Excavations at Homs Citadel

The Citadel of Homs was built during the period of militarization of the Near East that resulted from the Crusader invasion

of the Islamic lands and it must have been one of the largest fortified sites in Muslim hands in Syria at the time. An etching by C. F. Volney dated to 1785 shows the Citadel still in excellent condition, dominating the south side of the city of Homs. However, today the Citadel is in ruinous state as a result of massive demolition started by the Egyptian army of Ibrâhîm Pasha in the 1830s. This was followed by levelling and extensive new construction carried out when the site was used as a military base by the French army during the Mandate period and thereafter by the Syrian army. The Citadel was only abandoned for military purposes in the late 1980s when it passed to the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities. The effect of this widespread destruction, especially that dating from the French Mandate period, has meant that the archaeology at the site has been masked by redeposited fill or, in some places, destroyed completely.


At the instigation of the Syrian Department of Antiquities, in 1994-5 a joint Syrian-British team was formed to map and excavate Homs Citadel. The director on the Syrian side is Mr. Farid Jabbour of Homs Museum, and the present writer leads the British team from SOAS, University of London. The first season of excavation commenced in 1997 and made the greatest progress in Area C on the south side. In the central areas of the tell a combination of deep fill laid down by the French, large 20th C. water tanks, telecommunications aerials and other structures have put much of the mound permanently beyond archaeological retrieval.

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Author: Geoffrey R.D. King

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Keywords: Homs, Citadel, Syria, Fortifications, Archaeology


Geoffrey R.D. King

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