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 site is largely unremarkable, Zarzita (زرزيتا) does offer nice views over the surrounding plains, and there are a few remains worth noting.
Little remains of the sixth century church with a single nave, but a tower located 30 meters to the southeast was once connected by a stoa or colonnade. Built of large stone blocks, the tower measures four meters by four meters with the ground floor slightly overhung by the second story. The lower floor housed a ciborium or baldachin, possibly marking the alter of a small chapel. The second story was presumably the living quarters. There is an inscription on the cornice which reads: “Simon, priest, built this in the month of June 500 AD. Eusebius, architect, John Mar […]. Lord, help us.” A small (detached) porch nearby is dated earlier, to 423 AD. Elsewhere are a few arches, olive presses, and occasional stone carvings.
Getting There: Frequent microbuses travel between Aleppo (حلب) and Darat Azeh (دارة عزة), the closest town to the region. From there, it is three kilometers northwest to the site of Qatura (قاطورة), with Zarzita (زرزيتا) located another two kilometers to the west. If you don’t want to travel this distance on foot, a private driver can be hired in Darat Azeh (دارة عزة). If you’re exploring the region on foot, you may prefer to skip Zarzita (زرزيتا) to allow for more detailed exploration of the other sites nearby.
Coordinates: 36°17’34.24″N / 36°48’03.48″E
Transliteration Variants: Zarzeta, Zarzeita
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