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Δαμασκός; in Hebrew, Dammesek; in Arabic, Dimeshk-es-Sham). One of the principal cities of Syria, in what was called Coelé-Syria, a few miles to the east of Antilibanus, where the chain begins to turn off to the southeast, under the name of Carmel. It is beautifully situated in an extensive and pleasant plain, and watered by a river called by the Greeks Bardiné or Chrysorrhoas, “the golden stream,” now Barada. The Biblical name of this stream was Abana. Damascus is supposed to have been founded by Uz, the eldest son of Aram (Gen. x. 23). However this

South Wall of Damascus.

may be, it existed in the time of Abraham, and may be reckoned one of the most ancient cities of Syria. It was conquered by David (2 Sam. viii. 6), but freed itself from the Jewish yoke in the time of Solomon (1 Kings, xi. 23 foll.), and became the seat of a new principality, which often harassed the kingdoms of both Judah and Israel. It afterwards fell, in succession, under the power of the Assyrians and the Persians, and came from the latter into the hands of the Seleucidae. Damascus, however, did not flourish much under the Greek dynasty, as it had while held by the Persians. The Seleucidae neglected the place, and bestowed all their favour on the new cities erected by them in the northern parts of Syria; and here, no doubt, lies the reason why the later Greek and Roman writers say so little of the city itself, though they are all loud in their praises of the adjacent country. Damascus was seized by the Romans in the war of Pompey with Tigranes, B.C. 65, but still continued, as under the Greek dynasty, a comparatively unimportant place until the time of Diocletian. This emperor, feeling the necessity of a strongly fortified city in this quarter, as a dépôt for munitions of war and a military post against the frequent inroads of the Saracens, selected Damascus for the purpose. Everything was done, accordingly, to strengthen the place; extensive magazines were also established, and likewise numerous workshops for the preparation of weapons of war. It is not unlikely that the high reputation to which Damascus afterwards attained for its manufacture of sword-blades and other works in steel, may have had its first foundations laid by this arrangement on the part of Diocletian. The city continued from this time to be a flourishing place. In the seventh century it fell into the hands of the Saracens, and was for some time after this the seat of the califs. Its prosperity, too, remained unimpaired, since the route of the principal caravans to Mecca lay through it. It was sacked by Tamerlane, and finally became subject to the Turks.

Coin of Damascus.

The Great Mosque of Damascus still shows traces of the Graeco-Roman architecture. See Walch, Antiquitates Damasc. Illustratae; and Addison, Damascus and Palmyra.

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