The ancient site of Amrit was founded in the 3rd millennium BCE by the Amorites, and was developed by the Phoenicians as a religious center, with influence from the Achaemenid Persians. The site was virtually abandoned during the early 2nd century CE, and as such the site exists as a rare example of Phoenician ruins without extensive remodeling by later generations.

The site covers an area of approximately 3 km long by 2 km wide. The most important monument at the site is a late-4th century BCE temple compound (locally known as the al-Maabed) dedicated to the god Melqart, an early and less-elaborate predecessor to the Temple of Bel at Palmyra. The compound is built around a court which was flooded by a local spring and surrounded on three sides by a colonnaded arcade that was reconstructed in the early 21st century.

Traces of a stadium, 230 m by 30 m and possibly dating to the Hellenistic period, can be seen near the temple.

700 m south of the temple and stadium are two funerary towers, or spindles, known locally as Maghazel. The cylindrical spindles likely date to the 4th century BCE. One is 7 m high with four unfinished lion sculptures at the base (a Persian influence) and two burial chambers in a hypogeum. The second is 4 m high and ends in a five-sided pyramid, with a burial chamber below.

Another funerary monument - Burj al-Bezzaq, or "Snail Tower" - lies approximately 1 km to the south. It is a two-story cube made of massive blocks, formerly topped by a cornice and ending in a pyramid with two funerary chambers inside.


Beattie, Andrew, and Timothy Pepper. Syria: the rough guide, 182-183. London: Rough Guides, 2001.

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