(Ottoman) Syria as described in Historic Encyclopedias



Brockhaus 1809-1811, Pierer 1857-1865, Meyer 1885-1892, Meyer 1902-1909,





Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon 1809-1811, Article : Syrien
Syria, a large Turkish region in Asia, bordering in the east on the deserts of Arabia, in the north on Natolia (!), in the west on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a land blessed wih products mainly from flora. Here is found a lot of sesame seed (which is pressed for its oil), maize, sugar cane, indigo, and the olive tree. The white mulberry tree provides the land of the Druses with wealth, as they conduct sericulture, and wine is produced in quantity. Several provinces produce dates, pomegranades, figs, and in the gardens of Damascus fruits of all eastern and souhern countries thrive. In Syria also all European domesticated animals are at home.
By the way, in Syria (which the Turks divided in two pashaliks) the lingua franca is Arabic, while in the cities Turkish is also spoken. Here are many Jews and Christians, but also Greeks, Armenians etc. The older history of Syria may be looked up in the article Assyria. In modern history Napoleon's campaign into Syria has again attracted attention on the country. Since the French army had landed in Egypt 1798, Napoleon attempted to deal heavy blows against the English while maintaining friendship with the Porte. As especially the Pasha of Acre, Dgezar - this horrible monster - threatened Egypt's border by armament, Bonaparte decided to march into Syria, and after taking control of Suez, in Cairo an army of 13,000 was equipped, which then was set in motion. Despite animosities by the English they took El Arisch, Gaza and Yaffa and moved on Acre. After a siege lasting 61 days, the valiance of the defenders under Sir Sidney Smith caused Napoleon to withdraw, after he had campaigned in the country for three months and had inflicted heavy damage in the enemy.

source in German, posted by Zeno


Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, Article : Syrien
Bar-el-Cham, Esch-Scham, the coastal land of the Mediterranean between Asia Minor and Arabia, in the west limited by the Syrian, in the east by the Arabian desert, has an area of about 2300 square miles, a coast 85 miles long. From north to south the land is traversed by two mountain ranges which are separated by a long narrow valley which sinks deep below sea level (Dead Sea 1235 feet below sea level) which finds an extension in the Wadi el Araba toward the Red Sea (Aqaba Bay). The mountain ranges connect in the north with the Taurus; they are formed of limestone, now and then interrupted by small plateaus. The center of the western chain is formed by the Lebanon, on which follows in the south the Palestine mountain region. The eastern chain in the north is called Antilebanon, and further south Hermon. The three main rivers of Syria are the Orontes, Leontes and Jordan. The coast forms few incisions : Iskenderun Bay, St. George's Bay near Beirut, Cape Carmel Bay. Also ports are few, the best at Iskenderun, Beirut, Acre and Yaffa. Of lakes are most noteworthy : the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberias (Tabarieh, Genezareth), Meron, all three formed by the Jordan, then Bahr el Merdj (east of Damascus) and Bahr el Kades (formed by the Orontes). The climate in the summer, under an almost always cloudless sky, hot, in the desert almost unbearable, especially when glowing winds (Sam or Samun) blow, even on the coast. A stay in the mountains in the summer is pleasant, especially in the Lebanon. The winter is mild. Agriculture is good in the western parts; in he east where only hordes of bedouin roam, little agriculture is conducted. Much of the country is not suitable for cultivation, mostly because of sand, in part because of being stony desert. Products : horses, mules, donkeys, cattle (a small breed), shep with fat tails, goats (with brown, hanging ears), camels, gazelles, wild hogs, beasts of prey (panthers, leopards, jackals), silk (in the Lebanon), cotton, excellent grapes, wine (especially in the Lebanon and in Jerusalem), fruits, bananas, dates, figs, almonds, pines, lemons, pomegranades, oranges, olives, honey, tobacco, vegetables of various kinds, sugar and watermelons. Grains : wheat, barley and especially durra. Administratively the Turks have divided Syria in three Eyalets (provinces), Haleb (Aleppo), Saida (Sidon) and Esch-Scham (Damascus). The number of inhabitants can only be roughly estimated; the figure given is c. 2 million. By descent they are mostly Arabs, proper