Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Hama

Hama

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Hama'
Start a new discussion about 'Hama'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River
Orontes River
The Orontes or ‘Āṣī is a river of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius...

 in west-central Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 north of Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate
Hama Governorate
Hama is one of the fourteen governorates of Syria. It is situated in western-central Syria. Its area depends of sources. It varies from 8,844 km² to 8,883 km². Governorate has a population of 1,593,000...

. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, Damascus, and Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

—with a population of 696,863 (2009). The modern city is placed at the location of the historical city Hamath.

The city is renowned for its 17 noria
Norias of Hama
The Norias of Hama are a number of norias along the Orontes River in the city of Hama, Syria. Only seventeen of the original norias remain. They are mostly unused now and serve an aesthetic purpose...

s used for watering the gardens, which—it is claimed—date back to 1100 BC. Though historically used for purpose of irrigation, the norias exist today as an almost entirely aesthetic traditional show.

In the last decades, the city of Hama has become known as a center of the anti-Ba'ath opposition in Syria, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The city was raided by the Syrian Army, beginning with the 1964 Islamic uprising
1964 Hama riot
1964 Hama riot was the first significant clash between the newly installed Ba'ath party leadership of Syria and the Islamic Brotherhood. It occurred in April 1964, shortly after the 1963 Ba'athist coup d'état. The insurrection was suppressed with heavy military force, resulting in 70-100 mortal...

, and becoming the scene of carnage during the Islamic uprising in Syria
Islamic uprising in Syria
The Islamic uprising in Syria was a series of revolts and armed insurgency by Sunni Islamists, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood from 1976 until 1982. The uprising was aimed against the authority of the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria, in what has been called "long campaign of...

 in April 1981
April 1981 Hama massacre
The April 1981 Hama massacre occurred after a failed terrorist attack on an Alawite village near Hama. In return, the Syria army killed about 400 of the terrorists who attempted the attack.-Background:...

 and especially in 1982, when some 25,000 people were killed in what became known as Hama massacre
Hama massacre
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

. The city was once again besieged by the Syrian military, as one of the main arenas of the 2011 popular uprising
2011 Syrian uprising
The 2011 Syrian uprising is an ongoing internal conflict occurring in Syria. Protests started on 26 January 2011, and escalated into an uprising by 15 March 2011...

.

Ancient era



The ancient settlement of Hamath was occupied from the early Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 to the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

. Remains from the Chalcolithic era have been uncovered by Danish archaeologists on the mount on which the former citadel once stood. The excavation took place between 1931 and 1938 under the direction of Harald Ingholt. The stratigraphy is very generalized, which makes detailed comparison to other sites difficult. Level M (6 m or 19.7 ft thick) contained both white ware (lime-plaster) and true pottery. It may be contemporary with Ras Shamra V (6000-5000 BC). The overlying level L dates to the Chalcolithic Halaf-period. The site is inside a tight curve of the Orontes, which made it relatively easy to defend, and was the original place of the settlement; later on, as the town grew beyond it, the mound became the military center of Hama.

The Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

 people colonized the area during the third millennium B.C. The Amorites came from Mari
Mari, Syria
Mari was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometers north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria...

 on the River Euphrates, some 250 miles (402.3 km) to the east of Hama, and they colonized many parts of what is now Syria and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Although the town appears to be unmentioned in sources before the first millennium BC, the site appears to have enjoyed great prosperty around 1500 BC, during which time it was presumably an Amorite dependency of Mittanni, an empire along the Euphrates in northeastern Syria. Mitanni was subsequently overthrown by the Hittites, who controlled all of northern Syria following the famous Battle of Kadesh
Battle of Kadesh
The Battle of Kadesh took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic....

 against the Egyptians under Ramses II near Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 in 1285. The site also shows Assyrian and Aramaean settlement.

