SYRIA: Maintenance and restoration to be initiated on the eastern gorge in historic Syriac town of Maaloula

MAALOULA, Syria — In cooperation with the Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, workshops in the Daramsuq (Damascus) countryside began maintenance and rehabilitation work on the eastern gorge in the Syriac town of Maaloula which has seen significant soil erosion due to rains.

The head of the city council of Maaloula, Ibrahim Shaer, explained that the maintenance of the gorge will be carried out in two stages. The first stage will restore the soil and maintain water pipes to make the gorge safe for visitors and tourists. The second stage will see paving stones laid in the entrance of the gorge and the installation of lighting in the corridor. Trees will also be planted around the entrance and exit of the gorge. According to Shaer, the work should be completed in the beginning of July.

Maaloula is a Syriac town whose name means “entrance” in Aramaic. The town is famous for the existence of sacred and ancient religious monuments, the most important of which are the Monastery of Saints Sarkis and Bacchus, the Monastery of Saint Taqla, and the ‘Flume of Saint Taqla’ where the maintenance work is to take place.

View over the town of Maaloula from East to West in 2007. (Image: Wikimedia)

It is one of only four villages in the world where Western Neo-Aramaic is still spoken, with the other three being the surrounding villages of Saidnaya, Jubb’adin, and Bakhah. It has survived the rise of Arabic due to its remote location and isolating geographical features.

The language of Jesus is widely believed to have been a Western Aramaic dialect, specifically the Galilean type of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic according to scholarly consensus.