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Mard̲j̲ al-Ṣuffar

(2,923 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, the plain stretching from the south of the G̲h̲ūṭa and falling within the administrative district of Damascus ( arḍ Dimas̲h̲ḳ ). It holds an important position in the history of Syria because of the many battles occurring there over the centuries and the frequent crossings of it by pilgrims. It provides a convenient stopping place south of Damascus, and because of the good water supply there and excellent grazing, it makes an ideal encampment for any army travelling from the north or the south. To the north it is bounded by the right bank of the Nahr al-Aʿwad̲j̲, which drops d…

Mard̲j̲ Rāhiṭ

(2,214 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, the name of a plain near Damascus famous in Islamic history on account of the battles which took place there. According to Ibn Ḥawḳal, “a mard̲j̲ is a wide expanse of land with numerous estates where large ¶ and small cattle and beasts are raised”. For M. Canard ( H’amdânides , 204), a mard̲j̲ is “the place where agriculture and gardens cease to be found”. Beyond the mard̲j̲ lies the ḥamād , the sterile terrain. Mard̲j̲ is a term which, in reference to Damascus, denotes a semicircular zone situated between the G̲h̲ūṭa [ q.v.] and the marches of ʿUṭayba and Ḥid̲j̲d̲j̲āna, and the desert…


(16,125 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, Dimas̲h̲ḳ al-S̲h̲ām or simply al-S̲h̲ām , (Lat. Damascus, Fr. Damas) is the largest city of Syria. It is situated at longitude 36° 18′ east and latitude 33° 30′ north, very much at the same latitude as Bag̲h̲dād and Fās, at an altitude of nearly 700 metres, on the edge of the desert at the foot of Diabal Ḳāsiyūn, one of the massifs of the eastern slopes of the Anti-Lebanon. To the east and the north-east the steppe extends as far as the Euphrates, while to the south it merges with Arabia. A hundred or more kilometres from the Mediterranean behind the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, a doubl…


(3,759 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
(European transcriptions: Lattaquié, Latakia), a major Syrian port, was known by the Greek name of Λαοδίκεια ἡ ἐπι θαλάσση, and later by the Latin name of Laodicea ad Mare, whilst the Crusaders called it La Liche. In the second millenium, the settlement bore the name of Ramitha of the Phoenicians and was dependent, before taking its place, on Ugarit, a powerful metropolis lying 8 miles/12 km. to the north. It was in 327 B.C., or six years after the death of Alexander that Seleucus Nicator (301-281 B.C.) founded on this site ¶ a city to which he gave the name of Laodicea in honour of h…

Nūr al-Dīn Maḥmūd b. Zankī

(6,699 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, Zankid or Zangid sultan and successor to Zankī (d. 565/1174), who was murdered during the siege of Ḳalʿat D̲j̲aʿbar [ q.v.] in Rabīʿ I 541/September 1146. The succession posed a series of problems since there were four heirs: Sayf al-Dīn G̲h̲āzī, the eldest, represented his father at Mawṣil [ q.v.], the second son, Nūr al-Dīn Maḥmūd, had accompanied his father in the majority of his military operations, the third, Nuṣrat al-Dīn Amīr-Amīrān, was to be governor of Ḥarrān [ q.v.], the fourth son, Ḳuṭb al-Dīn Mawdūd [ q.v.] was to succeed his eldest brother at Mawṣil. There was also …


(425 words)

Author(s): Buhl, F. | Elisséeff, N.
, the Edrei of the Bible, to-day Derʿa, chief town of Ḥawrān, 106 km. south of Damascus. Situated on the borderline between a basaltic region and the desert, the town, formerly renowned for its wine and oil, was always a great market for cereals and an important centre of trade routes. Before the Assyrian conquest (732 B.C.) the kingdoms of Damascus and Israel contended for it; some scholars have identified it with the Aduri of the Amarna tablets. The capital of Batanea, Adraa was taken by Antio…


