Ma'loula

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Ma'loula
ܡܥܠܘܠܐ
معلولا
Town
Overview of Ma'loula
Overview of Ma'loula
Ma'loula is located in Syria
Ma'loula
Ma'loula
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 33°50′39″N 36°32′48″E / 33.84417°N 36.54667°E / 33.84417; 36.54667
Country  Syria
Governorate Rif Dimashq Governorate
District Al-Qutayfah District
Nahiyah Ma'loula
Elevation 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
Population (2004 census)[1]
 • Total 2,762

Ma'loula, Maaloula, or Ma'lula (Aramaic: ܡܥܠܘܠܐ‎, Maʿlūlā; Arabic: معلولاMaʿlūlā) is a town in the Rif Dimashq Governorate in Syria. The town is located 56 km to the northeast of Damascus, and built into the rugged mountainside, at an altitude of more than 1500 metres. It is known as one of three remaining villages where Western Aramaic is still spoken, the other two being the nearby villages Jubb'adin and Al-Sarkha (Bakhah).

Etymology[edit]

Maʿlūlā is from the Aramaic word maʿʿəlā (מעלא), meaning 'entrance'. Until recently, the town was dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Ma'loula
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4
(39)
5
(41)
7
(45)
11
(52)
15
(59)
19
(66)
22
(72)
24
(75)
18
(64)
14
(57)
10
(50)
5
(41)
12.8
(55.1)
Average low °C (°F) −3
(27)
−2
(28)
0
(32)
4
(39)
8
(46)
12
(54)
14
(57)
16
(61)
12
(54)
8
(46)
4
(39)
−1
(30)
6
(42.8)
Avg. snowy days 9 6 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 28
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization,[2] Hong Kong Observatory (sun 1961–1990)[3]
Source #2: BBC Weather (record highs and lows)[4]

Population[edit]

According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, Ma'loula had a population of 2,762 in the 2004 census.[1] However, during summer, it increases to about 6,000, due to people coming from Damascus for holidays.[5] Half a century ago, 15,000 people lived in Ma'loula.[6]

Religiously, the population consists of both Christians (mainly Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholic) and Muslims. For the Muslim inhabitants, the legacy is all the more remarkable given that they were not Arabised, unlike most other Syrians who like them were Islamised over the centuries but also adopted Arabic and shifted to an "Arab" ethnic identity. Two notable Syrian Christian families in Ma'loula, include the Greek Orthodox Naddaf family and the Greek Catholic al-Ahmar family.[7]

Language[edit]

With two other nearby towns Al-Sarkha (Bakhah) (Arabic: (الصرخه (بخعة‎) and Jubaadin (Arabic: جبّعدين‎), it is the only place where a dialect of the Western branch of the Aramaic language is still spoken. Scholars have determined that the Aramaic of Jesus belonged to this particular branch as well. Ma'loula represents, therefore, an important source for anthropological linguistic studies regarding first century Aramaic, hence, Jesus' own Aramaic dialect. However, despite frequent mis-statements in the media,[8] it is not the exact dialect Jesus of Nazareth spoke early in the first century.[9] The distance from other major cities and its isolating geological features fostered the longevity of this linguistic oasis for over one and a half thousand years. However, modern roads and transportation, as well as accessibility to Arabic-language television and print media - and for some time until recently, also state policy - have eroded that linguistic heritage.

Monasteries[edit]

There are two important monasteries in Ma'loula: Greek Catholic Mar Sarkis and Greek Orthodox Mar Thecla.

Mar Sarkis[edit]

St. Mar Sarkis Monastery

One of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. It was built on the site of a pagan temple, and has elements which go back to the fifth to sixth century Byzantine period.[10] Mar Sarkis is the Arabic name for Saint Sergius, an Roman soldier who was executed for his Christian beliefs. This monastery still maintains its solemn historical character. Mar Sarkis has two of the oldest icons in the world, one depicting the Last Supper.

Mar Taqla[edit]

Mar Thecla Monastery

This monastery holds the remains of St Taqla (Thecla), which the second-century Acts of Paul and Thecla accounts a noble virgin and pupil of St. Paul. According to later legend not in the Acts, Taqla was being pursued by soldiers of her father to capture her because of her Christian faith. She came upon a mountain, and after praying, the mountain split open and let her escape through. The town gets its name from this gap or entrance in the mountain. However, there are many variations to this story among the residents of Ma'loula.

Other Monasteries[edit]

There are also the remains of numerous monasteries, convents, churches, shrines and sanctuaries. There are some that lie in ruins, while others continue to stand, defying age. Many pilgrims come to Ma'loula, both Muslim and Christian, and they go there to gain blessings and make offerings.

Syrian Civil War[edit]

Main article: Battle of Maaloula

Ma'loula became the scene of battle between Al-Qaeda linked jihadist Al-Nusra Front and the Syrian Army in September 2013.[11]

Syrian rebels took over the town on October 21. Around 13 people were killed, with many more wounded as a result of Islamist forces shelling the historic town.[12]

On October 28, government forces recaptured the town.[13]

Ma'loula was taken over by Al-Nusra Front opposing the Syrian government again on December 3, 2013. The Front, took 12 nuns as hostages,[14] the nuns were moved between different locations and ended up in Yabroud and stayed for three months, officials from Qatar and Lebanon negotiated a deal for their release, the negotiations produced an agreement on a prisoner exchange under which around 150 Syrian women detained by the government were also freed,[15] the nuns were freed on the 9th of March 2014, they stated that they were treated well by their captors. [16][17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Rif Dimashq Governorate. (Arabic)
  2. ^ "World Weather Information Service – Aleppo". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Climatological Information for Aleppo, Syria". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Average Conditions Ma'loula, Syria". BBC Weather. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Sly, Liz (2003-03-12). "Language of Jesus clings to life". Chicago Tribune. 
  7. ^ Provence, Michael (2005). The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism. University of Texas Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-292-70680-4. 
  8. ^ Black, Ian (2009-04-14). "Endangered Aramaic language makes a comeback in Syria". The Guardian (London). 
  9. ^ http://antitattoo.com/312485-Modern-Aramaic-is-Not-the-Language-of-Jesus.html
  10. ^ Ross Burns, The Monuments of Syria, I. B. Taurus, 3rd edition 2009, p. 193.
  11. ^ "Syria rebels withdraw from ancient Christian town of Maaloula". BBC News. September 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ http://barnabasfund.org/UK/Islamists-besiege-two-Christian-villages-in-Syria-13-people-killed.html
  13. ^ http://barnabasfund.org/UK/Islamists-besiege-two-Christian-villages-in-Syria-13-people-killed.html
  14. ^ http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/527153/20131203/syria-abducted-nuns-islamist-rebels-maaloula-christians.htm
  15. ^ http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/09/world/meast/syria-nuns-freed/ ,CNN nuns agreement
  16. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/09/us-syria-crisis-nuns-idUSBREA280EL20140309 , Reuters nuns freed
  17. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26510202 ,bbc Nuns treated well

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°50′39″N 36°32′48″E / 33.84417°N 36.54667°E / 33.84417; 36.54667