city of ar-Raqqah is situated on the
eastern bank of the Euphrates, at the
mouth of the
Balikh tributary. When the Muslim
conquest took place, the city was
inhabited by the Arabs of Mudar tribe
who gave it his name because its climate
is cool owing to its position between
the two rivers. The word Raqqah means in
Arabic " large and damp
site was inhabited in the pre-historic
times as well as in the later periods.
There is now a number of archaeological
earlier with the participation of Mr.
Maurice Dunand, and later sites in the
area, prominent among them is Tell al-Bay'ah
The site is abundant in remains of the
third and second millennia B.C.
the Hellenistic Age, Seleucus I founded
a city on this very site to which he
gave the name " Nikephorium ".
On its ruins another city was built in
the Roman era lasting between the first
and third century
AD. The city was replaced later on by
the Byzantine city of Callinicium which
was Christened afterwards "Leontopolis"
after the name of Emperor Leon II (473 -
expanded in the days of Harun ar-Rashid
and the Byzantines until the Muslim-Arab
under the command of Iyad ibn Ghanm
occupied it in circa 17 A.H.
that time the city prospered
considerably by virtue of its natural
position, fertility and its location on
the commercial routes.
to the historians. ar-Raqqah constituted
an agglomeration of many cities: the
white Raqqah, the dark Raqqah and the
outskirt of Raqqah which was its market.
On its opposite bank, Hisham b.
Ahd-al-Malik built a palace which he
named "Wasit ar-Raqqah" .
the importance of
ar-Raqqah with regard to its strategic
and economic position as well as its
agreeable climate, the Abbasid Caliph
Abu Ja’far al-Mansur ordered, in 155
= 771 AD., the
construction of the city of ar-Rafiqah
ar-Raqqah to be the seat
of the Khurasani troops and a
centre of the estival troops which took
care of the control of North Syria and
the movements of the Byzantine armies.
surrounded the city with a wall similar
to that of Baghdad. but the course of
the river in the southern side made the
wall in the form of a horseshoe. The
longest diameter of the new city was
1500 m. He provided the city with double
brick walls: an exterior wall of 4.50 m.
thickness and an interior wall of 5.8 m
in thinness, separated by a span
of 20.80m wide. The exterior wall
was surrounded by a moat of l5.90m in
width. The foundations of the wall were
constructed with calcareous or gypsum
stone and were completed with bricks and
tiles. The walls had two gates : the
eastern gate (Bab Baghdad) and the
western gate (probably Bab al-Jinan)
according to Yaqut, Bab al-Jinan
disappeared a long time ago.
the wall, there are the ruins of a
mosque of which nothing remained save a
raw of arches and a cylindrical minaret
constructed in bricks. As to the palace
and residential of the ancient
ar-Rafiqah, have not yet been cleared.
Some remains in bricks are scattered
here and there indicating the
development of architecture and
expanded in the days of Harun ar-Rashid
and his successors. The air photography
of the site indicates that the area
covered by ar-Rafiqah touched that of
ar-Raqqah and its outskirts. It
constituted, in fact, a big city whose
diameter extended 10 Km. The city
developed greatly in the Ayyubid Period.
city was destroyed on account of the Móngol
invasion, 656 A.H. = 1257 A.D.
exploration of ar-Raqqah:
Directorate-General of Antiquities and
Museums conducted a number of
excavations at ar-Raqqah between 1949-
1956, earlier with the participation of
Mr. Maurice Dunand, and later on under
the direction of Mr. Nasib Salibi. These
excavations works have brought to light
four palaces which we termed A , B , C
and D. It has been proved that the
Palace B dates back to the reign of al-Mu’tasim
Billah, (218 - 227 A.H. = 833 -
842 AD.), on account of an inscription,
found in the Palace, bearing a part of
the name of al-Mu’tasim.
excavations have also yielded very
important finds, some of which are
exhibited in the Hall of ar-Raqqah,
together with other objects found
accidentally at the same site.
of ar-Raqqah :