazed (2) wares, either Parthian or Islamic, fragments of iron (2), blue glass (2) and a two coins. One coin is a Roman follis, 2.40 g, with the head of Maximianus (286‒305 AD) with a radiate crown on the obverse, and the text IMP C MA MAXIMIANUS P F. On the reverse Maximianus and Jupiter, holding a scepter and a globe, with a statue of Victoria between them, and the text CONCORDIA MILITUM. The other coin is a follis, 0.30 g, with an illegible Arabic inscription. It probably belongs to the Mameluke period (13th century).

Cistern 1 lies 24 m north of the building in a depression. It has a circular 1.20 m wide opening. It is bottle-shaped and cut into the rock. This cistern has recently been cleaned down to a depth of 2.80 m, leaving debris of earth, containing pottery, west of its opening. There are no traces of supply channels, and the cistern is fed by water from the small wadi coming from the eastern part of the hilltop. Cistern 2 lies 200 m north of the building. It is filled in, partly covered, and discernible as a shallow depression. 3. The elliptical structure (N34.64403 E38.14656) lies 250 m northeast of the building north of the hilltop. It is 6.50 m long NE‒SW and 5.80 m wide, with an opening to the north. The stones in the outer face are bigger than the ones on the inner face. The purpose of the structure is uncertain.

Conclusion

Finds

The building on the hilltop is not part of any larger settlement at the mouth of Wadi al-Takara, and there are no concentrations of wells or cisterns in the area.

The finds from the hilltop and Cistern 1 comprise sherds of brittle (31) and white coarse (91) wares, and a 121

Palmyrena The function of the small isolated building is probably connected with the control of the entrance to Wadi alTakara. From the hilltop, there is an excellent view to the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ. The finds from the hilltop look to be early, but the building has most probably been in use much longer. The site is heavily eroded, and material from the later periods may have been washed away. The function of the elliptical structure and the richness of finds around it are a puzzle, and its relationship to the building on the hilltop could not be determined.

The site consists of the following: 1. Cisterns, and 2. Corrals.

Al-Khoula

Cistern 2 lies on a slightly sloping plateau near the beginning of the supply channel to Cistern 1. The cistern is cut into the rock with an irregular bottleshaped interior and opening. There are no distinct supply channels, but several broad cuttings in the rock on the plateau lead the water towards the opening of this cistern from the area north of it.

1. Cisterns Cistern 1 lies at the foot of the eastern bank of the wadi. It is bottle-shaped with an elliptical opening 90 cm x 75 cm, reinforced with concrete and covered with an iron lid. A 230 m long supply channel, partly cut into the rock, with a lower edge of larger stones, leads diagonally down the hillside towards the southwest.

N34.67582 E38.14130, altitude 710 m asl. (Figures 157– 162). This site lies in Wadi al-Khoula 1 km northeast of its intersection with Wadi al-Takara, 2.7 km north of the mouth of Wadi al-Takara. Wadi al-Khoula comes from the eastern edge of Jebel Abyad. West of the wadi, there is a prominent low hill with an almost vertical face toward the plain below.

Cistern 3 lies at the foot of the vertical face of the hill west of the wadi. It has a modern concrete opening and is closed by a metal lid. A 180 m long supply channel

Figure 157. AlKhoula (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 158. Al-Khoula (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 159. Al-Khoula. Wadi al-Khoula, looking SW. In the foreground, the outlet from the supply channels on the hilltop to Cistern 3 and 4 below. In the background Wadi al-Takara (J.C. Meyer).

drains the northern part of the hilltop. It is cut into the rock and supported by a lower outer wall of large stones. A short, 9 m long, southern supply channel meets the northern supply channel of Cistern 4.

drains the southern part of the hill. It is cut into the rock and supported by a lower outer wall of stones. A 27 m long northern supply channel meets the southern supply channel of Cistern 3. Close to the cistern there are two old troughs with a 3 m long and 80 cm broad rough stone paving between them. One is a rectangular trough, composed of large vertical stones, bound together with concrete, 2.60 m long, 0.90 m wide, 35 cm

Cistern 4 lies at the foot of the vertical face of the hill 40 m south of Cistern 3. It has a modern concrete opening and is closed by a metal lid. A 200 m long supply channel 123

Palmyrena

Figure 161. Al-Khoula. Corral D (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 160. Al-Khoula. Corral C (J.C. Meyer).

deep. The other is an elliptical trough cut into a stone, 0.90 m long and 0.50 m wide, 30 cm deep. Cisterns 3 and 4 also receive water from the eastern part of the hilltop. A 43 m long supply channel to the north and a 28 m long supply channel to the south intercept all the water from the eastern part of the plateau. They are shallowly cut into the rock and supported by an outer retaining wall of stones. Where they meet, an outlet leads the water over the edge to Cisterns 3 and 4, 10 m below. 2. Corrals Corral A lies east of the wadi on a relatively steep slope, below Cistern 2. It consists of two irregular, circular, interlocked sections measuring about 5 x 5 m each.

Figure 162. Al-Khoula. Corral E (J.C. Meyer).

Corral B lies 70 m west-northwest of Corral A on the plain close to the wadi bed. It is about 21 m long N‒S and 15 m wide E‒W. It consists of a northern elliptical and a smaller circular southern section with an opening to the south.

curved wall, opening to the south. Its relationship with the corral is uncertain. Corral E lies west of the wadi 60 m southwest of Corral D on the sloping plain towards the wadi bed. Its northern section is circular, about 15 m in diameter, with a 4 m wide ‘corridor’ leading to the southeast. A southern opening leads to the middle section with a semicircular space, about 10 m in diameter to the west and a slightly curved rectangular space to the east about 20 m long and 8 m wide. A 7.5 m long and 4 m wide corridor leads to the southwest. Diverging, slightly curved walls from the end of the corridor may be part of the opening or remains of another section.

Corral C lies 250 m northeast of the hill on the western side of the wadi, at the foot of a low vertical face of the bank down to the wadi area. It consists of two sections. The western is V-shaped and bounded by the face of the bank to the west. Two straight walls about 15 m long, with an opening in the southern wall, converge on the circular eastern section, which is about 10 m in diameter, with an 8 m broad opening to the east. Corral D lies west of the wadi in front of Cisterns 3 and 4 on the plain sloping towards the wadi bed. It is elliptical in form, about 28 m (N‒ S) by 12 m (E‒W), with an opening to the south and traces of some inner walls. Fifteen meters north of the corral there is a 25 m long

Finds The surface finds come from Corrals D and E and comprise sherds of brittle (44), white coarse (3), red 124

Gazetteer of surveyed sites WT42, cross-wadi wall

glazed (1) and blue glazed (1) wares. The brittle ware and the coarse ware are undiagnostic. The glazed ware probably belongs to the Islamic period.

N34.667406 E38.129637 (Northeastern end), N34.666791 E38.127939 (Southwestern end), altitude 648 m asl. (Figures 163–164).

Conclusion

This wall lies on a low island between Wadi al-Takara and a tributary wadi coming from the north and northeast from Jebel Abyad, 3.6 km north of the mouth of Wadi al-Takara. It is 170 m long, orientated 65º to the northeast, constructed with up to 50 cm large stones, deeply embedded in the ground, following an almost straight line. There are no traces of the wall close to the wadi beds. Twelve meters and 75 m north of the western end of wall there are traces of two wells or cisterns appearing as a shallow depression in the ground.

Al-Khoulla is an impressive site with sophisticated water harvesting systems. All the precipitation on the hilltop west of the wadi is lead into two cisterns, and even small differences in elevation are exploited. What we see today is a recent system, but it probably has predecessors far back in time, maintained by the Bedouin up to the present, as indicated by the concentration of corrals, which had fallen out of use long ago. The surface finds from the corrals show human activities from at least the early Islamic period, if not before. It is worth noting that no fragments of grinding stones were found, as is normal at most sites, so even if we do not know the function of the corrals, this may indicate more seasonal activities related to husbandry.

Finds A few sherds of undiagnostic brittle (4) and white coarse (3) wares, and several fragments of grinding stones (4), deeply embedded in the ground, were scattered around the western part of the wall. On a small hilltop 130 m north of the wall, a large number of small sherds

Figure 163. WT42, cross-wadi wall (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Palmyrena Al-Takara N N34.69989 E38.09087, altitude 778 m asl. (Figures 165– 172). This site is located 23 km northwest of Palmyra, where Wadi al-Masek leaves the Jebel Abyad range and continues as Wadi al-Takara towards the south and the Plain of Sahl Feïf al-Mazraâ. At this point, the wadi system turns towards the southeast in two branches, creating a 2 km long narrow island, tapering to the south. Near the northern tip, the surface is covered with larger stones. They are not natural to the landscape were taken from collapsed buildings and two Bronze Age cairns and reused for the construction of corrals. The southern part of the island has a smooth, hard surface. The western bank of the wadi system forms the western watershed towards the plain around Jazal seven km further west. Large detached stones in the wadi bed and fresh vertical cuttings in the northern part of the wadi island testify to the huge amounts of water coming from al-Masek during the rainy season, so the landscape close to wadi can have changed considerably since antiquity. The site consists of the following: 1. Large square building on the northern part of the island, 2. Wall at the northern tip of the island, 3. Cisterns on the wadi Island, 4. Cisterns west of Wadi al-Takara, and 5. Islamic tombs west of the Wadi al-Takara.

Figure 164. WT42, cross-wadi wall, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).

1. The large square building lies 180 m southeast of the northern end of the wadi island. It is slightly trapezoidal, measuring 66 (N) x 50 (E) x 67 (S) x 53 (W) m, its northern wall orientated 64º to the east. In its northeastern corner and in the middle of its eastern wall, several partition walls are visible. In the northeastern and southeastern corners there are larger concentrations of big stones, which may indicate the existence of towers. The area both inside and outside the building has, however, been heavily disturbed by the construction of corrals, using stones from the walls, and the internal layout and the location of the entrances could not be determined.

of undiagnostic coarse red ware was scattered on the ground. Conclusion The wall is not a recent construction, but its exact date and purpose are uncertain. It could not be determined if it continued across the wadi beds and was later washed away or just constructed across the wadi island with the intention of retaining or slowing down the water during floods at the wadi island. The relationship between the wells/cisterns and the wall is also uncertain.

2. The wall lies 115 m northwest of the rectangular building, close to the northern tip of the wadi island. The wall is about 3 m thick, tapering slightly at its southern end, and 38 m long. Its southern end can be safely identified, while its the northern limit toward the eastern branch of the wadi is uncertain. 3. Cisterns on the wadi island Cistern 1 (N34.69622 E38.09443) lies about 450 m southeast of the rectangular building at the edge of the slightly raised plain in the center of the wadi island. It is bottle-shaped, with a 55 cm wide opening, lined with 126

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 165. Wadi al-Takara N (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 166. Wadi al-Takara N, looking E (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 167. Wadi al-Takara N. Fort (J.C. Meyer).

stones and recently reinforced with concrete. It has two supply channels, one from the north (104 m) and one from the west (129 m), with channels dug into the surface and reinforced with stones. Close to its opening there is an old trough, broken into fragments. Cisterns 2 and 3 are close to each other 110 m north of Cistern 1. They are both bottle-shaped with openings 70 cm wide with a stone lining and recently reinforced with concrete. Cistern 2 has two short interconnected supply channels from the north, 7 and 17 m long. Cistern 3 has a short 11 m long supply channel from the northeast. Close to the Cistern 3 there is an old trough. 4. Cisterns west of Wadi al-Takara Cistern or Well 4 (N34.70021 E38.08730) lies close to the bank of Wadi al-Takara, at the foot of a small hill with two natural caves, 300 m west of the rectangular building. Remains of a wall to the north, height 1 m, constructed with 20–40 cm large stones, form a semicircle, 4 m in diameter, around a depression in the ground. The wall widens slightly towards the bottom, indicating a bottle-shaped interior, but the area has been heavily disturbed by recent bulldozer activity, and it could not be determined how the cistern received water. It may have been a well, as it is close to the wadi bed.

Figure 168. Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island, looking N (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 169. Wadi al-Takara N. Wall on the northern tip of the wadi island (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 170. Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 171. Wadi al-Takara N. Iron fragments (J.C. Meyer).

activity, exposing human bones. There are no finds from the graves, but they probably are a very old Islamic graveyard.

Cistern 5 (N34.69772 E38.08674) lies 280 m south of Cistern 4 beside a small wadi coming from the low hills to the north and east. It is bottle-shaped and has a modern concrete opening. It has no supply channels, but a shallow channel cut into the ground connects it to the wadi. A concentration of bigger stones in the small wadi indicates an older more elaborate system.

Finds The finds from the rectangular building comprise sherds of brittle (680), white coarse (144), green glazed (8) and red glazed (1) and terra sigilliata africana (3) wares, fragments of green, light blue and redbrown glass (9), a piece of a blue twisted glass bracelet, a piece of an unidentifiable bronze coin, diameter 1.3 cm, weight of the preserved piece 0.80 g, an iron arrowhead, iron fragments (9), including nails, and tacks, coloured stone beads (3) and fragments of grinding stones (8). The green glazed ware may be Parthian or Islamic, but most of the datable finds date to the Roman period, with some late Roman, Byzantine and Islamic wares. The finds from the northern wall comprise sherds of brittle (20) and coarse (50) ware, fragments of green glass (2) and fragments of grinding stones (4). The datable material date to the Roman period. The finds from Cistern 1 comprise undiagnostic brittle (5) and coarse (1) wares. The finds from Cistern 2 and 3 comprise sherds of brittle (10) and coarse (32) wares, and a fragment of green glass (1). A few datable sherds date to the Roman and the late Roman/Byzantine period. The finds from Cistern 4 comprise undiagnostic sherds of brittle (25) and coarse (5) wares. The finds from Cistern 5 comprise sherds of

Cistern 6 (N34.70041 E38.08491) lies 250 m west of Cistern 4. It is bottle-shaped, cut into the rock with an irregularly shaped opening. It has no supply channels, but collects its water from a small wadi coming from the northeast. Cistern 7 (N34.70067 E38.08325) lies 150 m west of Cistern 6. It is completely filled in, is partly covered, and discernible as a shallow depression in the ground. Cistern 8 (N34.70276 E38.08545) lies 260 m north of Cistern 6, at the southern slopes of Jebel Abyad where a small wadi comes from the north. It is completely filled in, is partly covered, and discernible as a shallow depression in the ground. 5. The Islamic tombs west of Wadi al-Takara (N34.70012 E38.08763) lie close to the bank of Wadi al-Takara, 30 m southeast of Cistern 4. These are all orientated E‒W. Some are surrounded by circular stone rows, some of which have well-constructed rectangular cists. The graveyard has been disturbed by recent bulldozer 129

Palmyrena

Figure 172. Wadi al-Takara N. Islamic burial ground on the western bank of the wadi (J.C.Meyer).

brittle (40), coarse (70) and red glazed (1) wares, and a green glass fragment. The datable sherds date to the Roman and late Roman/Byzantine periods, and the red glazed ware to the Islamic period. The finds from Cistern 6 comprise sherds of brittle (53), white coarse (23) and red glazed (2) wares, a green glass fragment and a fragment of a grinding stone. The datable sherds date to the late Roman/Byzantine period. The red glazed ware date to the Islamic period.

and it controls the most important route through Jebel Abyad. The function of the wall at the tip of the island is a puzzle. There are no traces of corners. They may be hidden below the surface, but around its wall there are heaps of larger stones, which, combined with the wall’s unusual thickness, indicate a very solid construction, which is not normal for other buildings with the same construction technique. The position of the wall at the tip of the wadi island may indicate a protection wall against heavy flooding in the rainy season, but the large number of surface finds speaks against this, so the question remains open. The cisterns testify to an ability to collect water from sources with very little differences in altitude. The finds related to the cisterns prove that the water collection systems in the area, of which many are still in use, go back to the Roman period, and have been continuously maintained by the Bedouin up to the present.

