Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some New Views from the 18th Century

While trawling through the website of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France ( I came across a collection of engravings that we had no seen before. My first suspicion was that these related to some other Antioch (e.g. ad Cragum) but the inclusion of an internal view of the ramparts of this "Antioch" gave us some confidence that the artist, François-Marie Rosset (1752-1824), was sketching Antioch on the Orontes in these images dating from 1790. He had left France as part of a diplomatic/scientific mission to Syria in June 1781, arriving in Aleppo in September. Presumably the intervening period is when he passed through Antioch.

The interesting thing though was these images did not contain just the same-old, same-old but had three etchings of structures that I had never seen before that definitely looked like it came from the city's antique phase or at least late antique period.
Here they are:

The first three are the novel ones. The second one has a look that might imply that it is at Daphne due to the water springing from the base of the structure. The other two have the look of either an arcaded portico or a ruined basilica/church. Or they could be older than the Christian period or they could be a total fantasy. Another thought strikes me that they could be the Bab Boulos (Beroea Gate) which did have a spring/pond in front of it according to other images. These structures in the Rosset works though do have a more ethereal look than the images of the Beroea gate I have seen previously, as the gate was arched but also fairly massive and solid.  

More information on Rosset and his wanderings (if indeed he ever visited the city) would maybe solve the mystery.

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