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The Syrian Goddess, by Lucian, tr. by Herbert A. Strong and John Garstang, [1913], at

p. 90 p. 91



From Maundrell's Travels. Page 153 (6th ed. 1749).


Wednesday, April 19th.

WE went east and by north, and in four hours arrived at Bambych. This place has no remnants of its ancient greatness, but its walls, which may be traced all round, and cannot be less than three miles in compass. Several fragments of them remain on the east side, especially at the east gate; and another piece of eighty yards long, with towers of large square stone extremely well built. On the north side I found a stone with the busts of a man and woman, large as life; and under, two Eagles carved on it. Not far from it, on the side of a large well, was fixed a stone with three figures carved on it, in Basso Relievo. They were two Syrens, which twining their fishy tails together, made a seat, on which was placed sitting a naked woman, her arms and the Syrens on each side mutually entwined.

On the west side is a deep pit of about 100 yards diameter. It was low, and had now water in it, and seemed to have had great buildings all round it; with the pillars and ruins of which, it is now in part filled up; but not so much, but that there was still water in it.

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[paragraph continues] Here are a multitude of subterraneous aqueducts brought to the city; the people attested no fewer than fifty. You can ride nowhere about the city, without seeing them. We pitched by one about a quarter of a mile east of the city, which yields a fine stream; and emptying itself into a valley, waters it, and makes it extremely fruitful. Here perhaps were the pastures of the beasts designed for sacrifices. Here are now only a few poor inhabitants, tho’ anciently all the north side was well inhabited by Saracens; as may be seen by the remains of a noble Mosque and a Bagnio a little without the walls.


POCOCK'S DESCRIPTION OF THE EAST. Vol. II., Pt. I. (1745); pp. 166 and 167..

. . . Bambouch, commonly called by the Franks Bambych, and by the ancients Hierapolis, which was the Greek name that was given it by Seleucus; it was called also Bambyce, which seems to be the Syrian name still retained; and it is very remarkable that Hierapolis in Asia Minor has much the same name, being called Pambouk Calasi (the cotton castle). The Tables make it twenty-four miles distant from Zeuma on the Euphrates and from Ceciliana: They place it also seventy-two miles from Berya, though this is not above fifty from Aleppo. One of the Syrian names of this place was Magog; 1 which was a city of the Cyrrhestica, and is situated at the south end of a long vale, which is about a quarter of a mile broad, watered

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with a stream that is approached by the aqueducts of Bambych; and, to preserve the water from being wasted, it passes through this vale in an artificial channel or aqueduct which is built of stone on a level with the ground. The form of this site was irregular; some parts of the walls which remain entire, are nine feet thick, and above thirty feet high; they are cased with hewn stone both inside and out, and are about two miles in circumference; there was a walk all round on top of the walls, to which there is an ascent by a flight of stairs, which are built on arches; the wall is defined by towers on five sides, at the distance of fifty paces from each other, and there is a low fosse without the walls. The four gates of the city are about fifteen feet wide, and defended by a semi-circular tower on each side; the water that supplied the town, as I was informed, comes from a hill about twelve miles to the south, and the city being on the advanced ground, the water runs in a channel, which is near twenty feet below the surface of the earth, and in several parts of the city there are holes down to the water about five feet wide, and fifteen long, with two stones across, one about five feet, the other about ten feet from the top, in order, as may be supposed, to facilitate the descent of the water; it is probable that they had some machines to draw up the water at these holes. In the side of one of them I saw a stone about four feet long, and three wide, on which there was a relief of two winged persons holding a sheet behind a woman a little over her head; they seem to carry her on their fishy tails which join together, and were probably designed to represent the Zephyrs, carrying Venus to the sea.

At the west part of the town there is a dry bason, which seemed to have been triangular; it is close to the

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town wall; at one corner of it there is a round building which seems to have extended into a bason, and probably was designed in order to behold with greater conveniency some religious ceremonies or public sports. This may be the lake where they had sacred fishes that were tame.

About two hundred paces within the east gate there is a raised ground, on which probably stood a temple of the Syrian goddess Atargatis, thought to be the same as Ashteroth of the Sidonians, and Cybele of the Romans, for whose worship this place was so famous. I conjectured it to be about two hundred feet in front. It is probable that this is the high ground from which they threw people headlong in their religious ceremonies, and sometimes even their own children, though they must inevitably perish. I observed a low wall running from it to the gate, so that probably it had such a grand avenue as the temple at Gerrhae; and the enclosure of the city is irregular in this part, as if some ground had been taken in after the building of the walls to make that grand entrance; it is probable that all the space north of the temple belonged to it. A court is mentioned to the north of the temple, and a tower likewise before the temple, which was built on a terrace twelve feet high. If this tower was on the high ground I mentioned, the temple must have been west of it, of which I could see no remains; it possibly might have been where there are now some ruins of a large building, which seems to have been a church with a tower; to the west of which there are some ruinous arches, which might be part of a portico. It is said that not only Syria, Cilicia, and Cappadocia, contributed to the support of this temple, but even Arabia, and the territories of Babylon: To the west of the town there is a high ground, and some burial places; and so there are also to the north-east, where