Conclusion The large square building with its great diversity of finds, must have been an important place in antiquity. There are no traces of other smaller buildings, such as we know from villages, so it must be classified as a fort or station. It occupies a strategic position 23 km northwest of Palmyra, equivalent to one day’s travel,

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Jazal The Plain of Jazal is a small triangular plain, measuring about 6.5 km², at the southern foot of the central part of Jebel Abyad, 30 km northwest of Palmyra (Figure 108, Figure173). The plain is bounded to the southwest by a range of low hilltops and to the southeast by the plateau of Sateh ej Jazal. All the precipitation on Jebel Abyad drains towards the plain in Wadi Jazal from the northwest and by several smaller wadis from the north, before they converge at southern corner of the plain at the hamlet of Bir Jazal, where Wadi Jazal passes through an opening in the low hilltops towards the huge Plain of ad-Daw west of Palmyra. Geological features have created a subsoil reservoir north of the opening, and the water table is very close to the surface. Access to the plain is either from Wadi al-Takara through a pass in the northeastern corner or from the south. A track leads from the northeastern corner of the plain by a narrow pass through Jebel Abyad towards Zer Dghelar37 and Wadi Jihar north of the mountain range. Five kilometers northwest of Bir Jazal there is an important archaeological site (N34.71993 E37.96676), Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun, on the slopes of Jebel Abyad, overlooking Wadi al-Alali Gharbun (Figures 174–175). It is a spring area and consists of rock cut tombs and habitations, and a ruined monumental sanctuary or church, most probably from the Byzantine period. The site has not been investigated and published, and it is outside the concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey.

Figure 173. Bir Jazal. The triangular plain, looking NW (J.C. Meyer).

37 

Gazetteer 146.

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Figure 174. Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun. Rock cut tombs and habitation (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 175. Kheurbet al-Alali Gharbun. Architectural fragments from sanctuary (J.C. Meyer).

132

Gazetteer of surveyed sites Bir Jazal

palms. In the northern part of the site, there are several enclosures for sheep and goats, so Bir Jazal is a popular camping ground for the local Bedouin. Scattered on the edge of the site there are traces of former wells, now filled in and covered.

N34.69466 E38.01473, altitude 690 m asl. (Figures 176– 182). The hamlet of Bir Jazal lies in a small oasis with a few modern houses, scattered on two slightly elevated plains between the wadis coming from the north. At the southern part of the site, there are several deep wells with wide openings, well-constructed stone linings and very high water levels. The water is pumped up and feeds enclosures with olive and fruit trees and a few date

On the eastern side of the site, close to the wadi, there is a low flat tell, covered with larger stones and a few old Islamic tombs. When the site was visited briefly in 2008, only a few stretches of walls were visible on the surface, but a subsequent deep digging by the locals has revealed the existence of a monumental building in the tell.38

Figure 176. Bir Jazal. The oasis (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth). 38 

133

The site was registered in May 2009.

Palmyrena

Figure 177. Bir Jazal. The oasis, looking NE (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 178. Bir Jazal. Well from the southern part of the oasis (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 179. Bir Jazal. The tell area (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 180. Bir Jazal. Walls in the southern part of the digging in the tell. To the left destruction layer with Charcoal (J. Krzywinski).

The digging is about 1.5 m deep and measures about 3 x 1.5 m with roughly vertical sections. In the southern section remains of a 120 cm thick, well-constructed wall protrudes 30 cm from the profile, with up to 50 cm long stones in its outer faces. The wall runs approximately north‒south, parallel with the bank of the wadi. In the western part of the section, there are the remains of an east‒west wall, at right angles to the north‒south wall. The stones in the outer face are smaller, and it is probably an internal wall. There are no traces of any walls in the northern section of the digging. This strongly indicates that the walls are part of an opening in the north‒south wall, perhaps a gateway. In the eastern part of the southern section and the southern part of the eastern section, i.e. towards the bank of the wadi, there are several larger stones, not forming the face of a wall. They are in a secondary position, fallen from the outer wall. There are several layers of ash between the stones, and some of the stones have been smoked by fire. Oblong ash layers are also visible in the eastern and the western section and are obviously destruction layers. South of the digging near the bank of the wadi, there are a several larger stones, imbedded in the ground almost forming a row, but they are not exactly flush with the north‒south wall in the digging and are probably in a secondary position, having perhaps fallen from the abovementioned wall. Eight meters south of the digging an 8 m long wall runs from the edge of the flat tell to the west. It is probably part of the same building. Small upheavals in the surface, visible on satellite images, suggest that the building measured about 90–100 m north‒south.

distinct traces of a southern corner, indicating that the building extended to the west. The other, 12 m long, 19 m further to the west, is probably part of the same building. The relationship between these walls and the wall in the digging could not be determined. Finds All surface finds come from area around the buildings and the flat tell. They comprise sherds of brittle (389), white coarse (232), blue (1) and green glazed (1) wares, a fragment of a multicolored glass bracelet, fragments of green glass (8) and grinding stones (4), a fragment of an ornamented clay pipe bowl from the Ottoman period and two coins. One is a follis, with the laurelled head of Constantine II (337‒340) and the text CONSTANTINUS IUN(ior) NOB(ilissimus) on the obverse, and two standing veterans with two standards in the middle and the text CONCORDIA EXERCITUS on the reverse. The other is an Islamic follis (1.35 gr) with illegible Arabic text, most probably from the Umayyad period. The glass bracelet cannot be dated exactly, for such bracelets were common in both the Roman and early Islamic periods. The datable pottery ranges from the Roman to the early Islamic periods. The surface finds from other areas of Bir Jazal are few and insignificant. Conclusion The hydraulic conditions at Jazal are very favorable, with aquifers in the wadi beds close to the surface, and the modern settlement is one of the few permanent villages in the area north of Palmyra and has had an

West of the tell there are two stretches of north‒south walls. One, 27 m from the tell, is 6 m long and shows 135

Palmyrena official headman from far back in time. There can be no doubt that in antiquity too the site must have had some importance even if there are few visible traces of a larger settlement. The digging in the flat tell shows that there has been a considerable accumulation of windblown material up through the ages.

The remains of the building in the digging are impressive and are comparable to Al-Khaïrem in Wadi Abyad,39 but their exact function could not be determined without excavation. The site has been occupied into the early Islamic period, but it is possible that the destruction of the monumental building happened at a much earlier date and that the remains of buildings west of the tell belong to the later phase.

Figure 181. Bir Jazal. Digging in the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 182. Bir Jazal. Oblong ash layers in the eastern face of the digging (J. Krzywinski). 39 

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Gazetteer 76.

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Jebel Chaar Most of the Jebel Chaar plateau was outside the concession area of the Syrian-Norwegian survey, and only one larger site was investigated on Jebel Madaba, a southeastern spur of Jebel Chaar (Figure 183).

Figure 183. Wadi Jihar, Wadi Masaadé and the southeastern spur of Jebel Chaar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Madaba

Madaba is located beside a main wadi coming from the northwest, where it makes a loop before turning south towards Wadi Jihar. Close to the wadi there are several small, flat tells, some of them with shallow depressions in the center. On an eastern hilltop above the wadi area, there are remains of a larger building.

N34.82358 E37.96379, altitude 1040 m asl. (Figures 184– 190). Madaba lies on the eastern side of Jebel Madaba, 5.6 km south of Kheurbet Mesaadé and 8 km east-southeast of Kheurbet Madaba.40 Three km to the west there is a large tell, Kheurbet as Sawwa (N34.82328 E37.92975) measuring about 200 x 200 m, surrounded by several big cisterns.41 North of Madaba there are two minor sites, not investigated, JC19 (N34.854450 E37.973917) and JC18 (N34.856000 E37.997899).

The site is divided into 5 areas A, B, C, D and E, divided by the main wadi and a smaller wadi with tributaries coming from the north and northeast. Area A lies on the western sloping bank of the main wadi, before it makes a loop. Building A1 is rectangular, orientated east‒west, measuring 13 x 6 m, and divided into two rooms. There are faint traces of an eastern wall from the southeastern corner, perhaps part of a small courtyard.

Kheurbet Masaadé was registered on Schlumberger’s map, but not investigated. Kheurbet Madaba is a large settlement with several buildings and sanctuaries (PNO 34, fig. 16,4 and fig. 45,3). 41  The site was registered by David Sterry, Petro-Canada, and visited briefly during the survey. 40 

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Palmyrena Area B is east and north of the main wadi, where it turns sharply towards the east.

Building B3 lies in a small tell about 30 m northeast of structure B1 and at a higher level. It is rectangular, orientated north‒south, measures 15 x 7 m, and is divided into two square rooms. The northern part of the building disappears into the tell. The southern wall continues 8.5 m to the east, showing that the block extended towards the east.

Structure B1 lies close to the wadi. It is rectangular, orientated north‒south, and divided by an internal wall. Its southern section is slightly trapezoidal and measures 13.5 (EW) x 12.5 m (NS). The western wall of its northern section continues 21 m to the north, but its limit could not be determined. Its eastern wall makes a slight bend to the west. The walls are either part of a building or of two adjoining enclosures.

Structure B4 lies 50 m east of Building B3. It is a 16 m long wall orientated northwest – southeast. The purpose of the wall is uncertain.

Structure B2 lies 10 m east of structure B1 close to the wadi. It is a large trapezoidal structure. Its northern wall is 20 m long, the eastern wall 25 m long and the southern wall 25 m long. A western wall can be followed for 6.5 m from the southwestern corner. There are no traces of internal walls, and the structure is most probably an enclosure.

Building B5 lies 50 m northeast of Building B3. The northern part of the building is covered by a small tell with indistinct traces of a northern room about 8 m deep. At its southern end, a 9 m long east‒west wall has distinct corners with short stretches of small walls running towards the south. It is most probably a partition wall.

Figure 184. Madaba (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites Area C is separated from area B by a small wadi coming from the north and northeast. All buildings are orientated northeast‒southeast on the sloping bank of the wadi.

Eleven meters from the southwestern corner a 5.5 m long stretch of an internal wall is visible. The northern part of the building is covered by a tell. Building D3 lies about 30 m north of Building D2. A 23 m long wall bounds the block to the north, with a distinct northwestern corner, but the eastern limit could not be determined. Partition walls to the south indicate a series of internal rooms. Immediately west of the block, 7 m south of its northern wall, there are disturbed remains of a small rectangular structure. The limit of the structure and its relation to the larger block could not be determined.

Building C1 is a rectangular building, 8.5 broad. Its western wall with a distinct southwestern corner is visible for 18.5 m before it disappears into a tell, and its northern limit could not be determined. Small stretches of partition walls divide the building into two square rooms. Building C2 lies 50 m northeast of Building C1 and is discernible as several connected walls. A 27 m long southern wall has distinct corners. A western wall is visible for 8.5 m before it disappears into a northern tell. The eastern wall is visible for 5.5 m with a small stretch of an internal wall. Fourteen and a half meters from the southeastern corner a 7 m long stretch of a wall runs towards the southwest, showing that the block extended in that direction, too. Fifteen meters southeast of the building there are remains of an 11 m long wall, but its relation to Building C2 and the purpose of the wall could not be determined.

Structure D4 lies 15 m northeast of Building D3. A 7 m long northern wall and a 5 m long eastern wall form a corner with an obtuse angle. The purpose of the walls is uncertain, but they are probably part of an enclosure. Building D5 lies 20 m north of Building D3 at a higher level in a flat tell. A 21.5 m long western wall has distinct corner. A southern wall is visible for 15 m, and a northern wall for 12.5 m, but the eastern part of the building could not be determined. There are no traces of internal walls; but as the walls form part of the tell with accumulated material, they are most probably remains of a building, not an enclosure.

Building C3 lies in a tell about 10 m north of Building C2 at a higher level. A 6 m long eastern wall and a 14 m long southern wall form a distinct corner in the southwestern part of the tell. Modern diggings in the tell have exposed a northwestern corner 28 m from the southwestern corner. The relationship between Buildings C3 and C2 at a lower level could not be determined. They may belong to two different phases of the occupation of the site.

Area E (N34.82423 E37.96785, altitude 1075 m asl) is located on top of a ridge about 260 m northeast of the buildings in the wadi area, close to several modern tracks coming from the northwest and leading down to Wadi Jihar to the south. The building on the top of the ridge measures 30 m north‒south and about 33 m east‒west, with a large central courtyard. Partition walls form a series of rooms along its western wall, which is covered by an oblong tell. There are no traces of any internal rooms along its southern and eastern walls. In its southern wall, there is the opening for a small door with upright slabs 14 m from the southeastern corner. Along its northern wall there are traces of a rectangular room about 14 m from the northeastern corner. As there are no other traces of internal walls along its northern wall, the room may have been part of a gateway to the courtyard from the north.

Building C4 lies 25 m west of Building C2. A 21 m long southern wall and a 5 m long western wall form a distinct southwestern corner. A small stretch of a wall 8 m north of and parallel to the southern wall indicates the width of the building. Area D is north-northwest of area C, and is separated from it by the wadi coming from the north and northeast. All structures are orientated north‒south. Structure D1 is a large enclosure in the lower southern part of the area close to the wadis. Its southern corners are rounded, and the enclosure opens up to the north. Its southern wall is about 20 m long; its eastern wall, running towards the northeast following the bank of the wadi, is visible for 20 m. Low banks on satellite photos show that the western wall turns to the north and that the enclosure extended about 40 m to the north as far as Building D2.

Immediately north of Building E1 there are distinct remains of a large five-sided enclosure, measuring 50 m north‒south. The enclosure opens up slightly to the north, where two northern walls form a triangular end. At the southern end of the western wall, a row of five large upright stones form an inward bend. They may be secondary to the original enclosure, as can be inferred from their different construction technique and orientation.

Building D2 has a distinct southwestern corner, formed by a 16 m long southern wall, with a slight bend to the south at its eastern end, and a 10 m long western wall. 139

Palmyrena Thirty meters north of the enclosure there are remains of two corners facing each other, 26 m apart, close to the track on the ridge and heavily disturbed by modern traffic. The relation between the two corners is uncertain, as the walls of the corners are not aligned with each other.

a Paleolithic hand ax. The foot of the unguentarium belongs to a type datable to the 1st century BC or the early 1st century AD.42 Other sherds can be dated to the Roman and late Roman periods, but the majority of the roughly datable finds date to the Byzantine and early Islamic periods, with the glazed ware being even later. The chronological distribution of the finds shows that Madaba was occupied for a very long time.

Finds The amount and diversity of pottery gathered from Madaba are surprisingly small considering the size and complexity of the site. In the wadi area, this may be due to the accumulation of windblown material over the abandoned buildings. The building on the top of the ridge has been exposed to erosion, the debris being washed down to the lower areas during heavy showers.

Conclusion Madaba with its combination of buildings and enclosures is comparable in size to villages Schlumberger investigated such as Hassan Madhour and Kheurbet Quadi Souâné,43 even though no sanctuaries are visible at this site. The block on the ridge was probably an estate, but its water supply must have been a challenge. There are no traces of any wells or cisterns in the area. This is probably because the local Bedouin have not maintained the ancient systems after the settlement was abandoned.

Almost all finds come from the wadi area and comprise: sherds of brittle (554), white coarse (62), green glazed (1) and red glazed (1) wares, the cylindrical ceramic foot of an unguentarium, a fragment of a basaltic mortar, fragments of grinding stones (5), green glass (3), and

Figure 185. Madaba. Overview looking northwest (J.C. Meyer).

Berlin and Slane and Herbert 1997, 59–66 (type PW 102, PW 103, PW 106), pl. 14. 43  PNO 27–28, 30–33. 42 

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 187. Madaba. Area C (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 186. Madaba. Area A and B (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 189. Madaba. Area E (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 190. Madaba. Foot of unguentarium, 1st cent. BC/early 1st cent. AD (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 188. Madaba. Area D (J.C. Meyer).

141

Palmyrena

Wadi Jihar – Wadi Masaadé – Wadi Khabar Wadi Jihar is one of the longest wadis north of Palmyra. It starts close to the watershed of Wadi Abyad and runs in the wide valley between Jebel Abyad and Jebel Chaar. Then it turns to the south towards Bir Jihar and to the southeast towards the at-Tarfa depression 20 km west of Palmyra (Figure 16, Figure183). As most of the precipitation in Jebel Abyad runs towards the south, it receives most of its water from the southern part of Jebel Chaar and Wadi Masaadé between Jebel Chaar and Jebel Merah. In the northern end of the valley between the two mountains, Wadi Khabar runs to the open plain north and northwest of Jebel Merah. Bir al-Arfa. Wadi Jihar

Cistern 4 (N34.74460 E38.06944509) collects all the water from the southern mountainside of the valley. A 350 m long supply channel, partly cut into the rock, leads diagonally down the mountainside from the east, almost from the top of the mountain, and a 100 m long supply channel follows the edge of a small ravine from the southwest.

N34.7460 E38.0679, altitude 1060 m asl. (Figures 191–198). This site lies in a bowl-shaped valley in the northern part of Jebel Abyad, west of Jebel al-Masek, 2 km west of alMatna. The entrance to the valley is dominated by a coneshaped mountain with access on both sides. From the western part of the valley, a narrow path leads through the mountains to the plain west of Jazal. North of the site the landscape opens up towards the Plain of Wadi Jihar.