By the turn of the millennium, the centralized old Hittite Empire had fallen and Hama is attested as the capital of a prosperous Aramaean neo-Hittite
Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

 kingdom known from the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 as Hamath (Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

: Ḥmt; Hittite
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

: Amatuwana; Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: חֲמָת, Ḥmṯ), which traded extensively, particularly with what is now Israel. The Aramaean and Hittite peoples lived comparatively peacefully, co-existing with other states in the region, such as Carchemish
Carchemish
Carchemish or Kargamış was an important ancient city of the Mitanni, Hittite and Neo Assyrian Empires, now on the frontier between Turkey and Syria. It was the location of an important battle between the Babylonians and Egyptians, mentioned in the Bible...

. The most significant of all the Aramaean states was Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, which became the leader of a federation of Aramaic states, of which Hamath was a member. Gradually Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 became the most widely used language of the Near East.

When the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III
Shalmaneser III
Shalmaneser III was king of Assyria , and son of the previous ruler, Ashurnasirpal II....

 (BC 858-824) conquered the north of Syria he reached Hamath (Assyrian
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is a Neo-Aramaic dialect, spoken by an estimated 220,000 people , formerly in the area between Lake Urmia, north-western Iran, and Siirt, south-eastern Turkey, but now more widely throughout the...

: Amat or Hamata) in 835 BC; this marks the beginning of Assyrian inscriptions relating to the kingdom. Irhuleni of Hamath and Im-idri of Aram (biblical Bar-Hadad) led a coalition of Syrian cities against the encroaching Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n armies. According to Assyrian sources, they were confronted by 4,000 chariots, 2,000 horsemen, 62,000 foot-soldiers and 1,000 Arab camel-riders in the Battle of Qarqar
Battle of Qarqar
The Battle of Qarqar was fought in 853 BC when the army of Assyria led by king Shalmaneser III encountered an allied army of 12 kings at Qarqar led by Hadadezer of Damascus and King Ahab of Israel...

. The Assyrian victory seems to have been more of a draw, although Shalmaneser III continued on to the shore and even took a ship to open sea. In the following years, Shalmaneser III failed to conquer Hamath or Aram. After the death of Shalmaneser III, the former allies Hamath and Aram fell out, and Aram seems to have taken over some of Hamath's territory.

An Aramaic inscription of Zakir, dual king of Hamath and La'ash, tells of an attack by a coalition including Sam'al
Sam'al
Sam'al was a Hittite and Aramaean city located at Zincirli Höyük in the Anti-Taurus Mountains of modern Turkey's Gaziantep Province.-History:thumb|200px|right|Historical map of the Neo-Hittite states, ca...

 under Ben-Hadad III
Ben-Hadad III
Bar-Hadad III or Ben-Hadad III was the son of Hazael, and succeeded him after his death as king of Aram Damascus. His succession is mentioned in II Kings 13:3, 24...

, son of Hasael, king of Aram. Zakir was besieged in his fortress of Hazrak, but saved by intervention of the God Be'elschamen. Later on, Ja'udi-Sam'al came to rule both Hamath and Aram.

In 743 BC, Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BC and is widely regarded as the founder of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family...

 took a number of towns in the territory of Hamath, distributed the territories among his generals, and forcibly removed
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

 1223 selected inhabitants to the Upper Tigris valley; he exacted tribute from Hamath's king, Eni-Îlu (Eniel). In 738 BC, Hamath is listed among the cities again conquered by Assyrian troops. Over 30,000 natives were deported to Ullaba and replaced with captives from the Zagros
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

. After the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel, Hamath's king Ilu-Bi'di (Jau-Bi'di) led a failed revolt of the newly organized Assyrian provinces of Arpad
Arpad (Syria)
Arpad was an ancient Aramaean city located in north-western Syria, north of Aleppo. In 743 BC, the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III led a military expedition to Syria, defeating there the Uraratian army. But the city of Arpad, which had formed an alliance with Urartu, did not surrender easily...

