GPS coordinates: 33.4985, 35.33929
Coordinates are approximate.
The church is a basilica with its annexes oriented towards the West. The basilica was the subject of several alterations which we can divide into three phases.
In its first phase, the church already had the basilica shape, which it subsequently kept.
Only a few piers are preserved. The rectangular shape of these piers proves that, in this first state, the aisles were separated from the nave not by columns but by piers. The remains of plaster show that the piers and walls were covered with it.
At the level of the stylobate, across the nave six round or rectangular sandstone blocks were sunk into the ground. These blocks are arranged in an L shape in the western part of the nave and are provided with a more or less square hole. Two similar blocks are arranged parallel further to the east and preceded by two small blocks slightly further apart. The first blocks seem to be intended to fix a chancel, part of the southern bases of which are lost, while the second group would be that of an exedra.
It is difficult to determine whether the apse elements found in the West belong to this phase or were added to the next. By its opening, this apse corresponds to the width of the nave; it comes up against a wall of the same type slightly offset from the wall on the side aisle. The blocks which make up the internal face are cut and are 0.50 m high; thinner blocks line them on the exterior side. On the upper face of the seats, we see the bottoms poorly cut with square holes; the lack of apparent base and the roughness of this side of the seat suggest the pre-existence of a superimposed seat. These holes could have been used for the wooden seats of a synthronon.
The interior of this apse contained only added earth, which must have filled it when it was added to the original wall of the church.
It is to this period that the baptistery which we partially discovered under the double mosaic of annex no. 3 must belong. This annex was located to the south of the church, at the center. The entire floor of this baptistery was covered with a smooth, fairly hard coating mixed with a few small pebbles.
According to the parts which remained, the baptismal font was made up of a section directed east to west. and terminated to the east by a semi-circular alveolus. In the middle of its northern side, there was another horseshoe-shaped cell. The first cell was lined with marble slabs which covered the upper walls and the bottom, at the height of the projection. A hole has been made in the marble floor, almost in the middle of the bowstring. On this side, the cell is separated from the corridor by a low wall with large holes in the vertical direction; this hole communicates, at the bottom, with the bottom of the alveolus. The second cell narrows in its lower half thanks to a relatively wide projection which follows the surface of the wall at almost right angles. The layout of this baptismal font must probably have been more or less in the shape of a cross.
In the second phase, transformations followed the original layout of the church. The piers were replaced by columns. In fact, the bases of a colonnade were placed on the piles leveled at 0.27 m. From the entrance, the third base of the southern colonnade and the second, third and fourth of the northern colonnade were still in place. The flat, square parts of the bases are noticeably wider and shorter than the level piers. It is probable that at this time the paving of the church floor was at the level of these bases, thus masking the disproportion of the bases of the columns and the bottom of the piers.
In the nave, in front of the apse, stood the choir platform, 3.25 m wide from North to South and 3.40 m long. from East to West. This platform had an earthen core framed by a sandstone pavement. Vague traces revealed the pre-existence of steps on the east side.
Two marble tables were added on either side of the chancel or rather reused. Their bases are rectangular and crude. In the middle of one of them, a small column was still embedded. Near one of the short sides, the surface of the block was notched to accommodate the bases of two even smaller columns.
These various elements of the church in its second phase have the following measurements:
Length of the Basilica: 21.75 m.
Width of the apse: 4.50 m.
Width of the nave: 5.90 m.
Width of the right side aisle: 2.50 m.
Width of the left aisle: 2.40 m.
The ambulatorium and annexes also belonged to this same period of the Basilica.
The ambulatorium is a rectangular space which preceded the basilica on its eastern side. This space measures 12 m. long and 2.80 m. wide. It is connected to the basilica by three double doors in the axis of the nave and the side aisles. The width of the doors is 1.70 m. for the central nave, and 1.00 m. for the bottom right side, and 1.36 m. for the left. Three other doors to the east give access to the outside; that of the center, 1.63 m wide is in the axis of the nave, while the other two in that of the colonnade; their respective widths are 1.16 m. for the one on the right and 1.13 m. for the one on the left. These doors are preceded to the east by a paved courtyard, of which at least three rows of sandstone blocks are largely preserved.
Appendices. – From the ambulatorium, through a door in the middle of the south wall, you access the annexes. These are made up of four rooms in a row, adjoining the southern side of the church.
Room No. 1 is rectangular and extends the plan of the ambulatorium to the south. This room measures 4.82 m from north to south and 2.87 m. from east to west.
A bay, in the middle of the west wall, gives access to room no. 2, 4.66 m long. from north to south and 3.53 m. from east to west. This room is characterized by the presence in its southern part of a rectangular sandstone block, pierced with a large hole in the middle, as if to be used to embed a support.
Near the northern corner of the western wall is an access to room no. 3, which is where we found the baptistery; the eastern alveolus of the tank was located near the SE corner. of the room, which measures 4.58 m. in the north to south direction and 5.35 m. east to west.
Through the center of the western wall, we access room no. 4, which is the largest of the four rooms annexed to the basilica. Although largely damaged in the west by bulldozers, in the preserved parts it measures 6.05 m from north to south and 4.39 m. from east to west. This room begins at the point corresponding to that of the 5th column and seems to end at the height of the extreme curve of the apse.
The third phase of the basilica and its annexes is marked not by changes in the architectural elements but by the installation of mosaics and the painting of the coatings.
The mosaics of the nave, the right aisle, the ambulatorium and room no. 2 are on the same level. On the other hand, the mosaic of the left aisle and that of the baptistery are at a lower level of 0.05 m respectively and O.09 m.; on the contrary, the mosaics of room no. 1, the diaconicon and the south sacristy are at a level respectively 0.05 m higher, 0.11 m. and O.21 m. The level of the choir dais is at 0.40 m.
The encroachment of the mosaic on the flat part and even on the lower torus of the base closest to the choir and the appearance flush with the mosaic of the flat part of the other bases indicates not only that the mosaic sloped from west to east, but also that its installation was much later than that of the bases of the columns.
Maurice H. Chéhab, “Mosaiques Du Liban,” Bulletin Du Musée de Beyrouth 14/15 (1957): 82–89.
The nine inscriptions on mosaics, distributed throughout the basilica and its annexes, give us valuable information on the names of the various parts of the church, as well as on the dates and donors. The nave was first paved at the end (?) of the 4th century, the southern aisle in 389/390 and the northern aisle before the 6th century, the proeisodia in 524, the diaconicon in 535 and finally the ambulatorium in 541. Thus, all of these mosaics are distributed between the end of the 4th century and 541.
Maurice H. Chéhab, “Mosaiques Du Liban,” Bulletin Du Musée de Beyrouth 14/15 (1957): 99.
Chéhab, Maurice H. “Mosaiques Du Liban.” Bulletin Du Musée de Beyrouth 14/15 (1957): 1–189.
Donceel-Voûte, Pauline, and Bernadette Gillain. Les pavements des églises byzantines de Syrie et du Liban: Volume I : Décor, archéologie et liturgie. Publications d’histoire de l’art et d’archéologie de l’université catholique de Louvain 69. Institut Supérieur d’archéologie et d’histoire de l’art Collège Érasme, 1988.
- Protruding? apse
- Π-shaped chancel with second choir
- mosaics in three phases with many repairs
- Three west entrances
- South entrance from side room to “ambulatorium”
- Four attached south rooms
- Baptistry in middle room of south annexes
- 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
mono-apsidal west facing