Ras al-Bassit

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Ras al-Bassit
رأس البسيط
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Syria
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Syria
Shown within Syria
Location 53 km north of Latakia, Syria
Coordinates 35°50′46″N 35°50′17″E / 35.846°N 35.838°E / 35.846; 35.838
Type settlement
Periods Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, Hellenistic period, Roman period, Late antiquity, Crusader period
Cultures Canaanite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Crusader
Site notes
Excavation dates 1971–1984, 2000-present
Archaeologists Paul Courbin, Jacques Y. Perreault, Nicolas Beaudry
Ownership Mixed public and private
Public access Partial

Ras al-Bassit (Arabic: رأس البسيط‎‎), historically known as Posideion or Posideium, is a small cape located 53 kilometres (33 mi) north of Latakia, Syria on the Mediterranean Sea. The cape is a popular resort destination and the coastline is unusual for its distinctive black sand beaches.[1]


Ras al-Bassit is thought to be the site of the ancient Hellenic city of Posideium, mentioned by both Strabo and Herodotus.[2]

Excavations led by French archaeologist Paul Courbin between 1971 and 1984 revealed a small settlement back to the Late Bronze Age, when it may have functioned as an outpost of Ugarit, to the south. Unlike Ugarit, Bassit survived to the passage of the Sea Peoples and into the Iron Age. It had strong links with Phoenicia and Cyprus, and a Greek presence was attested from the 7th century BCE. Bassit expanded and its acropolis was fortified in the Hellenistic period.[3]

The Canadian archaeological excavations undertaken in 2000 have been focusing on the late Roman and Byzantine occupation of the site (Université du Québec à Rimouski / Université de Montréal). Bassit thrived from the late 3rd to the early 6th centuries CE; this period is marked by a number of important building projects. A church complex was built at the foot of the acropolis in the 6th century, as the site was starting to decline; the site seems to have been gradually abandoned soon after the Arab conquest. Excavation in the church yielded a small chapel from the Crusades period (12th to 13th centuries).[4]

The port was still in use during the Crusades and was a destination for Venetian ships in the 15th to 16th centuries. By the 19th century, it was used only by the local fishing community.


Immediately to the north is Mount Aqraa, the highest mountain on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.


  1. ^ Mannheim, 2001, p. 300
  2. ^ UNEP, Ras Al-Bassit / Oum Al-Toyour Protected Area - Socio economic Analysis "The French excavations 1971 to 1984 revealed a small settlement with citadel founded as an outpost of Ugarit during the Late Bronze Age, surviving into the Iron Age. It had strong links with Phoenicia and Cyprus and received a Greek colony in the seventh century BC but was destroyed during the Persian period (539-331 BC). Alexander passed this way in 333 BC (the Battle of Issus took place not far to the north near modern-day Alexandretta) and it became a Seleucid settlement after 313 BC under the name of Posideion with a fortress on its small acropolis."
  3. ^ Courbin, 1986
  4. ^ Beaudry, 2007


  • Courbin, Paul (1986). 'Bassit'. Syria 63, pp. 175–220.
  • Mannheim, Ivan (2001). Syria & Lebanon handbook: the travel guide. Footprint Travel Guides. ISBN 978-1-900949-90-3. 
  • Beaudry, Nicolas, & Perreault, Jacques Y. (2003). 'Travaux récents à la basilique de Ras el Bassit', Annales archéologiques arabes syriennes 45-46, pp. 381–391.
  • Beaudry, Nicolas (2005). 'Formes architecturales et géographie historique: l'église de Bassit et le corpus nord-syrien', Mélanges Jean-Pierre Sodini, Travaux et mémoires 14, Paris, pp. 119–136.
  • Mills, Philip J. E., & Beaudry, Nicolas (2007). 'The ceramic coarse wares from the basilica excavations at Ras el Bassit, Syria: a preliminary assessment', LRCW2. Late Roman coarse wares, cooking wares and amphorae in the Mediterranean: archaeology and archaeometry, British Archaeological Reports S1662, Oxford, pp. 745–754.
  • Beaudry, Nicolas (2007). 'Ras el Bassit et l'Antiquité tardive sur la côte nord-syrienne', Revue d'études des civilisations anciennes du Proche-Orient 13, pp. 19–28.

External links[edit]

(in French) MAQREB - Mission archéologique canadienne à Ras el Bassit