Photographer's Note

I had intended to show one more photo from my journey in the English countryside in 1966, but the last few days were largely spoiled by rain, and the relatively few photos I took were not very interesting. So the county of Somerset will remain unpainted on my TE map. After I had moved to London I hardly took any photos at all.

So instead I go to the Middle East, where I spent all of September 1995, about two weeks in Syria and one week each in Lebanon and Jordan. I have already years ago posted a number of photos from that journey, and after I recently bought a new scanner I had a closer look at the pictures from a few of my journeys and made many new scans of photos I had earlier neglected.

I start in Hama (also spelled Hamah), a nice Syrian city on the Nahr al-Asi River (Orontes) between Damascus and Aleppo. It is, or was, mainly famous for a number of large wooden wheels, "noria", equipped with buckets for collecting water from the river which were then emptied into channels and aqueducts and distributed throughout the city and to surrounding fields.

The first norias may have been built during the Byzantine empire. Those that exist in Hama today are thought to have been built mainly around the 13th and 14th centuries.

In 1995 about 17 wheels remained. When the Syrian civil war started in 2011 all of them had already gone out of use. I think they have survived the fighting, so they may again become a tourist attraction in a distant future.

Today's main photo shows one of the norias of Hama and a glimpse of a canal.

Here is a larger version.

One WS will show several larger norias. When taking the other WS photo I was facing the city from near the noria in the main photo. All photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides.

The map coordinates 35.13202 36.75508 will give you a closer look at a few other norias and their surroundings.

The note continues here for those who want to know more about Hama:

Hama used to be a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a fierce opponent to the dictatorial al-Assad regime. An armed uprising against the regime in 1982 was brutally crushed by the army. The number of people killed has been estimated to anything between 20.000 and 40.000, including about 1.000 army soldiers. The army put down the uprising after besieging and shelling the city for 27 days and destroying a large part of the old town. Still at the time of my visit in 1995 a fairly large area a short distance from the center was totally empty, except for one or two brand new buildings. Nothing else remained, just a large open field and traces of the old streets.

Everywhere in Syria there were numerous huge portraits of Hafez al-Assad (the present dictator's father). Hama was the only place where I saw that one such portrait had been damaged. It had been ripped apart, half of the president's face hanging down. When I saw it my first thought was to take a photo, but luckily I immediately realized that in that case I would probably be arrested within 10 seconds. One reason why Syria was an extremely safe country (apart from the fact that most people were nice and friendly) was that there were security agents everywhere, of that I am sure, ready to intervene immediately against any kind of crime and, more important, any kind of public criticism of the regime. I suspect the torn portrait may have been left as a provocation. Anyone seen smiling or laughing at it, or in any way expressing satisfaction with the torn president, would of course have been arrested.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12527 W: 572 N: 24020] (102604)
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