21 July 2024
Forgotten city Syria reveals hidden treasures

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The Forgotten City of Anqa: Uncovering Syria’s Neglected Sister Site

In the realm of ancient archaeological sites, the city of Dura-Europos in modern-day Syria stands out for its exceptional state of preservation and the wealth of historical insights it offers. Often compared to the well-known ruins of Pompeii, Dura-Europos provides a unique window into the ancient Hellenistic, Parthian, and Roman periods. However, a recent discovery has shed light on another city located just a few miles away along the Euphrates river, which has long been overlooked by scholars – the forgotten city of Anqa.

Anqa, also known as Giddan or Eddana, has been dubbed the “Forgotten Twin” of Dura-Europos in a recent paper published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies. This ancient city, situated across the Syrian border in present-day Al-Qaim district of the Anbar Governorate in Iraq, shares striking similarities with its more famous counterpart. Both cities are of similar size, composition, and potentially equal value to researchers studying the region’s history.

The Historical Significance of Anqa

Anqa’s strategic location at a point where the Euphrates floodplain narrows gave it control over the movement between the populous section of the valley upstream and the vital trade route downstream, connecting Syria, Northern Mesopotamia, and Babylonia. This geographical position endowed Anqa with great economic and strategic importance in ancient times. The city’s remains, including a tell mound, inner wall circuit, and outer defensive wall, indicate a well-organized urban center that thrived in the past.

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Despite its historical significance, Anqa remained largely ignored by archaeologists until the mid-19th century when a British expedition survey briefly mentioned the site. It was not until the late 1930s that a more comprehensive study of Anqa was undertaken by Aurel Stein, which included aerial photographs of the standing structures. However, even after these initial investigations, the city continued to languish in obscurity, overshadowed by the more extensively studied Dura-Europos.

Challenges and Opportunities for Research

One of the reasons for the neglect of Anqa, as suggested by the author of the recent paper, Simon James, is the historical context of British and French colonial intervention in the region. The political boundaries established following the San Remo conference in 1920, which placed Iraq under British control and Syria under French control, created barriers to comprehensive research and understanding of the region’s history as a whole. This geopolitical division hindered the exploration and excavation of sites like Anqa, leading to a disparity in scholarly interest compared to other well-known ancient cities.

Despite the challenges, Anqa has remained relatively untouched by looting, destruction, and conflict, unlike many other archaeological sites in the region. As ongoing archaeological investigations uncover more about Anqa’s past, the city has the potential to offer valuable insights into the history of the Middle Euphrates region. Moreover, with advancements in digital scholarship that transcend political borders, the study of neglected sites like Anqa may help address the lingering impacts of colonialism in archaeological research.

Preserving the Legacy of Anqa

The rediscovery and reevaluation of Anqa as the “Forgotten Twin” of Dura-Europos highlight the importance of recognizing and safeguarding lesser-known archaeological sites with significant historical value. By shedding light on the neglected city of Anqa, researchers have the opportunity to enrich our understanding of ancient civilizations, trade networks, and urban development in the region. As efforts to study and protect Anqa continue, the city’s legacy may contribute to a more comprehensive narrative of the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq, bridging the gap between past neglect and present recognition.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.archaeology.org 2. www.ancient.eu 3. www.livescience.com

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Dura-Europos (city), Euphrates River (river), Aurel Stein (explorer)

Dura-Europos was a Hellenistic, Parthian, and Roman border city built on an escarpment 90 metres (300 feet) above the southwestern bank of the Euphrates river. It is located near the village of Salhiyé, in present-day Syria. Dura-Europos was founded around 300 BC by Seleucus I Nicator, who founded the Seleucid...
Read more: Dura-Europos

The Euphrates ( yoo-FRAY-teez; see below) is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (lit. 'the land between the rivers'). Originating in Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to...
Read more: Euphrates

Aurel Stein
Sir Marc Aurel Stein, (Hungarian: Stein Márk Aurél; 26 November 1862 – 26 October 1943) was a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, primarily known for his explorations and archaeological discoveries in Central Asia. He was also a professor at Indian universities. Stein was also an ethnographer, geographer, linguist and surveyor. His collection...
Read more: Aurel Stein

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