Sites & cities that bear the name of Ras al-Bassit

Ras al-Bassit

Today in : Syrian Arab Republic
First trace of activity : 1,550 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Rezou?, Resu?, Sinuru?, Posidḗion, Ποσιδήιον, Ποσείδιον, Posideium, Posidium, رأس البسيط, Bosyt, Pollcinum, Polzinum, Pomcin, Puszin, Pocin, Bouseit

Description : Ras al-Bassit (Arabic: رأس البسيط‎), the classical Posidium or Posideium (Greek: Ποσιδήιον and Ποσείδιον, Posidḗion), is a small town in Syria named for a nearby cape. It has been occupied since at least the late Bronze Age and was a fortified port under Greek and Roman rule. Herodotus—although not later classical geographers—made it the northwestern point of Syria. Its beaches have a distinctive black sand and are a popular resort destination within Syria. The oldest known settlement at Ras al-Bassit was a Bronze-Age outpost with a fortified citadel established by Ugarit between 1550 and 1200 BC. It traded extensively with Cyprus and Phoenicia and survived Ugarit's destruction by the Sea Peoples. It was eventually abandoned or destroyed in the early Iron Age. Greek legends credited the establishment of Posideion to the wandering Argive king and seer Amphilochus or his identically-named nephew. Both supposedly lived during the generations that fought in the Trojan War; the actual Greek colony at the site seems to have been established during the 7th century BC. It marked the northern border of the 5th Satrapy of the Persian Empire at the time of Herodotus, but archaeologists have found that the town was destroyed at some point in the 5th or 4th centuries BC. Because of the discrepancy between Herodotus's account and other classical descriptions of the Syrio-Cilician border, some historians have disputed the identity of Herodotus's Posideion with the later Roman Posidium and present Ras al-Bassit. Alexander the Great's decisive battle at Issus occurred nearby in 333 BC, after which his empire administered and hellenized the area. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, the territory fell to the Diadochi warlord Seleucus. Posideion was apparently rebuilt with a fortified acropolis under his reign at some point after 312 BC, when the existing settlement was razed by Ptolemy. Under Roman rule, it appeared in Strabo's Geography. The Roman emperors Hadrian and Julian may have used Posidium's port, as they are recording having climbing the nearby Mount Aqra to perform sacrifices. The town thrived during the late imperial and early Byzantine periods, after the city was refortified in the 3rd century. Several other building projects, including an expansion of the port and erection of several large villas, were subsequently undertaken. In the 6th century, a church complex was built at the foot of the acropolis. The site was largely abandoned following the Muslim conquest of the area in the 630s. The First Crusade led to the establishment of the Principality of Antioch in the area in the 1090s. At some point in the 12th or 13th centuries, a new smaller chapel was erected within the Byzantine church's ruins. The Egyptian sultan Baibars reconquered the area in the 1260s. The port was still used by Venetian ships as late as the 16th century but was abandoned by all but the local fishermen by the 19th.

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