Syrians, in the Lebanon Maronites, Druses and Mutualis, further in the cities Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Europeans; further there are found Gypsies, in he northeastern parts Turkomans, finally Nubians and Abyssinians who are imported into the country as slaves, from Egypt. The dominant religion is Islam, among he Christians are Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Maronites, Copts, Nestorians, Protestans, further Nossairians and Jews. A large number of monasteries of all confessions are scattered over Syria, especially the Lebanon. The language in general is Arabic; Syriac is spoken by the proper Syrians, and used in their cult. The occupation of the Syrians in the countryside is agriculture and livestock keeping, both with little effort; in Lebanon sericulture is almost the only occupation, horticulture and agriculture of little importance. Trade and crafts are conducted in the coastal cities, the former especuially in the hands of the Franks, Armenians and Greeks. Also in the country's interior in cities such as Damascus and Aleppo here is vivid trade with caravans. Hunting and fishery are negligible. There is no mining activity. Coins, measures and weights in general are the Turkish ones, but weights are measured in 1 Batman = 2 Okka, and 1 Nughi = 1/12 Batman.
See : Ch.F. Baker, Memoir on Syria, London 1845, Giov. Briano, La Siria et l'Asia minore, Turin 1845 (with illustrations), Nozrani, Travels in Egypt and Syria, London 1846, 2nd ed. 1848, K. Ritter, Vergleichende Erdkunde der Sinaihalbinsel, von Palästina und Syrien, Berlin 1849-1855, 6 vols., Patterson, Journal of a tour in Egypt, Syria etc., London 1852, G.W. Curtis, The wanderer in Syria, London 1852, van de Velde, Reis door Syrie en Palestina 1851-1852, Utrecht 1854, 2 vols. (German trsl. by Göbel Leipzig 1855f, 2 vols., English trsl. Edinburgh 1854), Seetzens Reisen durch Syrien etc., ed. by von Kruse, Berlin 1854f, 3 vols., Guys, Voyage en Syrie, Paris 1855, E. Poujade, Le iban et la Syrie, Paris 1860, Edwards, La Syrie 1840-1862, Paris 1862, Saint-Marc Girardin, La Syrie en 1860, Paris 1862, Louet, Expedition de Syrie 1860-1861, Paris 1862 ..

source in German, posted by Zeno


Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1885-1892, Article : Syrien
Syria (Turkish Suria), a land in Asiatic Turkey, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, originally described the entire Assyrian Empire, until the name in abbreviated form was used by the Greeks to describe the area west of the Euphrates; today the name Syria is interpreted as comprising of all land between the Euphrates and the Arabian desert in the east, the Mediterranean in the west, the Taurus in the north and the Egyptian border in the south, i.e. the present Vilayet Suriya and the southwestern half of Haleb (Aleppo) as well as the separate districts of Lebanon and Jerusalem. In consequence of the mountain chains running parallel from north to south, with deep cross-incisions, which connect the Taurus with the coastal mountain range of the Arabian Bay stretching from northwest to southeast, the land is of rather uniform geomorhology. By extension and average height, the Syrian mountain ranges stand behind the large east-westerly stretching systems of Asia, but because of their north-southerly direction they cause a very uneven distribution of rain. As in the Mediterranean westerly winds dominate, only the western slope has rich rainfall, but the eastern slopes and the plateaus in the interior see little rain, springs and rivers, and in part form stepes with little vegetation, or barren deserts. While from the coast toward the interior the mountain ranges belong to the crestacean, and volcanic formations surface only locally, for instance in Jordan rift valley, the latter further to the east appear deep into the desert, namely in the southern part of Syria, in the form of hundreds of trachyt and basalt cones or in larger groups, and of various height (f.ex. Jabal Hauran 1782 m). The highest elevations of the limestone mountain ranges, nude rocks rising above the forest region, are found in the north : Amanos of Antiquity (Gjaur Dagh), 1850 m, Kasios (Jabal Akraa), 1770 m, Mt. Lebanon 3063 m, further in the inerior the Hermon (Jabal el Sheikh), 2860 m, and the Antilebanon 2670 m. The southern continuation of the Lebanon and Antilebanon (see Palestine) nowhere rises above 1000 - 1200 m altitude; her mostly rounded tops are cultivated up to the top; the same is the case in plateaus connecting with the mountain range in the east (the old landscapes