Cistern 5 (N34.74239 E38.06479) lies beside a ravine on the eastern side of the pass leading through the mountain. A 350 m long supply channel drains the mountain peak north of the cistern. Another 135 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the south and also intercepts the water from the ravine. There are several fragments of old stone troughs on the plateau.

The site consists of the following: 1. Cisterns, 2. Buildings A and B, 3. Enclosure, and 4. Corrals 1. The cisterns can be divided into 4 groups. Cisterns 1, 2 and 3 lie on the western side of Jebel al-Masek, which has been heavily scoured by runoff water. Cistern 4 lies on the northern side of Jebel Abyad. Cisterns 5, 6 and 7 lie on the sides of the pass through Jebel Abyad. Cisterns 8 and 9 lie on the eastern side of Jebel al-Arfa in the western side of the valley. Most of the cisterns are still in use, and their openings have been reinforced with concrete and covered with iron lids.

Cistern 6 lies 300 m south of Cistern 5. A 70 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the north. Cistern 7 lies on the western side of the pass on a small oblong plateau. A 330 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the northwest, and a 180 m long supply channel runs down from the southwest. There are old stone troughs on the plateau.

Cistern 1 (N34.74744 E38.07399) is connected to a small cave in the mountainside and has a highly irregular opening cut into the rock. There are no traces of supply channels. Close to the cistern two parallel, 55 cm long rows of holes, each row having seven holes, are cut into the rock. The arrangement and number of the holes resemble the favorite Arab game of al-Hawailah.44

Cistern 8 (N34.74575 E38.06369) lies on the eastern side of Jebal al-Arfa. A 45 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the northwest, but faint traces in the landscape show that it has been at least 150 m longer. Another 90 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the southwest.

Cistern 2 lies 115 m southwest of Cistern 1. It has a 79 m long supply channel from the northwest. A 10 m long retaining wall intercepts the water from a small ravine south of the cistern.

Cistern 9 lies 250 m northwest of Cistern 8. It is no longer in use and is almost filled in. The opening is irregular, measuring about 2 x 2.70 m and lined with stones to a depth of 1.9 m, and has an inlet cut into the stones from the supply channels. There are several deep grooves from the rope hoisting the well bucket. The original supply channels are barely visible now but once conducted water diagonally down the mountainsides of the northeastern part of Jebel al-Arfa by means of a 325 m long supply channel from the south and a 300 m long supply channel from the west. When Cistern 9 was in use, the southern supply channel blocked the flow of water to Cistern 8, so Cistern 9 must be the earliest system.

Cistern 3 lies 180 m west of Cistern 2. A 192 m long supply channel leads diagonally down the mountainside from the east. It also receives water from a small ravine. Downstream there are traces of a solidly constructed, up to 1.50 m high, semicircular dam with a core of stones, close to the opening of the cistern. It retained the water from the supply channels and the small wadi. 44 

Dickson 1949, 522–523.

142

Gazetteer of surveyed sites 2. Buildings A and B (N34.74656 E38.06277) lie on the northeastern slope of Jebel al-Arfa close to Cistern 9.

the cone-shaped mountain. The ridge divides the water flow from the southern and eastern mountainsides of the valley on each side of the cone-shaped mountain. A 1 m thick, well-constructed wall, surrounded by larger stones from collapsed upper courses, with rounded corners at the northern end, measures about 60 m (S) x 150 m (E) x 95 m (N) x 150 m (W), and embraces an area of 1500 m². In the northern end of the enclosure there is an oblong concentration of larger stones, probably from an old disturbed Islamic cemetery.

Building A is visible as a small tell with remains of a 29 m long southern wall, a 36 m long eastern wall and a short stretch of western wall. The northern limit of the building could not be determined. Immediately south of the building there are two worked rectangular blocks, one measuring 43 x 20 x 18 cm, the other a fragment of a corner. Fifty-five meters southeast of the southeastern corner there is another tell with no visible walls.

4. Corrals At the entrance to the pass through Jebel Abyad there are two larger corrals.

Building B lies 65 m west-northwest of Building A at a higher level. An eastern wall, 21 m long, makes a parallel displacement 6 m from the northern end, where it forms a ‘T’ with remains of a northern wall. A small stretch of a wall towards the east at the displacement point shows that the building extended further to the east. There are only faint traces of a southern wall. The building extended 31.5 m to the west, where it is bounded by an 11 m long stretch of a western wall with an internal wall. Ten meters northeast of the building there is a small tell with no visible walls.

Corral A (N34.74536 E38.06511) measures about 80 x 30 m and has several small enclosures and rooms. Between two of the rooms there is a long corridor marked with upright stones. Corral B (N34.74414 E38.06421) lies150 m southwest of Corral A and measures about 50 x 30 m. It consists of several small interlocked enclosures and rooms. Finds The majority of the surface finds come from the area around Buildings A and B, and Cistern 8, with a few

3. The enclosure (N34.74614 E38.06853) lies on the broad flat ridge between the foot of Jebel Abyad and

Figure 191. Bir al-Arfa (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

143

Palmyrena sherds from the enclosure. The finds comprise sherds of brittle (164), white coarse (58) and green glazed (3) and late terra sigilliata (1) ware, and fragments of green glass (3), iron (5) and grinding stones (9). The datable sherds range from the Roman to the Byzantine periods.

name, Bir (well) al-Arfa. The catchment area measures about 840,000 m², and even in years with extremely little precipitation (60 mm), there will be about 50,000 m³ of water to fill up the cisterns. The buildings and the large enclosure do not seem to be related to any agriculture or horticulture in the valley, but rather to some more permanent animal husbandry.

Conclusion Bir al-Arfa has one of the largest concentrations of cisterns north of Palmyra. The site really deserves it

Figure 192. Bir al-Arfa. The cone-shaped mountain at the entrance to the valley. In the background Wadi Jihar, Jebel Chaar to the left, and the southwestern spur of Jebel Merah to the right (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 193. Bir al-Arfa. The center of the valley with Cistern 4 and the enclosure, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 194. Bir al-Arfa. Cistern 3 with broken-through semicircular dam (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 195. Bir al-Arfa. Cistern 7 with supply channels (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 196. Bir al-Arfa. Eastern side of Jebel al-Tarfa with buildings and cisterns ( J.C. Meyer).

145

Palmyrena

Figure 197. Bir al-Arfa. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 198. Bir al-Arfa. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

WJ01. Wadi Jihar

is unique, but its purpose and the date are a puzzle, for no surface finds were registered.

N34.771387 E38.056739, altitude 965 m asl.

Zer Dghelar. Wadi Jihar

This site lies on the northern bank of a small wadi leading down to the eastern end of Wadi Jihar, about 2.7 km north of Bir al-Arfa. It consists of remains of a small square building, measuring about 15 x 15 m, close to a filled-in well or cistern that is discernable as a shallow depression in the ground.45

N34.75571 E37.99460, altitude 920 m asl. This site lies 1 km south of Wadi Jihar and 1.5 km north of a narrow pass in Jebel Abyad which leads to the Plain of Jazal. It consists of a small square building, measuring 7.10 x 7.10 m. Twelve meters south of the building there is a 12 m long curved wall, probably remains of an enclosure. Nineteen meters southeast of the building there is a filled-in well or cistern, discernible as a shallow 6 m wide depression in the ground.

WJ071. Wadi Jihar N34.77178 E38.00942, altitude 903 m asl. (Figure 199). This site lies in the open landscape 250 m north of the point, where Wadi Massaadé meets Wadi Jihar. It is a large shallow depression, 60 m in diameter. At the edge there are several unworked blocks, up to 1 m long, deeply imbedded in the ground. The circular structure

The surface finds comprise sherds of brittle ware (7), including three handles which probably date to the late Roman or Byzantine period. The function of the building is uncertain. It may have something to do with the well or cistern, or with the route from Wadi Jihar to the Plain of Jazal through Jebel Abyad.

The site was visited outside the survey season, and no detailed registration was made. 45 

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 199. WJ071. Circular structure (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

WJ098. Wadi Jihar

connecting the two corner rooms, which are not part of a series of rooms facing an internal courtyard, and there seems to be a shift in their lengthwise direction. The main building of the complex is most probably hidden in the northern tell, which is covered with larger scattered stones.

N34.76340 E37.96234, altitude 880 m asl. (Figures 200– 203). This site is visible as a tell on the northern part of a small hill in the open landscape 8.5 km southwest of Shanaeh, north of Wadi Jihar, where the wadi makes a sharp S-turn. North of the site, a small wadi comes from the northeast, meeting Wadi Jihar west of the site, forming a 250 x 280 m island between the two wadis. On the eastern part of the hill there are several disturbed Islamic graves, built up with stones from a building.

2. Stretch of a wall east of the tell. About 65 m east of the building, Wadi Jihar has cut into the hill and exposed a 7.80 m long stretch of a wall, orientated NW‒SE. The locals have made diggings south of the wall, which have exposed several larger stones from collapsed upper courses. The purpose of the wall could not be determined.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building, and 2. Stretch of a wall east of the tell.

Finds Most of the finds have been washed down from the tell during heavy rainfalls and scattered over the surface near Wadi Jihar. They comprise sherds of brittle (123), coarse (35) and green glazed (1), terra sigillata africana (1) wares, a fragments of tile (1) and grinding stones (4). The datable finds range from Roman to early Byzantine periods.

1. The building lies on the southern slope of the tell, which has a clear limit at the northern wadi. The building measures 24 m E‒W. The western (15.50 m) and eastern (9 m) walls disappear into the tell, but the northern limit of the tell indicates a maximum length of 35 m N‒S. In the southwestern and southeastern corners there are traces of corner rooms. The southwestern room measures 2.5 m N‒S. The length E‒W could not be determined. The southeastern room measures 2.5 m E‒W and 3.5 m N‒S. There are no traces of any walls

Conclusion The site does not cover a large area, and there are no traces of any other buildings in the vicinity, but the 147

Palmyrena marked tell and the diversity of the finds suggest a site of some importance. Tiles are extremely rare at other sites north of Palmyra. The only previously known example is from the sanctuary of Abgal at Kheurbet Semrine in Jebel Chaar,46 and from the tell area at alKhaïrem.47 It is possible that the walls have been part of a forecourt to a monumental sanctuary, now covered

by the tell, but sanctuaries with forecourts are only known in the larger settlements of Jebel Chaar, not at smaller sites.48 The shift in orientation of the lengthwise direction of the corner rooms resembles the arrangement at the large fort at Shanaeh, and might indicate that the same organisation had been responsible for both constructions.

Figure 200. WJ098 (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

Figure 201. WJ098. Building (J.C. Meyer). 46  47 

PNO 20. Gazetteer 76.

48 

148

PNO 13–44.

Gazetteer of surveyed sites WJ242. Wadi Jihar N34.76340 E37.96234, altitude: 820 m asl. (Figure 204). The site was outside the concession area of the SyrianNorwegian survey, and no detailed registration of building remains and surface finds was made. It is visible as a large oblong tell 4.8 km west of WJ098, at the intersection of Wadi Jihar with a main wadi, Wadi al-Khebe, coming from the southeastern part of Jebel Chaar. The site is bounded to the west by the wadi coming from Jebel Chaar and to the east by a smaller wadi, forming a 100 x 100 m island at their intersection. The tell, which is covered with scattered stones from an Islamic cemetery, lies close to the wadi from Jebel Chaar with a sloping side towards the east. On the eastern, lower part of the island a 60 m long eastern wall with distinct corners and traces of a 4 m wide central entrance, forms part of a larger building. The northern and southern walls can be traced for about 30 m, before they disappear into the tell. The limit of the tell to the west indicates an overall dimension of the building to be approximately 60 x 60 m. Recent diggings along the southern wall have revealed several partition walls belonging to a series of internal rooms. Conclusion There are no traces of any other structures around the site, and the building has not been part of a larger settlement. It has the same dimensions as the buildings at Wadi al-Takara N, Shanaeh and Khabar, and probably also had the same function as a fort or station, even if its date is uncertain.

Figure 202. WJ098. Wall east of the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 203. WJ098. Fragment of tile (J.C. Meyer).

WJ538. Wadi Jihar GPS 538: N34.78489 E37.95216, altitude 930 m asl. This site lies on a top of a small ridge 2.5 km northnorthwest of WJ098. It consists of a square slightly trapezoidal building, measuring 4.70 m (N) x 4.60 m (E) x 5.20 m (S) x 4.70 m (W). No finds were registered and the purpose and date of the structure could not be determined.

Figure 204. WJ242 (J.C. Meyer, Bing Maps, Microsoft).

149

Palmyrena Shanaeh. Wadi Masaadé

building there are several irregular stretches of low stone walls surrounded by deep dark sedimentary layers, probably dung. They are not part of the original layout, but rather corrals, constructed in recent times by the Bedouin, using the stones from the building.

N34.79918 E38.03073, altitude 986 m asl (hilltop), 959 m asl (wadi area). (Figures 205–210). This site lies at Wadi Massaadé 3 km north of Wadi Jihar. On the western side of the wadi, the landscape rises gently towards the plateau of Jebel Chaar. On the eastern side, the wadi has cut into the terrain creating high escarpments to a hilltop. From the hilltop, there is an astonishing view to the south and southwest. The Bedouin call the place ‘Shanaeh’, after a concentration of wells 1.5 km north of the site,49 and a small wadi, Wadi Shanaeh, coming from Jebel Chaar.

Nine meters north of the northwestern corner of the hilltop building there is a square building measuring about 5 x 5 m. Its northern, eastern and southern walls are 80 cm thick. Its western wall is 140 cm thick, but part of this thickness may have been a plinth along the wall. The entrance was from the east. Its construction and the layout are comparable to the shrines, investigated by Schlumberger at Jebel Chaar, and the shrine at Tweihina.50

The site of Shanaeh consists of the following: 1. Large square building with a small shrine on the hilltop, 2. Two buildings in the wadi area below the hilltop, 3. Wells in the wadi area.

2. The buildings below the hilltop lie on a slightly elevated plain on the western point bar of Wadi Massaadé, where it makes a series of windings towards the south. Building A is largely covered by windblown material, forming distinctive banks, indicating the position of corners and the course of its walls. A northeastern corner is visible, with stretches of a northern wall (20 m) and an eastern wall (15 m) before they disappear into the banks. The exact dimensions can only be estimated, but must have been close to 27 m N‒S and 36 m E‒W. Building B lies just north of the rectangular building with a slightly different orientation. A northern wall with distinct corners measures 23 m. The eastern wall is 20 m long, and a western wall 18 m long disappear into the banks of Building A. In the northwestern corner there are traces of a partition wall, at a right angle to the western wall. The angles of corners show that the building had opened up to the south, but its southern limit could not be determined. The orientation of the walls does not fit with the walls of the rectangular building, so the structure must either have been a separate structure north of the rectangular building or represent an earlier phase at the site.

1. The large square building on the hilltop lies about 30 m above Wadi Massaadé with its western wall close to the escarpment. All its walls and corners are visible in outline. The northern wall measures 58 m, the eastern wall 56 m, the southern wall 57 m and the western wall 57 m. The walls are between 100 and 120 cm thick. The outer face of the northern wall is constructed with flat upright stones, measuring up to 60 cm in length. At the corners, there are traces of rectangular internal towers, measuring 9 x 7 m. The outer walls of the towers protrude about 40 cm from the outer face for some of its length. There is also a shift in lengthwise direction. The southwestern tower measures 9 m E‒W and 7 m N‒S, whereas the northwestern tower measures 7 m E‒W and 9 m N‒S. The northeastern and southeastern towers are partly covered by sediment and stones in the interior, but the protrusion in the corners of the outer wall indicates the same arrangement there, with the southwestern tower orientated N‒S, the northwestern tower E‒W.

3. The wells lie in the wadi area below the hilltop close to the bank of the wadi.

The natural approach to the site is from the south and east, and entrance to the building was through gates in the southern and eastern walls. The southern gate, in the center of the wall, is 3 m wide, with a 40 cm protrusion 100–120 cm on each side of the opening. In the interior, there are stretches of walls, probably from rooms adjacent to the entrance. The eastern gate is 2 m wide and about 1 m to the north of the center of the wall, also with traces of a protrusion on each side of the opening and interior walls. In the southeastern part of the building there are traces of several internal walls belonging to a series of internal rooms facing the central courtyard. In the center and south of the

Well 1 lies about 40 m south of Building A. It has a 1.50 m wide circular opening, surrounded by debris from the cleaning of the well. The shaft becomes square as it becomes deeper. The well is still in use. Well 2 lies about 10 m east of Well 1. It is filled in and discernible as a depression 3.30 m wide and 1.5 m deep. Well 3 lies 13 m northeast of Building A. It has a 2 m wide circular opening surrounded by debris from the cleaning of the well. Its shaft is circular with a stone lining at the top. The well is dry, and is probably partly filled in.

