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ANCIENT  GREEKS

In the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great there was a major change in regional focus.  Europe had always been in contact with Eastern cultures, but spread of the Greek language made trade and the exchange of ideas much easier.  The Eastern shore of the Mediterranean became integrated into Western economies.  Syria was a critical hub for trade with the East - China in particular - and offered  fertile soil for raising crops.  One of Alexander’s generals, Seleucus, gained control of Syria after the death of Alexander and built one of his four capitals at Apamea. The site controls a plain that provided the breeding grounds for the powerful horses used for transport in both peace and war.  What stands today is one of the finest examples of Greek architecture.

Seleucus I Nicator founded Apamea in the 3rd century BC and named it after his wife. It was damaged by an earthquake in AD 115 and rebuilt by Trajan and then Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180).  The main road (the cardo maximus) runs along the North-South axis and stretches 1.85 kilometres. It was originally lined with civic and religious buildings as well as shops.

Some of the columns in Apamea are fluted, here visible on the bottom of the image. Few sites have such columns, which represent a late Roman style with rich ornamentation, termed ‘Roman Baroque’ and probably dated after AD 166.

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DR. MURRAY EILAND

ARCHAEOLOGIST

UNIVERSITY OF DAMASCUS

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