The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          

 


Syria

Archaeological Sites

Ain Dara

This site was excavated by the Syrians in the 1960s, and more recently has received restorative treatment by a team of Japanese experts.

It is most famous for the extraordinary Aramaean temple, which crowns its acropolis. The temple, dating from 1300 to 740 BC, is of tripartite plan, with a surrounding magazine and set in a precinct. Although Hittite elements are apparent in the decorative art, the actual building plan itself is thoroughly Semitic and has been used as a model for reconstructions of the conjectural Solomonic temple in Jerusalem.

The temple is constructed of black basalt and white limestone, creating striking contrasts. A frieze of basalt deities, lions and sphinxes runs around the facade of the temple, though many have been defaced. Guarding the temple are two huge basalt lions. The frequency of the lion and the sphinx in the decorative repertoire has led to the suggestion that the temple was a cult centre of the goddess Ishtar.

'Ain Dara is not just a temple site. A significant city covers the lower tell, with the citadel on which the temple is situated rising some 30 metres above the plain. Occupation at the site both predates the temple and continues after it (with a break in the Roman period) until the 14th century AD

Aramaean Temple at ĎAin Dara
This temple is one of the best-preserved dating from the Late Bronze and Iron Age in the Levant. The dramatic use of contrasting white limestone and black basalt is an aesthetic feature of long-standing tradition in the region, and can be seen in the local architecture through the ages, into the Islamic periods.
 
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