, Simirra, Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, and Samara
Samarra
Sāmarrā is a city in Iraq. It stands on the east bank of the Tigris in the Salah ad-Din Governorate, north of Baghdad and, in 2003, had an estimated population of 348,700....

. It was this revolt which led to the deportation of the Ten Lost Tribes
Ten Lost Tribes
The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel refers to those tribes of ancient Israel that formed the Kingdom of Israel and which disappeared from Biblical and all other historical accounts after the kingdom was destroyed in about 720 BC by ancient Assyria...

 of Israel. Styling himself "Destroyer of Hamath," Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 razed the city, recolonized it with 6,300 Assyrians and removed its king to be flayed alive in Assyria. He also carried off to Nimrud
Nimrud
Nimrud is an ancient Assyrian city located south of Nineveh on the river Tigris in modern Ninawa Governorate Iraq. In ancient times the city was called Kalḫu. The Arabs called the city Nimrud after the Biblical Nimrod, a legendary hunting hero .The city covered an area of around . Ruins of the city...

 the ivory-adorned furnishings of its kings

The conquests of the New Assyrian Empire eventually stretched over most of the Near East up to the Mediterranean coast. However, their empire fell, when in 612 an allied army of Babylonians and Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 captured Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

, the Assyrian capital. The Assyrians were replaced briefly by the Babylonians as the rulers of Syria, but by about 540 Hama, like the rest of Syria, was part of the Persian Empire.

The few Biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 reports state that Hamath was the capital of a Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite kingdom (Genesis 10:18; 2 Kings 23:33; 24:21), whose king congratulated King David on his victory over Hadadezer
Hadadezer
Hadadezer ; also known as Adad-Idri and possibly the same as Bar-Hadad II ; Ben-Hadad II , was the king of Aram Damascus at the time of the battle of Qarqar against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III in 853 BCE. He and Irhuleni of Hamath led a coalition of eleven kings at Qarqar...

, king of Soba
Soba (disambiguation)
-Locations:*Soba-Banandjé, a town and commune in Côte d'Ivoire*Soba , capital of the Nubian kingdom of Alodia, now in Sudan*Soba, Cantabria, Spain*Soba , a town and commune in Côte d'Ivoire*Soba, Nigeria, city in Nigeria-Others:...

 (2 Samuel 8:9-11; 1 Chronicles 13:9-11). Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

, it would seem, took possession of Hamath and its territory and built store cities. Assyria's defeat of Hamath made a profound impression on Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

. The prophet Amos
Amos (prophet)
Amos is a minor prophet in the Old Testament, and the author of the Book of Amos. Before becoming a prophet, Amos was a sheep herder and a sycamore fig farmer. Amos' prior professions and his claim "I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet" indicate that Amos was not from the school of prophets,...

 called the town "Hamath the Great." Indeed, the name appears to stem from Phoenician khamat, "fort."

Classic antiquity



In the second half of the 4th century BC the modern region of Syria came under the influence of Greco-Roman culture, following long lasting semitic and Persian cultures. Alexander the Great's campaign from 334 to 323 BC brought Syria under Hellenic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 rule. Since the country lay on the trade routes from Asia to Greece, Hama, and many other Syrian cities, again grew rich through trade. After the death of Alexander the Great his Near East conquests were divided between his generals, and Seleucus Nicator became ruler of Syria and the founder of the Seleucid dynasty
Seleucid dynasty
The Seleucid dynasty or the Seleucidae was a Greek Macedonian royal family, founded by Seleucus I Nicator , which ruled the Seleucid Kingdom centered in the Near East and regions of the Asian part of the earlier Achaemenid Persian Empire during the Hellenistic period.-History:Seleucus was an...

. Under the Seleucids there was a revival in the fortunes of Hama. The Aramaeans were allowed to return to the city, which was renamed Epiphania (Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: Ἐπιφάνεια), after the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

. Seleucid rule began to decline, however, in the next two centuries, and Arab dynasties began to gain control of cities in this part of Syria, including Hama.

The Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 took over original settlements such as Hama and made them their own. They met little resistance when they invaded Syria under Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 and annexed it in 64 BC, whereupon Hama became part of the Roman province of Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

, ruled from Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 by a proconsul. Hama was an important city during the Greek and Roman periods, but very little archaeological evidence remains.

In AD 330, the capital of the Roman Empire was moved to Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

, and the city continued to prosper. In Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 days Hama was known as Emath. Roman rule from Byzantium meant the Christian religion was strengthened throughout the Near East, and churches were built in Hama and other cities. The Byzantine historian John of Epiphania
John of Epiphania
John of Epiphania was a late sixth century Byzantine historian.John was born in Epiphania . He was a Christian and served as a legal counselor to the Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory . John was also a cousin of the church historian Evagrius Scholasticus.John obviously received good training...

 was born in Hama in the 6th century.

Muslim rule



During the Muslim conquest of Syria
Muslim conquest of Syria
The Muslim conquest of Syria occurred in the first half of the 7th century, and refers to the region known as the Bilad al-Sham, the Levant, or Greater Syria...

 in the 7th century, Hama was conquered by Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah
Amir ibn `Abdullah ibn al-Jarrah , more commonly known as Abu 'Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, was one of the ten companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad who were promised Paradise as mentioned in early Islamic historical accounts and records...

 in 638 or 639 and the town regained its ancient name, and has since retained it. Following its capture, it came under the administration of Jund Hims
Jund Hims
Jund Hims was one of the four military districts of the Caliphate province of Syria. Its capital was Homs, from which the district received its name...

 and remained so throughout the rule of Umayyads until the 9th century. The Umayyads built the Great Mosque in Hama
Great Mosque of Hama
The Great Mosque of Hama , is a mosque in Hama, Syria. It is located about west of the citadel. Built in the 8th century CE, it was heavily damaged in a 1982 uprising, but today it has been completely restored.-History:...

 in the early 8th century and modelled it on the Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

 in Damascus.

Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 geographer al-Muqaddasi
Al-Muqaddasi
Muhammad ibn Ahmad Shams al-Din Al-Muqaddasi , also transliterated as Al-Maqdisi and el-Mukaddasi, was a medieval Arab geographer, author of Ahsan at-Taqasim fi Ma`rifat il-Aqalim .-Biography:Al-Muqaddasi, "the Hierosolomite" was born in Jerusalem in 946 AD...

 writes Hama became a part of Jund Qinnasrin
Jund Qinnasrin
Jund Qinnasrin was one of five sub-provinces of Syria under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphate, organized soon after the Muslim conquest of Syria in the 7th century CE. Initially, its capital was Qinnasrin, but as the city declined in population and wealth, the capital was moved to Aleppo...

 during Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 rule. Although the city's history is obscure at this time period, it is known that Hama was a walled market town with a ring of outlying cities. It came under the control of the Hamdanid rulers of Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 in the 10th century and was consequently drawn into the orbit of that city where it remained until the 12th century. These were considered the "dark years" of Hama as the local rulers of northern and southern Syria struggled for dominance in the region. The Byzantines under emperor Nicephorus Phocas raided the town in 968 and burned the Great Mosque. By the 11th century, the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

s gained suzerainty over northern Syria and during this period, the Mirdasids sacked Hama. Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 geographer Nasir Khusraw
Nasir Khusraw
Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn...

 noted in 1047 that Hama was "well populated" and stood on the banks of the Orontes River.

Tancred, Prince of Galilee
Tancred, Prince of Galilee
Tancred was a Norman leader of the First Crusade who later became Prince of Galilee and regent of the Principality of Antioch...

