Kanawat (Syrie) : Qanawat documents archaeological history of several civilizations in Syria


Qanawat documents archaeological history of several civilizations in Syria

R. al-Jazaeri

Source - http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/2011061211053/Travel/qanawat-documents-archaeological-history-of-several-civilizations-in-syria.html

Qanawat archaeological area in Sweida Province is distinguished by its Roman, Greek, Nabataean and Islamic monuments and its important tourist location as it is considered one of the Decapolis which were situated to the West of Jordan River.


 The archaeological surveys discovered that the ancient man lived in Qanawat since the Middle and New Stone Ages during the period between 1,200 to 4,000 BC, and people coming from the Arabian Peninsula started to inhabit the area since the 3rd millennium BC while the Arab Islamic invasions reached it in 653 AD.

 Director of Sweida Antiquities Department, Wasim al-Sha'arani, said that the archaeological findings, stone-made tools and the volcanic glass which have been unearthed at various sites in Qanawat indicate that the man in the Stone Age lived in the area and practiced the hunting, agriculture and breeding animals.

Qanawat has been known throughout history for its social, economic and religious progress as it was ruled in a way similar to the Greek cities, and during the Roman Reign it was an important hub on the road between Damascus and Bosra.

 Al-Sha'arani indicated that the inscription which was unearthed near the French city of Lyon represents important evidence on the role the city played as the citizens of Qanawat (Qanatha) were part of the Syrian merchants who were well known in France as the discovered inscription mentions the name of a merchant called Taim bin Sa'ad.

 He indicated that the most important archaeological edifices which remained until the present time are Temple of Helios (God of the Sun) which was built in the 2nd century AD over a 3-meter high basis, and it consists of 31 pillars.

Qanawat also embraces the Temple of Zeus (God of Heavens) which was built in the 2nd century AD, and its ruins still exist on the high part of Qanawat town, in addition to the Temple of Athena (Sea Goddess) which dates back to the 2nd century AD, the Temple is 11-metere long and 6,5-meter wide while its height is 7 meters.

Qanawat Theatre is also one of the features which reflect the greatness of the area as it is located on the edge of the valley from the eastern side to the north of Water Temple.

The Theatre was established in the second half of the 3rd century AD and it is 125-meter long and 40-meter wide as it was used for acting, concerts and meetings.

Qanawat also includes archaeological bathhouses which accommodate for 500 persons, and they consist of a number of the chambers and halls used for various purposes, in addition to smaller bathhouses located at the lower part.

The excavation started at the site of the bathhouses three years ago as important parts of them have been unearthed such as the hot chambers, and the chambers of steam, in addition to discovering special bathhouses built in the Roman Age.

 Qanawat Town also embraces a number of the archaeological houses, most of which date back to the Nabataean, Roman and Byzantine eras, and their walls were built of basalt stones which makes them resist the factors of nature and time.

Hotels dating back to the first half of the 2nd century AD were also built in Qanawat, and they were used as Khans.

The hotels consist of two floors used for the residence of the pilgrims and the travelers, and later the buildings changed to become as houses for important religious figures.

Qanawat ancient name 'Qanatha' was mentioned in religious and historical sources and in the Greek and Latin texts as 'Qanota', and its name also appeared on the coins from the 1st century BC to the 6th century AD.

An inscription written in the Greek and Aramaic languages dating back to the 2nd millennium BC was also unearthed in the town.