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Iṣfahān

(11,844 words)

Author(s): Lambton, A.K.S. | Sourdel-Thomine, J. | J. Sourdel-Thomine
(in Arabic Iṣbahān), a town and province in Persia, whose name, according to Hamza al-Iṣfahānī, means “the armies” (Māfarruk̲h̲ī, Kitāb Maḥāsin Iṣfahān , ed. Sayyid D̲j̲alāl al-Dīn Tihrāni, Tehran n.d., 5-6). 1. history The province, whose precise boundaries have varied at different times, is bounded on the north-east and east by the central desert. In the sou…

Baʿlabakk

(1,158 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, a small town in inland Lebanon, situated at about 3,700 ft. on the edge of the high plain of the Biḳāʿ [ q.v.], surrounded by an oasis of gardens watered by the large spring of Raʿs al-ʿAyn, which emerges at the foot of the Anti-Lebanon range. The freshness of its climate and the beauty of its vegetation have won the admiration of Arab authors, who have always extolled its g̲h̲ūṭa as reminiscent of that at Damascus. Various hypotheses have been made as to the etymology of its name, in which the Semitic Baal [see baʿl ] can be seen, but none seems entirely satisfactory. Baʿlabakk is chiefly famous…

al-G̲h̲āb

(464 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
name of the foundered trough, about 200 m./650 ft. above sea-level, crossed by the Orontes half-way along its course, between the plain of Ḥamāt and the narrow valley of Ḏj̲isr al-S̲h̲ug̲h̲r [ q.v.], characterized by unhealthy swampland. The faulted rock ledges of the Ḏj̲abal Anṣāriyya in the west and the Ḏj̲abal Zāwiya in the east stand out in sharp relief agains…

al-D̲j̲ābiya

(905 words)

Author(s): Lammens, H. | Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, the principal residence of the amīrs of G̲h̲assān, and for that reason known as “D̲j̲ābiya of kings”, situated in D̲j̲awlān [ q.v.], about 80 km. south of Damascus, not far from the site of the modern Nawā. It extended over several hills, hence perhaps the poetic form of plural D̲j̲awābī, with an allusion to the etymological sense of “reservoir”, the symbol of generosity (cf. Ag̲h̲ānī , xviii, 72). It was the perfect type of ancient bedouin ḥirt̲h̲ā/ḥīra , a huge encampment where nomads settled down, a jumble of tents and buildings; there is even a…

Diwrīgī

(897 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
or difrīgī , now divrigi, a small town in modern Turkey, situated on the confines of Armenia and Cappadocia on one of the routes leading from Syria and Upper Mesopotamia to the Anatolian plateau. Through it runs a torrent which flows into the Çaltı Irmak, a tributary of the Kara Su (northern Euphrates). This chief town of a ḳaḍāʾ in the province of Sivas, situated among market gardens and orchards which make it a pleasant resort—archaeological …

al-Dārūm

(414 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, the name of a coastal plain in Palestine, and later in particular the name of a famous fortress of the time of the Crusades, is to be found in the works of Arab authors with both these meanings. The Hebrew dārōm from which it is derived and to which it corresponds in the Arabic version of Deuteronomy, XXXIV, 3°, appeared in a few passages of the Old Testament for south as a cardinal point, or any country situated in the south (F. M. Abel), and it was later applied especially to t…

ʿAmwās

(395 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
or ʿamawās , the ancient Emmaus, still marked by a large village, was situated in the plain of Judæa at the foot of the mountains, some 19 miles from Jerusalem, and commanding one of the principal approach routes to the latter. The site of a victory won by Judas Maccabaeus in 166 B.C., it was fortified by the Seleucid general in 160 B.C. and became under Caesar the chief town of a toparchy, only to decline to the size of a small market-t…

Būḳa

(309 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, a place, no longer extant, in northern Syria, whose name is very probably a word of Syriac origin meaning “mosquito”, from which fact H. Lammens has inferred that the region was a marshy one. It figures in the Arabic texts of the first centuries of Islam. Nothing is known of its more ancient history, but it is mentioned in the narratives of the conquest by Abū ʿUbayda of the provinces of Antioch and Ḳinnasrīn, and appears to have had a certain importance in Umayyad times. Then it was near the …

Buzāʿā

(454 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
(or bizāʿā ), a locality in northern Syria about forty kilometres east of Aleppo in the rich valley of the Nahr al-D̲h̲ahab or Wādī Buṭnān [ q.v.], which has lost its former prosperity in favour of its western suburb Bāb al-Buzāʿa, today the small town of al-Bāb. The freshness of its gardens and its commercial activity attracted the attention of Ibn D̲j̲ubayr who stopped there in 580/1184, on the caravan route from Manbid̲j̲ to Aleppo. Half town and half village according to that writer, and dominated by a citadel from which its strength was derived, it managed to withstand after the establishment ¶ of the Crusaders in Syria numerous attacks resulting either in the plunder of its territory, or even, in 532/1138, its seizure by the Franks, followed in the same year by Zankī’s reoccupation. An inscription there mentions in 567/1171 the name of Ismāʿīl, the son of Nūr al-Dīn, before the town fell in 571/1175 to Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn, and passed after that into the hands…

al-Bāra

(439 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, place in northern Syria, belonging to what is called the region of the “dead towns”, in the centre of the limestone plateau, some fifteen kms. west of the important township of Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān. In the Middle Ages, as attested by the Arabic and Western texts, it served as a fortified cathedral town and its site is stilJ marked today by extensive ruins, among which the modern villages of al-Kafr and al-Bāra (names corresponding to the ancient Greek and Syriac terms, Kapropēra and kpr’d brt’) rise on both sides of a wādī . In bygone days, local trade as well as …