of Hauran and Baschan, 700 - 900 m) and around Damascus (700 m); which partially consist of very fertile clay soil. The river valleys (the Euphrates, merely a border river, disregarded) for the most part are short valleys; in which larger quantities of water from the coastal mountains (Amanos, Kasios, Lebanon) steeply flow directly toward the sea. The few longer rivers in in north-southerly lengthy valleys between the parallel mountain range chains of the limestone mountains, in opposite direction toward the north and south, as the most important land bump in central Syria is located at 34 degrees northern latitude. There the wide valley between Lebanon and Antilebanon (now called Bekaa, in Antiquity Bukka) rises to 1200 m and sends the largest Syrian river, the Orontes (El Asi) northward, toward the south the Lita (Litani), which finally takes a sharp turn toward the west, and in a short cross valley reaches the sea, and in a parallel rift further to the east the Jordan (see there). In regard to the climate, Syria actually has only two seasons, a rainy and a rainless one. he rainless season lasts from early May to the end of October, with dominant northwesterly winds; toward the end of October thunderstorms mark the beginn of the season when winds from the southwest and the south bring rain. The differences in temperature are considerable. In the country's interior, in the desert and on the plateaus, the temperature frequently drops below 0 degrees Celsius, and in Damascus, Jerusalem (average annual emperature + 17 degrees Celsius) and Aleppo occasionally snowfall is registered. Of course the summer heat is more extensive in Damascus and the interior than on the coast, but is even more intense in he Ghor (Jordan valley). Syria is not an infertile land; it used to be cultivated more intensely than it is today. The coastal region is covered by Mediterranean flora, characterised by evergreen bushes with narrow, leathery leaves and spring weeds the flowers of which willow fast. The plateau is covered by oriental steppe vegetation with many thorny bushes and few trees (labiates, thistles, oaks, pistaccias, coniferes etc.); the Ghor (see there) has subtropic flora. The main export articles are : wheat, licquerish, rose leaves, apricots, raisins, olives, oil, tobacco, gallnuts, silk, cocons (in 1877 1,925,000 cocons and 140,000 kg raw silk were produced) and citrus fruits. Among the livestock sheep (mostly with fat tails) are the most important, followed by goats. Cattle are small, and they are slaughtered only in the Lebanon. The Indian buffalo appears in the valley of the Jordan, the camel mainly in he desert, horses, donkeys and chicken also are frequent. The frequent locusts are eaten by the Bedouins. The population of Syria is composed of descendants of the ancient Syrians (Aramaeans), Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Turks and Francs, by religion in Muslims, Christians of various confessions and Jews. The Syrians in part converted to Islam and took on he Arab language, in part they remained Christians. The Arabs are partially sedentary, partially nomads, the latter outwardly Muslims, in reality praying to the stars. Turks live here only in a small number. Of the entire population, estimated at c. 2 million (14 per square km), 4/5 are Muslim. Among the Christians the fanatic Greek Orthodox (patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch) dominate; they speak mostly rabic. Armenians and Copts are found almost only n Jerusalem; more important are the Jacobites, namely in the north; by faith they are monophysites. The Roman Catholic church, represented by Lazarists, Franciscans and Jesuits, in Syria has two filial churches, the Greek Catholic and the Syrian Catholic, with specific privilegs. To it also belong the Maronites (see there) in the Lebanon, the patriarch of whom is confirmed by Rome. Protestants, converts of the American mission, are only a few housand. The Jews divide in two groups, the Spanish-Portuguese Sephardim and the Ashkenazim from Russia, Austria and Germany. Further there are c. 50 families of the Samaritans in Nabulus. Among Muslim sects are to be listed : The Druzes (see there) in the Lebanon and Hauran, the larger part of whom descends from the Syrians of old, to a part from immigrated Arabs; the Nossairians (see there), which reside on Jabal Nasairieh (named after them), the Ismailites (see there) which are identical with the notorious assassins, and the Metawile, a branch of the Shi'ites who live to the south of the Druzes in the Lebanon and in Galilee between Saida and Tyros.
