Azraq is located on the southern edge of the basalt country and at the top of the Wadi Sirhan, the great trade route up from the south. The discovery of large numbers of Paleolithic hand axes proof that it was an important centre long before the Romans. A baslat altar referring to Dicoletian which dates the fort at latest to the late 3C.

Defenses at the top of Wadi Sirhan were vital to guard the trade route. The strategic importance of the site, and the fact that the small forts off Uweinid and Aseikhin were both occupied in the 3C as well, hints at earlier Roman military occupation. Shishan and Druze settled here in the 19th Century fleeing trouble with the French in Syria and made a living making salt from the briny water of the local salt pans.

Azraq is much changed since Lawrence described it as: ‘the blue fort on its rock above the resulting palms, basalt door which still swings on its hinges and the machicolation and inscription overhead recording rebuilding by Ayubbid under the governor Azzadin Aybak in 1237. Original Roman masonry is still there. The corbelling overhead is typical of the basalt architecture of the Hauran. T.E. Lawrence wintered in the room above and complained of the leaking roof – Chapter 79 of Seven Pillars of Wisdom has a dramatic account of his stay here with tales of ghostly dogs howling outside at night!



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