Sunday, February 24, 2013


In 2004, I went on a trip to Syria, together with Arabic scholars and archeologists from Portugal. It was nice to find such a peaceful country in stark contrast with Iraq.
Syria’s treasures have crossed over the centuries and they show us the influence the Fertile Crescent has had on our Western civilization.

While in Syria, I had the opportunity to be ‘introduced’ to the Epic of Gilgamesh that dates to the days of the Sumerians who surprise us with their inventiveness, their cuneiform writing. Mind you, it was in the 4th millennium BC.

The search for eternal life, the paradise myth, the diluvia and the Noah’s Ark, the first report of the resurrection and the image portraying Saint George are parts of the epics inherited from the Hebrews. They became Bible stories that the Christians know so well.

The first Islamic dynasty, the Omayyad, elected the Great Syria as their kingdom and Damascus its respective capital. 

The next Islamic dynasty, the Abassids, rebelled against the Omayyad. At first, they did it on Persian territory but later they conquered Damascus. Abd-al-Rahman, the last Omayyad prince, managed to escape the massacre, and fled to the Iberian peninsula where he established a brilliant dynasty in Al-Aldalus. .

Damascus mosque (786 AC) was the model for the Cordoba mosque at Al-Andalus. 

Syria wooden norias - huge water wheels up to 20 meters in diameter built on the Orontes River - developed in the Byzantine period. Nowadays, we can still see similar ones in Al-Andalus, mainly in Cordoba, where they are called noras

And now Syria is at war! So much of our Past is over there and nobody knows how longer it will survive…


  1. I've never been to any of the mid-east countries, I would really love to visit those places one day. regardless of the religion, this big land has its own unique history, mystery.

    I did saw few major Arab structures in Southern Spain, especially in Cordoba and Seville.

    Thank you for sharing your trip, this is a very informative entry.

  2. Leonor, I really like this informative blog that is very well illustrated with your photos, some of which are really good. Thank you!