(1,022 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, Muʿān , a town of the south of Jordan, lying in lat. 30° 12′ N. and long. 35° 44′ E. at an altitude of 3,523 ft./1,074 m., and the chef-lieu of the governorate which is to the south of the Karak [ q.v.] one and to the east of the Wādī ʿAraba. The name is said to come from Maʿān, son of Lot. The town is surrounded by gardens which form an oasis of the western fringe of the desert plain; to its east are the slopes of the al-S̲h̲arāt mountain chain of granite and porphyry, which rise to 5,665 ft./1,727 m. In Maʿan itself and the neighbourhood are many springs…


(1,420 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, Greek Μασχάνη, from the Syriac Maškenē (cf. Pauly-Wissowa, xiv/1, col. 2963), a small town, now a village, in the northern part of Syria. The name is mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium in regard to the war of Septimius Severus against the Parthians in 224 A.D. The Arabic geographers and chroniclers of the Middle Ages only mention Bālis [ q.v.] in this region, situated 4 km./2½ miles to the south-east of Maskana. The place is situated in long. 38° 05′ N. and 36° lat. E. at about 100 km./63 miles to the east of Ḥalab [ q.v.] or Aleppo on a Pleistocene terrace which forces the Euphrates (al-Furāt [ q.v…


(2,980 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N. | Andrews, P.A.
(a., pl. manāzil ), noun of place and time from the root n - z - l, which expresses the idea of halting, a temporary stay, thence stage of a journey. 1. In the central and western Islamic lands. In the Ḳurʾān (X,5; XXXVII, 39), it appears only in the plural, designating the lunar mansions ( manāzil [ q.v.]). Manzil may also be a stage in the spiritual journey of the soul, in the mystical initiation, see e.g. in the title of ʿAbd Allāh al-Anṣārī al-Harawi’s K. Manāzil al-sāʾirīn . According to the LA, it is the place where one halts ( mawḍiʿ al-nuzūl ), where the traveller dismounts after a day’s march ( mar…


(256 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
(a dialectal contraction of Bayt al-Dīn derived from the Syriac Bēt̲h̲-Dīnā), a place with 800 inhabitants, situated 800 ms. above sea-level and 45 kms. from Bayrūt; the terraces surrounding it grow chiefly vines and olives. Bteddīn constitutes with Dayr al-Ḳamar, a Maronite administrative enclave in the Druze region of S̲h̲ūf. It owes its fortune to the fact that the amīr Bas̲h̲ir II S̲h̲ihāb [ q.v.] (1788-1840) chose it as his residence in 1807 and brought the water of the Safa there by means of a viaduct between 1812 and 1815. Hence a certain number of ad…

Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān

(5,760 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, chef-lieu of a ḳaḍāʾ of North Syria comprising the southern half of the D̲j̲abal Zāwiya, which consists of the ¶ southern part of the Be lus massif with numerous villages. Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān, famous as the birthplace of the blind poet al-Maʿarrī [ q.v.], is situated at about 500 m. altitude, in lat. 35° 38′ N. and long. 36° 40′ E. Falling within northern Phoenicia, two days’ journey to the south of Ḥalab or Aleppo (70 km.), it is situated on the eastern fringe of a massif rich in archaeologic…


(1,702 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, a place in western Syria, situated in the D̲j̲abal Bahrāʾ region. This last becomes lower as it falls southwards, with a large gap commanded to the north by Ṣāfīt̲h̲a and Ḥiṣn al-Akrād [ q.v.] and to the south by ʿAkkār and ʿIrḳa [ q.vv.]. The mountains of the ʿAlawīs fall southwards into the Ṣāfīt̲h̲a depression. Ṣāfīt̲h̲a was the ’Αργυρόκστρων of Byzantine authors, Castrum Album or Chastel Blanc of the ¶ Latin ones, and is the main place in the district, with its fortress called in Arabic texts Burd̲j̲ Ṣāfit̲h̲a; this last lies to the eas…


(354 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
or Bécharré, one of the oldest villages in northern Lebanon, 1400 metres above sea-level. It is situated at the bottom of an amphitheatre at the entrance to the Ḳadīs̲h̲a gorge, a hollow ravine of many caves and hermitages, where traces of very ancient monastic settlements are to be found. The Arab geographers refer to the district under the name of D̲j̲ubbat Bs̲h̲arrīyya or Bs̲h̲arrā. At the time of the Crusades it was one of the fiefs of the County of Tripoli, under the name of Buissera. A stronghold of the Maronite mountain, it depended under the Mamlūk domination from the niyāba