History .. In 1517 Ottoman Sultan Selim I. conquered Syria and since it forms a Turkish province. But the local pashas frequently revolted against the Porte. In 1833 Syria came under the rule of Mehmed Ali, the viceroy of Egypt. In consequence of the intervention of the European powers in 1840 it was returned o the immediate control of the Porte. Frequent change of rulers, devastating wars and the barbarity of Muslim rulers have completely ruined land and people, so that it now is litle more than a thinly populated sterile waste full of ruins. In recent years Syria because of skirmishes between the Druzes and Maronites has atracted the attention of Europe. Because of the bloody persecutions which the Maronites were exposed to especially in June 1858 and the massacre of Christians in Damascus from July 1860 to June 1861, French troops occupied the country.
See : Vogüe, Architecture civile et religieuse du I. au VI. siecle dans la Syrie centrale (Paris 1866-77, 2 vols.); the same, Inscriptions semitiques de la Syrie (Paris 1869-77); Burton and Drake, Unexplored Syria (London 1872); Zwiedineck, Syrien und seine Bedeutung für den Welthandel (Wien 1873); Sachau, Reise in Syrien und Mesopotamien (Leipzig 1883); Lortet, La Syrie d'aujour d'hui (journey 1875 to 1880, Paris 1884); Bädeker, Palästina und Syrien (2. ed., Leipzig 1880); on recent history : de Salverte, La Syrie avant 1860 (Paris 1861); Edwards, La Syrie 1840-62, histoire etc. (Paris 1862); Abbe Jobin, La Syrie en 1860 et 1861 (Lille 1862); Jochmus, The Syrian war (Berl. 1883, 2 vols.).

source in German, posted by Retro-Bibliothek


Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1902-1909, Article : Syrien
Syria (Turkish Suria) a land in Asiatic Turkey, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, originally described the entire Assyrian Empire, until the name in abbreviated form was used by the Greeks to describe the area west of the Euphrates; today the name Syria is interpreted as comprising of all land between the Euphrates and the Arabian desert in the east, the Mediterranean in the west, the Taurus in the north and the Egyptian border in the south, i.e. the present Vilayet Suriya and the southwestern half of Haleb (Aleppo), the Vilayet Beirut as well as the separate Sanjaks of Lebanon and Jerusalem. Syria, without the Alma Dagh or Amanus in the northwest, belongs to the unfolded, table-shaped Hither Asia, the northwestern part of which it forms. Its surface is dominated by the northern part of the Syrian rift valley, the Bekaa, the souhern part of which is the Palestine rift valley. The Bekaa, which a 1160 m high watershed divides in two slopes, sends in northerly direction the Orontes (El Asi), toward the south the Lita (Litani), the latter of which takes a sharp turn toward the west and traversing a short cross valley reaches the sea. On he sides of the Bekaa are the Lebanon (up to 3063 m) and the Antilebanon (2670 m), which with the isolated Grand Hermon (Jabal el Sheikh), 2759 m (which sends out the Jordan) have remained as high plateaus. They consist of limestone layers slightly tilted toward the Bekaa, the continuations of the table lands of Palestine and the land east of the Jordan, not rising above 1000 to 1200 m. Further to the east, between 32 and 34 degrees northern latitude, as hydrographic center the extended basalt formation of the fertile Hauran rises (1839 m); to its north stretches a stony desert with hundreds of basalt and trachyt cones. It tilts toward the northwest to the 600 - 700 m high, partially very fertile, partially swampy depression of Damascus which is irrigated by the Barada and other rivers coming from the Hermon.