, took it in 1108, but in 1114 the Crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 lost it definitively to the Seljuk
Great Seljuq Empire
The Great Seljuq Empire was a medieval Persianate, Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks. The Seljuq Empire controlled a vast area stretching from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf...

s. In 1157 an earthquake shattered the city. For the next sixty years, Hama was battled for by competing rulers. Nur al-Din, the Zengid sultan, erected a mosque
Nur al-Din Mosque
The Nur Al-Din Mosque is a Zengid-era mosque in Hama, Syria, located on the banks of the Orontes river. The mosque was erected by Nur ad-Din Zangi in 1172. The square minaret, made of alternating bands of black basalt and yellow limestone, is the mosque's strongest feature...

 with a tall, square minaret
Minaret
A minaret مناره , sometimes مئذنه) is a distinctive architectural feature of Islamic mosques, generally a tall spire with an onion-shaped or conical crown, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery....

 in the city in 1172. In 1175, Hama was taken from the Zengids by Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

. He granted the city to his nephew, al-Muzaffar Umar
Al-Muzaffar Umar
Al-Muzaffar Taqi al-Din Umar was the Ayyubid prince of Hama from 1179 to 1191 and a general of Saladin. He was the son of Nur al-Din Shahanshah, the brother of Saladin.-Emir of Hama:...

, four years later, putting it under the rule of his Ayyubid family. This ushered in an era of stability and prosperity in Hama as the Ayyubids ruled it almost continuously until 1342. Geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi
Yaqut al-Hamawi
Yāqūt ibn-'Abdullah al-Rūmī al-Hamawī) was an Islamic biographer and geographer renowned for his encyclopedic writings on the Muslim world. "al-Rumi" refers to his Greek descent; "al-Hamawi" means that he is from Hama, Syria, and ibn-Abdullah is a reference to his father's name, Abdullah...

, who was born in Hama, described it in 1225 as a large town surrounded by a strongly built wall. Hama was sacked by the Mongols in 1260, as were most other Syrian cities, but the Mongols were defeated that same year and then again in 1303 by the Mamluks who succeeded the Ayyubids as rulers of the region. Hama briefly passed to Mamluk control in 1299 after the death of governor al-Mansur Mahmoud II. However, unlike other former Ayyubid cities, the Mamluks reinstated Ayyubid rule in Hama by making Abu al-Fida, the historian and geographer, governor of the city and he reigned from 1310 to 1332. He described his city as "very ancient... mentioned in the book of the Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

s. It is one of the pleasantest places in Syria." After his death, he was succeeded by his son al-Afdal Muhammad
Al-Afdal Muhammad
Al-Afdal Muhammad , was the last Ayyubid governor of Hama in central Syria, reigning from 1332 to 1341. The Ayyubid sultanate in Syria collapsed in 1260 with the advent of the Mongols, however the Mamluks of Egypt drove them out and allowed Ayyubid rule to be maintained in the principality Hama...

 who eventually lost Mamluk favor and was deposed. Thus, Hama came under direct Mamluk control.

Hama grew prosperous during the Ayyubid period, as well as the Mamluk period. It gradually expanded to both banks of the Orontes River, with the suburb on the right bank being connected to the town proper by a newly built bridge. The town on the left bank was divided into upper and lower parts, each of which was surrounded by a wall. The city was filled with palaces, markets, mosques, madrasas, and a hospital, and over thirty different sized noria
Noria
A noria is a machine for lifting water into a small aqueduct, either for the purpose of irrigation or, in at least one known instance, to feed seawater into a saltern....

s (water-wheels). In addition, there stood a massive citadel in Hama. It was during Mamluk rule that many of the norias, initially started during the rule of the Ayyubid dynasty, were reconditioned and enlarged, and their numbers increased. Currently, only seventeen norias remain, unused. Aqueducts and other channeling systems were built to take water from the river and use it to irrigate nearby fields. Moreover, a special aqueduct brought drinking water to Hama from the neighboring town of Salamiyah
Salamiyah
thumb|200px|A full view of Shmemis .Salamiyah is a city and district in western Syria, in the Hama Governorate. It is located 33 km southeast of Hama, 45 km northeast of Homs...

.

Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

 visited Hama in 1335 and remarked that the Orontes River made the city "pleasant to live in, with its many gardens full of trees and fruits." He also speaks of a large suburb called al-Mansuriyyah (named after an Ayyubid emir) that contained "a fine market, a mosque, and bathes." In 1400, Timurlane conquered Hama, along with nearby Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 and Baalbek
Baalbek
Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude , situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire...

.

Ottoman rule



The prosperous period of Mamluk rule came to an end in 1516, when the Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 conquered Syria from the Mamluks after defeating them at the Battle of Marj Dabiq
Battle of Marj Dabiq
The battle of Marj Dābiq was a decisive military clash in Middle Eastern history, fought on 24 August 1516, 44 km north of Halab , Syria.- Battle preparations :...

 near Aleppo. Hama, and the rest of Syria, came under Ottoman rule from Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Under the Ottomans, Hama gradually became more important in the administrative structure of the region. It was first made capital of one of the liwa
Liwa (arabic)
Liwa or Liwa is an Arabic term meaning district, banner, or flag, a type of administrative division. It was interchangeable with the Turkish term "Sanjak" in the time of the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of the empire, the term was used in the Arab countries formerly under Ottoman rule...

s
("districts") of the vilayet ("province") of Tripoli
Tripoli, Lebanon
Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in Lebanon. Situated 85 km north of the capital Beirut, Tripoli is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Geographically located on the east of the Mediterranean, the city's history dates back...

. Hama once again became an important center for trade routes running east from the Mediterranean coast into Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. A number of khans ("caravansaries"s) were built in the city, like Khan Rustum Pasha which dates from 1556. Syria was later divided into three governorships and Hama was ruled by the governorship based at Aleppo.

Then in the 18th century, it became apart of the holdings of the governor of Damascus. The governors of Damascus at this time were the Azems, who also ruled other parts of Syria, for the Ottomans. They erected sumptuous residences in Hama, including the Azem Palace
Azm Palace (Hama)
The Azm Palace is an 18th-century Ottoman palace in Hama, Syria located at the center of the city on the banks of the Orontes River, about south of the Hama Citadel...

 and Khan As'ad Pasha which were built by As'ad Pasha al-Azem
As'ad Pasha al-Azm
As'ad Pasha al-Azm was the governor of Damascus under Ottoman rule from 1742 to his deposition in 1757. He is responsible for the construction of several architectural works in the city and other places in Syria.-Background:...

, who governed Hama for a number of years until 1742. By then, there were 14 caravansaries in the city, mostly used for the storage and distribution of seeds, cotton, wool, and other commodities. After the passing of the Vilayet Law in 1864, Hama became the capital of the Sanjak of Hama (gaining the city more administrative powers), part of the larger vilayet of Sham.

Colonial rule and independence


Ottoman rule ended in 1918, after their defeat in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 to the Allied Forces
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

. Hama was made part of the French Mandate of Syria
French Mandate of Syria
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

. By then, Hama had developed into what it has remained: a medium-sized provincial town, important as the market for an agricultural area abundant in cereals, but also cotton and sugar beets. It gained notoriety as the center of large estates worked by peasants and dominated by a few magnate families. During the French Mandate, the district of Hama contained within its bounds the municipality of Hama and 114 villages. By an estimate in 1930, only four of these villages were owned outright by local cultivators, while sharing ownership of two villages with a notable family. Thus, the hinterland was owned by landowning elites. Starting in the late 1940s, significant class conflict erupted as agricultural workers sought reform in Hama.

Syria gained full independence from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1946. Akram al-Hawrani
Akram al-Hawrani
Akram al-Hawrani |transcribe]]d Hourani or Hurani) , was a Syrian politician who played a prominent role in the formation of a widespread populist, nationalist movement in Syria and in the rise of the Ba'th Party...

