As the chief river of the ancient Levant
region, the Orontes was the site of several major battles. Among the most important cities on the river are Homs
, Jisr al-Shughur
, and Antakya
(the ancient Antioch
, which was also known as "Antioch on the Orontes").
In the 9th century BCE, the ancient Assyrians
referred to the river as Arantu
, and the nearby Egyptians called it Araunti
The etymology of the name is unknown,
yet some sources indicate that it might be derived from Arnt
which means "lioness" in Syriac languages
others called it Alimas
, a "water goddess" in Aramaic
gradually became "Orontes" in Greek.
In the Greek epic poem Dionysiaca
(circa 400 CE), the river is said to have been named after Orontes, an Indian military leader who killed himself and fell into the river after losing to Dionysus in single combat.
According to the Greek geographer Strabo
, circa 20 CE), the river was originally named Typhon
, because it was said that Zeus
had struck the dragon Typhon down from the sky with thunder, and the river had formed where Typhon's body had fallen;
however, the river was later renamed Orontes when a man named Orontes built a bridge on it.[b]
In contrast, Macedonian settlers
named it the Axius
, after a Macedonian river god. The Arabic name العاصي
) is derived from the ancient Axius
. The word coincidentally means "insubordinate" in Arabic, which folk etymology
ascribes to the fact that the river flows from the south to the north unlike the rest of the rivers in the region.
Leaving this gorge, it expands into the Lake of Homs
in Syria (an artificial lake created by a Roman-era dam
, also known as Qattinah lake) and through the city of Homs
(or Ḥimṣ). Below is the district of Hamah (Hamaih-Epiphaneia), and the ancient site of Larissa (Shaizar
). This is where the river enters the Ghab plain
. Further downstream, on the eastern edge of the Ghab, is located the ancient city of Apamea
To the west is the Coastal Mountain Range
. This section ends at the rocky barrier of Jisr al-Hadid
, where the river turns west into the plain of Antioch
) in Turkey.
Two major tributaries, the southward-flowing Afrin River
on the west and the Karasu
on the east, join the Orontes through the former Lake Amik
via an artificial channel (Nahr al-Kowsit). Passing north of Antakya
(ancient Antioch), the Orontes dives southwest into a gorge (compared by the ancients to Tempe
), and falls 50 metres (160 ft) in 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) to the sea just south of Samandağ
(former Suedia, in antiquity Seleucia Pieria), after a total course of 450 kilometres (280 mi).
Major dams on the river
The Orontes is not easily navigable and the valley derives its historical importance as a road for north–south traffic; from Antioch south to Homs
and thence to Damascus
The Orontes has long been a boundary marker. For the Egyptians it marked the northern extremity of Amurru
, east of Phoenicia. On the Orontes was fought the major Battle of Kadesh
(circa 1274 BCE) between the Egyptian army of Ramesses II
from the south and the Hittite army of Muwatalli II
from the north. The river was also the site of the Battle of Qarqar
fought in 853 BCE, when the army of Assyria
, led by king Shalmaneser III
, encountered an allied army of 12 kings led by Hadadezer
Bronze copy from Tartus
' Tyche of Antioch
, 1st or 2nd century CE, Louvre Museum
; at the goddess' feet a male swimmer personifying the Orontes is represented.
French writer Maurice Barrès
purportedly transcribed, in Un jardin sur l'Oronte
(1922), a story that an Irish archaeologist had translated for him from a manuscript one evening in June 1914, at a café
in Hama by the Orontes.
- ^ The source of the river Orontes is the village of Labweh, which also means "lioness".
- ^ Pliny the Elder mentioned a tributary of the Orontes as Marsyas river (named after Marsyas). The same tributary was drawn by Richard Pococke to the east of the Orontes in the al-Ghab plain near Apamea.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i "Asi-Orontes Basin". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- ^ a b Gaston Maspero. History of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia and Assyria (Complete). p. 1348.
- ^ Ballabio, R.; Comair, F.G.; Scalet, M.; Scoullos, M. (2015). Science diplomacy and transboundary water management: the Orontes River case. UNESCO Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 9789230000172.
- ^ Nonnos of Panopolis (20 July 2015). Delphi Complete Dionysiaca of Nonnus (Illustrated). Delphi Classics. pp. book 17.
- ^ a b "LacusCurtius • Strabo's Geography — Book XVI Chapter 2". penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- ^ "Marsyas". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography.
- ^ Richard Pococke (1743). A description of the East, and some other countries Vol. II. William Bowyer. p. 140.
- ^ Fitchett, Joseph; Deford, McAdams (1973). "A River Called Rebel". Aramco World (May/June): 12–21. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- ^ Getzel M. Cohen. The Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa. p. 100.
- ^ Dussaud, René. Topographie historique de la Syrie antique et médiévale (in French). p. 103.
- ^ عمر فاروق الطباع (2016). ديوان البحتري 1/2 Diwan of Buhturi (in Arabic). Beirut: دار الارقم بن ابي الارقم. p. 169.
- ^ مصطفى الصوفي (2017). طقوس احتفالات المواسم والأعياد الربيعية (in Arabic). ktab INC.
- ^ Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 0-89577-087-3.
Last edited on 20 February 2021, at 23:54
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.