Climate, Flora and Fauna As westerly winds dominate in the Mediterranean Basin, only the western slope of the country is rich in rain, while the eastern slopes and the plateaus of the interior see little precipitation, have few springs and rivers and mostly are steppes with little vegetation, or barren deserts. The rainless season lasts from early May to the end of October; at the end of October thunderstorms mark the beginning of the season in which winds from southwest and south bring rains. Annual precipitation in Beirut 90.4 cm (November to April 90 %), Jerusalem 64.7 % (November to April 96 %). Temperature differences are important. In the country's interior, in the desert and on the plateaus, the temperature often drops below 0 degrees Celsius, and Damascus, Jerusalem and Aleppo occasionally register (sometimes heavy) snowfall. Of course the summer heat in Damascus and in the interior is greater than on the coast, but in the Ghor (the Jordan valley) it is even hotter. Average temperatures : Beirut annual 20.4 degrees Celsius (January 13.0, July 27.5), Jerusalem annual 17.1, average temperature extremes 38.7 and 0.2 degrees). Desert winds (Samum) are frequent. The Syrian coast shows the characteristics of Mediterranean flora with olive tree, laurel, oleander and oak, further thorny bushes tamarinds and mimosas. Also sycamores and date palms thrive here. On the western slope of the Lebanon an evergreen region in 500 m altitude is followed by a forest region, a the bottom of which is a girdle of oak bushes, followed by a pine forest up to an altitude of 1300 m, followed by a cypress forest with remnants of he Lebanese cedar. Cultivated soil reaches up to 2000 m. Further up is an alpine region. Agriculture, depending on irrigation, is little supported by the geomorphology, but the rich oasis around Damascus shows what is possible under favourable conditions. The plateau extending from Mesopotamia to the coastal mountain ranges on the Mediterranean Sea shos the characteristics of a steppe. Its soil is richly blessed with grasses and aromatic weeds. In regard to the fauna, Syria belongs to the Mediterranean Subregion of the Paleoarchtic Region. Among the livestock the Sheep (mostly with fat tails) are of the greatest importance, followed by goats. The cattle is small, and is slaughtered only in the Lebanon. The Indian buffalo appears in the Jordan valley, the camel mainly in the desert, horses, donkeys and chicken are frequently found. The frequent locusts are eaten by the Bedouins.
Population The population of Syria is composed of descendants of the ancient Syrians (Aramaeans), Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Turks and Francs, by religion in Muslims, Christians of various confessions and Jews. The Syrians in part converted to Islam and took on he Arab language, in part they remained Christians. The Arabs are partially sedentary, partially nomads, the latter outwardly Muslims, in reality praying to the stars. Turks live here only in small number. The population of Syria with Palestine (218,700 square km) is estimated at 2.8 million (population density 13 per square km), among them 1.6 million Muslims, 900,000 Christians, 300,000 Jews. The regions in the west are rather densely (20-45 per square km), the deserts in the east rather thinly populated. Among the Christians the fanatic Greek Orthodox (patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch) dominate; they speak mostly rabic. Armenians and Copts are found almost only n Jerusalem; more important are the Jacobites, namely in the north; by faith they are monophysites. The Roman Catholic church in Syria has two filial churches, the Greek Catholic and the Syrian Catholic, with specific privilegs. To it also belong the Maronites (see there) in the Lebanon, the patriarch of whom is confirmed by Rome. Protestants, converts of the American mission, are only a few housand. The Jews divide in two groups, the Spanish-Portuguese Sephardim and the Ashkenazim from Russia, Austria and Germany. Further there are c. 200 Samaritans in Nabulus. Among Muslim sects are to be listed : The Druzes (see there) in the Lebanon and Hauran, the larger part of whom descends from the Syrians of old, to a part from immigrated Arabs; the Nossairians (see there), which reside on Jabal Nasairieh (named after them), the Ismailites (see there) which are identical with the notorious assassins, and the Metawile, a branch of the Shi'ites who live to the south of the Druzes in the Lebanon and in Galilee between Saida and Tyros.
