The ancient temple of BaalShamin in Saiya... creativity in architectural and engineering decoration

 BaalShamin Temple, is located in the archaeological site of the eastern countryside of Sweida. It is distinguished by the beauty of its geometric and architectural decorations that are carved as plant shapes, especially vine. In addition to the figures carved within the Acanthus leaves that decorate the Corinthian crowns of the columns.

The archaeological Temple of BaalShamin, which dates back to the period between 1 and 32 BC, is the largest temple in southern Syria and the most important part of the "gods compound", which is located on the western end of the western  mountainous region.

Head of the Department of Archeology in Sweida, Dr. Nasha'at Kiwan stated that the Temple of BaalShamin, or what is called "the God of the Heavens", is considered the most important monument in the archaeological site of Saiya, as its ruins indicate its high position.

The temple  consists of the main gate on the eastern side, which dates back to the era of the Roman leader, Severianus, in the second half of the second century AD, of which only the foundations of its right tower are left, in addition to a large courtyard. Its northeastern corner is occupied by a defensive tower, and its northwestern corner depicts the ruins of an administrative building dating back to the second century AD, as well as the chapel located in the middle of the temple courtyard.

Kiwan pointed out that there are  ruins for another temple located on the southern end of the BaalShamin Temple, which was likely built during the reign of the Nabateans king Rabbel II between 70 and 106 AD according to a Roman plan and decorations. There are also ruins of a square-shaped building that looks like a tower and is located between two courtyards, one of them is wider than the second. As for the central courtyard, which is the front sanctuary of the temple of  BaalShamin god, parts of its wall are still clearly identifiable.

Kiwan shows that, during the previous years of excavation, the entire BaalShamin Temple was discovered.

  A number of important archaeological finds, including bronze coins, pottery, a saddle, parts of Nabateans and Greek writings, and some of the inscriptions and architectural decorations that used to decorate the Temple of BaalShamin, were also found. In addition to writing that indicates the history of the  temple's building in the Nabateans and Greek languages, dating back to the first century BC, some of them carry the name of Ous Ibn Malika, who wrote the inscription of the temple's construction.

It is noteworthy that the site of Saiya is one of the important archaeological areas in the governorate of Sweida and southern Syria where the Arab tribes and residents of the region visited it frequently as the ancient artists immortalized it in wonderful paintings decorating the entrances of their temples and their homes' balconies.

Amal Farhatv