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                          



Stone is the commonest and most important of all building materials. The Greeks and Romans gave too much care to the sculpture and decoration of stone of which they left us immortal masterpieces. The Arabs used stone for the important edifices like the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, Qubbat as-Sakhra ( Dome Of  The Rock ), Qasr al-Mushattah in Jordan and the Mosque of Cordova. They also used it for the construction of fortresses . Most of the Umayyad and Abbasid buildings in Syria, Iraq and Jordan were, however, made of bricks, tiles and wood decorated with carved stucco because of the facility of its manufactures. As for stone, it was used only for the construction of entrances, frames of doors, columns, capitals and stairs; but in the period of the Atabegs, Ayyubids and the Mamluks, the Arabs used it in preference to all the other materials because of its resistance .

In the days of the Atabegs and those of the Ayyubids, decorations of the exterior of buildings were confined in adorning the main gates with chevron moldings ( an Arab invention ) and with inscriptions of recognition and benediction. The interior of the building was very rich. Here we find veined marble, columns, capitals, arches, cornices and decorative panels ... etc. The Artists of the Mamluk Period also gave attention to the decorations of the graceful facades, and elegant minarets. They embellished them with multi-colored stones.

It seems that the Arab artists gave great care to the sculpture of capitals. They appreciated the Corinthian capitals which depend on the leaves of acanthus and spiral convolutions. When the Arabs stylized the decorative motifs, they also resorted to stylize the leaves of the acanthus which turned out to be simpler.

They also began to use the geometrical motifs in the sculpture of capitals too.

The most important decorative element used for the sculpture of stone in the inscriptions, particularly the floral Kufic writing .These inscriptions are found on the foundation plates, lintels, cenotaphs, tombs, prayer niches and fountains ... Those who want to study the development of Arabic calligraphy may be able to do so by pursuing the dated inscriptions written on stone.

The emblems of kings and princes also constituted the decorative motifs. The emblem appeared on the Islamic Arab buildings on a limited scale during the Atabeg Period. It develop a little in the Abbasid Age and reached its zenith in the Mamluk Period. The Mamluk emblem symbolized the king’s power like " the lion of Baybars ". It also indicated the function of the prince : a goblet for the cup-bearer, a sword for the prince of arms, an inkpot for the master of scribes and a bale of household linen for the master of dress-makers etc.

Gravestone written on it "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful"

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Toronto - Canada
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