Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Apamea and Salamiyah: A legendary love story

A long time ago, Syrian folklore included the story of a prince from the Salamiyah metropolis who wanted to marry a princess from a nearby municipality about 80 km to the west called Apamea. As the story goes, there was another prince from the city of Masyaf in the Kingdom of Gilmedon who also wanted to marry the Princess of Apamea so she had to choose between the two of them. This story took place during the reign of Emperor Trajan between 116 and 117 AD.

The telling of this story continued to be passed on from generation to generation and it lives in the conscience of every lover who lives in Salamiyah despite the disappearance of any material evidence that would have proven it to be true.

Before I tell you the details of these exciting events, I tried to investigate the historical blogs which scientifically enabled me to figure out their accurate classification, whether myths, legends, or folktales.

It is well-known that those myths, legends, and folktales all use narrative structure to transmit cultural values or social rules. Unlike myths, legends & folktales typically do not involve gods/goddesses. In addition, unlike legends, folktales usually do not include historical characters.

However, in light of the results of archaeological excavations in the area of Salamiyah in 2018, you may be able to determine the authenticity of this story for yourself.

It came to pass that in October 2018 a bulldozer was digging basins for the saltwater treatment plant in an area near the city of Salamiyah when suddenly basalt stones and archaeological stones appeared. A team of archaeologists immediately rushed to the sight to study the discovery that turned out to be about 60 meters of qanat (underground water channels), of varying heights with a width of about two meters.

They noticed the channel was artistically built and elaborately carved with basalt stone and it appeared that it might be the same channel mentioned in the story I am about to finish telling you.

The two Princes, one from the kingdom of Gilmedon, and the other from the city of Salamiyah, engaged in fierce competition, each of them determined to win the heart of the Princess. But even as the battle for her heart was being waged, her father’s kingdom was suffering from such a scarcity of water that thirst and hunger threatened to throw Apamea into a state of poverty.

Apamea Castle

However, the Princess knew that the Salamiyah metropolis had abundant water. There was a large lake formed by the spring of Ain Al-Zarqato to the south of Shmemis Castle and the area was famous for the cultivation of grapes and fruit trees and was surrounded by natural forests.

“Shmemis Castle”

In addition, the Princess knew that the topography of the Salamiyah location was 475 meters above sea level. In comparison, Apamea sat about 308 meters above sea level which meant that the area of Salamiyah sat 167 meters higher than the area on which Apamea was located. Consequently, the slope of a run-off channel would decrease at a rate of one meter every 1 km. She calculated that if the Prince would agree to build a channel from his territory in Salamiyah, to her water-starved city of Apamea, she would accept his offer of marriage while rescuing her people at the same time.

When the Prince accepted the Princess’ request, she was convinced that he loved her passionately.

As soon as the Princess agreed to the marriage proposal, the Prince recruited many workers to build the channel. Its high engineering and construction value distinguished it, as it is considered the longest known underground channel to be built in the central region.

The engineers who supervised the construction of this channel protected it from the ingress of impurities. Therefore, it is covered with large rectangular stones in a way that above it becomes a paved road equal to the surface of the earth, which facilitates passage over it, prevents water leakage from its walls, and prevents soil collapse from its edges. The channel’s bed was lined with the impermeable materials of lime and Qasraml, and several different bridges were built for the track, numbering twelve.

This channel not only provided irrigation; it also operated many mills built on its streams by taking advantage of the abundance of its water and the strength of its flow along its 150 km span from its source to its final destination.

Forty lines of engraved text composed in honor of Apamea’s beloved Lucius Julius who gave the immortal city corridors and bathrooms, and distributed wheat and oil to its people, state that these events occurred during the reign of Emperor Trajan between the years 116-117 AD.


This engraved text exists on the straight street porch inside Apamea. Despite that, the tale of the passionate Prince’s love for his Princess may not have had a fairy tale ending. Some versions of the story say that the marriage may have never happened because he died before the project was completed.

In the end, be it a myth, legend, or folktale, archaeological evidence now proves that the water channel did indeed exist. It is a story about a Syrian Princess’ love for her city, and a Syrian Prince’s noble and legendary love for her.  

“Apamea” mosaic museum
George Tuma
George Tuma
George Tuma is the publisher and chief editor of Medical & Cosmetic Arts Magazine; specialist in Spirituality, Health, and Healing; an Instructor of Electro Cosmetic, Therapy and a Practioner of Holistic Medicine, (Complementary and Alternative). He has published several articles in scientific journals.


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