Bîr ech Chenaaî on French maps (1943). The site is probably identical to the Shnai, visited by Bucellati in 1966 (Bucellati 1966). There are no details in the report, and no surface finds were registered. 49 

50 

150

PNO 93‒98; Gazetteer 103.

Gazetteer of surveyed sites Well 4 lies 46 m northeast of Well 3. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression 6 m wide.

Finds The finds from the hilltop comprise sherds of brittle (42) and white coarse (65) wares. A few sherds of brittle ware seem to range from the Roman to the Byzantine periods, and two sherds of white coarse ware from the body of a small amphora and from the neck of a small flask have parallels in the Roman period. A green glazed and a red glazed sherd date to the early Islamic period, and a blue glazed sherd to the Ayyubid period (12th ‒ 13th cent. AD). Another find from the plateau is a large fragment of a grinding stone, at least 30 cm in diameter. The finds from the wadi area are relatively few, some

Well 5 lies 90 m southwest of the Building A, close to the wadi bed. It is discernible as a horseshoe-shaped depression, 20 x 17 m, opening towards the wadi, surrounded by debris. The well is filled in. Well 6 lies 50 m from the eastern side of the wadi higher up at the foot of the hilltop. It is filled in and discernable as a 13 m wide depression.

Figure 205. Shanaeh (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

151

Palmyrena undiagnostic sherds of brittle (10) and white coarse (1) wares, and a Roman coin from inside Building A. The coin is a tetradrachm (10.65 gr.), with the head of Volusianus (251‒253) with a radiate crown on the obverse, and the text: ΑVTOK[ρατωρ] K[αισαρ] Γ AΦIN ΓAΛ OVENΔ OVOΛOCCIANOC CEB[αστος] (Imperator Caesar Gaius Afinius Gallus Ven(l)duminianus Volusianus Augustus). On the obverse a Roman eagle with an ‘A’ between its legs, and the Greek text: ΔEMAPΧ[ικης]ΕΞOVCIAC (Tribunicia potestas). The coin is from the mint of Antioch, first emission 251 AD. Conclusion Both the hilltop building and the buildings in the wadi area can be dated to the Roman period, but the chronological range of the pottery on the hilltop shows that activities at the site continued into the early Islamic period, and probably even later. The layout, size (60 x 60 m) and construction technique of the hilltop building resemble the structures at Khabar and Wadi Tweihina North. It should in probability be classified as a station or fort. The shift in orientation of the corner rooms has parallels to the smaller building at site WJ098 in Wadi Jihar. Otherwise it is unknown in Roman forts and stations, apart from perhaps a small castellum, registered by Aurel Stein 30 km west of Mosul at alBaghalah (Dulalyah).51

Figure 206. Shanaeh. Fort and shrine on the hilltop (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 207. Shanaeh. Northern wall of fort (J.C. Meyer).

51 

Gregory and Kennedy 1985 114‒116, pl. 27b.

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 208. Shanaeh. Overview of the wadi area seen from the hilltop (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 209. Shanaeh. Buildings and wells in the wadi area (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 210. Shanaeh. View towards the southeast and Wadi Jihar from the hilltop (J.C. Meyer).

153

Palmyrena Wadi Masaadé, WM01

the profile. Most of the hilltop is probably a tell formed by earlier collapsed buildings. The southern part of the hilltop has been disturbed by recent diggings and several Islamic tombs, but there are a few indistinct traces of walls. On the lower northern part of the hilltop, a 17 m long wall parallel to the wadi is visible. The walls must have been part of much larger structures, but the layout and size of the buildings could not be determined.

N34.843636 E38.044978, altitude 1027 m asl. This site lies on the eastern bank of Wadi Masaadé about 5 km north of Shanaeh in the open landscape between Jebel Chaar and Jebel Merah. Between two small tributary wadis there are traces of walls from a larger building, measuring about 40 x 40 m. Southwest of the site on the western bank of the wadi there are two large filled-in wells appearing as shallow depressions. The site was visited outside the survey season, and no detailed registration was made.

3. The wells lie north and northeast of the large square structure, seven west of the wadi and six east of it. Some of the wells, especially on the eastern side of the wadi, are still in use and maintained by the Bedouin. Wells on the western side.

Khabar. Wadi Khabar

Well 1 (N35.00269131 E38.11731946) lies 18 m east of the northeastern corner of the square building. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression, 11 m in diameter.

N35.00252 E38.11674, altitude 800 m asl. (Figures 211– 217). Khabar lies on both sides of Wadi Khabar, 5 km west of the northern end of Jebel Merah. The landscape is wide open, and the site is exposed to strong winds.

Well 2 (N35.003161351 E38.11761261) lies 70 m northeast of the northeastern corner of the square building. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression, 10 m in diameter.

The site consists of the following: 1. Large building on the western bank of the wadi, 2. Remains of buildings east of the wadi on a small hilltop, and 3. Wells east and west of the wadi.

Well 3 (N35.003324601 E38.11766761) lies 18 m north of Well 2. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression 10 m in diameter.

1. The large building has been entirely covered by windblown material and is discernible as a square structure with low broad banks about 90 m west of Wadi Khabar and with a marked depression in the middle. The size of the building, measured from the center of the banks is approximately 60 x 60 m. Recently bulldozers have cut through the northern and southern banks, without exposing underlying structures. Some large stones on the top of the western bank obviously come from collapsed walls. At the western corners, there is a lightly higher concentration of stones, which may indicate the existence of towers, but the internal layout of the building could not be determined. Near the southeastern corner, a small rectangular building has been constructed on the top of the southern bank. It measures 9.6 x 4.6 m and is divided into two rooms. The building, which has now collapsed, had obviously been constructed long after the large square building was abandoned and covered by windblown material.

Well 4 (N3500375200 E38.11769556) lies 50 m north of Well 3. It has a 1.80 m wide circular opening with a stone lining, surrounded by debris. The well is filled in. Well 5 (N35.00400 E38.11767) lies 30 m north of Well 4. It has a 1 m wide circular opening with a stone lining, reinforced with concrete in recent times. The well is still functional. Well 6 (N35.00496900 E38.11705165) lies 35 m northwest of Well 5. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression, 10 m in diameter. Well 7 (N35.00505 E38.11696) lies 95 m northwest of Well 6. It is filled in and discernible as an indistinct depression. Wells on the eastern side: Well 8 (N35.00513956 E38.11860719) lies 300 m northeast of the square building. Its opening is 60 cm wide with a stone lining and its shaft circular. Its opening is partly constructed using a large rectangular stone with grooves from the rope hoisting the well bucket. The well is still in use.

2. The remains of buildings east of Wadi Khabar (N35.00193 E38.11901) lie on a 100 m long (N‒S) and 30 m broad (E‒W) hilltop 190 m southwest of the large square building. Wadi Khabar has cut through the hilltop, creating a 2.5 m high profile towards the wadi bed, and in antiquity the plateau must have extended further to the west. The profile shows horizontal layers at the bottom, at the same level as the surrounding ground. The upper parts of the profile are a mixture of larger and smaller stones, with a few layers in darker colour, containing ashes, and at some places remains of walls protrude from

Well 9 (N35.00608832 E38.11888941) lies 95 m northeast of Well 8. It has a 90 cm wide opening with a stone lining. In recent times, a trough has been constructed close to its opening, using large stones and concrete. The well is still in use. 154

Gazetteer of surveyed sites Well 10 (N35.00659913 E38.11938710) lies 75 m northeast of Well 9. It has a 1 m wide opening with a stone lining, recently repaired with concrete. The well is still in use. Well 11 (N35.00667034 E38.11913036) lies 30 m west of Well 10. It is discernible as a huge 5 m deep and 20 m wide pit. In the center of the pit there are traces of stone lining for the shaft. The well is still in use.

brittle (28) and white coarse (5) wares. The finds from the building east of the wadi comprise sherds of brittle (75) and white coarse (31) wares. Some of the sherds have parallels to Roman pottery from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. Nothing can be dated safely to the Byzantine or early Islamic period. Conclusion

Well 12 (N35.00698068 E38.11963443) lies 45 m northeast of Well 11. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow, indistinct depression.

Khabar has the highest concentration of wells in our survey area. It must have been an important site due to its access to water of high quality from underground reservoirs. The relations between the large square building and the structures on the hilltop east of the wadi could not be determined. It is possible that the eastern settlement was abandoned already in the late Roman period, due to changes in the course of the wadi. In size the large square building resembles the buildings at Wadi al-Takara N and Shanaeh, and it should be classified as a station or fort.

Well 13 (N35.007483851 E38.12023803) lies 90 m northeast of Well 12. It has a narrow oblong opening, 75 x 43 cm, with a lining of large stones. The well is still in use. Finds The finds from the large square building are few, insignificant and undiagnostic and comprise sherds of

Figure 211. Khabar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 212. Khabar. Fort, buildings and wells (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 213. Khabar. Banks of the fort, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 214. Khabar. Tell on the eastern side of Wadi Khabar (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 215. Khabar. Profile of the tell towards the wadi bed (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 216. Khabar. Remains of buildings in the tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 217. Khabar. Well 11 east of Wadi Khabar (J.C. Meyer).

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Jebel Merah Jebel Merah (Figure 26, Figures 218–221) is an about 19 km long, 3 km wide, prominent mountain between the tableland of Jebel Chaar to the west and Jebel Abu Riĝmen to the east. The top of its ridge reaches 1200–1330 m above sea level. The northern and central parts of the mountain are bordered on both sides by broad shoulders, about 1000–1100 m above sea level, with a low series of hills on the edge of the shoulders. Its western shoulder is about 1 km wide (Figure 222). The wadis from the western mountainside broaden before they enter the plain between Jebel Merah and Jebel Chaar through passages between the hills on the edge of the shoulder (Figure 238). The shoulder forms a natural corridor of communication with a track leading from south to north. There are no major obstacles from the pass at al-Matna in Jebel Abyad, along the watershed between Wadi Abyad and Wadi Jihar, up to Khabar and the flat plain northwest of Jebel Merah. The ridge of the mountain is relatively close to shoulder, 1 km or less, but at two places deep bowl-shaped valleys cut into the mountainside (Figure 223). Its eastern shoulder is more irregular and narrow (Figure 224). At several places, the wadis from the mountainside cut through the shoulder, making communication more difficult in the rainy season. The eastern mountainside of Jebel Merah is up to 2 km wide with a series of deep bowl-shaped valleys, separated by ridges (Figure 225). In its southern end, the mountain splits up into several spurs. Jebel Zoumlet al-Khansa turns southwest towards the watershed between Wadi Abyad and Wadi Jihar (Figure 226). A southern spur fans into a series of ranges and narrow valleys. The landscape then falls sharply down to Wadi Abyad with deep gorges (Figure 227). There are only a few tracks to the plateau from the south, and they can be can be very difficult for both modern 4WD and animals to negotiate during and after heavy showers. The sites in the Jebel Merah area are located on its shoulders, in or in connection with the bowl-shaped valleys and on the few plains between Jebel Zoumlet al-Khansa and southern spur of the mountain. The main concentration of sites is in the southern half of Jebel Merah. The survey covered its western side intensively. A large bowl-shaped valley in the northern part of mountain has been occupied by modern constructions from former oil drilling, which have destroyed all possible remains of ancient buildings. The survey on the eastern side covered the first 14 km to the north intensively, apart from a single large valley.52 Earlier reconnaissances, however, combined with detailed studies of high-resolution satellite images, confirm the same distribution of larger sites on the eastern side, but a ground survey in the northern area might reveal minor sites, not visible on satellite images. The sites in Jebel Merah are divided into two groups: Jebel Merah West and Jebal Merah East, including the sites in the southeastern part of the mountain.

52 

Due to heavy showers and the deteriorating political situation, the survey terminated in the beginning of May 2011.

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Figure 218. Jebel Merah. The southern section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 219. Jebel Merah. The southern central section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 220. Jebel Merah. The northern central section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 221. Jebel Merah. The northern section of the mountain (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 222. Jebel Merah. The western shoulder looking S. To the left the ridge of the mountain, to the right the hills on the edge of the shoulder (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 223. Jebel Merah. A bowlshaped valley at the western side at site JMW089 (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 224. Jebel Merah. The eastern shoulder at site JME209, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 225. Jebel Merah. A bowl-shaped valley at the eastern site at site JME232 (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 226. View from the southern spur of Jebel Merah towards the northwestern part of Wadi Abyad and the northeastern corner of Jebel Abyad. To the right the watershed between Wadi Abyad and Wadi Jihar. In the foreground a Prehistoric cairn (T.P. Schou).

Figure 227. Jebel Merah. The landscape between the Jebel Merah plateau and Wadi Abyad (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites Jebel Merah West

2. Building B. Eighty meters south of Building A, across a small tributary wadi coming from the east, there are several low small tells. Recent diggings have revealed traces of a building with internal rooms along a northern wall. Several stretches of short walls show that the building extended to the south, but its size and layout could not be determined.

JMW073 N34.81022 E38.07363, altitude 1045 m asl. (Figures 228– 230). This site lies in an open, undulating landscape at the southern end of Jebel Zoumlet al-Khansa, east of a small wadi coming from the north, 1,6 km south-southeast of site JMW035.

Finds The finds comprise undiagnostic sherds of brittle ware (86), fragments of green glass (1) and grinding stones (2). A few handles can probably be dated to the late Roman or Byzantine period.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, and 2. Building B. 1. Building A. A 13 m long northeastern wall and a 14 m long southeastern wall form the slightly acute eastern corner of a building, with traces of a series of rooms along its northwestern wall. The center of the building has probably been an internal courtyard, but the area has been disturbed by diggings after the building was abandoned, and are now a shallow depression. The building is bounded 30 m to the southwest by a low tell.

Conclusion The site must have comprised at least two buildings. There are no traces of cisterns close to the site.

Figure 228. JMW073 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 229. JMW073. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 230. JMW073. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

JMW035

2. Building B (N34.825922 E38.070493, altitude 1090 m asl) lies 185 m northeast of Building A, east of a wadi coming from the northeast. Modern diggings in a small tell have revealed the inner faces of a square building, the interior dimensions of which are about 5.5 m x 5.5 m. The building is probably a single room structure, perhaps a small shrine. About 40 m south of the building there are several smaller tells, but no walls are visible.

N34.82445 E38.06914, altitude 1080 m asl. (Figures 231– 238). This site lies west of Jebel Zoumlet al-Khansa at the southern end of the shoulder of the mountain, about 1.6 km north-northwest of site JMW073 and 1.7 km south of site JMW079. It covers a 325 m oblong area, measuring 325 m N‒S, bounded to the west by an oblong hill on the edge of the shoulder of the mountain. The drainage runs from the northeast and east, and passes through openings south and north of the hill.

3. Building C lies 40 m northeast of Building B in a small tell. Modern diggings have revealed two walls, 2.5 and 2 m long, forming the northern corner of a building. The corner may be part of a smaller building like Building B or part of a larger block.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, 4. Building D, 5. Building E, 6. Building F, 7. Corral, and 8. Cisterns

4. Building D (N34.827281 E38.069333, altitude 1100 m asl) lies 300 m north of Building A at the northern end of the oblong hill. A 17 m long western wall and a 12 m long northern wall form a corner close to the top of the hill, with a series of internal rooms along the western wall, facing the sloping side of the hill, which has been heavily disturbed by recent diggings. The extent of the block to the south and east could not be determined.

1. Building A (N34.824591 E38.069207) lies in the southern part of the site between two smaller wadis coming from the east, just west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain. It forms an approximate square 25 (N‒S) x 27 m (E‒W). Along the northern wall there is a series of internal rooms facing an internal courtyard. A small stretch of a wall almost at right angles to the southern wall indicates a series of rooms along the southern wall as well. To the east there is a series of three rooms, which are not totally integrated into the layout of the rest of the building and may have been a later addition.

5. Building E. Thirty meters southeast of Building D, a 7.7 m long stretch of wall, orientated E‒W, is visible at the foot of the hill, close to another more recent digging in the hillside. Other small stretches of walls are visible in the vicinity, but their relation to the long wall is uncertain. The walls may have been part of a building or an enclosure. 164

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 231. JMW035 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

6. Building F. Twenty meters south of Building E, a 16 m long stretch of a northern wall and a 3 m long stretch of an eastern wall form the corner of a building or enclosure at the foot of the hill. The hillside has been heavily disturbed by recent diggings.

stones, close to the opening of the cistern. It retained the water from the small wadi. There are no traces of supply channels. Cistern 2 (N34.825011 E38.071775, altitude 1100 m asl) lies on a hillside 235 m east of Building A, north of a wadi coming from the east. Its opening is 1.40 m in diameter and cut into the rock with a single course of stone lining at the top. A 33 m long supply channel runs down the hillside from the northeast.