Ḥāʾir

(466 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
(a.), term (proved by various lexicographical investigations to be identical with ḥayr , see H. Pérès, La poésie andalouse en arabe classique , Paris 1937, 129) whose meaning is clarified by the study of the remains of ḥayrs still surviving around ancient princely residences of the Islamic Middle Ages. The frequent references by Arab authors, which lead to the conclusion that they were either parks or pleasure-gardens, provided sometimes with a sumptuous pavilion, or more exa…

Kitābāt

(26,210 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J. | Ory, S. | Ocaña Jiménez, M. | Golvin, L. | Bivar, A.D.H. | Et al.
(a.), inscriptions. 1. Islamic epigraphy in general. The study of Arabic inscriptions today constitutes a science full of promise, an auxiliary science to be sure, but a science indispensable to the scholarly exploitation of a whole category of authentic texts capable of throwing light on the civilisation in the context of which they were written. From a very early period, seeing that the first dated Arabic inscription available to us goes back to the year 31/652 and that we are aware of previous inscr…

al-Harawī al-Mawṣilī

(656 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, s̲h̲ayk̲h̲ Taḳī al-Dīn Abu ’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Abī Bakr, a Syrian author of the 6th/12th century and celebrated ascetic and pilgrim who, after a life of travelling, spent his last days at Aleppo, at the court of the Ayyūbid ruler al-Malik al-Ẓāhir G̲h̲āzī [ q.v.]. This ruler held him in high regard and built for him, at the gates of the town, the S̲h̲āfiʿī madrasa in which he taught and which still houses the remains of his tomb. The Arabic sources mention this “wandering ascetic” ( al-zāhid al-sāʾiḥ ) and devote varying biographical notes to him, though without…

ʿIrāḳ

(21,303 words)

Author(s): Miquel, A. | Brice, W.C. | Sourdel, D. | Aubin, J. | Holt, P.M. | Et al.
, a sovereign State, of the Muslim religion, for the most part Arabic-speaking, situated at the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent. i.—Geography The structure of ʿIrāḳ paradoxically derives its originality from the fact that it forms part of a large geographical block of territory. From the Arabo-Syrian desert tableland which i…

Bāniyās

(334 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
(or Buluniyās ), the ancient Balanea, which also bore the name of Leucas; attempts have several times been made to identify it with an “Apollonia which never existed on this site” (R. Dussaud). It is today a small township on the Syrian coast situated some fifty kms. to the south of Latakiya. This ancient Phoenician settlement, which became a Greek city minting its own coinage and, later, the seat of a bishopric, was incorporated in the d̲j̲und of Ḥims at the time of the Arab conquest. It was, however, especially at the time of the Crusades, that i…

Ayn al-Ḏj̲arr

(413 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, an ancient and important site in the Biḳāʿ [ q.v.] and an Umayyad residence, the Arab name of which, now pronounced ʿAnd̲j̲ar, corresponds to the Greek and Syriac Gerrha and ʿIn Gero. The main source of the Litani, which comes forth at the foot of the Anti-Lebanon, not far from the modern road from Beirut to Damascus, for a long time formed a swampy lake there stretching to Karak Nūḥ, which was only finally drained in the Mamlūk period. The remains of a temple, later converted into a small fort (hence the expression ḥiṣn Mad̲j̲dal used at the period of the Crusades), which s…

Bayt Laḥm

(520 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, large Palestinian village and celebrated centre of pilgrimage si…

al-Ḏj̲ibāl

(757 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, name formerly given by Arab authors to that portion of Arabia Petrea situated directly south of the Wādī al-Ḥasā, an affluent of the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, which from its lofty summits (rising to 1400 or 1600 m.) dominates the depression of the Wādī al-ʿAraba [ q.v.], the southern prolongation of the Jordan Fault. This important mountain system, continued afterwards by that of al-S̲h̲arāt [ q.v.] with which it is often confused, thus corresponds to the broken ¶ border of the steppe desert, in a region where the Transjordan plateau perceptibly rises. Its tortu…

al-Biḳāʿ

(570 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, plural of al-Baḳʿa, the proper name of the elongated plain commonly called the Bekaa, which, at a mean altitude of 1,000 metres, lies between the mountains of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. The ancients had clearly defined it by the term Coele Syria (Hollow Syria) of which the application was subsequently extended. It is a depression of tectonic origin filled in by sediment, and is an extension of the Jordan rift along the north-south axis which forms one of the basic features …

Barzūya

(264 words)

Author(s): Sourdel-Thomine, J.
, Arabic name, attested by Yāḳūt, of a fortress to which modern writers, following a reference to it by Anna Comnena, prefer to apply the name Bourzey. The local people call it Ḳalʿat Marza. The ruins of this castle, standing on the eastern slope of the Alaouite massif, still dominate the marshy depression of the G̲h̲āb. It had a troubled history from Hellenic times, when the impregnable position of Lysias was known. At the time of the Syrian expedition of the Emperor Tzimisces in 365/975, it pa…
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