Orontes River

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See Orontid dynasty for the Armenian kings and satraps called Orontes.
Coordinates: 36°2′43″N 35°57′49″E / 36.04528°N 35.96361°E / 36.04528; 35.96361
Orontes
Greek: Ὀρόντης, Arabic: العاصي‎: ‘Āṣī, Turkish: Asi
River
Noria in Hama 01.jpg
Orontes River in Hama, Syria
Countries Lebanon, Syria, Turkey
Cities Homs, Hama, Antakya
Source Labweh
 - location Beqaa Valley, Lebanon
 - elevation 910 m (2,986 ft)
 - coordinates 34°11′49″N 36°21′9″E / 34.19694°N 36.35250°E / 34.19694; 36.35250
Mouth Samandağ
 - location Hatay Province, Turkey
 - coordinates 36°2′43″N 35°57′49″E / 36.04528°N 35.96361°E / 36.04528; 35.96361
Length 571 km (355 mi)
Basin 23,000 km2 (8,880 sq mi)
Discharge
 - average 11 m3/s (388 cu ft/s)

The Orontes (/əˈrɒntiz/; Ὀρόντης) or Asi (Arabic: العاصي‎, ‘Āṣī; Turkish: Asi) is a river of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.

It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius. The last was a native form, from whose revival, or continuous employment in native speech, has preceded the modern name ‘Āṣī ("rebel"), because the river flows from the south to the north unlike the rest of the rivers in the region[citation needed].

Etymology[edit]

The name is of an unknown origin. The river was known to the Ancient Egyptians as 'Araunti', while the Assyrians knew it by the name 'Arantu'.

Course[edit]

Orontes River in Hama, Syria, 1914

The Orontes rises in the great springs of Labweh on the east side of the Beqaa Valley, very near the fountains of the southward-flowing Litani, and it runs due north, parallel with the coast, falling 600 metres (2,000 ft) through a rocky gorge. Leaving this it expands into the Lake of Homs, having been dammed back in antiquity. The valley now widens out into the rich district of Hamah (Hamaih-Epiphaneia), below which lie the broad meadow-lands of Amykes, containing the sites of ancient Apamea and Larissa. This central Orontes valley ends at the rocky barrier of Jisr al-Hadid, where the river is diverted to the west, and the plain of Antioch opens.

Two large tributaries from the north, the Afrin and Karasu, here reach it through the former Lake of Antioch, which is now drained through an artificial channel (Nahr al-Kowsit). Passing north of the modern Antakya (ancient Antioch) the Orontes plunges southwest into a gorge (compared by the ancients to Tempe), and falls 50 metres (160 ft) in 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the sea just south of the little port of Samandağı (former Suedia, in antiquity Seleucia Pieria), after a total course of 240 kilometres (150 mi).

History[edit]

Mainly unnavigable and of little use for irrigation, the Orontes derives its historical importance solely from the convenience of its valley for traffic from north to south; roads from the north and northeast, converging at Antioch, follow the course of the stream up to Homs where they built the Al-Rastan Dam, where they fork to Damascus and to Syria and the south; and along its valley have passed the armies and traffic bound to and from Egypt in all ages. On the Orontes was fought the Battle of Kadesh during the reign of Ramesses II (1279–1213 BC). By the Orontes the Battle of Qarqar was fought in 853 BC, when the army of Assyria, led by king Shalmaneser III, encountered an allied army of 12 kings led by Hadadezer of Damascus. In 637 A.D the Battle of Iron bridge was fought between the forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire near the Iron bridge on the river made by Romans.

The Orontes has long been a boundary marker. For the Egyptians it marked the northern extremity of Amurru, east of Phoenicia. For the Crusaders in the 12th century, the Orontes River became the permanent boundary between the Principality of Antioch and that of Aleppo.

The French writer Maurice Barrès (1862–1923) wrote about the river in his Un Jardin sur l'Oronte.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Pop-up map of the Orontes River available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168583X11005088