, a member of an impoverished notable family in Hama, began to agitate for land reform and better social conditions. He made Hama the base of his Arab Socialist Party, which later merged with another socialist party, the Ba'ath. This party's ascent to power in 1963 signaled the end of power for the landowning elite.

Ba'athist rule 1963-today



Political insurgency by Sunni Islamic groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

, occurred in the city, which was reputed as a stronghold of conservative Sunni Islam. As early as the spring of 1964, Hama became the epicenter of an uprising
1964 Hama riot
1964 Hama riot was the first significant clash between the newly installed Ba'ath party leadership of Syria and the Islamic Brotherhood. It occurred in April 1964, shortly after the 1963 Ba'athist coup d'état. The insurrection was suppressed with heavy military force, resulting in 70-100 mortal...

 by conservative forces, encouraged by speeches from mosque preachers, denouncing the policies of the Ba'ath. The Syrian government sent tanks and troops into the quarters of Hama's old city to put down the insurrection.

In the early 1980s, Hama had emerged as a major source of opposition to the Ba'ath regime during the Sunni Islamist uprising
Islamic uprising in Syria
The Islamic uprising in Syria was a series of revolts and armed insurgency by Sunni Islamists, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood from 1976 until 1982. The uprising was aimed against the authority of the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria, in what has been called "long campaign of...

, which had begun in 1976. The city was a focal point for bloody events in the 1981 massacre
April 1981 Hama massacre
The April 1981 Hama massacre occurred after a failed terrorist attack on an Alawite village near Hama. In return, the Syria army killed about 400 of the terrorists who attempted the attack.-Background:...

 and the most notable 1982 Hama massacre
Hama massacre
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

. The most serious insurrection of the Syrian Islamic uprising
Islamic uprising in Syria
The Islamic uprising in Syria was a series of revolts and armed insurgency by Sunni Islamists, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood from 1976 until 1982. The uprising was aimed against the authority of the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria, in what has been called "long campaign of...

 happened in Hama during February 1982, when Government forces, led by the president's brother, Rifaat al-Assad
Rifaat al-Assad
Rifaat al-Assad is the younger brother of the former President of Syria, Hafez al-Assad, and the uncle of the current President Bashar al-Assad, all of whom come from the minority Alawite Muslim sect. He was born in the village of Qardaha, near Lattakia in western Syria. He is perhaps best known...

, quelled the revolt
Hama massacre
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

 in Hama with very harsh means. Tanks and artillery shelled the neighbourhoods held by the insurgents indiscriminately, and government forces are alleged to have executed thousands of prisoners and civilian residents after subduing the revolt, which became known as the Hama massacre
Hama massacre
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

. The story is suppressed and regarded as highly sensitive in Syria.
In summer 2011, the city became one of the main opposition centers of the popular uprising
2011 Syrian uprising
The 2011 Syrian uprising is an ongoing internal conflict occurring in Syria. Protests started on 26 January 2011, and escalated into an uprising by 15 March 2011...

, taking place in Syria, as part of the Arab Spring
Arab Spring
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

. An armed blockade
Siege of Hama
The Siege of Hama, also known as the Hama Blockade, is a major arena of the 2011 Syrian uprising against president Bashar al-Assad. The city of Hama, in central Syria, erupted in violence on 3 June 2011 when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to express their opposition to the...

 was imposed on the town on July 3, when more than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured.

Climate


Hama's inland location ensures that it receives no softening costal influences and breezes from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. As a result, the city has a much hotter and dryer climate than nearby Homs.

Demographics


According to Josiah C. Russel, during the 12th century, Hama had a population of 6,750. In 1932, while Hama was under the French Mandate, there were approximately 50,000 residents. In the 1960 census, there were 110,000 inhabitants. The population continued to rise, reaching 180,000 in 1978 and 273,000 in 1994. The infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births in the Hama Governorate
Hama Governorate
Hama is one of the fourteen governorates of Syria. It is situated in western-central Syria. Its area depends of sources. It varies from 8,844 km² to 8,883 km². Governorate has a population of 1,593,000...

 was 99.4. A 2005 estimate had Hama's population at around 325,000 inhabitants.