7. The corral lies 45 m east of Building D. It measures 19 m E‒W and 13 m N‒S, and is divided into two sections, with a small annex in its northern part. The corral is probably later than the buildings at the site. 8. Cisterns

Cistern 3 (N34.822095 E38.071108, altitude 1095 m asl) lies 325 m southeast of Building A, close to a wadi coming from the east. It has been partly destroyed by the currents in the wadi, and is filled in. The opening is lined with stones. Downstream there are traces of a solidly constructed semicircular dam with a core of stones, close to the opening of the cistern. It retained

Cistern 1 lies 40 m northeast of Building C beside a small wadi coming from the southeast. The opening of the cistern is 75 cm in diameter and is lined with stones to a depth of 1.60 cm. Downstream there are traces of a solidly constructed semicircular dam with a core of 165

Palmyrena the water from the wadi. There are no traces of supply channels. A sherd from a large dolium in white coarse ware with a diameter of at least 36 cm was found in the bank of the dam.

grinding stones (6), one of them from a rubbing stone, and a small bronze coin (Building A) with a diameter of 1.3 cm.53 The finds range from the Roman to the Islamic periods.

Finds

Conclusion

The finds from Building A and the area at foot of the oblong hill comprise sherds of brittle (121), coarse (13), green glazed (1) and red glazed (1) wares, fragments of

Site JMW073 covers a large area with several buildings and probably also smaller shrines. It is one of the largest sites in the area around Jebel Merah.

Figure 232. JMW035. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 234. JMW035. Building C (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 233. JMW035. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

The coin was sent for cleaning and identification in Damascus, but due to the deteriorating political situation DGAM had other priorities. 53 

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Figure 236. JMW035. Building E (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 235. JMW035. Building D (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 237. JMW035. Cistern 1 (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 238. JMW035. Cistern 1, looking S. In the background, the oblong hill on the edge of the shoulder with openings near building A towards the west (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena JMW079

corner there is a 2.5 m long stretch of a wall (N‒S), but its relation to the building is uncertain.

N34.838241 E38.069739, altitude 1100 m asl. (Figures 239–240).

Finds

This site lies 1.2 km north of site JMW035 and 1.6 km southwest of site JMW083, on the southern slope of a small isolated hill, 380 m west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain.

The finds comprise sherds of brittle (60), white coarse (5) and red glazed (1) wares, and fragments of grinding stone (5). The few roughly datable finds range from the late Roman to the Islamic periods.

The site consists of a single building measuring 30 m N‒S with internal rooms along its western and northern walls facing an internal courtyard. Diggings in the hillside have heavily disturbed its interior down to the bedrock. The limit of the building to the east could not be determined. Eight meters west of its northwestern

Conclusion The building is probably not part of a larger settlement, as there are no tells in the vicinity. There are no traces of cisterns close to the site.

Figure 239. JMW079 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 240. JMW079. Building (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites JMW083

of Palmyra, which have large central courtyards, and it has more in common with the urban architecture of the city of Palmyra.54

N34.848557 E38.083117, altitude 1110 m asl. (Figures 241–245).

3. Building or Enclosure C. Twenty-five meters southwest of Building B, a 1, 6 m long southern wall and a 1,8 m long eastern wall form a corner of either a building or an enclosure.

This site lies on the shoulder of the mountain, 1.6 km northeast of site JMW079 and 1.2 km west of site JMW089, west of a wadi coming from the south and southeast, before it turns towards the west through passages in the hills on the edge of the shoulder of the mountain.

4. The cistern lies 70 m northeast of Building A close to the wadi. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression in the ground.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, and 4. Cistern.

Finds

1. Building A measures 31 m N‒S and is divided into three rooms, about 4 m deep. Its western, northern and southern walls are 80 cm thick, whereas its eastern wall is only 65 cm thick. This indicates that the rooms faced an internal courtyard to the east, and satellite images show the contours of a square block, measuring about 30 x 30 m.

The finds comprise sherds of brittle (39) and coarse (51) wares, a fragment of a glass bracelet, and fragments of grinding stones (2). The glass bracelet cannot be dated exactly, as the type was common in both the Roman and early Islamic periods. A few sherds may date to the late Roman period. Conclusion

2. Building B lies about 10 m south of Building A. It is rectangular, measuring 23 m SW–NE and 12 m NW–SE. Its northeastern part is divided into two rooms, and along the southeastern wall there is a series of internal rooms. They probably face a small oblong courtyard in the southwestern part of the building. The layout of the building differs from most of the other buildings north

The visible remains of buildings have probably been part of a much larger settlement. East of the wadi there are also several indistinct tells but no traces of walls. The surface finds are few, which indicates an extensive accumulation of windblown material in the area after the site was abandoned.

Figure 241. JMW083 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth). 54 

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Gawlikowski 2007.

Palmyrena

Figure 242. JMW083. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 243. JMW083. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 244. JMW083. Building B, looking NE. In the background the only passage across Jebel Merah, Tanîyet ez Zerr (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 245. JMW083. Glass bracelet (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites JMW089

4. Building D lies 25 m southeast of Building C with almost the same orientation. It consists of two small rooms, 1.8 m and 4.5 m wide, with entrances in its southeastern wall. The depth of the rooms could not be determined. In front of the building there are faint traces of a courtyard, measuring 12.5 m SSE‒NNW and 9.5 m ESE‒WNW. The use of large stones at its entrance and its division into a large and a small room correspond to Building C, and it too should probably also be classified as a small shrine.

N34.847494 E38.096580, altitude 1140 m asl. (Figures 246–261). This site lies 1.2 km east of site JMW083, at the mouth of a deep bowl-shaped valley, which cuts into the southern and southwestern mountainsides of Jebel Merah, where the ridge turns towards the southwest (Jebel Zoumlet alKhansa). The northern part of the site is dominated by a low, 250 m broad, rocky spur from the mountainside, which is connected to an oblong hill at the entrance to the valley. The spur is bounded by two wadis, which run north and south of the oblong hill, one from the valley and the southern mountainside south of the spur and another from the western mountainside north of the spur.

5. Cross-wadi wall A. One hundred meters east of Building B there is a triangular plain, about 180 m long and 70 m broad, bounded by the rocky spur to the north and the foot of the southern mountainside to the south. The wadi from the southeast runs close to the spur, with steep banks down to the wadi bed. Between the western end of the spur and the southern mountainside, there are remains of a 60 m long cross-wadi wall. Close to the wadi bed, which at this point reaches the underlying rock, the wall is about 2 m thick, constructed with large irregular blocks up to 2.5 m long. The torrents in the wadi have displaced some of the blocks downstream. Twelve meters from the wadi bed the thickness of the wall decreases to 1 m, and its construction becomes lighter across the southern part of the plain.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, 4. Building D, 5. Cross-wadi wall A, 6, Cross-wadi walls B and C, 7. Cross-wadi wall D, 8. Safaitic inscription, and 9. Cisterns 1. Building A lies in the southern part of the site at the foot of the mountainside between two wadis coming from the southern mountainside. It measures 41 (SW‒NE) x 41 m (SE‒NW). A series of rooms along the northwestern, northeastern and probably also along the entire length of the southeastern wall faced an internal courtyard.

6. Cross-wadi walls B and C (N34.849377 E38.099501). North of the spur, two cross-wadi walls, 55 m apart, have been constructed across a narrow, 50 m wide valley. They are visible on the sloping plain south of the wadi bed as an irregular, broad row of large, partly upright stones. The western wall is 36 m long, the eastern wall 20 m long.

2. Building B lies 30 m north-northeast of Building A, close to the southern bank of the wadi coming from the valley. It measures 28 (SW‒NE) x 28 m (SE‒NW). Along the northeastern wall there is a series of rooms facing an interior courtyard. An isolated room in the southern corner may have been part of a series of rooms along the southeastern and/or the southwestern walls. In the northern corner of the courtyard, modern diggings have revealed walls of a room below the northwestern wall. The northwestern wall was not constructed exactly on the top of the underlying walls, which must belong to an earlier building.

7. Cross-wadi wall D (N34.849950 E38.097202). North of the connection between the rocky spur and the hill at the entrance to the valley there are traces of an irregular 35 m long wall. It crosses a small wadi coming from the southeast and continues in the direction of the wadi coming from the northern side of the spur. Some of the stones in the small wadi have been displaced downstream. The original length and function of the wall is uncertain. It may be remains of a cross-wadi wall, for its construction does not resemble the technique found in buildings or enclosures.

3. Building C (N34.848867 E38.096517) lies on the slope of a small hill north of the wadi coming from valley, 145 m north of Building A. It measures 4.5 m SE‒NW and is divided into two rooms with the entrances in its southeastern wall. The northeastern room is 2 m wide. The width of the southwestern room could not be determined, but if the entrance was centred in the room, it would be about 4 m wide. The entrances are marked with large upright stones, and the building should probably be classified as a small shrine. In layout and construction it is comparable to the shrines in the villages on Jebel Chaar investigated by Schlumberger.55 55 

8. Safaitic inscription (N34.847304 E38.099207). On the top of the spur, a Safaitic inscription measuring about 2 x 1.5 m has been engraved in the rock with large letters. Finn-Ove Hvidberg Hansen and John Møller Larsen, University of Aarhus, and Ahmad al-Jallad and Chiara Della Puppa from the University of Leiden have examined the inscription. The present decipherment and interpretation was carried out by al-Jallad and Della Puppa:

PNO 93‒98.

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Palmyrena From the photographs we established the existence of at least two inscriptions, but there are more carved on the rock that still defy interpretation. The number of readable inscriptions might increase to three if numbers 2 and 3 were to be regarded as separate inscriptions. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Cistern 4 lies 15 m north of Building A. It is bottleshaped with a circular 70–80 cm wide opening, lined with stones to a depth of 2 m. North and northeast of the opening there is an accumulation of debris, with traces of a semicircular row of larger stones close to the opening, perhaps remains of a small dam. The cistern is fed by water coming down the mountainside and a small wadi west of Building A. A 136 m long supply channel runs down the mountain from the west.

l kmd bn ʾs²g ḏ ʾl gḏl w mṭy f h lt s¹lm w h-ḫṭṭ56 By Kmd son of ʾs²g of the lineage of {Gḏl} and he was on a journey so, O Lāt, may he and this writing be secure. l {k}md w {r}{ʿ}{y} {b} … w ds²r s¹lm {m} {h/ʾ}ḏ ʾʿwr w wgm ʿl m{.}k{.} bn mk… By {Kmd} and {he pastured} {at/during}… so Dusharā may it (the writing) be secure {against} {him} {who} would efface (it) and he grieved for {M.k.} son of Mk…

Cistern 5 lies 20 m east-northeast of Cistern 4, close to the southern corner of Building B. A circular opening, 110 cm in diameter, is cut into the rock. The cistern is filled in. It may have been part of the same water harvesting system as Cistern 4, or may have been fed by a small wadi between Buildings A and B.

9. Cisterns

Finds

Cistern 1 (N34.847314 E38.098222) lies on the top of the southwestern part of the spur. Its interior is a natural almost cylindrical hole in the rock, about 2 m deep, measuring 8 x 9 m in diameter. The bottom is now filled in with stones and earth, and its original depth of the cistern could not be determined. Along the western and eastern edges of the opening there are cuttings forming 10–15 cm broad ledges, which have probably supported a wooden roof. Several stretches of short, rock-cut supply channels close to the opening, about 40 cm broad and 20 cm deep, lead the runoff from the northern and northeastern part of the plateau into the cistern.

Most of the surface finds come from the area around Buildings A and B. They comprise sherds of brittle (150), white coarse (37), green glazed (1) and red glazed (1) wares, and fragments of grinding stones (8), including three with a diameter between 45 and 55 cm. The datable sherds range from the Roman to the Islamic periods. Conclusion The site has probably not consisted of other larger buildings, for the spur and the mountainsides restrict its area. The cross-wadi walls have slowed down and spread the water to the surrounding plains, forming terraces with moist earth ready for cultivation behind the walls. The Safaitic inscription shows that the site was also visited by nomadic groups from southern Syria and northeastern Jordan.57

Cistern 2 lies on a broad, sloping ledge at the southwestern end of the spur. It is bottle-shaped, cut into the rock, with a circular opening 65 cm in diameter. The neck is lined with stones at the top. The cistern is bounded by a semicircular row of stones 1 meter from its opening to the southeast and a longer semicircular row 2.5 m to the west. There are small supply channels close to the cistern leading the runoff water from the ledge and the plateau above into the cistern. Immediately west of the opening there is a fragment of a stone trough. Cistern 3 lies west of the spur and south of the low ridge connecting the spur to the oblong hill, about 60 m southeast of Building C and D. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression in the ground.

The ʿayn and gīm are sometimes quite close in shape. The identification of the two gīm’s in this inscription are supported by the fact that: 1) the lineage gḏl is attested in OCIANA, C 321 and C 2268. While OCIANA reads a lineage group ʿḏl in OCIANA, C 66, but the photograph is blurry and the first glyph may in fact be read as {g}. 2) The father’s name is likely ʾs²g rather than ʾs²ʿ, as the final glyph is identical in its shape to the g of gḏl and the former is attested as a personal name (e.g. OCIANA, NSR 12) while the latter is not. 56 

57 

172

See pp. 66‒67.

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 246. JMW089 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 247. JMW089. Overview of the western part of the site (J.C. Meyer).

173

Palmyrena

Figure 248. JMW089. Overview of the eastern part of the site (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 249. JMW089. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 251. JMW089. Building C (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 250. JMW089. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 252. JMW089. Building C, lookinwg NW (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 253. JMW089. Building D (J.C. Meyer).

175

Palmyrena

Figure 254. JMW089. Building D, looking SW (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 255. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall A, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 256. JMW089. Cross-wadi wall A (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 257. JMW089. Crosswadi wall B, looking N (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 258. JMW089. Crosswadi wall C, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 259. JMW089. Crosswadi wall D, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

177

Palmyrena

Figure 260. JMW089. Safaitic inscription (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 261. JMW089. Cistern 1, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

JMW161

2. Building B (N34.880629 E38.099217) lies 140 m southsoutheast of Building A in a flat open landscape. It measures about 23 m E‒W. Only the southern part of the building is visible, with three, square rooms facing a courtyard to the north. The eastern and western walls are partly visible, but diggings have destroyed the interior of the building and its northern limit could not be determined.

N34.882389 E38.099298, altitude 1053 m asl. (Figures 262–264). This site lies on the shoulder of the mountainside, about 4 km north of site JMW083 and 8 km south of site JMW172. A wadi passes through the site from the east.

3. Cistern. Immediately west of Building B an underground cave forms a cistern with two irregular openings cut into the rock 3 m apart. A short supply channel leads from the south, but otherwise there are no traces of supply channels in the area.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, and 3. Cistern. 1. Building A (N34.882448 E38.099168) lies in a rectangular tell, immediately north of the wadi. It measures 24 m N‒S and 14 m E‒W. Two rooms along the northern wall face an interior courtyard. One hundred meters northeast of the building there is a small tell, but no remains of walls are visible.

Finds Most of the finds have been found in relation to Building A. They comprise sherds of brittle (115) and white 178

Gazetteer of surveyed sites coarse (18) wares, and large fragments of grinding stones (4). A few sherds can be dated from the Roman to Byzantine/Umayyad periods.

Conclusion The two buildings do not seem to be part of a larger settlement in the area, but there may be more buildings in the northern part of the site.

Figure 262. JMW161 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 263. JMW161. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

179

Palmyrena

Figure 264. JMW161. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

JMW171. Cistern

western wall run towards the south to a 30 m wide tell. The western wall disappears into the foot of the tell. There are no traces of interior walls, but the presence of the tell strongly suggests the existence of a building in the southern end of the enclosure.

N34.893029 E38.100311, altitude 1000 m asl. This cistern lies 1.2 km north of site JMW161 and 1.6 km south of site JMW172. It is bottle-shaped, has an elliptical opening, measuring 1.25 m x 1.60 m, and is surrounded by debris. Its neck is lined with stones at the top and cut deeply into the bedrock. There are no traces of supply channels, but a low cross-wadi wall directs water to it from two small wadis coming from the south and east into the cistern.

3. Isolated stretches of walls. On the plain several short, up to 2 m long, stretches of walls are visible outside enclosures A and B. They are not interconnected, and it was not possible to determine whether they are parts of buildings or enclosures. 4. The cistern (N34.906259 E38.106146) lies 85 m southeast of the tell. It consists of two interconnected natural caves in the rock, 5 m apart. The roof of the caves has collapsed, and their interiors are partly filled with debris. The dimensions on the surfaces of the caves are 10 x 5 m for the northern cave and 4 x 6 m for the southern one. The caves are surrounded by much debris from the cleaning of the cistern. A 36 m long, slightly curved supply channel leads from the northeast, intercepting several small wadis coming from the east.

