On an escarpment 3 km SE
of Qanawat (ancient Canatha), Seia had a sanctuary dedicated to the god Baalshamin, built in several stages between the 1st c. B.C. and the 2d c. A.D. The architecture and the sculptured decoration reveal local traditions
increasingly marked by Roman influence.
The sanctuary had three successive enclosures running
from E to W. The first two were flanked by terraces cut
into the rock, higher to the S and lower to the N.
A paved road about 300 m long came from the E,
passed S of the public baths and under a monumental
arch, and ended 150 m farther on at the entrance to the
sanctuary. A Roman gate with three bays, erected in the
2d c. A.D., opened onto the first courtyard, rectangular
and paved. A stairway went up to the S terrace, where
the high podium of a small temple of Classical plan still
stands. The details of its construction are purely Nabataean, dating the first building period to 33 B.C-A.D. 50.
In the NW corner of the courtyard a monument of the
Roman period, with good sculptures, sealed off two of
the five bays of a Nabataean gate. The monument dates
from the beginning of the 1st c. A.D. and was remodeled
later. The gate opens onto a second flagged courtyard,
longer and differently oriented. At the W end of the
high terrace is the well-preserved podium of a temple
of Iranian plan, probably dedicated to Dushara. An inscription dates it to the 33d year of the tetrarch Philip
(A.D. 29-30). Above the central intercolumniation on the
facade was a semicircular frontone siriaco under a triangular pediment.
A wall with fine basalt blocks separated the second
from the third courtyard, which was reached by some
steps and an elaborate gate (restored molding at Princeton University). The third courtyard is a long quadrangular enclosure with the temple of Baalshamin in the middle. In front of the temple facade a colonnade lines the
three sides of the courtyard; it has two steps or levels,
forming a theatron, as the Nabataean dedicatory inscription calls it. The walls of the enclosure extend to right
and left of the temple, leaving a narrow passage on either
side which leads to a paved area in the rear.
The temple was erected in 33-32 B.C. of magnificent
masonry, which still stood 2 m high some time ago. It
had an unusual square plan with the diagonals oriented
on the points of the compass. The porch was supported
by two columns between two pavilions adorned with corner pilasters, and a continuous frieze ran along the entire facade. The upper story of each pavilion formed a tower. The intercolumniation was topped by a triangular
pediment with a sculptured tympanum. Beneath the portico four pedestals with Greek or Nabataean inscriptions
carried statues, one of which was of Herod the Great.
The frame of the main door had a magnificent decoration of vines, and the lintel was decorated with a bust
of Baalshamin (all now in the Louvre). There was a
wide corridor between the outer walls and the cella,
which had a single door to the SE, and four columns in
the middle. These formed an impluvium or, more likely,
supported a lantern.
Two reliefs of Mithra slaughtering bulls, found at Seia,
are now in the Damascus museum.
M. de Vogüé, Syrie centrale, Architecture civile et religieuse
; H. C. Butler, PAES
Pt. II, Architecture
, Sec. A, Southern Syria
P. Collart, “Orientation et implantation de deux grands
sanctuaires syriens,” Annales archéologiques arabes syriennes