The town of Amyūn is situated 20 km. south of Tripoli (Northern Lebanon), on the road between Chekka and Kousba, built on a high, rocky cliff rising above the plains of olives and fruit orchards watered by the Qadisha river. This citadel has a long history. Early neolithic burial graves are still visible in the rock walls towering over the lower town, and fragments of classical carving are built into the walls of the houses along narrow, medieval streets. During the period of the Crusades, the town belonged to the Seigneury of Besmedin, a branch of the Seigneury of Giblet (Jbeil or Byblos). Several medieval churches still function in the town.
The Church of Mar Phocas, which is nowadays Greek Orthodox, has a simple barrel-vaulted nave, a deeply recessed apse and two side-aisles, separated by heavy stone piers with pointed arches. Like many of the medieval Lebanese churches, it was built over the foundations of a classical temple. Only a few fragments of fresco decoration survive, and these are mostly from different periods and differing styles indicating different hands.
In the apse are the scant remains of an Anastasis painting. Parts of Christ’s flying cloak are visible as he pulls Adam out of the grave. Behind Adam is Eve, and behind her is Abel. On the other side are David and Solomon, and the remains of a scroll once held by John the Baptist. Above the head of Christ is a little flying angel.
Below the apse, in the lower zone, are eight apostles on either side of Sts. Peter and Paul. Most of these saints are too damaged to be identified.
On the northern wall, near the apse, is a large portrait of St. Philip, with the small figure of a donor at his side, also called Philip. On the same wall, toward the west, are the remains of Shemʿun the Stylite between two standing saints and two flying angels. The large piers of the church are decorated on all four sides with remains of paint, showing several saints, a portrait of St. Simeon the Younger Thaumaturgos, a portrait of the standing St. Phocas, Christ Pantocrator, and an equestrian St. Theodore spearing a dragon.
These wall paintings are all inscribed in Greek. Some attempt has been made to write in Syriac over a long inscription in the lower zone of the apse, with the unfortunate result that neither the original Greek, nor the later Syriac is legible. Stylistically, the apse painting and the tall portrait of St. Philip closely resemble contemporary wall paintings in 12th-cent. Cyprus. The wall paintings on the piers show at least two layers of paint, and whereas the bottom layer is most likely 12th cent., the top layers belong to the 13th.
- P. Coupel, ‘Trois petites églises du Comté de Tripoli’, Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth 5 (1941), 46–52.
- E. Cruikshank Dodd, Medieval painting in the Lebanon (2004), 158–63.
- M. Immerzeel, ‘Medieval wall paintings in Lebanon. Donors and artists’, Chronos. Revue d’Histoire de l’Université de Balamand 10 (2004), 7–47.
- L. Nordiguian and J.-C. Voisin, Châteaux et églises du Moyen Orient au Liban (1999), 363–64.
- Y. Sader, Painted churches and rock-cut chapels of Lebanon (1997), 165–77.
- M. Tallon, ‘Peintures byzantines au Liban. Inventaire’, MUSJ 38 (1962), 290.
- S. Westphalen, ‘Wandmalereien in syrischen und libanesischen Kirchen. Aspekte christlicher Kunst im Orient vom 11.–13. Jahrhundert’, Antike Welt 31.5 (2000), 491–3, figs. 7–12.
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
Erica Cruikshank Dodd, “Amyūn,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Amyun.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Dodd, Erica Cruikshank. “Amyūn.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Amyun.
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