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[paragraph continues] I saw inscriptions in the oriental languages, and several crosses. At a little distance from the north-east corner of the town there is a building like a church, but within it there is some Gothic work, such as is seen in antient mosques; and there is a room on each side of the south end; the whole is ruinous, but very strongly built, and they call it the house of Phila.



By COLONEL CHESNEY. London, 1850. Vol. I., Ch. XVIII., pp. 420 and 421.

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[Nine miles below the mouth of the Sajur, the fine Saracenic structure of Kal-at-en-Nejm commands the remains of the great Zeugma leading to Seroug, Haran, etc., and 11 miles directly south by west from thence on four hills, are the extensive remains of the castle and town of Kara Bambuche, or Buyuk Munbedj, 1 which contains some fine excavations near the river, and also a Zeugma, but in a more dilapidated state, being without the slopes which, when passing at Kal-at-en-Nejm, served for landing places at different heights of the river.]

Sixteen miles west by south of the latter, and 11½ miles south-west of the former passage, at about 600 feet above the river Euphrates, the ruins of the Magog of the Syrians occupy the centre of a rocky plain, where, by its isolated position, the city must not only have been deprived of running water, but likewise

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of every other advantage which was likely to create and preserve a place of importance. Yet we know that the Syrian city of Ninus Vetus  1 flourished under the name of Bambyce  2 and subsequently of Hierapolis, 3 or the Sacred City of the Greeks, 4 and that it contained the rich temple which was plundered by Crassus; 5 finally it bore the name of Munbedj  6 or Bambuche, and had a succession of sovereigns in the 5th century of the Hijrah 7. The ancient city was near the eastern extremity of Commagene, or Euphratensis, which had Samosat at the opposite extremity. 8

Some ruined mosques and square Saracenic towers, with the remains of its surrounding walls and ditch, marked the limits of the Muslim city; within which are four large cisterns, a fine sarcophagus, and, among other ancient remains the sculptured ruins of an acropolis, and those of two temples. Of the smaller, the enclosure and portions of seven columns remain; but it seems to possess little interest compared with the larger, which may have been that of the Assyrian and Phœnician Astarte, 9 or Astroarche (queen of stars), which afterwards

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became the Syrian Atargatis, 1 or Venus Decerto. 2 Amongst the remains of the latter are some fragments of massive architecture, not unlike the Egyptian, and 11 arches from one side of a square paved court, over which are scattered the shafts of columns and capitals displaying the lotus.

A little way westward of the walls there is an extensive necropolis, which contains many Turkish, with some Pagan, Seljukian, and Syriac tombs; the last having some almost illegible inscriptions in the ancient character.


92:1 Caele habet—Bambycen, quae alio nomine Hierapolis vocatur, Syris vero Magog. Ibi prodigiosa Atargatis, Graecis autem Derceto dicta, colitur. Plin. Nat. Hist. V. 19.

95:1 Jisr Munbedj, two days from Haran. Jaubert's Edrisi, p. 155, tome VI.; Recueil dc Voyages, etc. Paris, 1840.

96:1 Ammian. Mar., XIV., c. viii.

96:2 The Syrian name of the city, which the Greeks afterwards called Hierapolis. Strabo, XVI., p. 747.

96:3 Ammian. Mar., XIV., c. viii.

96:4 Hierapolis, or Magog, in Syriac. Plin. lib. V., c. xxiii.

96:5 Plutarch in Crassus.

96:6 It was first built by the Persians, who had a fine temple there. Muhammed Ibn Sepahi's Clear Knowledge of Cities and Kingdoms.

96:7 Des Guignes, His. des Huns, tome II., p. 275.

96:8 Amm. Mar. XIV., c. viii.

96:9 There were temples of this goddess in Palestine. Jos. Ant., lib. V., c. xiv. 8; at Tyre, ibid.; against Apion, lib. I., s. 19; and at Sidon, 1. Kings, c. v., and v. 33.

97:1 Strabo, XVI., p. 748.

97:2 Herod., lib. I., c. cv., mentions the temple of Venus at Askalon, which, in Diod. Sic., lib. II., is called that of Decerto. There was another temple of Venus, or Atargatis, at Joppa. Plin., lib. V., c. xiii. and xxiii.

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