Syria presently has the following railroad lines : Beirut-Damascus, with a tranch line from Rajak through Bekaa valley to Homs and Hama, which in 1906 was to be exended to Aleppo, and later southward via Rascheja, Hasbeja, Nazareth and Nabulus to Jerusalem, the Hauran line Damascus-Mzerib, the line Derat-Haifa and the line Yafa-Jerusalem. Syria has almost no indusry and therefore has o import most consumer goods, but it exports many local products such as grain, silk, sesame, olives, oil and wool. The most important ports are Beirut, Alexandrette, Haifa, Yafa, Tripoli and Lattaquie.
History .. In 1517 Ottoman Sultan Selim I. conquered Syria and since it forms a Turkish province. But the local pashas frequently revolted against the Porte. In 1833 Syria came under the rule of Mehmed Ali, the viceroy of Egypt. In consequence of the intervention of the European powers in 1840 it was returned o the immediate control of the Porte. Frequent change of rulers, devastating wars and the barbarity of Muslim rulers have completely ruined land and people, so that it now is litle more than a thinly populated sterile waste full of ruins. In recent years Syria because of skirmishes between the Druzes and Maronites has atracted the attention of Europe. Because of the bloody persecutions which the Maronites were exposed to especially in June 1858 and the massacre of Christians in Damascus from July 1860 to June 1861, French troops temporarily occupied the country. But unrest was not terminated that way; in September 1903 the safety of Christians in Beirut was severely threatened. But even these on several occasions showed a lack of unity (elections of pariarchs).
See : Burton and Drake, Unexplored Syria (London 1872, 2 vols.); Sachau, Reise in Syrien und Mesopotamien (Leipzig 1883); Lortet, La Syrie d'aujour d'hui (journey 1875 to 1880, Paris 1884); Humann and Puchstein, Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien, Berlin 1890, Blankenhorn, Grundzüge der Geologie und physikalischen Geographie von Nordsyrien (Berlin 1891), Cuinet, Syrie, Liban et Palestine, geographie administrative etc. (Paris 1896-1898), de Perthuis, Le Desert de Syrie, l"euphrate et la Mesopotamie (Paris 1896), Oberhummer und Zimmerer, Durch Syrien nach Kleinasien (Berlin 1898), von Oppenheim, Vom Mittelmeer zum Persischen Golf durch den Hauran etc. (Berlin 1899-1900, 2 vols.), Verney and Dambmann, Les puisances etrangeres dans le Levant, en Syrie et en Palestine (Paris 1900), Schultz, Die Rolle Syriens im Welthandel (Jahresberichte des Würtembergischen Vereins f&uum;r Handelsgeographie vol.17-19), Dussaud, Mission dans les regions desertiques de la Syrie moyenne (Paris 1903), Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, New York 1904ff, Mygind, Syria und die Mekkapilgerbahn (Halle 1906), the tour guides for Palestine and Syria by Meyer and Bädeker. - on history : Vogüe, Architecture civile et religieuse du I. au VI. siecle dans la Syrie centrale (Paris 1866-77, 2 vols.); the same,Inscriptions semitiques de la Syrie (Paris 1869-77); de Salverte, La Syrie avant 1860 (Paris 1861); Edwards, La Syrie 1840-62, histoire etc. (Paris 1862); Jochmus, The Syrian war (Berlin 1883, 2 vols.). Starck, Palästina und Syrien vom Anfang der Geschichte bis zum Siege des Islam (Berlin 1894), de Goeje, Memoire sur la conquete de Syrie 634, Leiden 1900; Winckler and Schurtz in the 3rd volume of Helmol's Weltgeschichte (Leipzig 1901), Paton, he early history of Syria and Palestine, London 1902; Dussaud, Les Arabes en Syrie avant l'Islam (Paris 1907).

source in German, posted by Zeno





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