Petra of Syria – Moa'tarem Castle, Archaeological Rocky Mountain

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Moa’atarem Castle of Idleb constitutes a magnificent archaeological work of art that reflects human skills and creativity.

Moa'atarem Castle of Idleb , Syria The castle, situated within a rocky mountain in the northwest part of Syria, 20 km south of Idleb City, dates back to the Nabatean Era. The castle was named Petra of Idleb because of its structure that is similar to Petra City in Jordan regarding its location, the engraved rooms and residential caves in cliffs.

Director of Excavation and Archaeological Studies Section at Idleb Archaeology Department Anas Haj Zeidan said that the castle is 80 m to 100 m high in the mid slope.

The castle consists of two floors: the first floor contains caves of different sizes used to serve as houses and a judicial building which contained a gibbet and a judge’s platform of 2 m high, he added.

Zeidan said that excavation works revealed a deep funnel-shaped – well of 5 m high x 5 m wide, with a door at the bottom. The door leads to a number of Byzantine graves and an ancient oil press.

Remains of an oil press at Moa'atarem Castle of Idleb , Syria An engraved staircase of 22 steps leads you to the second floor. To the left of the staircase, there is a rocky stone bench (mastaba) with a fireplace at the entrance. A 60 cm diameter water tank carved in stone of 150 cm deep can be seen to the right side of the staircase. The water was drawn to the tank through a tunnel from a large basin at a carved basin on the top of the castle build to collect rainwater.

Head of Idleb Antiquities Department Nicola Kabbad said the castle was built in a military design due to its strategic location to help protect it. It played an important role as military observatory and fort over the years.

Kabbad added that a residence of 70 m high lies 300 m to the east of the castle. It can be reached through a stairway leading to a stone gap which constitutes the gate for other residential caves scattered throughout the mountain slopes.


Author: R. Raslan | Source: Global Arab Network [January 04, 2011]


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