- For the Damascus municipality, see Qanawat (Damascus)
|Governorate||As Suwayda Governorate|
|Elevation||1,200 m (3,900 ft)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
Qanawat (Arabic: قنوات), the ancient Hellenistic-Roman city of Canatha (also Kanatha, Κάναθα in Ancient Greek), is a village in Syria, located 7 km north-east of As Suwayda. It stands at a height of about 1,200 m, near a river and surrounded by woods.
Hellenistic and Roman history
The town is mentioned for the first time in the reign of Herod the Great (1st century BC), when Nabatean Arab forces defeated a Jewish army. It remained an issue of contention between the two powers. From the Pompey's time until Trajan's it was a city of the Decapolis, a loose federation of cities allowed by the Romans to enjoy a degree of autonomy. In the 1st century AD it was annexed to the Roman province of Syria, and in the 2nd century it was rechristened Septimia Canatha by Septimius Severus, and transferred to the province of Arabia.
A center of Christianism propagation in the area, Canatha was captured by the Muslim Arabs in 637, declining in importance until, in the 9th century, it was reduced to a poor village.
In 1596 Qanawat appeared in the Ottoman tax registers as part of the nahiya of Badi Nasiyya in the Qada of Hauran. It had a Christian population consisting of 5 households and a Muslim population of 12 households; the inhabitants included a settled group of beduins. Taxes were paid on wheat, barley, summer crops, goats and/or beehives.
The city's extensive ancient ruins are 1500 m in length and 750 m in breadth. Among them are a Roman bridge and a rock-hewn theatre, with nine tiers of seats and an orchestra nineteen meters in diameter, also a nymphaeum, an aqueduct, and a large prostyle temple with portico and colonnades. North-west of the town is a late 2nd or early 3rd century peripteral temple, built on a high platform surrounded by a colonnade. For years, this temple was believed to honour Helios, but an inscription discovered in 2002 shows that it was dedicated to a local god, Rabbos.
The monument known as Es-Serai (also Seraya, "palace") dates from around the 2nd century AD and was originally a temple, and then, from the 4th/5th centuries, a Christian basilica. It is 22 m long, and was preceded by an outside portico and an atrium with eighteen columns.
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- Ross Burns, The Monuments of Syria, I. B. Tauris, 3rd edition, 2009, pp. 246-247
- Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 218.
- Burns, p. 249.
- Wolf-Dieter Hütteroth and Kamal Abdulfattah (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft.