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THE TEMPLE AT MUSHENNEF, HAURÂN, SYRIA
THROUGH the kindness of Professor Howard Crosby Butler, who has lent me his notes and photographs, taken on the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1900, I have been able to make a restoration of the temple found at Mushennef.1
The site of Mushennef, which is that of ancient Nela (Waddington, Inscriptions de la Syrie, note on No. 2211), seems to have been an early place of worship, and there still remain the ruins of a temple surrounded by a paved court and its enclosing wall. On what appears to have been the lintel of a gateway in the north side of this wall, is an inscription of the time of Agrippa I (Waddington, op. cit., No. 2211), which would lead us to believe that this wall enclosed a temple or shrine of Zeus as early as the first half of the first century. Another inscription near this, however, is of the time of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, and it is possible that the wall may have been rebuilt during that Emperor's reign (Waddington, op. cit. No. 2212). The architectural details of the temple also seem to point to a period about the time of this last inscription, i.e. 171 A.D., and the style of the monument seems a little later than that of the temple at 'Atîl, which is dated 151 A.D. These facts have been deduced from the material gathered by Professor William K. Prentice, another member of the expedition.2
1 For the photographs from which the greater part of the restoration has been made, see Butler, Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria; Part II, Architecture in Northern Central Syria and the Djebel Ḥaurân, pp. 347-351. PLATES III and IV, and Figs. 2 and 3, are reproduced from this work by the kind permission of Professor Butler and The Century Company. 2 Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria; Part III, Inscriptions, Nos. 380, 380 a, 381.
American Journal of Archaeology, Second Series. Journal of the
A considerable portion of the superstructure of the temple is still standing, and it is from photographs of these parts, and from measurements taken on the spot, that the restorations here presented were made. The plan is distyle in antis (Fig. 1),
though at some time the front wall of the cella has been removed, and portions of it, together with fragments from other parts of the ruins, have been built into the spaces between the columns and antae. The cella was apparently crossed by a transverse arch, for portions of the piers still remain on the interior of the two side walls. The temple stands on a podium, 13.45 m. by 9.60 m. square, and is approached by a flight of steps which are still in situ, an unusual thing in Syrian temple ruins. The base of the podium is buried by débris so that its
mouldings cannot be certainly known, but the cap is still visible, and consists of a cyma recta above a quarter round with its two fillets. Both of the columns are standing to about one third of their original height, and their plinth blocks rest on the second step from the top. Their base is of the ordinary Attic type with a scotia between two torus mouldings. The lower portions of
their capitals, consisting of two rows of acanthus leaves, have been built into the rough east wall above what remains of the columns, and would seem to indicate that these columns were of the Corinthian order; but the upper part of one, found lying near by, consisted of a pair of small Ionic scrolls with an egg
and dart echinus, thus proving them to have been of the Composite type.
Three of the angle pilasters are also in situ, and their height is 7.63 m. from the podium to the top of their caps. These caps are fine examples of the Corinthian style (Fig. 2) with rather salient angles, as the perspective shows (PLATE I). Their bases have a low plinth block surmounted by a scotia between two torus mouldings. These mouldings are beautifully carved in a manner characteristic only of a few Syrian bases. (E.g. Temples of Zeus and of Helios [?] at Kanawât.) The lower torus is carved with the guilloche, the scotia with perpendicular reeds in groups of three, and the small torus with bay leaves.
The architrave and the frieze, with its egg and dart bedmould for the cornice, are still standing on parts of the walls, and have the forms and proportions shown in the elevation of the façade (PLATE II). No part of a broken or arcuated architrave between the two columns was found, but from the wide intercolumniation and the fact that this form of architrave was common in the Roman architecture of Syria (Serâyā at Kanawât, remains of Propylaea at Damascus, South Temple at 'Atîl), it has been assumed in the drawing. The architrave is two-stepped, and is carved with a meander with flowers and rosettes, probably of different patterns, in the alternate spaces. Its cymatium is carved with a band of egg and dart and a running foliate design. The frieze consists of a rinceau of acanthus crowned by an unusually heavy egg and dart moulding. Above the frieze, the cyma recta and slant of the roof are conjectural though there is evidence for both of them from ruins at other places in Syria. The roof of the so-called North Temple at 'Atil was of gable form, built on transverse arches. There are three special arguments to support the conjecture of the cymatium cornice. First: In none of the ruins in the Haurân, outside of Bosra, are there any remains of the Corinthian cornice with consols; but in all of them there are abundant remains of a rather salient cyma recta of such large scale that it could hardly have been anything but a cornice. Second: Buildings of this size were undoubtedly roofed with stone, and roofing slabs are found both at 'Atîl and Mushennef with their ends carved in the form of a cyma recta. Third: In
the front wall of a Roman basilica at Shakka, a niche, which may be taken to represent the façade of a temple, has both an arcuated architrave and a cymatium cornice.1
Still more was assumed in drawing the front wall of the cella. Among the fragments in the present rough wall (Fig. 3) are
parts of a lintel, ornamented with a grapevine, which from its size and form seems to have been the lintel of the main doorway, and has been used as such. A large broken consol is also present, and may have been one of a pair on either side of the door, though this has not been shown in the drawing. At 'Atîl, a curved niche above a rectangular one was found on either side
1 De Vogüé, Syria Centrale: Architecture Civile et Religieuse, Pl. 15; Butler, op. cit. pp. 366, 367.