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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…


(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…


(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…

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…

Ḥiṣn al-Akrād

(2,945 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
(“Fortress of the Kurds”), a castle in Syria known in Europe by the name of “Crac des Chevaliers”. The castle crowns a rounded and almost isolated summit, mount K̲h̲alīl, the last southerly inclination of the D̲j̲abal Anṣāriyya, some 60 km. to the north-west of Ḥimṣ. Situated like an eagle’s nest at a height of 750 m. on a spur flanked by two ravines on the north-east and north-west, it overlooks from a height of 300 m. the plain of the Buḳayʿa [ q.v.] which extends eastward and southeastward. In the Frankish period this very fertile cultivated region contained numerous farms…


(1,019 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, referred to by Naʿamān the leper (Kings, ii, 5, 12) by the name of Abana, and by Greek and Latin authors called Chrysorrhoas, is the most important perennial river of the eastern slopes of the Anti-Lebanon. It has determined the site of Damascus and permitted the development of the G̲h̲ūṭa. It owes its existence to the high peaks which dominate the gap between Zabadānī and Sarg̲h̲āya. At the foot of a limestone cliff over 1,000 m. high, a copious Vauclusian spring forms a vast lake on the Western side of the Zabadānī hollow at the foot of the …

Ḳaṣr al-Ḥayr al-G̲h̲arbī

(1,563 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
Umayyad castle in the Syrian desert at 60 km. SSW of Palmyra (Tadmur [ q.v.]) on the track connecting this oasis to Damascus via Ḳaryatayn and the one leading from Ḥimṣ [ q.v.] to al-Ḏj̲awf [ q.v.] through the pass of Harbaka. The whole of the Umayyad ruins include a ḥammām , a k̲h̲ān , a large garden ( bustān ), a zone of cultivable lands irrigated by canalizations connected with a birka and with the Roman dam of Harbaḳa, and a residential palace which occupies an important place in the history of Umayyad architecture and environment in the Near East. Before the organization of this bādiya [ q.v.], s…


(712 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, the name of a pre-Islamic site famous for its abundant water and shady gardens, and often celebrated by Damascene poets who discovered This name in Ḥassān b. T̲h̲ābit. It was there that the G̲h̲assānid princes of the Ḏj̲afnid branch venerated the tomb of one of their ancestors, and that they built what was, with the exception of D̲j̲ābiya [ q.v.], the most renowned of their dwellings. It was also no doubt the principal, if not permanent, place of encampment for their troops. About twelve kilometres south of Damascus, the place became a bādiya [see ḥīra ] to which Ya…

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…


(7,232 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, a fortress situated on the Syrian coast. The name of al-Markab, from the root raḳaba “observe, watch”, denotes any elevated site from which it is possible to see and observe,’ such as the summit of a mountain, of a fortified castle or of a watch-tower ( LA, ed. Beirut 1955, i, 424-8; Yāḳūt, ¶ ed. Beirut 1957, v, 108-9). Arab authors generally call this stronghold al-Marḳab; also found are Ḳalʿat Marḳab and Ḥiṣn Marḳab. There are also Arabic transcriptions such as Mār Kābūs for Markappos, Mār Kābān for Marckapan, Mār G̲h̲ātūm for Margathum or Mārg…

Ibn Abī ʿAṣrūn

(466 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, S̲h̲araf al-Dīn Abū Saʿd ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad b. Hibat Allāh b. Muṭahhar al-Tamīmī al-Mawṣilī, later al-Ḥalabī and finally al-Dimas̲h̲ḳī, was the most important S̲h̲āfiʿī scholar of his time. He was born in Rabīʿ I 492 or 493/February 1099 or 1100 at Ḥadīt̲h̲a, studied at Mawṣil and then at Wāsiṭ, with Abū ʿAlī al-Fāriḳī, and at Bag̲h̲dād, particularly with Asʿad al-Mayhanī and Ibn Burhān (see the list of his teachers in al-Nuʿaymī, Dāris , 400). From 523/1129, he taught at Mawṣil, then went to settle in the region of Sind̲j̲ār and was appointed ḳāḍī of Sind̲j̲ār, Niṣībīn and Ḥarrān.…

Ibn ʿUmar, D̲j̲azīrat

(1,046 words)

Author(s): Elisséeff, N.
, in Turkish Cezire-i Ibn Ömer or Cizre , today a frontier town between Turkey and Syria, is said to have been founded by and named after al-Ḥasan b. ʿUmar b. al-K̲h̲aṭṭāb al-Tag̲h̲libī (d. ca. 250/865). Its construction is attributed also to Ardas̲h̲īr Bābakān. The ancient town was called in Aramaic D̲j̲azarta d’Kardū, a name which re-appears in Christian texts of the 16th and 17th centuries. It has been identified with the ancient Bāzabdā, where Alexander the Great crossed the Tigris; later This was one of the foremost points …
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