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Town founded by the Macedonians, 70 km N-NW of Aleppo, an important strategic position at the beginning of the Hellenistic period and later under Roman rule. It was sacked by the Sasanians in A.D. 256. In the 5th c. it experienced a brief renascence as a center of pilgrimage under its bishop Theodoretus. In the 6th c. Justinian fortified and adorned the town, and in A.D. 637 it yielded to the Moslems.

It is at a bend of a tributary to the Afrin, not far from their confluence. It forms a rough triangle, from the acropolis to the W to the high cliff above the river to the E. Bridges, ramparts, a great avenue, Christian sanctuaries, a theater, and a mausoleum are the principal ancient remains.

The Byzantine bridges are still in use S of the town: they cross first the Afrin, then its tributary. To the N the bridge over the river is in ruins, but the ancient road is visible beyond it.

The ramparts have square or semicircular towers and date from the Byzantine period. An inscription on a gate of the citadel gives the names of Justinian, Theodora, Belisarius, and the domestikos Eustathius. The vast enclosure is of Hellenistic date, as are the polygonal blocks preserved in various sectors. The acropolis was roughly rectangular, with a gate to the outside and a gate to the lower town. The lower town itself had three gates, to the N, S, and E.

The orthogonal street plan dates from Hellenistic times; the main axis is a wide street from the S to the N gate, bordered by porticos. A spacious rectangular enclosure has the ramparts to the W, and on its S and E sides two monumental gates flanked by rectangular towers; two other towers stand at the corners of the E side, parallel to the great avenue. Inside this space (once mistaken for an agora) was a church with three naves and a narthex to the W; it has ancient fluted columns and is built of materials of many colors. To the NE of this sanctuary and E of the colonnade are the remains of a large Christian basilica with several apses.

The theater is ca. 60 m from the avenue; it backs against the hill of the acropolis and faces E. Only the 24 rows of the lower tier of seats survive; the upper tier has disappeared. There are seats with backs in front of the diazoma, and those next to the radial staircases have elbow rests in the form of dolphins. The scaenae frons had five doors, opening onto alternately rectangular and semicircular exedras. The theater reveals the influence of Antioch and Daphne and may date to the middle of the 2d c. A.D.

The best-preserved necropolis is to the NW. A large hexagonal mausoleum, reused as a Moslem sanctuary, has pilasters at the corners of the ground floor. It is crowned with an entablature, decorated with lions' heads, that supports a skylight with windows which have archivolts and Corinthian pilasters. The skylight is capped by a slender pyramid, with a capital adorned with acanthus leaves at the top. The capital is big enough to carry a statue.


D. van Berchem, “Recherches sur la chronologie des enceintes de Syrie et de Mésopotamie,” Syria 31 (1954)PI; E. Frézouls, “Recherches historiques et archéologiques sur la ville de Cyrrhus,” Annales archéologiques de Syrie 4-5 (1955)MPI; id., “Les théâtres romains de Syrie,”Syria 36 (1959); 38 (1961).


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