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EMESA (Homs) Syria.

Town near the Orontes, between Palmyra and the sea. It was the capital of the Emesene Arabs, whose dynasts (called Jamblichus, Sohaem, or Samsigeram) were vassals of the Romans from the 1st c. B.C. to the 1st c. A.D. It was the native town of the emperor Elagabalus, and of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. Emesa was raised to colonial status and flourished at the beginning of the 3d c. A.D. It was famous for its temple of the Sun and the cult of its black stone. It declined with the fall of Palmyra, but became an important Christian metropolis.

There are few ancient remains. The great mosque occupies the site of the temple. Coins show that the temple had sculptured columns of a rare type. The necropoleis have produced fine basalt stelai with portraits of the dead (in the Damascus museum). The main monument (replaced by the railway station) was a tall, square, funerary tower with two stories, adorned with engaged columns, a frieze of wreaths and ox-bucrania, and capped by a tall pyramid. It was the mausoleum of Caius Julius Sampsigeramus, who died in 78 or 79. The same necropolis has produced a funerary mask with attached helmet in chased silver, parade weapons, pieces of armor, and jewelry (in the Damascus museum). The countryside around Homs shows traces of centuriation.


L. F. Cassas, Voyage pittoresque de la Syrie, de la Phénicie (1799)I; C. Watzinger, “Das Grabmal des Samsigeramos,” Kunsthistorische Sallskapets Publikation (1923)I; H. Seyrig, “Antiquités de la nécropole d'Emèse,” Syria 29 (1952); 30 (1953)I; id., “Caractères de l'histoire d'Emèse,” ibid. 34 (1959)M; W. J. Van Liere, “Ager centuriatus of the Roman colonia of Emesa,” Annales Archéologiques de Syrie 8-9 (1958-59).


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