JMW172 N34.907204 E38.106317, altitude 1010 m asl. (Figure 265). This site is lies 8 km north of site JMW172, on the northern part of the shoulder of the mountain, where it widens towards the open plain west and northwest of Jebel Merah. A larger wadi passes north of the site from the east. The site consists of the following: 1. Enclosure A, 2. Enclosure B with tell, 3. Isolated stretches of walls, and 4. Cistern.

Finds The finds come from the cistern and comprise sherds of brittle (29) and white coarse (1) wares, and fragments of grinding stones (5). A single handle can be dated to the Byzantine or Umayyad period.

1. Enclosure A (N34.907204 E38.106317). A 65 m long eastern wall and a 15 m long northern wall form the northeastern corner of a large rectangular enclosure, with no traces of internal walls. The exact limits of the enclosure to the south and west could not be determined.

Conclusion The existence of the large tell and the isolated stretches of walls on the plain indicate a more complex settlement with at least one building and large enclosures. There are remarkably few surface finds, which indicates that the site has been covered by thick layers of windblown material after it was abandoned.

2. Enclosure B with tell (N34.907306 E38.105105, altitude 1012 m asl). This enclosure lies close to the hills on the edge of the shoulder of the mountain, about 65 m west of Enclosure A. It measures 43 m E‒W. A short 12 m long stretch of an eastern wall and a 49 m stretch of an 180

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 265. JMW172 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

JMW183 Cistern

JMW198 Cistern

N34.906052 E38.111867, altitude 1040 m asl.

N34.963406 E38.138919, altitude 920 m asl.

This cistern lies 520 m east of site JMW172 in an open landscape with no larger wadis. Its opening is surrounded by debris and is partly filled in. There are no traces of supply channels. In the debris there were several small sherds of undiagnostic pottery. JMW190 Cistern

This cistern lies in the open landscape 6.8 km north of site JMW172. It is bottle-shaped and its opening is 80 cm in diameter. Its neck is lined with stones with an opening conducting water into the cistern. Water from a small wadi coming from the southeast supplies this cistern. It is partly filled in. In the surrounding debris there were several small sherds of undiagnostic pottery.

N34.936831 E38.116339, altitude 930 m asl.

JMW199. Cistern

This cistern lies 3.4 km north of site JMW172. It is partly filled in. Its opening is lined with stones and has grooves from the rope hoisting the well bucket. There are no traces of supply channels.

N34.945436 E38.122766, altitude 935 m asl.

JMW196 Cistern

This cistern lies in the open landscape 7.7 km north of site JMW172. It is bottle-shaped and has a modern superstructure. It receives water from a small wadi coming from the east.

N34.945436 E38.122766, altitude 935 m asl.

Jebel Merah East

This cistern lies in the open landscape 4.4 km north of site JMW172. It is bottle-shaped, and its opening is lined with stones and reinforced with concrete. It receives water from a small wadi coming from the east.

JME215 N34.830741 E38.103175, altitude 1080 m asl. (Figures 266–268). 181

Palmyrena This site lies on a small oblong plain between Jebel Zoumlet al-Khansa and a southern branch of Jebel Merah, 3 km east of site JMW035 on the western side of the mountain and 500 m west-southwest of JME222. A wadi runs through the plain from the north.

on a huge artificial, semicircular plateau created by debris from the cleaning of the cistern. It is bottle-shaped. Its opening, which in recent times has been reinforced with concrete and covered with an iron lid, is 80 cm in diameter. Its depth to the water level is 6.4 m. Its neck is lined with stones to a depth of 2.2 m, and then cut into the rock for about 70 cm. North of the cistern there is a 70 m long and 36 m wide, slightly sloping, depression lined with stones. A short solid wall from the northwest leads the water from the western part of the mountainside into the depression and the cistern.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, and 3. Cisterns 1. Building A lies west of the wadi in the southwestern part of the plain. It measures 46 m E‒W and 42 m N‒S. Islamic tombs cover parts of its northern wall and its southeastern corner. Along its western, northern and eastern walls a series of rooms face an internal courtyard. Immediately north of the building there are some low tells covered with scattered stones and Islamic tombs on the top, and the contours of another building are visible on satellite imagery.

Cistern 2 lies 55 m north-northeast of Cistern 1 at a higher level and is surrounded by debris. It is bottle-shaped. Its opening, which in recent times has been reinforced with concrete and covered with an iron lid, is 90 cm in diameter. Down to the water level its depth is 6.2 m. Its neck is lined with stones to a depth of 90 cm, and then cut into the rock. Two short supply channels conduct water into the cistern from the eastern part of the mountainside.

2. Building B lies 60 m south of Building A on the northern slope of a small hill. It has a square layout, measuring 6.7 x 6.4 m in the interior, with an entrance to the north. There are no traces of other walls in the vicinity. Its walls are solidly built, and the building is probably a small shrine.

Finds All finds come from Building A and comprise sherds of brittle (50), white coarse (22) and green glazed (1) wares, and two large fragments of grinding stones, one of them from a rubbing stone. The few diagnostic finds date to the late Roman/Byzantine and early Islamic periods.

3. Cisterns Cistern 1 (N34.832960 E38.104314, altitude 1110 m asl) lies on the sloping mountainside, east of the wadi, 220 m north-northeast of Building A. The mountainside is bare up to the summit and has several deep groves functioning as natural supply channels from the north. The cistern lies

Conclusion The plain around the building is small, and the site has probably consisted of only a few buildings.

Figure 266. JME215 and JME222 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 267. JME215. Building A, looking N. In the background Cistern 1 and 2 (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 268. JME215. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

JME222

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, and 3. Wall.

N34.832731 E38.109711, altitude 1100 m asl. (Figure 266, Figure 269).

1. Building A lies in a tell. Only the northern part is visible, measuring 33 m E‒W. Along the northern and western walls a series of rooms face an interior courtyard. In the northeastern corner, where there have been some recent diggings, there is a very small room. The walls are not aligned with the walls of the other rooms, and perhaps this room belongs to an earlier building.

This site lies about 500 m east-northeast of site JME215 on the western slope of a low mountain range, in the northern part of an oblong plain. A track leads diagonally up the mountainside towards the northeast to the shoulder of the mountain on the eastern side of Jebel Merah. 183

Palmyrena JME202 N34.844231 E38.128329, altitude 1074 m asl. (Figures 270–273). This site lies 2.2 km northeast of site JME222 and 2.5 km south of site JME209 on the eastern side of Jebel Merah in a wide valley, which leads down to the southern end of the shoulder of the mountain. The drainage comes from the west with a large wadi north of the site and a smaller wadi coming from the southwest, west of the site. The site is dominated by numerous small tells. The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Enclosure, and 4. Cisterns 1. Building A (N34.843903 E38.128453) lies on the southern slope of the valley. There are only very faint traces of its walls, including a partition wall, but they show a block, measuring about 35 m E–W and 12 m N‒S. 2. Building B. Fifty meters east-northeast of Building A, there are several small tells with scattered stones on top. In one of them there are faint traces of a corner, most probably of a building. 3. Enclosure (N34.843940 E38.129862). On the plain 130 m east of Building A there is a 37 m long stretch of a slightly S-curved wall (N‒S). It probably belongs to a large enclosure.

Figure 269. JME222. Building A and B (J.C. Meyer).

4. Cisterns

2. Building B. Twenty-four meters north of Building A there is a marked tell with remains of a square structure measuring 14.6 m N–S and 16.4 m E–W. A small stretch of a wall from the southeastern corner shows that the block extended southwards. The existence of the tell strongly indicates a building, not an enclosure, but its layout could not be determined.

Cistern 1 lies 40 m north of Building A. It has been dug into the ground, measures 13 m E–W, 8 m N–S in the eastern end and 4 m N–S in the western end, and has rounded corners. Its interior was covered with watertight plaster. The plaster on the southern wall shows that the cistern was roofed with a barrel vault, which has now collapsed together with most of the northern wall, and the exact course of the northern wall and the depth of the cistern could not be determined. In the eastern end, a more solidly constructed, slightly inwardly curved wall, 3 m wide, protrudes about 50 cm into the interior. The purpose of the construction is uncertain, but it has probably been part of a platform at the opening of cistern. There are faint traces of a supply channel from the wadi west of the site. On the surface at the northern edge of the cistern there are traces of a 1,5 m long stone structure, with three courses of large stones slabs, but their relation to the cistern is uncertain.

3. Wall C (N34.831999 E38.109551). On the plain 64 m south of Building B there is a 3.5 m long stretch of a wall orientated E–W. There are no tells in the area, and it could not be determined whether the wall belongs to an enclosure or to a building. Finds The finds comprise sherds of brittle (17) and white coarse (7) wares, and fragments of grinding stones (5). A few sherds date to the Roman and the Byzantine periods. Conclusion

Cistern 2 lies 85 m northwest of Cistern 1, north of the wadi coming from the southwest. Its opening

In size the settlement is comparable to site JME215.

184

Gazetteer of surveyed sites measures 55 cm and has recently been reinforced with concrete and covered with an iron lid. Two short supply channels run down a low hill from the west and northwest.

Age into the Islamic period, and can be difficult to date. The closest parallel is from Palmyra, and can be dated to the 4th century AD.58 Other diagnostic pottery ranges from the Roman to the Byzantine/Umayyad periods.

Finds

Conclusion

The finds comprise sherds of brittle (75), coarse (15) and green glazed (1) wares, fragments of grinding stones (4) and the upper part of a so-called pilgrim flask or water gourd. Pilgrim flasks are common from the Hellenistic

There are only faint traces of buildings, but the elaborate cisterns and the tells indicate a larger settlement in the area.

Figure 270. JME202 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 271. JME202. Cistern 1 (J.C. 58 

185

Daszkiewicz and Krogulska and Raabe 1995, 45.

Palmyrena

Figure 272. JME202. Cistern 1, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 273. JME202. Pilgrim flask (J.C. Meyer, E.

35 cm, and is broken off at the bottom. The inscription is too weathered to be deciphered.59

JME374 N34.853944 E38.107886, altitude 1312 m asl. (Figures 274–276).

Finds

This site lies on one of the highest summits of Jebel Merah, 2 km northwest of site JME202 and 975 m south of the only passage across Jebel Merah, Tanîyet ez Zerr. It commands a grand view over the surrounding landscape. The summit is easily accessible from the south. The site is discernible as large heaps of stones from disturbed prehistoric cairns. Some stones form a 4–5 m wide and up to 1.5 m high mound from a collapsed rectangular building, measuring about 20 m E‒W and 9 m N‒S with traces of interior rooms. There are several carefully worked blocks, up to 110 cm long, 80 cm wide and 40 cm deep, scattered in the area. Due to heavy disturbances, the exact layout of the building could not be determined. A fragmentary Palmyrene inscription with cursive letters was found inside the building. The slab measures 60 cm x

The finds comprise sherds of brittle (80) and white coarse (8) wares, and fragments of glass (5). Conclusion The architectural remains and the inscription strongly indicate the existence of a monumental shrine close to the summit of Jebel Merah and the only passage across the mountain. JME208. Cistern N34.853985 E38.131892, altitude 1081 m asl. I am grateful to Finn Ove Hvidberg-Hansen and John Møller Larsen, University of Århus, Denmark, for having analyzed the inscription based on the photos. 59 

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 274. JME374 (J.C. Meyer, based on European Space Imaging).

Figure 275. JME374. Building on hilltop, looking N. In the background a Prehistoric cairn (T.P. Schou).

Figure 276. JME374. Palmyrene inscription (T.P. Schou).

187

Palmyrena This cistern lies at the western bank of the wadi coming from one of the big bowl-shaped valleys in the western mountainside, about 430 m west of the shoulder of the mountain, 1.1 km north-northeast of site JME202 and 1.3 km south-southwest site JME209. It has a modern superstructure. A 150 m long supply channel runs down the hill from the northwest. On the eastern side of the wadi there is a 170 m long and 150 m wide plain with two small circular corrals and a high concentration of surface finds.

of the walls indicates that they belong to a building, not an enclosure. Remains of a large semicircular corral cover the rest of the building. 4. Cisterns Cistern 1 (N34.867234 E38.134422) lies 195 m northwest of Building A, with much debris north of its opening. The pile of debris is 2 m high, contains large stones, and may have functioned as a retaining wall. The interior of the cistern is a large, now collapsed, underground cave measuring about 8 m in diameter. It received water from the mountainside southwest of the cistern, but there are no traces of supply channels.

Finds The finds come from the small plain east of the wadi. They comprise sherds of brittle (34) and white coarse (1) wares.

Cistern 2 (N34.867673 E38.132789) lies 156 m westnorthwest of Cistern 1 on the eastern side of the mountain. Its interior is a deep natural cave with three openings. One of them has a modern superstructure. The two others have been cut through the roof of the cave, each measuring 1 m in diameter. The neck of one of them has been partly lined with stones to a depth of 2 m. A 100 m long supply channel runs down the mountainside from the north, and another 30 m long from the south.

Conclusion The high concentration of brittle ware on the small plain strongly indicates the existence of some building at the site. JME209 N34.865736 E38.135639, altitude 1090 m asl. (Figures 277–280).

Cistern 3 (N34.864608 E38.136453) lies 120 m southsoutheast of Building A on the eastern side of the oblong hill. Its interior is a large natural cave with three openings 7–9 m apart, forming a triangle. One of them has a modern superstructure. The other openings are cut into the bedrock, each measuring about 1.5 m diameter, and their necks are lined with stones. A 100 m long supply channel from the north feeds the cistern with water from the oblong hill.

This site lies about 2.5 km north-northeast of site JME202, 1.6 km east of site JME330 and 940 m south of site JME320, on the northern tip of an oblong hill on the shoulder of the mountain which divides the track from the south into two branches on each side of the hill. East of the site, there are traces of fields from the second half of the 20th century.60 The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, and 4. Cisterns

Finds All the finds are found in relation to the tell and comprise sherds of brittle (53) and coarse (77) wares, and fragments of grinding stones (2). All the pottery is undiagnostic.

1. Building A lies in a tell with Islamic graves on top. It measures 8 m (E‒W) x 3.8 m (N‒S). A partition wall divides the building into two rooms with entrances from the north. The northeastern corner forms a curve. The outer walls are solidly built, partly with large stones. There are no traces of external walls from the corners, and the building has probably been a small shrine.61

Conclusion The tell with remains of buildings and the building below the corral indicate the existence of larger settlement.

2. Building B. On the top of the tell 34 m east of Building A, there is a 3 m long stretch of a wall (E‒W), most probably part of a building. 3. Building C. Fifty meters north of Building A below the hill, a 4 m long wall (N‒S) and a 3.5 m long wall (E‒W), 100 cm thick, form a northeastern corner. The thickness 60  61 

See p. 35. PNO 93‒98.

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 277. JME209 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 278. JME209. Building A, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

189

Palmyrena JME330 N34.866693 E38.118376, Altitude 1163 m asl. (Figures 281–283). This site lies 1.6 km west of site JME209, in the southern part of a deep bowl-shaped valley. The entrance to the valley is dominated by a 900 m long and 280 wide prominent hill, surrounded by narrow wadis converging east of the hill. A track leads towards the south over the edge to another bowl-shaped valley and to the passage, Tanîyet ez Zerr, across Jebel Merah. The site is visible as a large, flat tell at the foot of the mountainside. The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, 4. Building D, and 5. Cisterns

Figure 279. JME209. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

1. Building A lies in the southwestern part of the tell. It measures 28.4 m SW‒NE. A series of rooms face an internal courtyard to the southeast. Recent diggings near the northern corner have revealed that the visible stretches of walls on the surface are the tops of up to 1 m high walls. A small stretch of a 1 m thick wall, 19.4 m from the northwestern wall, probably marks the limit of the building to the southeast, for internal walls normally do not exceed 80 cm in thickness. 2. Building B lies 23 m north of Building A on the northwestern edge of the tell. It measures 14.6 m SW‒ NE and 7.2 m SE‒NW, and is divided into two rooms. The rooms may have faced a courtyard to southeast. 3. Building C lies 40 m southeast of Building A on the southeastern edge of the tell. A 24.2 m long stretch of a southeastern wall, and a 7.6 m long stretch of a northeastern wall form a corner. An internal wall close to the corner indicates the existence of a series of rooms facing an internal courtyard to the northwest. The northern limit of the building could not be determined. 4. Building D lies 15.8 m northeast of Building C on the southeastern edge of the tell. Only two walls are visible: a 19.2 m stretch of a southeastern wall and a 3.2 m stretch of an internal wall. These walls are part of a large building, probably with a courtyard to the northwest. 5. Cisterns

Figure 280. JME209. Building C (J.C. Meyer).