(1,818 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, an ancient town and military district in Syria; the name is of Aramaic origin and appears as Kennes̲h̲rīn in the Syriac texts. Composed of ḳinnā “nest” and nasrīn “of eagles”, it is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud in the form of Kannis̲h̲rayyā and the European historians of the Middle Ages called the area Canestrine. A distinction must be drawn between the town and the d̲j̲und . 1. The town. At the present day, Ḳinnasrīn is nothing more than a little village surrounded by ruins, a day’s journey to the south of Aleppo, on the right bank of the Ḳuwayḳ which …


(1,058 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
(a.) meant, in the Umayyad period, a residence in the countryside (whence the verb tabaddā ), an estate in the environs of a settlement or a rural landed property in the Syro-Jordanian steppeland. For Musil, the bādiya was the successor to the summer encampment called by the old Syrian Bedouin name of al-ḥīra . At the opening of the 20th century, the sense was restricted by archaeologists to the desert castles. They went so far as to construct theories about the attraction of the Bedouin way of life for the Umayyads and about the conservatory role…


(7,272 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, an ancient town of Syria which was situated to the north-east of Aleppo. It appears that an urban settlement with the name Nappigi or Nampīgi existed on this site in the Assyrian period. In the time of Shalmaneser, it was known as Lita As̲h̲ūr, The Syriac appears to refer back to the Assyrian root; in fact the name became Mabbog or Mambog which signifies “gushing water”, linked, according to Yāḳūt, to the root nabad̲j̲a . “to gush”, which would hardly be surprising in a region of abundant springs. The following spellings are encountered: in the …


(6,030 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, a word of Persian origin designating on the one hand a staging-post and lodging [see also manzil ] on the main communication routes, on the other a warehouse, later a hostelry [see also funḍuḳ ] in the more important urban centres. I. The highway k̲h̲ān. The economic functions served by this institution have changed little from the Middle Ages to the present day. It had its roots in the beginnings of organised highway trade in the earliest times, but it flourished with particular vigour in the Islamic world. The K̲h̲ān was born of the need to ensure safe lodgi…


(2,180 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, name given in Syria to abundantly irrigated areas of intense cultivation surrounded by arid land. A g̲h̲ūṭa is produced by the co-operative activity of a rural community settled near to one or several perennial springs, whose water is used in a system of canalization to irrigate several dozen or several hundred acres. Each g̲h̲ūṭa has its own particular system of irrigation based on cycles of varying length. The soil in a g̲h̲ūṭa is usually laid out in platforms which form terraces of watered zones, the level sections of which are supported by stone walls two to s…


(515 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
(D̲j̲abal), mountain which forms part of the Anti-Lebanon and rises to the northwest of Damascus [see dimas̲h̲ḳ ]. Two tributaries of the Baradā [ q.v.], the Nahr T̲h̲awra and the Nahr Yazīd, up until the middle of the 20th century used to irrigate the orchards of Nayrab, which rose in tiers on its southern flank. This mountain has a sacred character because God is said to have spoken to it and also due to ancient traditions which relate to some grottoes opening in the midst of the slope. Three of them, Muṣallāt al-K̲h̲iḍr, Mag̲h̲ārat al-D̲j̲awʿ and…

Ḥamza al-Ḥarrānī

(534 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, ancestor of the Banū Ḥamza who for several generations held the office of naḳīb al-as̲h̲rāf [see s̲h̲arīf ] in Damascus, with the result that in the end the family was named Bayt al-Naḳīb . As early as 330/942 a representative of this house, Ismāʿīl b. Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad al-Natīf, was acting as naḳīb . Several of his descendants distinguished themselves through their ability and learning. Two sons of ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm, the sayyid Nāṣir al-Dīn Muḥammad and the sayyid S̲h̲ihāb al-Dīn, left their names in the history of Damascus. The former, called al-Zurayḳ o…
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