Jeradeh (جرادة) was a fairly extensive Byzantine settlement on the eastern edge of Jebel Riha (جبل ريحا), the ruins today spread throughout a modern village. Given its proximity to the desert to the east, which was beyond Byzantine control, the town appears to have been heavily fortified in comparison to other settlements located further west. The most interesting of the remains is the six-story watchtower which dates from the fifth or sixth century. It is one of the best surviving examples in the area, with a lintel which carries the Roman or Byzantine imperial escutcheon and latrine arrangements gracing the exterior.
It is not entirely clear whether this and other towers in Jeradeh (جرادة) were for religious or defensive purposes, but archaeologist Ignacio Peña suggests that the town was surrounded by walls, unusually for villages of this period, and speculated that “the inhabitants must have feared the ravages of the desert”. Archaeologist George Tchalenko noted that the villages on the east edge of the limestone country were more open to incursions by nomads from the desert. The sole church at the site dates from the fifth century. The central nave is divided from the side aisles by five columns and a bema was located in the middle of the nave. Remains of a tower can be seen at the north end of the narthex.
Getting There: Reaching Jeradeh (جرادة) does pose a challenge for those relying on public transportation. Despite the village located here, there are no regular microbuses to the area. The closest you can get is the road which runs to the site from Syria’s main north-south highway, which leaves about three kilometers to cover on foot. The road to the site is on the northern end of the village of Babila (بابيلا), about seven kilometers north of Maarat al-Naaman (معرة النعمان). Maarat al-Naaman (معرة النعمان) has frequent microbus connections with Aleppo (حلب) and occasional microbus connections with Idleb (إدلب) and Hama (حماة). If approaching Maarat al-Naaman (معرة النعمان) from the north, ask the driver to stop at the road to the site, just before Babila (بابيلا).
Coordinates: 35°43’26.43″N / 36°42’56.05″E
Transliteration Variants: Jaradeh, Jerade, Jarade, Jaradah, Jeradah
Rating: (5.5 / 10)