GPS coordinates: 32.87308, 36.2569
Structure is visible in Google maps.
The name of this place was given as Ezra by the earlier explorers who did not observe that the natives, in repeating the name, placed the article ez before the name Zor-ah, as they do in many cases.
The domed church here, which antedates by several years the famous domes of Constantinople and Ravenna, presents a plan of unusual interest. Its outlines have the form of a rectangle with its major axis lying east and west. At the east end a space equal to the difference between the rectangle and the square of its shorter side is set off for two side chambers with a bema between them. From the bema opens a semicircular apse enclosed within three faces of a hexagon. Within the square to the west of the sanctuary an octagon was created by cutting off the interior angles and filling them with semicircular chapels; and within this great octagon, a smaller one, 9 m. in diameter, was formed by eight angle piers carrying arches.
There are three doorways in the west side of the outer octagon, one in the north side and one in the south. The outer walls were carried lip to a level somewhat higher than the crowns of the eight arches) and roofs of stone slabs were placed over both the circumambient aisle and the bema. The apse was given a half dome of concrete. The eight arches were) of course, intended to support the dome, but above this level all the former publications of this building are at fault.
The masonry in the spandrils at once begins to warp forward and, at the level of the crowns of the arches, no angles are to be seen. At this level are placed two courses of finely dressed stone blocks, with notches cut in the upper surface of the lower course, and tongues cut upon the lower surface of the course above, so that the two are locked together as if the work were so much carpentry.
Above this, a wall, circular within and octagonal without, rises about two meters above the aisle roofs; windows were placed over each of the eight arches, and the tall, sugarloaf dome was placed directly upon this drum, the transition from the octagon to the circle having been made by imperceptible degrees in the building up of the stone work. The entire building is constructed of highly finished blocks of basalt, but the present effect has been much injured by high walls of rough stone added to the main walls and to the apse in recent years.
The ornament of the church, such as it is, is massed upon the west facade, where a string molding of good classical profile is carried across the wall and over a high relieving arch above the portal. The lintel of the middle portal is a single stone under a relieving arch, and has a long inscription upon it, at the ends of which are low relief carvings of crosses intertwined with grape vines.
Howard Crosby Butler, Early Churches in Syria: Fourth to Seventh Centuries, Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology (Princeton, N.J.: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1929), 122-125.
The inscription reads as follows:
This has become a house of God which (was once] a lodging-place of demons…. where (once were) idols’ sacrifices, now (are) choirs of angels, and where God was provoked to wrath, now God is propitiated. A certain man, Christ-loving, the primate Ioannes, son of Diomedes, at his own expense, as a gift to God, made offering of (this) noble structure, placing herein the reverend relic of (the) holy martyr Georgios, the gloriously victorious, who appeared to him, Ioannes, and not in sleep, but manifestly, in (indiction) 9, year 410 (515 A.D.).
The inscription implies that the church occupies the site of a Pagan temple.
Howard Crosby Butler, Early Churches in Syria: Fourth to Seventh Centuries, Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology (Princeton, N.J.: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1929), 125.
The Church of St. George at Zorah is the best preserved of the domed structures of the Hauran. It is, in fact, still consecrated to Christian worship. Although the number of Christians in the neighborhood is small, and the priest comes but seldom to celebrate the services of the Greek faith within its walls, this little church is the only one, of all those described in this volume, that ever hears the sound of the ancient ritual.
Howard Crosby Butler, Architecture and Other Arts, Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, Pt. 2 (New York: The Century Co, 1903), 411
Butler, Howard Crosby. Architecture and Other Arts. Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, Pt. 2. New York: The Century Co, 1903.
———. Early Churches in Syria: Fourth to Seventh Centuries. Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology. Princeton, N.J.: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1929.
- Protruding apse
- Structure is a smaller version of the cathedral at Bosra
- Π-shaped chancel?
- Three entrance from the west
- One from the north and the south
- One to the east south of the apse
- Protruding apse
- Entrances from the east on either side of the apse
- Π-shaped chancel
- Multiple entrances on all sides
- Ambo on the south
- Exterior chapel to the north
- Π-shaped chancel
- Inscribed mono-apsidal
- Rooms on both sides of the apse
- West entrance
- Ambo on south
- Baptistry in room south of the apse or in the south aisle
- Separate south chapel
- South entrances from side rooms/chapels
- Τ-shaped or bar-shaped chancel
- Tri-apsidal usually inscribed
- Altars in the side apses
- Relics and Reliquaries
- Ambo to the north
- Baptistry outside off the atrium or the north aisle
- Marble furnishings (high status imperial association) and imported fine wares
- Decorative elements on chancel screens [specify]
- Separate north chapel
Syrian to Roman conversion
- Τ-shaped or bar-shaped chancel replacing Π-shaped chancel
- Side apses inserted into rooms adjacent to the main apse
- Separate north chapel (suppressed south chapel)
- Liturgical furniture with decorative motifs like those at St. Clemente in Rome
Octagon in square, reminiscent of the cathedral at Bosra but on a smaller scale.