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Kids trusted with cleaning up a precious Volvo truck. That what boys also do there, as a team, to get some money and especially a lot of fun out of it.
Syria, Raqqa - January 10th, 2004.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raqqa
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2017-05-29
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Damascus Gate Restaurants or Bawabet Dimashq
We were a rather large group with kids so this was an easy choice, also simple to reach because located between the airport and the capital.

I am sharing these images not for their visual quality but to show a probably less known aspect of Syria: how the life in the capital Damascus can drastically differ from the rest of the country, and how even today with parts of the country ravaged by civil war there are still areas in Syria where this war is mainly something seen on TV, just like for the rest of the world.

You can also take a look at this Wall Street Journal article ➊ which reported about a more recent and larger entertainment park opened in 2014. Pretty hard to imagine that, at the same exact same time, several hundred thousand Syrians were seeking shelter in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
➡➊ http://on.wsj.com/1x7JvRD,
#Damascus, #Syria,
March 20th, 2005.
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6/4/17
19 Photos - View album

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Like it Once Was
A cabinet maker at work in the old quarters of Damascus
Damascus, April 29th 2007
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4/16/17
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Like it Once Was
A young Syrian craftsman making a fancy fabric on a loom in the touristy part of the souk of Aleppo, the one nearest to the ancient citadel. Some day the tourists will return and men like him will be smiling again. The souk needs be rebuilt, in my understanding it has been largely destroyed during the years of civil war.
Aleppo, April 26th 2007
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4/16/17
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New Year Eve in Rakka
A few hours before entering 2004 I climbed on the top of the house and spent a moment looking at the rooftops, wondering about all the other people, what they were doing and the life they led.

What triggered this post is a request I got today from a French media. There is a growing interest in the fate of this city, the second in importance for ISIS after Mosul. Now that the latter has been liberated all attention is going to Rakka.
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3/8/17
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Palmyra, Part 10 - The Theater.
Hopelessly uneducated religious fanatics have stricken again. While the world had their eyes set on Washington, these rascals have returned to a Palmyra abandoned by both the Syrian and Russian Armies to resume their devastating work, thus making sure - one more time - that history will remember them as those worthless and pitiful men who didn’t even value their own lifes. Yes, I am bitter.

Have a look at this album where, helped with Wikipedia, I have revisited the theater which I have inspected several times. These pictures are dated April 2004 and March 2005.

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Palmyra, Part 9 - The Tetrapylon.
Another striking construction in Palmyra, the Tetrapylon ➋ marks the second turn along the decumanus maximus ➊. It consists of a square platform bearing at each corner a set of four pillars. Each of the four groups of columns supports the 150 tons of a massive cornice. A pedestal at the centre of each quartet originally carried a statue.

As might be noticed by the discerning eye on these pictures, only one of the 16 pillars is of the original pink granite (probably brought from Aswan in Egypt); the rest is result of some hasty reconstruction using concrete and carried out from the 1960s onwards by the Syrian Antiquities Department.

From here the main colonnaded street continues northwest, while smaller pillared transverse streets lead southwest to the agora and northeast to the Temple of Baal Shamin ➍.
➡➊ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decumanus_Maximus,
➡➋ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrapylon,
➡➌ http://www.ngu.no/upload/Publikasjoner/Special%20publication/SP12_s87-98.pdf,
➡➍ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Baalshamin,
#Syria, #Palmyra

From Wikipedia (➋)
A Tetrapylon was a type of monument common to the architectural vernacular of classical antiquity. The defining quality of this form is the concept of four gates, with four pillars or other supporting structures placed at the corners marking the divisions between them. A tetrapylon could take the form of a single building or multiple, separate structures.

They were built as landmarks at significant crossroads or geographical 'focal points', as a 'sub-type' of the Roman triumphal arch, or simply as decorative and aesthetically pleasing ornamental architecture. As applied to a triumphal arch (e.g., the Mausoleum of the Julii at Glanum, Arch of Janus, Rutupiae), a tetrapylon was effectively a 'doubling' of the original form; with a total of four major arched openings, one on each side of the structure (one pair of openings opposite each other along one axis, and a second pair of openings of equal or lesser prominence perpendicular to the first pair; hence a structure with two barrel vaulted passageways, in the form of a cross).
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12/10/16
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Water Pipes in Palmyra
12 years ago I was walking along the decumanus maximus ➊ of Palmyra for hours, a camera in my right hand and with my nose pointing up in the sky. I was looking at these columns and other decorative features such as the many capitals ➋.

To this day I still clearly remember how I unwittingly crushed bits of terracotta water pipes and one of the pictures is presenting you the guilty shoe that did it. It shocked me that I could destroy something as old and as precious as such 2000 years old artifacts, something undeniably proving that this city once had running water and was filled with life.

So was, and probably still is, the situation in the vast majority of historical sites of the Middle East where both tourists and locals are left to themselves. There are usually no reported paths, or only a bare minimum, and so anybody can step on anything.

Clay pipes
In general the Roman clay pipes have different forms and different wall thickness. The length averages between 30 and 60 cm, but there were also pipes of 80 cm length. Fine-grained clay, a smooth outer surface and profiles at the ends of the pipes were the distinguished marks of the Roman clay pipes. They were formed nearby cylindrical.

About them Vitruvius ➌ wrote: ❝if somebody wants to construct a new cheap water pipe so you must produce clay pipes with thick walls and with at least two inches diameter in such way that they reduce their diameter to one and in order that it can be plugged into one another. The seam must be elapsed with fresh slaked lime which is mixed with oil. The advantages of a pipe consisting of clay is that the destroyed parts can be repaired from an unskilled worker and it is supposed that they are more healthful than lead pipes.❝❞
➡➊ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decumanus_Maximus
➡➋ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_%28architecture%29
➡➌ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvius

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Palmyra - Temple of Bel Panorama
There was this panorama I kept offline to share later (or I simply forgot it). It is composed of 10 pictures I captured March 24th, 2010 using a Canon EOS 20D.

Historical details about this temple as well as many other shots can be found in this collection and I linked the related posts in the comments below.
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The Baathist Colonization of Syria
A text only post for a change. Here is an excellent article exposing some of the deepest-rooted issues facing the future of the country.

As Victor Hugo already noted (*), when parts of the culture of a society have been made ill, over decades, it then can take generations to cure.

* "To reform a man, you must begin with his grandmother."
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