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Qanawat

The monuments at Qanawat are themost impressive and richly decorated in the region of Jebel Al-Arab whereso many ancient stones are strewn on the ground or built into the fabricof present day dwellings, or else soar up sometimes as haughty columns, allcracked and broken, and yet superb! The site where Qanawat stands enhancesthe interest of the ruins. It is mentioned in the Old Testaments as to beknown as "Noba" or "kanat". In 60 BC Qanawat was one of the Roman barracks.The most fancy ruins of Qanawat is the Temple of "Zeus", dates back to 2ndcentury AD The second amazing site is the temple of the God of Sun "Helios".The theater "Audion", the temple of the "Nymphet" and the Agora are not lessexciting than the other things to be seen in Qanawat.

The site where Qanawat stands enhances the interest of theruins. The town lies stretched along the crest of ahill and straggles off down the side of a valley where trees have been planted,gardens cultivated and meadows kept. After crossing the Bashan plateau, allblack and bare, the relief of the land here and the green are like a touchof coquetry. High stone walls bound each piece of land, rough enclosuresfrom blocks of Basalt gathered round about, and amongst the blocks here andthere the drum of a column, a Corinthian Capital or a finely chiseled architravepiled together at a random, some straight, some slanting, some up-turned…

Named Qanat or Nobah the bible and Canatha in Nabatean and Roman times, ancientQanawat was the most important city in the land. In the sixties B.C. it belongedto the Decapolis League of merchant cities, all situated in Trans-Jordanin Syria, of which Damascus was for a time the chief, and which surviveduntil the end of the 2nd century. This past importance explainsthe wide spread of the remains. The ruins fall into three main groups.

- At the entrance to the present village, coming from Soueida, in the hollowof the valley on the left, a cluster of columns rises from the bushes; theybelong to a 2nd-century temple dedicated to Helios. A little furtheron, the village square certainly stands on the spot where the ancient agora(or forum) stood. Old paving-stones still cover part of the ground and remnantsof columns are built into the facades of the houses. The street up the hillsideleads up to the principal edifices: the Temple of Zeus (2nd century)and the group known as "the serail" or "Es-sérail".

The temple occupied as a spur with a view over the whole valley. Mulberriesand other fruit trees provide a foil to the half dozen columns that stillstand capped by magnificent Corinthian capitals with broad entablatures,whose shafts a third of the way up bear consoles (as at Palmyra) which arealso finely chiseled. Other capitals and fragments of architraves left wherethey lie on the pavement allow one to look closely at the work of the forgottensculptor whose skilful hand carved these scrolls of acanthus and vine outof the hard basalt. The big monumental group known as "the serail" standson the highest point in Qanawat. A big clump of trees marks the spot, a littlewall surrounds it and a closed gate is supposed to keep visitors out whenthe keeper is not there.

The right slope of then valley also has some interesting ruins: a few stepsof a small theatre or Odeon, the remains of a nymphaeum and of an aqueduct,the foundations of a square tower and of a round one.

Going up the valley, a winding path leads 4 km south-east to the isolatedruins of ancient Sia: thermae, paved terraces temples built in the periodfrom the 1st century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.

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