Cistern 1 (N34.870640 E38.121059) lies 445 m northnortheast of the tell in the northern part of the valley. There are no traces of supply channels, but the cistern receives water from a small wadi coming from the northwest. Cistern 2 (N34.870364 E38.118758) lies 200 m west of Cistern 1. It is filled in. There are traces of a supply channel running down the hill from the north. 190

Gazetteer of surveyed sites Cistern 3 (N34.868923 E38.116790) lies 240 m northwest of the tell. Its opening is square, and its neck is lined with stones. It receives water from a wadi coming from the western mountainside. A small tell with an indistinct row of stones south of its opening may indicate the existence of a small building.

Finds

Cistern 4 (N34.866417 E38.120021) lies 100 m east of the tell. It is fed by a 70 m long supply channel from the southwest and south.

Conclusion

The finds from the tell area comprise sherds of brittle (62) and coarse (7) wares, and several small fragments of grinding stones. A few sherds date to the Byzantine/ Early Islamic period.

West, north and northeast of the buildings there are several smaller tells, which probably cover other buildings, so site JME330 must have been a larger settlement. Even though the registration was not finished, it was obvious that the number of surface finds was very limited, but the diggings in Building A show that deep sedimentary layers cover the site.

Cistern 5 (N34.867231 E38.120916) lies 120 m northeast of Cistern 4 on the northern bank of the wadi passing south of the oblong hill. Two, over 100 m long, supply channels run down hillside from the northeast and north-northeast. Cistern 6 (N34.865894 E38.123125) lies 270 m southeast of Cistern 5. Two long supply channels, 300 m and 200 m long, drain a hill southwest of the cistern. Cistern 7 lies 90 m north-northeast of cistern 6 on the southern bank of the wadi. There are no traces of supply channels.

Figure 281. JME330 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

191

Palmyrena

Figure 282. JME330. Buildings in the tell area (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 283. JME330. Building A, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

JME320

2. The cistern lies 60 m south of the building and has an accumulation of debris east of its opening. It is now filled in. A 100 m long supply channel from the west conducted water from the southwestern hills.

N34.874177 E38.136421, altitude 1101 m asl. (Figures 284–285). This site lies 850 m north of site JME209 and 1 km south of site JME320, just west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain. It is visible as a small tell.

Finds The finds comprise undiagnostic sherds of brittle (13) and white coarse (1) wares.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building, and 2. Cistern.

Conclusion

1. The building measures 18 m E‒W and 10.5 m N‒S and is divided into two rooms. A small tell covers the southwestern corner.

There are no other tells in the area, and the isolated building may be related to the cistern. 192

Gazetteer of surveyed sites

Figure 284. JME320 (bottom), JME318 (left) and JME304 (top) (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

JME318 N34.880633 E38.129784, altitude 1150 m asl. (Figure 284). This site lies about 450 m west of the shoulder of the mountain in a small valley, 900 m northwest of site JME320 and 600 m westsouthwest of site JME304. The site consists of the following: 1. Building, and 2. Cistern. 1. Building. On the southern bank of the wadi in the valley there is a 4.10 m long stretch of a wall (SW‒NE). Some larger blocks in its northern end indicate a corner. The wall is probably part of a small building. 2. The cistern lies 60 m south of the building on the hillside. It is cut into the rock in connection with a natural cave and is

Figure 285. JME320. Building (J.C. Meyer).

193

Palmyrena currently filled with smaller stones. There are no traces of supply channels.

trough. A large fragment of a dolium in white coarse ware was found in debris north of its opening.

Finds

Cistern 4 (N34.882633 E38.138459) lies 200 m east of Cistern 3 on the northern slope of the valley. It has a modern superstructure. Close to its opening there is an old trough. It has a 140 m long supply channel from the north.

A few undiagnostic sherds of brittle ware and a few fragments of grinding stones were found near the wall. Conclusion

Cistern 5 (N34.881647 E38.138750) lies 250 m eastsoutheast of Cistern 3, 80 m west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain, on the southern slope of the valley. It has a modern superstructure. It has a 250 m long supply channel from the southwest.

The finds of brittle ware and grinding stones indicate the existence of a small isolated building. JME304

Finds

N34.883461 E38.134997, Altitude 1134 m asl. (Figure 284, Figure 286).

The finds comprise sherds of brittle (31) and white coarse (60) wares, and several small fragments of grinding stones. Diagnostic sherds range from the Roman to the Byzantine/Umayyad periods.

This site lies about 470 m west of the shoulder of the mountain in a small valley, 900 m north-northwest of site JME320, and 340 m south of site JME298, on both sides of the wadi at the bottom of the valley. The wadi has cut through the site, and it has been heavily destroyed by recent bulldozer activity. Corrals have been constructed on the top of the remains after the site was abandoned.

Conclusion Due to the heavy disturbances of the site, not much can be deduced from the surviving walls, but it must have included at least two buildings.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, and 3. Cisterns 1. Building A. On the northern bank of the wadi, a 6 m long stretch of a wall (NW‒SE) and a 1 m long stretch of a wall (SW‒NE) seem to form the southeastern corner of a building. 2. Building B. South of the wadi and the bulldozer track, a 4 m long stretch of a wall (NW‒SE) and a 3.2 m long stretch of a wall (SW‒NE) form the southwestern corner of a building. Eighteen meters northeast of the corner there is a 2.4 m long stretch of a wall (N‒S), which probably belongs to another structure. 3. Cisterns Cistern 1 lies 45 m west of Building B on the southern bank of the wadi. It is filled in by the torrents in the wadi, and only debris south of its opening is visible. In the debris there was a large concentration of undiagnostic sherds. Cistern 2 (N34.883375 E38.132642) lies 155 m west of Cistern 1 on the southern slope of the valley, with debris north of its opening. Its opening has recently been reinforced with concrete. It has two supply channels, one 185 m long from the southwest and another 123 m long from the south. Cistern 3 (N34.882505 E38.136199) lies 150 m eastsoutheast of Building B on the southern slope of the valley. Its opening has recently been reinforced with concrete. It has an 80 m long supply channel from the south. Close to its opening there is a fragment of an old

Figure 286. JME304. Building A and B (J.C. Meyer).

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Conclusion

N34.885600 E38.135862, altitude 1130 m asl. (Figure 219, Figure 287).

The building is divided into several sections and has a complex layout. It is possible that the tell north of the small wadi covers other buildings.

This site lies about 450 m west of the shoulder of the mountain in a small valley, 240 m north of site JME304 and 990 m southwest of site JME291. It is visible as a small tell with Islamic graves on top, immediately south of the wadi at the bottom of the valley. A small branch of the wadi runs through the site south of the tell.

JME291 N34.893199 E38.141336, altitude 1123 m asl. (Figures 288–289). This site lies about 1 km north-northeast of site JME298 and 1 km south of site JME263 on a wide triangular plain bounded by two wadis coming from an oblong bowl-shaped valley.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building, and 2. Cistern. 1. The building lies 8 m south of the tell. A 20 m long stretch of a wall (NE‒SW) and a 3 m long stretch of a wall (NW‒SE) form a distinct northeastern corner. A 19 m long wall (NW‒SE) divides the building into two sections. In its northern section, which measures about 17 m NE‒SW and 24 m NW‒SE, a series of rooms along the southeastern wall faces an internal courtyard. In the southwestern corner there is an inward angle with attached walls, which shows that the building extended to the west. Its southern section measures 19 m NW‒SE, but its southern limit could not be determined.

The site consists of a large concentration of cisterns, most of them filled in and surrounded by debris. On a small hill, most probably a tell, a now abandoned building from the last century has several large fragments of grinding stones incorporated into its walls. Only the largest cisterns have been registered. Cisterns Cisterns 1 and 2 (N34.893071 E38.141433) lie close to each other on the southern bank of the southern wadi. They have modern superstructures. They share a 75 m long supply channel from the east-southeast.

2. The cistern lies 90 m east-southeast of the building on the southern slope of the valley and has an accumulation of debris north of its opening. It has a modern superstructure. It has two supply channels, one 100 m long from the southeast and another 300 m long from the west.

Cistern 3 lies south of the wadi 37 m west of Cistern 1. It has a modern superstructure. Close to its opening there is an old trough. The cistern has a 100 m long supply channel from the southeast.

Finds The finds comprise sherds of brittle (20), white coarse (10) and green glazed (1) wares. A few sherds date to the Byzantine/Umayyad period.

Cistern 4 lies immediately north of the southern wadi, 35 m north-northwest of Cistern 3. Its roof has collapsed, and its interior has been partly filled in. It measures about 15 m in diameter, and is lined with a well-constructed wall. There are no traces of supply channels. Cistern 5 (N34.893675 E38.141326) lies 45 m northeast of Cistern 3. Its roof has collapsed. Its interior is partly a natural cave, but its southern end has been built up with a solid wall of large stones with a narrow opening, which has most probably been an inlet from a supply channel, though there are no traces of it in the vicinity. Cistern 6 (N34.894332 E38.142366) lies on the southern bank of the northern wadi. Its opening has been reinforced with concrete. It receives water from the wadi, but its main supply comes from the hillside north of the wadi. A 250 m long supply channel runs down the hillside from the northwest, then crosses the wadi in an aqueduct on a low bridge, and continues 100 m to the east.

Figure 287. JME298. Building (J.C. Meyer).

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Conclusion

Most of the finds come from the area near the small hill with the abandoned modern building. They comprise sherds of brittle (130) and white coarse (32) and late terra sigilliata (1) wares, and smaller and larger fragments of grinding stones (9). The finds range from the Roman to the Byzantine/Umayyad periods.

The plain has been part of an important water catchment. Even though no walls of buildings are visible, the large amount of pottery near the small hill, including a sherd of late terra sigilliata, strongly indicates the existence of a settlement. There are several smaller tells on the plain, but it could not be determined whether they are debris from filled in cisterns or cover remains of collapsed buildings.

Figure 288. JME291 (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Figure 289. JME291. Cistern 5, looking S (J.C. Meyer).

JME252

building. Two stretches of walls, 8 and 7 m long form its northeastern corner. The cistern bounds it to the west.

N34.901272 E38.147036, altitude 1103 m asl. (Figure 290).

2. The cistern is filled in, and there are no traces of supply channels.

This site lies immediately west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain, 1 km north-northeast of site JME291, 550 m east-southeast of site JME263. The site is visible as a tell with a few Islamic tombs on top, and debris from a cistern.

Finds The finds comprise sherds of brittle (20) and white coarse (6) wares, and a fragment of a grinding stone. All sherds are undiagnostic.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building, and 2. Cistern.

Conclusion The small building must probably have been related to the cistern.

1. The building lies between the tell and debris from the cistern, which covers the southwestern part of the

Figure 290. JME252 (bottom) and JME263 (Top) (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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2. Cisterns

N34.903431 E38.141508, altitude 1141 m asl. (Figure 290, Figure 291).

Cistern 1 lies 65 m west of the building. It has a modern superstructure. It has two supply channels, one 270 m long from the west and another 225 m long from the south.

This site lies at the eastern end of an oblong bowlshaped valley south of the wadi at the bottom of the valley, 650 m west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain, 1.2 km north of site JME291 and 1.6 km south-southwest of site JME232. There are no traces of buildings in the valley.

Cistern 2 lies 30 m east of the building. Its interior is a cave in the rock, but its roof has collapsed. East of the cave there is an accumulation of debris containing some pottery. There are no traces of supply channels.

The site consists of the following: 1. Building, and 2. Cisterns

Cistern 3 (N34.903300 E38.143458) lies 115 m east of Cistern 2. It is filled in. There are no traces of supply channels.

1. The building measures 38 m NE‒SW and 31 m NW‒SE, but probably once extended further to the southeast. It is divided into two sections, each with an internal courtyard to the southeast. The southern courtyard measures 18.4 m SW‒NE and 22 m NW–SE. A series of rooms along the northwestern wall faces the courtyard. The southwestern end of the block protrudes beyond the southwestern wall of the courtyard. A 3 m long stretch (NW‒SE) from the southeastern corner may belong to another section or an enclosure. The northern courtyard measures 14 m SW‒NE and 22 m NW‒SE. An oblong room along the northwestern wall faces the courtyard. No partition walls are visible, but that room may have been divided into several rooms.

Cistern 4 lies 50 m south-southeast of Cistern 3. It is filled in. There are no traces of supply channels. Finds The finds comprise sherds of brittle (85), coarse (6) and green glazed (1) wares, and fragments of grinding stones (8). The diagnostic sherds range from the Roman to the early Islamic periods. Conclusion The large building was probably connected with activities in the bowl-shaped valley.

Figure 291. JME263. Building (J.C. Meyer).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites JME245. Cistern

m in diameter. The stones are deeply embedded in the ground. They look like very small cairns, but their date and function are uncertain.

N34.909336 E38.146870, altitude 1120 m asl. This cistern lies on a low hill between two wadis, 250 m north of site JME252, and 1 km south of site JME232, 480 m east of the track on the shoulder of the mountain. It is filled in and discernible as shallow depression in the ground. There are no traces of supply channels.

JME231 N34.915657 E38.153380, altitude 1069 m asl. (Figures 293–296). This site lies 470 m east-southeast of site JME232 and 350 m from the shoulder of the mountain in a narrow valley. On both sides of the wadi, which at this point reaches bedrock, there are huge banks, 15 m wide and 3.5 m high above the wadi bed. The banks were originally continuous across the wadi, but torrents have broken through and created sharp profiles, 14 m apart. The banks are remains of a dam that retained the water from the large bowl-shaped valley west of JME232.

JME247. Cistern N34.909295 E38.151143, altitude 1090 m asl. This cistern lies 400 m east of cistern JME245 close to the track on the shoulder of the mountain. It has a modern superstructure. A deep supply channel, reinforced with upright slabs and concrete, runs 150 m downhill from the north. JME256. Cistern

On the northern side of the wadi at the western foot of the bank, a natural cave forms a large cistern extending below it. Its opening, measuring about 2.5 m in diameter, is at a slightly higher level than the wadi bed. The eastern part of the cistern is cut into the rock, while its western part is lined with stones. This cistern is 2 m deep, but filled with silt, and its original depth could not be determined. It received water from two sources. One is an inlet from a short supply channel with upright slaps that conducted water from the wadi into the cistern. The other, a 75 m long supply channel, runs down the hillside from the north. The relation between the dam and the cistern is a puzzle. If they were contemporary, silt from the dam must have filled up the cistern very quickly, so they may belong to two different periods. This remains an open question.

N34.911337 E38.155987, altitude 1080 m asl. This cistern lies at the southern side of an open plain, 230 m east of the track on the shoulder of the mountain and 500 m northwest of Cistern JME247. It has a modern superstructure. A deep supply channel, reinforced with upright slabs and concrete, runs 75 m down the hill from the south. JME257 N34.912776 E38.155203, altitude 1085 m asl. (Figure 220, Figure 292). On the plain 150 m north-northeast of site JME256 there is a cluster of small stone circles, filled with smaller stones in the center. They measure 1.5 m to 2.5

Figure 292. JME257. Stone circles, looking SE (J.C. Meyer).

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Palmyrena In the southern bank, there are large concentrations of stones. They are not part of the construction of the dam, for there are no stones visible in the profile of the northern bank, only a concentration of stones northeast of it. Some of the stones in the southern bank form a 2 m wide and 1 m deep circular structure on top

of it, with a 1 m long and 50 cm wide opening from the south. It looks like an opening to a cistern with an inlet, but there are no traces of any supply channels from the south and the surrounding stones certainly belong to other structures. This too remains an open question.

Figure 293. JME231 (right) and JME232 (left) (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 294. JME231. Bank north of the wadi, looking NE. To the left the entrance to the cistern (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 295. JME231. Bank south of the wadi, looking S (J.C. Meyer)

Figure 296. JME231. Cistern west of the northern bank, looking W (J.C. Meyer).

JME232

northwestern wall a series of rooms faces a central courtyard to the east. The tell limits the block to the east, and it has probably been a square building.

N34.918364 E38.148277, altitude 1100 m asl. (Figures 297–300).

3. Building C. Eighty meters northwest of Building B, there is a series of small, irregular rooms, two meters deep, along a 32 m long wall, orientated ENE–WSW. The wall is not straight, but abends to the south at its western end. The rooms do not seem to be part of a larger building with a central courtyard, but face the open plain north of the wadi. On the surface of plain there is a large, worked rectangular block, measuring 60 x 40 x 30 cm, probably from a monumental building, but its original location is uncertain.

This site lies on both sides of a wadi in a narrow valley 800 m west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain, 1.7 km north-northeast of site JME263. To the west, the landscape opens up into a deep bowl-shaped valley. There are no traces of buildings in the valley. The site consists of the following: 1. Building A, 2. Building B, 3. Building C, 4. Wall D, and 5. Cistern. 1. Building A lies south of the wadi on a prominent square tell. It measures 21 m E–W and 23 m N–S. Along its western and northern walls series of rooms face an internal courtyard. Modern diggings around the southwestern corner show that the walls are solidly constructed with large stones in the corners.

4. Wall D starts at the western end of Building C. It runs about 100 m towards the north-northeast before it turns north for about another 100 m towards the summit of the mountain. It blocks entrance to the western valley north of the wadi.

2. Building B lies north of the wadi on a prominent square tell, 45 m north of Building A. It has been heavily disturbed by modern diggings, and only its western part is visible. It measures 36 m NNE–SSW. Along its

5. The cistern lies at the southwestern corner of Building B. Its opening has been reinforced with concrete. A 100 m long supply channel runs down the hillside from the 201

Palmyrena Conclusion

east and then turns sharply to the southwest for 100 m. West of Building B, close to the northwestern wall, the supply channel is constructed as an aqueduct with upright slaps, reinforced with concrete.

This is one of the larger settlements at the eastern side of Jebel Merah, and it must be connected with activities in the bowl-shaped valley. The long wall running up the hillside on the northern side of the wadi indicates some kind of husbandry. The relation between the settlement and the dam (JME231) 460 m east-southeast of the site is uncertain. There are remarkably few surface finds, which indicates that the site was covered by thick layers of windblown material after it was abandoned.

Finds The finds comprise sherds of brittle (47), coarse (44) and white coarse (10) wares, fragments of green glass (2), and several smaller fragments of grinding stones. The finds are undiagnostic.

Figure 297. JME232 area, looking N from building A (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 298. JME232. Building A (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 299. JME232. Building B (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 300. JME232. Building C and Wall D (J.C. Meyer).

JME255. Cistern

JME300

N34.919847 E38.155800, altitude 1090 m asl.

N34.94844 E38.18295, altitude 940 m asl.

This cistern lies 500 m north-northeast of site JME231, west of the track on the shoulder of the mountain, close to a wadi coming from the west. It is filled in and surrounded by debris. There are no traces of supply channels.

Two and a half kilometers east of the northern part of Jebel Merah, there is modern settlement with scattered houses at the foot of a series of low hills. In and around the settlement, there are several cisterns with supply channels running down the hillsides. There are no traces of walls from ancient buildings in the settlement. The site was only visited briefly and was not registered.

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North of Jebel Chaar The area north of Jebel Chaar (Figure 301) is the southern end of the huge plain stretching up to the Euphrates. Two larger wadis, Wadi Hasséyé and Wadi Sakrak conduct the water from Jebel Chaar to the plain. Only two sites were investigated close to the road from Palmyra to Isriye.

Figure 301. The area north of Jebel Chaar (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

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Gazetteer of surveyed sites Khaleed al-Ali

Well 2 lies 150 m east of the northern end of the tell, south of the wadi in the center of a large crater. Its opening is circular, 1.5 m wide, with a 160 m deep lining of stones. Its shaft is 9 m deep, cut into the rock, and opens slightly as it becomes deeper. The well is no longer in use.

N35.15546 E38.02941, altitude 625 m asl. (Figures 302–307). Khaleed al-Ali lies 3 km northwest of the modern village of Fasida at Wadi Sakrak, south of the road to Isriyeh. The surrounding landscape is gently undulating, but a small wadi from the southeast has cut a deep gorge just north of the site before it turns towards the northeast.

Well 3 lies 230 m southeast of the tell at the edge of a small side wadi. It is filled in and discernible as a shallow depression.

The site is visible as a white oblong tell, which the locals call Khaleed al-Ali, and consists of the following: 1. Tell, 2. Burial ground, and 3. Wells.

Finds The finds from the tell comprise sherds of brittle (103), white coarse (74) and green glazed or green painted (1) wares, blue, greenish and brown glass fragments (16) (one of them from a neck of a blue flask or bottle), bronze fragments (2), fragments of grinding stones (4), and mosaic stones (40). The finds from the burial ground comprise sherds of brittle (14) and white coarse (2) wares. The majority of the roughly datable finds date to the late Byzantine or early Islamic period.

1. This tell is approximately 36 m long north‒south and 12 m wide east‒west and has a lower narrow eastern foothill. The surface of the tell is very hard and homogenous in texture. Local diggings in the tell show that it has been formed by collapsed mudbrick walls. On its top in the southern end there is a small mound, about 2 m high with a diameter of about 8 m and a depression in its center (A). The depression is not due to the modern diggings. There is no secondary material on the outer surface of the tell, and the depression is formed by an interior room at a higher level than the rest of the building. In the southern end of the tell, the locals have made two triangular cuts disclosing several courses of mudbricks. In the northern end of the tell, local diggings have brought to light two marble blocks (B). One of them is L-shaped, measuring about 1.18 x 50 x 28 cm, and has several worked holes and a curved bevelling. The other block is at least 1.10 m long and 75 cm wide and has a 25 cm broad central ridge. A 5 cm wide circular hole has been drilled into the top of the central ridge. Other L-shaped marble blocks are visible in diggings at the eastern foot of the hill (C). The exact function of the blocks is uncertain, but they probably are parts of monumental doorways. A large quantity of mosaic stones in black/grey, white/yellow and reddish colour, measuring up to 2 x 2 cm, is visible in the material thrown up from another digging (D) on the eastern foot of the tell. On the western side of the tell there is a 2.50 m long stretch of a wall with at least two courses (E). It is probably a retaining wall or a foundation wall for a mudbrick superstructure.

Analysis of mudbricks A mudbrick with organic remains and fecal inclusions was sampled for pollen analysis and radiocarbon dating.62 The mudbrick shows a high concentration of barley (Hordeum) pollen. The bricks were made where barley was cultivated and there was access to local mud from standing water. It is highly improbable that the bricks were transported to the site over a long distance.63 Barley must have been cultivated in the vicinity of the tell. The AMS radiocarbon analysis of the mudbrick with plant remains and a turd gives a date between 593 and 634 AD.64 Conclusion Khaleed al-Ali is unique among the sites north of Palmyra investigated by the Syrian-Norwegian survey and by Schlumberger in that the mudbrick technique employed there is the only example found so far north of Palmyra. The mudbrick building must have been rather impressive with monumental architectural details and a mosaic floor. It may have been a rural estate of some importance, though modest in size, or a religious center. In light of the monumental character of the building, it is highly improbable that it functioned only as a center for agricultural production.

2. Burial ground. On a plateau 165 m east of the tell, across a small valley, there are scattered stones on the surface. Diggings have revealed a 75 cm long stretch of a wall, two small fragments of flat ceramic slabs and some insignificant sherds and bones. It has probably been an ancient burial ground.

The AMS radiocarbon dating of the mudbrick gives a date for the construction of the exposed walls at the top of the tell to the late Byzantine period. The surface finds suggest that the building was in use for some decades after that. It could not be determined if the height of the tell is due to some earlier collapsed structures, or if the tell only covers a late Byzantine building.

3. Wells Well 1 lies 265 m east of the tell, at the southern margin of the wadi. Its circular opening is 2.20 m wide and lined with 2 to 3 courses in stone. The shaft is cut into the rock and narrows as it becomes deeper. Near its opening there are deep grooves in the rock from the rope hoisting the well bucket. The well is still in use, and the depth down to the water level is 20 m.

Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016. Knut Krzywinski, Department of Botany, University of Bergen, was responsible for the pollen analysis. The dating was done at the Poznan Radiocarbon Laboratory in Polen by Tomasz Goslar. 63  Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016, 178–179. 64  Krzywinski and Krzywinski 2016, 180–181. 62 

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Figure 302. Khaleed al-Ali (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 303. Khaleed al-Ali. The tell, looking northwest (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 304. Khaleed al-Ali. The tell (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 305. Khaleed al-Ali. Diggings in the southern part of the tell disclosing courses of mudbricks (J.C. Meyer).

Figure 306. Khaleed al-Ali. Marble blocks in digging B in the northern part of the tell (J.C. Meyer).

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Figure 307. Khaleed al-Ali. Mosaic stones from digging D (J.C. Meyer).

and the internal walls may belong to a different phase than the outer walls.

Fasida N35.16544 E38.02139, altitude 580 m asl. (Figures 308– 309).

One hundred and thirty meters north of the road, near the western wadi, there is a 30 cm long stretch of a wall (N35.166744 E38.02184), but no other walls are visible in the area.

Fasida lies 1.2 km northwest of Khaleed al-Ali on the western slope of a small oblong hilltop between two wadis coming from the south. It consists a series of walls creating a large rectangular enclosure, roughly 160 m long north‒south, and 90 m east‒west.

Finds The finds comprise sherds of brittle (56) and white coarse (40) wares, a fragment of green glass, an undefinable bronze fragment and a fragment of a grinding stone. A single sherd may be Roman, but the rest of the datable finds date to the Byzantine and early Islamic periods.

The road to Isriyeh has cut through its northeastern corner, but the northern wall is clearly defined by its corners. The eastern wall, which runs close to the hilltop is visible for 125 m, but the southern end of the wall and its southeastern corner have been disturbed by a modern track through the site. Its western wall runs close to the wadi and is visible for 98 m. Two long walls form a curved corner, following the wadi in its southwestern part, which is occupied by a small tell. A 38 m long southern wall bounds the enclosure to the south, but the walls are not connected, and the exact layout is uncertain. There are only a few traces of internal walls. At the eastern end of southern wall there is a triangular accumulation of stones. About 15 m west of the southern end of the eastern wall there are two stretches of walls, perpendicular to each other. Their relationship to the outer walls could not be determined,

Conclusion The enclosure has an impressive size, but its function is not clear because its internal layout is unknown. The finds are surprisingly few, either because the site has been covered with windblown material or because the activities at Fasida only involved pottery to a very limited degree. It may have been connected with animal husbandry or been part of a larger estate. There are no traces of wells or cisterns in the vicinity, and if the Bedouin have not maintained ancient wells and cisterns, they would have been filled in and obscured by windblown sediments.

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Figure 308. Fasida. (J.C. Meyer, based on Google Earth).

Figure 309. Fasida (J.C. Meyer).

209

Appendix Safaitic inscriptions mentioning Tadmur 1. Ociana, LP 717. Littmann 1943, no 717. Transliteration: l ʽm bn šmt bn ġnm bn ʾnʿm w ʾty m tdmr f h lt s¹lm. Translation: By ʿm son of S²mt son of Ġnm son of ʾnʿm and he came from Tadmur and so O Lt [grant] security. Location: Wadi Salman, northern Jordan. 2. Ociana, KRS 15/KR 1. Transliteration: l ʿqrb bn mʿz bn ġzlt w wgd s¹fr ms¹k w ngʾt f tʿql w dwy w mṭy m- glʿd l- tdmr f h s²ʿhqm s¹lm w ġnyt l- ḏ s²ḥṣ. Translation: By ʿqrb son of Mʿz son of Ġzlt and he found the inscription of Ms¹k and Ngʾt and so he was speechless and ill from grief he hastened from Gilead to Tadmur and so O S²ʿhqm [grant] security and may he who experiences want have abundance. Location: Wadi Salman, northern Jordan. Note: Gilead (glʿd) is the mountainous area 20 km northwest of Amman, mentioned in the Old Testament. 3. Ociana, C 663. CIS V, 663. Transliteration: l ʿgl bn ʾws¹ bn ṣʿd w mṭy tdmr f h lt s¹lm. Translation: By ʿgl son of ʾws¹ son of Ṣʿd and he hastened to Tadmur and so O Lt [grant] security. Location: Ḥajar al-Halla, 30 km west of Rijm al-Marra, southern Syria. 4. Ociana, C 1649. CIS V, 1649. Transliteration: l ʾs¹d bn ḫlṣ bn nʿmn ḏ- ʾl ḍf w ʾs¹fr tdmr f h bʿl s¹lm w m{g}dt w ʿwr l- ḏ ʿwr h- s¹fr. Translation: By ʾs¹d son of Ḫlṣ son of Nʿmn of the lineage of Ḍf and he will travel to Tadmur and so O Bʿl [grant] security and glory and may he who would efface this writing go blind. Location: On the track to Jebel Says from Zalaf, southern Syria. 5. Ociana, C 1664. CIS V, 1664. Same stone as C 1165. Transliteration: l hnʾ bn mnʿt bn lqṭ bn ʾṯʿ bn s²kr ḏ ʾl ʾṣr w s¹yr tdmr f h lt s¹lm. Translation: By Hnʾ son of Mnʿt son of Lqṭ son of ʾṯʿ son of S²kr of the lineage of ʾṣr and travelled to Tadmur and so O Lt [grant] security. Location: On the track to Jebel Says from Zalaf, southern Syria. Note: According to the first translation of CIS V, 1664 and 1665, the inscriptions mentioned ‘watering of animals’ (ṣyr) (Meyer 2016); but the correct reading is s¹yr, to travel. I am extremely grateful to A. M. al-Jallad, University of Leiden, who paid my attention to this. 6. Ociana, C 1665. CIS V, 1665, same stone as C 1664. Transliteration: l tmlh bn ghm bn ʿḏ bn tm bn ʿḏ bn grmʾl bn qḥs² bn ḥḍg bn s¹wr bn ḥmyn bn ġḍḍt bn ʾnḍt bn ws²yt bn ḍf w s¹yr l- tdmr f h lt w h bʿl s¹lm w ʿwr l- ḏ ʿwr h- tll. Translation: By Tmlh son of Ghm son of ʿḏ son of Tm son of ʿḏ son of Grmʾl son of Qḥs² son of Ḥḍg son of S¹wr son of Ḥmyn son of Ġḍḍt son of ʾnḍt son of Ws²yt son of Ḍf and he travelled to Tadmur and so O Lt and O Bʿl [grant] security and may he who would efface this writing go blind. Location: On the track to Jebel Says from Zalaf, southern Syria. Note: See note to Ociana, C 1665 above. 210

Safaitic inscriptions mentioning Tadmur 7. Ociana, Is.MU 290. Transliteration: l ḥny bn s¹rmt bn ḥnn bn mlk bn ʿbd bn ʿḏ bn s²rk w ḥl h- dr w ḫrṣ ʾl tdmr f h s²ʿnʿr w gdʿwḏ s¹lm. Translation: By Ḥny son of S¹rmt son of Ḥnn son of Mlk son of ʿbd son of ʿḏ son of S²rk and he camped in this area and was on the look-out for Palmyrenes and so O S²ʿ-nʿr and Gd-ʿwḏ [grant] security. Location: North of al-Namarah in Wadi Sham. 8. Ociana, Is.MU 290.1. Transliteration: l ʿbd bn s²---- bn nhb w qyẓ w wld h- ----[----] {ḫ}[r]ṣ ʾl tdmr. Translation: By ʿbd son of S²---- son of Nhb and he spent the dry season he helped [the goats] to give birth ------ {and was on the look-out for} Palmyrenes. Location: North of al-Namarah in Wadi Sham. 9. Ociana, Al-Namarah. HN 61. Transliteration: l grmʾl bn ḥd bn ḫlṣ w wdy h- bʾr s¹nt qtl ʾl tdmr ṣrmt w ġnmt l- ḏ dʿy w nqʾt b- wdd m ḫbl h- s¹fr. Translation: By Grmʾl son of Ḥd son of Ḫlṣ and he drew near to the water well in the year which the Palmyrenes fought Ṣrmt and may he who would read this writing aloud have spoil but may he who would obscure this writing be thrown out of the grave by a loved one. Location: north of al-Namarah in Wadi Sham. 10. Ociana, AWS 393. Transliteration: l mʿn bn s¹by bn ḥmlt bn ms¹k w wgm ʿl- ʾs²yʿ -h ḥrbn b- s¹b tdmr w b- s¹{b} ṭyʾ f h gdʿwḏ ṯʾr. Translation: By Mʿn son of S¹by son of Ḥmlt son of Ms¹k and he grieved for his companions who had been plundered by a company of men from Tadmur and a company of men from Ṭyʾ and so O Gdʿwd may he have vengeance! Location: Wadi as-Su in southern Syria. Note: The translation of the last part of the inscription is unsure. A, M. al-Jallad suggests that the companions were on travel to Tadmur and the land of Ṭyʾ, when plundered.

211

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