Syria Street

     This is one of the main streets of the city and extends for 900 m from the crossroads in front of the Caracalla Nymphaeum in the west to the Syria Gate in the east. This street of Roman Imperial period was built in Doric order in the years of AD 84-85 during proconsulship of S. Iulius Frontinus during the reign of Emperor Domitian (r. 81-96). The 400-m-long section of the street from the west end to the East Byzantine Gate has been entirely excavated. Excavations have shown that the street was in use from the first century AD to the reign of Focas (r. 602-610).
    Along the north side of the excavated section are North (Sacred) Agora and three propylons providing access into this agora, S. Severus Nymphaeum, Temple A, House A and a row of shops. Along the south side are rows of shops and the Central Agora.
     The porticoes along both sides of the Syria Street were roofed over in order to protect the people from the sun in the summer and rain in the winter. Raised with one or two steps from the street pavement the porticoes are paved with opus sectile and with mosaics at places. By the doorways of the shops are capitals, column fragments, and postaments for sitting on placed in the Early Byzantine period. Some shops have game boards in front for duodecim scripta similar to backgammon. Along the axis of the street runs the main sewage channel and lesser channels join it on both sides. Manholes seen at places on the street are for maintenance purposes. At certain intervals are holes for draining rainwater. Repairs of later periods employed marble architectural blocks in the street pavement and marble statues for covering the sewage channel. Both porticoes’ columns have mostly reused Corinthian and Composite order capitals and some columns have impost capitals imitating Doric ones produced in the Early Byzantine period. Some piers have capitals with cross motifs in relief. Some columns have holes for fixing lamps or tying animals. Columns also have many graffiti featuring Greek writings, cross motifs, schematic drawings of St Philip’s Shrine with its four apses and a cross within in Hierapolis, and animal and human figures. In the section between the crossroads crowned with a tetrapylon and the East Byzantine Gate the porticoes’ colonnades are arranged as two columns and one pier alternating. In the street is a rectangular street fountain before the portico.

     Restoration Work
: The Syria Street, the porticoes, and the front walls of the shops at the back were excavated in 2007 and their restoration was based on anastylosis. Bases, columns, capitals and piers were uncovered entirely collapsed but re-erected in their places, thus rebuilding the sixth-century look of the street with its reused materials. Restoration has allowed an uninterrupted route from the East Byzantine Gate to the Caracalla Nymphaeum.


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