Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 75, Bosra, Syria

Next stop is the ancient city of Bosra.

Did you know that Bosra was mentioned in Egyptian records as early as 1300 BC, but it was not until the Nabataean kingdom relocated here from Petra, and Rome crowned it capital of the Province of Arabia, that its importance was secured?

The fertile land surrounding the city, and the 1st-century construction of a road linking it with Damascus in the north and Amman in the sout
h, ensured Bosra would become an important centre of trade and a key stop on caravan and pilgrimage routes throughout the Middle Ages.
This city of Bosra, was first mentioned in the Hieroglyphics of Thutmos III and Akhnatoun in the 14th century BC, and 1000 years later was the capital of the Nabatean kingdom under the name of Bousra.
Later in the Hellenistic era it bore the name of Boustra.
Bosra, grew the most under the Romans, who paid great attention to it and was named Niatrojana Bostra as the capital of the state of Djezire under the king Trojan.

It was later attacked by Zenobia in 268 AD, however she only occupied it for a while and did not leave her mark.

In the Byzantine period Bosra became the seat of an ar
chbishop who was in charge of 33 bishops in the area.

In 632 AD, Bosra was the first Byzantine city to fall to the Arab Muslims, and it flourished greatly as a point on both the trade route and the pilgrimage route between Damascus and Mecca.

The crusaders failed to take it over but it was their threat that pushed the Ayyubids into converting the theater into a fortress.

Bosra survived the Mongol invasion, and later under the Mamelukes the main pilgrimage routes moved westwards and this left Bosra quite abandoned, until the Druze moved here from Lebanon in the 18th and19th centuries.
Bosra is most famous for its magnificent Roman amphitheater, which was later converted into a fortress by the Ayyubids.

Wow, the original theater, which has been miraculously preserved, seats 15 000 and its stage is 45 meters in length and 8 meters in depth. It has been designed so that all the audience can hear the actors without the use of any special equipment. The theater has been renovated and restored, especially a lot of the columns.
Hmm, I wonder if the large area in front of the stage might have been used for circuses or gladiatorial matches??

Hey Feroz, did you know that before the town's fall to the Muslims in 634, the young Prophet Mohammed, passing through with his merchant uncle's caravans, encountered a wise priest named Bahira who, during theological discussions with the Prophet Mohammed, revealed to him his future vocation as the Prophet?

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