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Chamat Temple/Church

Byblos District

· Byblos

Chamat village houses a double church dedicated to the worship of Saint-Thecla (Mar Taqla) and Saint-Stephen (Mar Estfan). The structure is built by using the blocks of a Roman sanctuary.

Timeline

1st Century AD - 3rd Century AD - Construction of the Roman temple following the Doric order

4th Century AD - The temple is destroyed and its stones used to build a church during the Byzantine era

13th Century AD - The church's structure is remodeled by the crusaders and inaugurated by Maronite Patriarch Daniel El Shamati

Structure

The church is a two-aisle structure: The northern side is dedicated to St. Stephan and to South of Mar Taqla.

The west facade has two entrance doors, one for each abside, and the sarcophagus lids have been used as the lintels, which one of them is decorated with two bull heads with garlands. In addition, the facade has on its both ends what it seems to be the foundations of arches that were dismantled or destroyed over time.

The northern side of the church bears rounded columns in the structure - the columns being part of the lost temple.

Inside the church, one can see remnants of floor mosaics, wall frescoes and columns holding the absides

Note that nearby the church, there were 2 hermitages - one to St. Anthony and the other to St. Simon.

Deity

In an arbitrary manner, G. Taylor relates to the former Roman temple a dedication spotted in the neighboring church of Aabeidat, which commemorates the offering of an altar "to the heavenly Zeus very high Saarnaios who listens, in year 17 of the lord Caesar Antoninus, in the month of Loos" (August 153 AD, if it is about Antoninus Pius rather than Marcus Aurelius or Caracalla).

Importance

This attraction presents how a pagan temple was transformed into a Christian church through alternation of the architectural plan of the building, and the blend of the structural elements, and decoration.

Scroll down to enjoy the pictures and to locate the site on the map.

Karim Sokhn

Tour Operator & Tour Guide

References:

Highways and Byways of Lebanon - Frank and Laure Skeels

La Vie Religieuse Au Liban Sous L'Empire Romain - Julien Aliquo

Shamat Church, with arch foundations (left and right side) and 2 entrance doors (each door for one abside)

Northern facade with the rounded columns

The bulls' head

Forked cross painted on a former temple stone block and column

The temple column, part of the abside structure

Floor mosaic

Wall frescoes

The Church's double absides

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