Most of the residents are Sunni Muslims, although some districts of the city are exclusively Christian. Hama is reputed to be the most conservative Sunni Muslim city in Syria since French Mandate times. During that period there was an old saying reflecting this characteristic: "In Damascus, it takes only three men to make a political demonstration, while in Hama it takes only three men to get the town to pray." The Christian population mostly adheres to the Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 or the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

.

Ecclesiastical status


The Greek Orthodox Church has a prelacy in Hama under the Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period...

. Hama is still a Roman Catholic titular see
Titular see
A titular see in various churches is an episcopal see of a former diocese that no longer functions, sometimes called a "dead diocese". The ordinary or hierarch of such a see may be styled a "titular bishop", "titular metropolitan", or "titular archbishop"....

 (referred to as "Hamath" or Amath"), suffragan of Apamea
Apamea (Syria)
Apamea was a treasure city and stud-depot of the Seleucid kings, was capital of Apamene, on the right bank of the Orontes River. . Its site is found about to the northwest of Hama, Syria, overlooking the Ghab valley...

. It is as "Epiphania" that it is best known in ecclesiastical documents. Lequien mentions nine Greek bishops of Epiphania. The first of them, whom he calls Mauritius, is the Manikeios whose signature appears in the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

. Currently, it has two Catholic archbishops, a Greek Melkite
Melkite Greek Catholic Church
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. The Melkites, Byzantine Rite Catholics of mixed Eastern Mediterranean and Greek origin, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, Syria, of...

 and a Syrian, the former residing at Labroud, the latter at Homs, reuniting the titles of Homs (Emesus)
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 and Hamah.

Main sights


Hama's most famous attractions are the 17 Norias of Hama
Norias of Hama
The Norias of Hama are a number of norias along the Orontes River in the city of Hama, Syria. Only seventeen of the original norias remain. They are mostly unused now and serve an aesthetic purpose...

 , dating back to the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 times. Fed by the Orontes river
Orontes River
The Orontes or ‘Āṣī is a river of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius...

, they are up to 20 metres (65.6 ft) in diameter. The largest norias are the al-Mamunye (1453) and the al-Muhammediye (14th century). Originally they were used to route water into aqueducts, which led into the town and the neighbouring agricultural areas.

Other sights include:
  • the museum, housed in a 18th century Ottoman governor residence (Azem Palace). Remains in the exhibition include a precious Roman mosaic from the nearby village of Mariamin (4th century AD)
  • al-Nuri
    Nur al-Din Mosque
    The Nur Al-Din Mosque is a Zengid-era mosque in Hama, Syria, located on the banks of the Orontes river. The mosque was erected by Nur ad-Din Zangi in 1172. The square minaret, made of alternating bands of black basalt and yellow limestone, is the mosque's strongest feature...

    mosque, finished in 1163 by Nur ad-Din after the earthquake of 1157. Notable is the minaret.
  • The small Mamluk al-Izzi mosque (15th century)
  • The mosque and Mausoleum of Abu al-Fida, a celebrated Arab historian who was also governor of the city.
  • al-Hasanain mosque, also rebuilt by Nur ad-Din after the aforementioned earthquake.
  • The Great Mosque. Destroyed in the 1982 bombardment, it has been rebuilt in its original forms. It has elements dating from the ancient and Christian structures existing in the same location. It has two minarets, and is preceded by a portico with an elevated treasury.

See also



  • Cities of the ancient Near East
    Cities of the ancient Near East
    The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

  • Hama massacre
    Hama massacre
    The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

  • Short chronology timeline
    Short chronology timeline
    The short chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728 BC – 1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC....


External links


Further reading

  • P. J. Riis/V. Poulsen, Hama: fouilles et recherches 1931-1938 (Copenhagen 1957).