Ḥamāh
Syria
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Alternative Titles: Emath, Epiphaneia, Epiphania, Hama
Ḥamāh, also spelled Hama, city, central Syria, on the banks of the Orontes River. It was an important prehistoric settlement, becoming the kingdom of Hamath under the Aramaeans in the 11th century BCE. It fell under Assyrian control in the 9th century BCE and later passed under Persian, Macedonian, and Seleucid rule, the Seleucids renaming the city Epiphaneia in the 2nd century BCE. During Byzantine rule it reverted to Emath, a form of its traditional name. When the Arabs took the city in the 7th century CE, they transformed the principal Christian church into a great mosque. Ḥamāh was captured by Crusaders in 1108, retaken by the Muslims in 1115, destroyed by an earthquake in 1175, and occupied by Saladin in 1188, the Mamlūk sultans about 1300, and the Ottomans in the early 16th century. It passed to Syria after World War I.
Waterwheel, Ḥamāh, Syria
Ray Manley/Shostal Associates
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Ḥamāh serves as an important agricultural market centre for cotton, cereals, fruit, and vegetables. Other economic activities include flour milling, wool and textile weaving, tanning, and cement manufacturing. Especially famous are the city’s gardens, which flank the river and are irrigated by great wooden waterwheels (Arabic nawāʿīr, singular nāʿūrah) measuring between 33 feet (10 metres) and 72 feet (22 metres) in diameter. They were constructed in the 14th century to raise water to aqueducts, which supplied water for drinking and irrigation. Several of the original 32 of these waterwheels are in present-day use.
Ḥamāh
Wooden waterwheels used to irrigate gardens in Ḥamāh, Syria.
© Francisco Javier Gil Oreja/Dreamstime.com
The ʿAẓm Palace (Bayt al-ʿAẓm), originally the residence of the governor of Ḥamāh (and later Damascus), Asʿad Paşa al-ʿAẓm, was restored by the Syrian Department of Antiquities but was damaged in fighting in 1982. The perfectly preserved 18th-century residence is now a museum that houses artifacts from the citadel of Hama, a little to the north of the city. This citadel (or tell) has produced artifacts from the 5th millennium BCE down through the Syro-Hittite kingdom of Hamath in the 2nd millennium into the Byzantine period. In the early 1980s, increasing political unrest culminated in a rebellion in the city by the Muslim Brotherhood in February 1982. The uprising was suppressed by the Syrian government with great force; about one-fourth of the old city was destroyed, and some 25,000 people were estimated to have been killed. Pop. (2004 est.) 366,800.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Laura Etheredge, Associate Editor.
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Abū al-Fidāʾ
Ayyūbid ruler and author
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Alternative Titles: Abū al-Fidāʾ Ismāʿīl ibn ʿAlī al-Mālik al-Muʾ, Abulfeda
Abū al-Fidāʾ, in full Abū Al-fidāʾ Ismāʿīl Ibn ʿalī Al-mālik Al-muʾayyad ʿimad Ad-dīn, also called Abulfeda, (born November 1273, Damascus—died October 27, 1331, Ḥamāh, Syria), Ayyūbid dynasty historian and geographer who became a local sultan under the Mamlūk empire.
Abū al-Fidāʾ
QUICK FACTS
BORN
November 1273
Damascus, Syria
DIED
October 27, 1331 (aged 57)
Ḥamāh, Syria
TITLE / OFFICE
Sultan, Ḥamāh (1320-1331)
Abū al-Fidāʾ was a descendant of Ayyūb, the father of Saladin, founder of the Ayyūbid dynasty that had been supplanted by the Mamlūks in Egypt and elsewhere before his birth. In 1285 he accompanied his father and his cousin (prince of Ḥamāh and a Mamlūk client) to Mamlūk sieges of Crusader strongholds. Abū al-Fidāʾ served the Mamlūk governor of Ḥamāh until he was made first governor of Ḥamāh (1310), then prince for life (1312). In 1320, after making a pilgrimage to Mecca with the Mamlūk sultan al-Nāṣir Muḥammad, he became al-Mālik al-Muʾayyad, with the rank of sultan; and he continued to rule Ḥamāh until his death. His son Muḥammad succeeded him.
Abū al-Fidāʾ was a patron of scholars and a scholar himself. His two major works were a history, Mukhtaṣar tāʾrīkh al-bashar (“Brief History of Man”), spanning pre-Islāmic and Islāmic periods to 1329; and a geography, Taqwīm al-buldān (1321; “Locating the Lands”). Both works were compilations of other authors, arranged and added to by Abū al-Fidāʾ, rather than original treatises. Popular in their day in the Middle East, they were much used by 18th- and 19th-century European Orientalists before earlier sources became available.
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Ḥamāh
Ḥamāh, city, central Syria, on the banks of the Orontes River. It was an important prehistoric...…
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Sultan, originally, according to the Qurʾān, moral or spiritual authority; the term later came to denote...…
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