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APAMEA (Qalaat al-Mudik) Syria.

One of the four great cities founded by Seleucus I Nicator (301-281 B.C.) in N Syria, Apamea on the Orontes was a citadel of the Seleucid kings, their treasury, and their horse-breeding center. In the 1st c. B.C. Pompey destroyed the fortress and Augustus punished the city for having sided with Anthony. Reestablished in the 1st c. A.D. under the name Claudia Apamea, in the Late Empire it was the seat of famous schools of philosophy. It became an important Christian metropolis, was fortified by Justinian, sacked by the Persians, and destroyed in the Moslem conquest in the 7th c. A.D. Only the acropolis, which was made into a fortress, remained inhabited.

The site is a plateau on the SW tip of Jebel Zawiye overlooking the valley of the Orontes. The ancient ramparts enclosed an area of more than 200 ha. The principal remains are a theater, a great colonnaded avenue, a basilican building and a forum, several large churches, the N rampart gate, and some necropoleis.

The citadel was on a hill to the W separated from the plateau by a slight hollow; the only traces are the many stones reused in the Saracen ramparts and in modern houses. In the hollow SE of the acropolis are the ruins of a large theater of the Roman period, with a diameter of 145 m. The hemicycle, which is badly damaged, is supported by the slope of the hill to the W and by thick, radiating walls and arcades to the E. The scaenae frons follows the Roman pattern of a semicircular exedra flanked by two rectangular ones, while the Corinthian pilasters on the rear facade of the stage building and the precision of the stone-cutting and joints exemplify the Hellenistic tradition.

Linking the ruins is a N-S avenue ca. 1600 m long built in the 2d c. A.D.; it is 24 m wide, and has a covered portico 10.5 m high and 7.5 m wide on each side. In different sections the columns have plain shafts, straight fluting, or curious spiral fluting. Several sections have been restored. At the extreme S the rear wall of the W portico, which has doorways at ground level and windows above, bears traces of painted inscriptions from the Late Empire, actually a wine tariff. At the center of the avenue, to the E, is a section made up of columns with spiral fluting and brackets, engaged in the shafts, that carried statues of Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus. The portico at the N end still bears a series of inscriptions honoring the founder, Lucius Julius Agrippa, who dedicated the portico, a basilica, and some adjacent baths in A.D. 116. A large part of the porticos was paved with mosaics.

Near the middle of the avenue, to the E, is a quadrangular pillar carved with vine scrolls and Bacchic scenes, among them the legend of Lycurgus and Ambrosia. This pillar supported a great arch at the entrance to a cross street. The E-W streets off the great avenue are regularly spaced at intervals of ca. 110 m; the N-S streets are 55 m apart. The gridiron plan probably dates from the beginning of the Hellenistic period.

At the center of the great avenue, on its W side, are the massive remains of a monument, basilican in plan, which an inscription apparently identifies as the Tycheion. Three large bays, with arches over them supported by engaged Corinthian columns, led to a huge three-naved hall lighted on the other three sides by windows with grilles. The hall stands on a podium ca. 3 m high. To the W is the forum, a large rectangular courtyard lined with columned porticos. It is reached from the great avenue by a street 9 m wide, with a double colonnade. At the entrance to this street were two enormous columns with spiral fluting, at the other end four similar columns carrying honorific statues. The outer wall of the forum had windows with grilles let into it, and the outside of the wall bore brackets for statues. On the N side stood a large portico, only a few columns of which are still standing. They have swelling bases carved with five rows of ivy leaves with broad acanthus leaves above them, and are supported by two molded plinths placed one on top of the other.

Near the intersection of the great avenue and the street leading from the theater was a circular building ca. 25 m in diameter that consisted of a portico surrounding a courtyard. To the SE was a market, a section of which was paved with mosaic in the middle of the 5th c. A.D. At 150 m S of the intersection was an enormous church with an atrium, opening onto the E side of the colonnade. Its earliest mosaics date from the end of the 4th c. A.D., but it was rebuilt several times in the 5th and 6th c. The church was found to have been built over the great synagogue of the late 4th c. A.D., which had an enormous floor mosaic containing numerous Greek donor inscriptions. The principal mosaic was a composition in the Pompeian style in shimmering colors, representing the Muses dancing.

Ruins of several other Christian basilicas of conventional plan (three naves and a narthex) have been found, one NW of the city, another outside the city walls, 500 m to the N. A large Christian church had been built with materials from a monument of the Roman period, mosaics from which have been found beneath the marble floors. A number of buildings, notably a large house with a triclinium now being excavated, contain storied floor mosaics in many colors. The majority of the Apamea mosaics as well as many pieces of marble sculpture have been moved to the Damascus and Brussels museums (part of the Brussels collection was lost in a fire).

At the N end of the great avenue is a gate in the wall, rebuilt in the Byzantine period. It consists of a semicircular archway flanked by two half-ruined towers. The necropoleis, principally to the N and E of the city, contain various types of tombs, sarcophagi, urns, and hypogaea with arcosolia; many stelai were reused in the ramparts during the Byzantine period.


H. C. Butler, AAES Pt. II, Architecture and other Arts (1903)I; F. Mayence, AntCl 1 (1932); 4 (1935); 5 (1936); 8 (1939)I; id., BMusArt 3 ser. 3 (1931); 4 (1932); 6 (1935); 8 (1936); 10 (1938)I; E. Frézouls, “Les théâtres romains de Syrie,” Annales archéologiques de Syrie 2 (1952)I; id., Syria 36 (1959); 38 (1961)I; V. Verhoogen, Apamée de Syrie aux Musées royaux d'art et d'histoire (1964)I; J.-C. Balty, “Rapport sommaire concernant les campagnes de 1965 et 1966 à Apámee,” Annales archéologiques arabes syriennes 17 (1967)I; id., “La grande mosaïque de chasse du Triclinos,” Fouilles d'Apamée de Syrie, Misc. 2 (1969)I; id., ed., Apamée de Syrie, Bilan des recherches archéologiques (Colloques de Bruxelles, 1969 et 1972)PI; id. “Mosaïque de Gè et des Saisons à Apamée,” Syria 50 (1973)I.


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