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Destination Details

Azraq, Jordan

The copious springs in the oasis of Azraq made it an attractive place for settlement since the Lower Paleolithic Period. In the Roman period, the site was of crucial importance because of its location near the northern tip of Wadi Al-Sirhan, the natural migration route between southern Syria and the interior of the Arabian Peninsula.

A chain of fortresses defended the entrance to the Oasis; Aseikim, 15 km northeast of Azraq and Uwainid, another 15 km to the southwest, close to the Shaumari Nature Reserve. The present fort at Azraq, built entirely from local basalt stones, was occupied from the time of the Tetrarchy (300 AD), as an inscription of Diocletian and Maximian suggests.

 

Ruins of Azraq Fort

Another Latin inscription indicates that Azraq may have been called Dasianis or Basianis (The Basic) in Roman times. An Arabic inscription above the main entrance indicates a major rebuilding program in 1237 AD. During the Umayyad period, it was the place of retreat for Al-Walid II, who indignantly struck away from the court of his uncle and reigning Caliph, Hisham bin AbdulMalek (724-743 AD).

An interesting feature of Azraq South (Azraq Al-Shishan), is a large hexagonal reservoir built of dressed basalt stones and strengthened at regular intervals by rounded and triangular buttresses, placed against the outer and inner faces of the enclosing walls. These features bring to mind the large enclosures at Qasr Al-Hir East and Qasr Al-Hir West in Syria, which date to the Umayyad period. Azraq fort also was the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt.

Some 2 km to the north of the fort is an Umayyad farmhouse (Qasr Ain Al-Sil), which includes oil-presses and a bath consisting of 3 rooms: cold, warm, and hot.

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