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The small village of Qatura (قاطورة), on the northern side of Jebel Sheikh Barakat (جبل الشيخ بركات), has an interesting collection of late Roman and Byzantine remains. Most noteworthy are the numerous rock-cut tombs to the west of the village. These date variously from between 122 and 250 AD and are similar in style to classical funerary art, with some slight Palmyrene influences. They are …


Just a short hike up a hillside opposite Qalaat Samaan (قلعة سمعان) is the small Byzantine site of Taqla (تقلا). This settlement was constructed in the mid-fifth century around a small church, the western facade of which represents the only decently preserved structure surviving today. The plan of the church was typical of the columned basilicas of the mid-fifth century, with the apse flanked by …


Zarzita (زرزيتا) is a small village with scattered Byzantine-era remains to the southwest of Jebel Samaan (جبل سمعان). The village seems to date from the fifth and sixth centuries, a period when the local agricultural industry was flourishing and there was a surplus to support a large number of monastic communities. Today, it is a small village inhabited by perhaps a couple dozen families. While the …

Burj Heidar
برج حيدر

Burj Heidar (برج حيدر) is a Kurdish village to the east of Qalaat Samaan (قلعة سمعان). The site was settled at least as early as 298 AD, before the Roman empire officially adopted Christianity (in 324 AD), and was known as Kaprokera. Most of the surviving remains date from the Byzantine period, including the tower in the center of the village, from which its modern …

Kafr Nabo
كفر نابو

The tiny village of Kafr Nabo (كفر نابو) has several Byzantine-era remains and is worth a stop if visiting the nearby sites of Burj Heidar (برج حيدر) or Barad (براد). The southern edge of the settlement has a couple of large villas in decent condition with a significant number of well preserved stone carvings. The northern portion of the settlement is largely in ruin, however, …