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Ancient Villages of Northern Syria

Ancient Villages of Northern Syria

Some 40 villages grouped in eight parks situated in north-western Syria provide remarkable testimony to rural life in late Antiquity and during the Byzantine period. Abandoned in the 8th to 10th centuries, the villages, which date from the 1st to 7th centuries, feature a remarkably well preserved landscape and the architectural remains of dwellings, pagan temples, churches, cisterns, bathhouses etc. The relict cultural landscape of the villages also constitutes an important illustration of the transition from the ancient pagan world of the Roman Empire to Byzantine Christianity. Vestiges illustrating hydraulic techniques, protective walls and Roman agricultural plot plans furthermore offer testimony to the inhabitants' mastery of agricultural production.

Villages antiques du Nord de la Syrie

Situés au nord-ouest de la Syrie, une quarantaine de villages, regroupés au sein de huit parcs, offrent un témoignage remarquable des modes de vie ruraux et villageois de l'Antiquité tardive et de l'époque byzantine. Abandonnés au cours des VIII-Xe siècles, ces villages, qui datent du Ier au VIIe siècles, offrent un paysage et des vestiges particulièrement bien conservés : maisons d'habitation, temples païens, églises, citernes collectives, thermes, etc. Ces paysages culturels reliques constituent une illustration importante de la transition entre le monde antique païen de l'Empire romain et le christianisme byzantin. Les vestiges témoignant des techniques hydrauliques, des murets de protection et du parcellaire romain nous montrent à quel point les habitants maîtrisaient la production agricole.

القرى القديمة في شمال سوريا

يشمل هذا الموقع نحو أربعين قرية موزعة على ثمانية مجمعات في شمال غرب سوريا و شهادة مميزة على الحياة الريفية في أواخر العصور القديمة وخلال الحقبة البيزنطية. وتتميز هذه القرى التي بُنيت بين القرن الأول والقرن السابع والتي هجرها أهلها في الفترة الممتدة من القرن الثامن إلى القرن العاشر بمناظر حافظت على الكثير من خصائصها على مدى السنين، وتشمل معالم أثرية لعدد من المساكن والمعابد الوثنية والكنائس والأحواض والحمامات العمومية، وما إلى ذلك. وتُعتبر المناظر الثقافية العتيقة لهذه القرى دليلاً مهماً على الانتقال من التاريخ الوثني للإمبراطورية الرومانية إلى الحقبة المسيحية في العصر البيزنطي. أما البقايا الأثرية التي تدل على التقنيات الهيدرولية والجدران الوقائية والمخطوطات الزراعية في الحقبة الرومانية، فتشهد على مدى إتقان سكان هذه القرى لأساليب الإنتاج الزراعي.

source: UNESCO/ERI

叙利亚北部古村落群

阿拉伯叙利亚共和国)由位于叙利亚西北部8座公园中的约40多个村庄所组成,是古代晚期至拜占庭时期乡村生活的不可多得的见证。这些村庄建于公元1至7世纪,后于8至10世纪遭到废弃,但这里的景观保存依然保存完好,民居、寺庙、教堂、蓄水池、澡堂等建筑遗存依然可见。村落文化景观遗存对于展现古罗马帝国的非基督教时代向拜占庭基督教时代的转变具有重要的价值。一些遗迹还表明这里曾使用过水利技术、防护墙以及古罗马农业规划手段,进一步展示了当地居民对农业生产技术的驾驭。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Древние деревни Северной Сирии

В восьми парках, расположенных на северо-западе Сирии, насчитывается около сорока деревень. Они хранят замечательные свидетельства сельской жизни эпохи поздней античности и византийского периода. Но в период между 8 и 10 веками жители покинули эти поселения, создававшиеся с 1 по 7 века н.э. До наших дней дошли прекрасно сохранившийся культурный ландшафт и архитектурные памятники - остатки жилищ, языческих храмов, церквей, водосборников, бань и т.д. Реликтовый культурный ландшафт деревень является ценным хранилищем сведений о переходном периоде от древнего языческого мира Римской империи к византийскому христианству. Развалины, дающие представление о создававшихся в те времена гидравлических устройствах, защитные стены и планировка сельскохозяйственных угодий, применявшаяся римлянами, - все это является убедительным свидетельством мастерства их жителей в организации сельскохозяйственного производства.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Aldeas antiguas del norte de Siria

