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Apamea, Syria

Greek: Ἀπάμεια
Arabic: آفاميا
View of Apamea ruins
Apamea, Syria is located in Syria
Apamea, Syria
Shown within Syria
Location Hama Governorate, Syria
Region Ghab plain
Type settlement
Builder Seleucus I Nicator
Founded ca. 300 BC
Abandoned 13th century
Cultures Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, Arab
Site notes
Condition ruins
Ownership Public
Public access Yes

Apamea (Greek: Ἀπάμεια, Apameia; Arabic: آفاميا‎, Afamia), on the right bank of the Orontes River, was a treasure city and stud-depot of the Seleucid kings, and was the capital of Apamene. (Stephanus of Byzantium s. v.; Strabo xvi. p. 752; Ptolemy v. 15. § 19; Festus Avienus, v. 1083; Anton. Itin.; Hierocles). Its site is found about 55 km (34 mi) to the northwest of Hama, Syria, overlooking the Ghab valley. Previously known as Pharmake, it was fortified and enlarged by Seleucus I Nicator in 300 BC, who so named it after his Bactrian wife, Apama – not his mother, as Stephanus asserts (compare Strabo, p. 578). In pursuance of his policy of Hellenizing Syria, it bore the Macedonian name of Pella.


  • History 1
  • Notable residents 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6


The fortress was placed upon a hill; the windings of the Orontes, with the lake and marshes, gave it a peninsular form, whence its other name of Cherronêsos. Seleucus had his commissariat there, 500 elephants, with 30,000 mares, and 300 stallions. The pretender, Diodotus Tryphon, made Apamea the basis of his operations. (Strab. l. c.) Located at a strategic crossroads for Eastern commerce, the city flourished to the extent that its population eventually numbered half a million. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. The city boasted one of the largest theatres in the Roman world, and a monumental colonnade.

Josephus (Ant. xiv. 3. § 2) relates, that Pompey marching south from his winter quarters, probably at or near Antioch, razed the fortress of Apamea in 64 BC whence the city was annexed to the Roman Republic. In the revolt of Syria under Q. Caecilius Bassus, it held out against Julius Caesar for three years till the arrival of Cassius, 46 BC. (Dion. Cass. xlvii. 26–28; Joseph. Bel. Jud. i. 10. § 10.) Remarkably, we have the figure of 117,000 citizens of Apamea early in the 1st century (CIL III.6687). On the outbreak of the Jewish War, the inhabitants of Apamea spared the Jews who lived in their midst, and would not suffer them to be murdered or led into captivity (Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 18, § 5). Destroyed by Chosroes I in the 6th century, it was partially rebuilt and known in Arabic as Famia or Fâmieh, and destroyed by an earthquake in 1152. In the Crusades it was still a flourishing and important place and was occupied by Tancred. (Wilken, Gesch. der Ks. vol. ii. p. 474; Abulfeda, Tab. Syr. pp. 114, 157.)

The acropolis hill is now occupied by the ruins called Kalat el-Mudik (Kŭlat el-Mudîk). The ruins of a highly ornamental character, and of an enormous extent, are still standing, the remains, probably, of the temples of which Sozomen speaks (vii. 15); part of the town is enclosed in an ancient castle situated on a hill; the remainder is to be found in the plain. In the adjacent lake are the celebrated black fish, the source of much wealth.

Both the Jerusalem Targumim considered the city of Shepham (Num. xxxiv. 11) to be identical with Apamea. Since Apamea virtually belonged to Rabbinic Palestine, the first-fruits brought by Ariston from that town were accepted for sacrifice in Jerusalem (Mishnah Ḥal. iv. 11). A 6th-century Notitia Episcopatuum shows that Apamea in Syria was the metropolitan see for seven suffragan dioceses: Arethusa, Epiphania in Syria, Larissa in Syria, Mariamme, Seleucobelus, Raphanea, and Balanea.[1] It became a Latin archiepiscopal see at the time of the Crusades.[2][3] No longer a residential archdiocese, it is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[4]

As a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria, the ancient city has been ravaged by illegal treasure hunters.[5][6][7]

Notable residents

See also


  1. ^ 1907Echos d'Orient, p. 94.
  2. ^ Jean Richard, "Note sur l'archidiocèse d'Apamée et les conquêtes de Raymond de Saint-Gilles en Syrie du Nord", in Syria. Archéologie, Art et histoire, Year 1946, Volume 25, n° 1, pp. 103–108
  3. ^ Konrad Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi, vol. 1, p. 94; vol. 2, pp. XIV and 90
  4. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 834
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Trafficking Culture [2]
  7. ^ Andrew Lawler, "Satellites track heritage loss across Syria and Iraq", Science, Year 2014, Volume 346, n° 6214, pp. 1162-1163, DOI:10.1126/science.346.6214.1162
  8. ^ Sāmī Nasīb Makārim (1974). The Druze faith. Caravan Books.  
  9. ^ Wahbah A. Sayegh (1996). The Tawhid Faith: Pioneers and their shrines. The Society. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 


External links

  • Apamea travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Suggestion to have Apamea recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site (French)
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