Banastur (بنستور) is a Byzantine-era site on the eastern edge of Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان). This small settlement has only a few structures, the most noteworthy of which is a tower that survives in a fairly good state of preservation. Archaeologist Howard Crosby Butler speculated that the tower was actually a residential building, rather than one of the monastic retreats that were so common to the region. Syrian archaeologist Abdallah Hadjar, however, describes it as a recluse’s tower, part of a convent that also included residences for monks.
North and west of the tower are several other structures, assumed to be residential. Only a couple of these buildings, close to the tower, remain standing. Modest stone-carved decoration can be found over the doorways, though they are badly weathered. Additional remains can be found still further west, though these buildings are in almost complete ruin. There are a few modern houses to the north of the site. The residents take advantage of the small patch of fertile land around the ruins for agricultural purposes, just as was done during the Byzantine period.
Getting There: Banastur (بنستور) is one of the most remote sites in the region of Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان), and visiting without a private driver will require some effort. The site is two and a half kilometers southeast of the more substantial remains of Serqaniya (سرقانيا), along a dirt road. Serqaniya (سرقانيا) itself is just a half kilometer south of the village of Fafertin (فافرتين), the closest point of regular vehicle traffic. Private transportation to any of these sites can be arranged in Darat Azeh (دارة عزة), but plan for a full day of hiking if attempting to visit Banastur (بنستور) and other nearby sites on your own.
Coordinates: 36°18’12.00″N / 36°55’23.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Banastour
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