Saturday, February 11, 2006
The Meaning of Damascus
Controversial explanations have been made to guess etymological origin of the name of the Syrian capital city. Some hold that “damashaq” means the fast-moving camel and the name was given because the building of the city was completed swiftly. Others believe it was named after Damashaq the great grandson of Sam son of Noah,who built the city.Still others presume that the Romans called it “Dumuskus” which means the double musk.Or perhaps the name was taken from Hermes son in Greek mythology who came over to Syria. In Aramean the name might have been derived from Dermask or dersauk as (E deim) means land and (mask) means (red) in Syriac.Whatever the etymological origion of the word, Damascus remains, as ever (the eye of the whole east) as the Rooman Julianus described the greatness of the city.Under the Roman it was a chief town, and later the fortress of bilad-U-Sham, and the passage to Mecca, the pavilion of all Muslims and God’s paradise on earth have never seen anything so extensive as its orchard, so good as its fruits and so plentiful as its water.It is said the water is so abundant that a fountain can be found in every house.Some historical sources say that the name of Damashaq (Damascus) is derived from the Aramaic word (dam shaq) which means a town built on the rock where the blood of Mash, the fourth son of Aram Bin Sam Bin Noah,flowed soon after a heavy blow by his brother Aws deeply cut Mash’s head.The fight between the two brothers broke out when they could not come into agreement on the name of the new town, some historians had different illustrations with regard to the name of (Dimashaq).The old city of Damascus still preserve its graphical and historical aspects,the high wall which protects the old city of Damascus is crystal clear until today.The citadel was built during the Seljuk rule, and rebuilt during Saladdin rule.It occupies an area of land estimated 220*190 square meters.It has 13 towers. Nur Eddin tower in the south west part of the wall, was built in 1168 A.D.Al-saleh Ayoub tower was built in 1248 A.D.There are seven gates, some of the gates date back to the roman era. Bab Touma and Bab Sharqi are perhaps the most oldest and famous gates of the old city of Damascus.Damascus museum, souk Al-Hamidieh and several other souks, palaces, Khans, and oldschools and Bimarestans are additional attraction in the old city of Damascus.