Este sitio, que comprende cuarenta aldeas del noroeste de Siria agrupadas en ocho parques arqueológicos, constituye un notable testimonio de la vida rural en el periodo de la Antigüedad tardía y la época bizantina. Construidas desde el siglo I hasta el VII y abandonadas entre los siglos VIII y X, esas aldeas se caracterizan por el buen estado de conservación de su paisaje cultural y de los vestigios arquitectónicos de viviendas, templos paganos, iglesias, cisternas, baños termales y otros edificios. El paisaje cultural subsistente de las aldeas ilustra de modo notable la transición del mundo antiguo pagano del Imperio Romano al cristianismo bizantino. Los vestigios de técnicas hidráulicas, de muros de protección y de planes de parcelación agraria de la época romana muestran también el dominio de la agricultura que tenían los habitantes de esas aldeas.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Oude dorpen van Noord-Syrië

Dit gebied bestaat uit ongeveer 40 dorpen – gegroepeerd in acht parken – in een uitgestrekt kalksteen massief in het noordwesten van Syrië. De dorpen geven een opmerkelijk beeld van het landelijke leven in de late Oudheid en tijdens de Byzantijnse periode. De dorpen dateren uit de 1e tot de 7e eeuw en zijn verlaten in de 8e tot de 10e eeuw. Ze zijn opmerkelijk goed intact gebleven, net als de architectonische overblijfselen van woningen, heidense tempels, kerken, opslagplaatsen voor water en badhuizen. Verder zijn er overblijfselen die hydraulische technieken, beschermende muren en ontwerpen van Romeinse landbouwgrond illustreren. Een bewijs dat de bewoners de landbouwproductie beheersten.

Source: unesco.nl

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Kfeir © Simone Ricca
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Located in a vast Limestone Massif, in the northwest of Syria, some forty ancient villages provide a coherent and exceptionally broad insight into rural and village lifestyles in late Antiquity and the Byzantine Period. Abandoned in the 8th-10th centuries, they still retain a large part of their original monuments and buildings, in a remarkable state of preservation: dwellings, pagan temples, churches and Christian sanctuaries, funerary monuments, bathhouses, public buildings, buildings with economic or artisanal purposes, etc. It is also an exceptional illustration of the development of Christianity in the East, in village communities. Grouped in eight archaeological parks, the ensemble forms a series of unique and exceptional relict cultural landscapes.

Criterion (iii): The Ancient Villages of Northern Syria and their relict landscapes provide exceptional testimony to the lifestyles and cultural traditions of the rural civilisations that developed in the Middle East, in the context of a Mediterranean climate in mid-altitude limestone mountains from the 1st to the 7th centuries.

Criterion (iv): The Ancient Villages of Northern Syria and their relict landscapes provide exceptional testimony to the architecture of the rural house and civilian and religious community buildings at the end of the Classical era and in the Byzantine Period. Their association in villages and places of worship forms relict landscapes characteristic of the transition between the ancient pagan world and Byzantine Christianity.

Criterion (v): The Ancient Villages of Northern Syria and their relict landscapes provide an eminent example of a sustainable rural settlement from the 1st to the 7th centuries, based on the careful use of the soil, water and limestone, and the mastery of production of valuable agricultural crops. The economic functionality of the habitat, hydraulic engineering, low protective walls and the Roman agricultural plot plan inscribed on the relict landscapes are testimony to this.

Integrity

The architectural integrity is expressed adequately. The sites are sufficiently extensive; they encompass a large number of villages, places of worship, and monumental and archaeological testimonies to adequately express the Outstanding Universal Value. The number and quality of the relict landscapes are also adequate and essential to the expression of this value. Nonetheless, the recent trend of an agricultural re-settlement of the Limestone Massif could affect the built integrity of certain villages and the associated landscapes.

Authenticity

As a result of the absence of human occupation for a thousand years, the absence of any re-use of the stones and the absence of restoration/reconstruction campaigns in the 20th century, the property and its landscapes have retained a very high degree of authenticity. However, recent rural relocation could affect the conditions of authenticity, although replanting respectful of the ancient agricultural plot plan should contribute to revitalising the landscape without affecting its authenticity.

Protection and management requirements

The dynamic of the legal protection is heading in the right direction, notably following the decrees creating the parks, and to control farming and urban development compatible with the archaeological, monumental and landscape values of the sites. This must be reinforced by a revision of the Antiquities Law to improve the protection of the relict cultural landscapes.

The property is currently (2010) managed by the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), but on a transitional basis. The final management structure for the property will include eight parks set up for each of the sites, two management centres and the Maison du patrimoine  to manage the ensemble overall and coordinate conservation, under the control of the DGAM, the Ministry of Tourism and the provincial governors. These bodies are currently being set up and are essential. In liaison with the municipalities, they will be tasked with overseeing successful economic, social and tourism development compatible with the conservation and expression of the property's Outstanding Universal Value.