Hauran, also spelled Hawran or Houran, is a volcanic plateau
A volcanic plateau is a plateau produced by volcanic activity. There are two main types: lava plateaus and pyroclastic plateaus.-Lava plateau:...
, a geographic area and a people located in southwestern Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....
and extending into the northwestern corner of Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...
. It gets its name from the Aramaic Hawran, meaning "cave land." In geographic
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...
Geomorphology is the scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them...
terms, its boundaries generally extends from near Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...
and Mt. Hermon in the north to the Ajloun
Ajloun also written Ajlun is the capital town of the Ajloun Governorate . A hilly town in the north of Jordan, located 76 kilometers north west of Amman. It is noted for its impressive ruins the 12th century castle which known nowadays as Ajlun Castle...
mountains of Jordan in the south. The area includes the Golan Heights on the west and is bounded there by the Jordan Rift Valley
Jordan Rift Valley
The Jordan Rift Valley is an elongated depression located in modern-day Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. This geographic region includes the Jordan River, Jordan Valley, Hula Valley, Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea, the lowest land elevation on Earth...
; it also includes Jabal ad-Duruz in the east and is bounded there by more arid
A region is said to be arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or even preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life...
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...
terrains. The Yarmouk River
The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. It drains much of the Hauran Plateau. It is one of three main tributaries which enter the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. To the south, are the Jabbok/Zarqa and the Arnon/Wadi Mujib) rivers...
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...
much of the Hauran to the west and is the largest tributary of the Jordan River.
The Hauran is mentioned in the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...
47:16-18) describing the boundary area of the Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...
Kingdom at the time. Centuries later, the Romans referred to the area as Auranitis, and it marked the traditional eastern border of Roman Syria; this is evidenced by the well-preserved Roman ruins in the cities of Bosra
Bosra , also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria...
Shahba , known in Late Antiquity as Philippopolis, is a city located 87 km south of Damascus in the Jabal el Druze in As-Suwayda Governorate of Syria, but formerly in the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.-Roman history:...
. At the time, the Hauran also included the northern cities of the Decapolis
The Decapolis was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status...
. Today, the Hauran is not a distinct political entity, but encompasses the Syrian governorates of Quneitra, As Suwayda
As Suwayda' Governorate
As-Suwayda is the southernmost of Syria's 14 governorates. It has an area of 5,550 km² and forms part of the historic Hawran region. Its capital and major city is As-Suwayda....
, and Daraa, and the Jordanian governorates of Irbid
Irbid or Irbed is one of the governorates of Jordan. It is located north of Amman, Jordan's capital. The capital of the governorate of Irbid is the city of Irbid...
Ajlun Governorate is one of the governorates of Jordan, located north of Amman the capital of Jordan. Ajlun Governorate has the fourth highest population density in the kingdom of Jordan with a population density of 335 ppkm2...
. However, the name is used colloquially by both the inhabitants of the region (Hauranis) and outsiders, to refer to the area and its people.
The volcanic soils of Hauran make it one of the most fertile regions in Syria; it produces considerable wheat and is particularly famous for its vineyards. The region receives above-average annual precipitation
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...
but has few rivers. Hauran relies mainly on annual snow and rain during winter and spring and many of the ancient sites contain cistern
A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Cisterns are distinguished from wells by their waterproof linings...
s and water storage facilities to better utilize the seasonal rainfall. The area is unlike other historical fertile areas of Syria, (the Orontes and the Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...
river valleys), which rely on controlled irrigation systems for their farming productivity. Since the mid 1980s, Syria has built a considerable number of seasonal storage dams within the headwaters of the Yarmouk River drainage basin.
HistoryThe plains of Houran appear to have been initially inhabited by small bands of hunters and gatherers. By circa 12,000 BCE, microlith
A microlith is a small stone tool usually made of flint or chert and typically a centimetre or so in length and half a centimetre wide. It is produced from either a small blade or a larger blade-like piece of flint by abrupt or truncated retouching, which leaves a very typical piece of waste,...
s and bone tools were becoming part of daily lifestyle. It is thought that the development of farming around 10,000 BCE triggered an agricultural revolution that changed human history and paved the way for the appearance of ancient civilizations after millennia of hunting and gathering in small groups. By this time Natufians
The Natufian culture was a Mesolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture...
settled in Taiyiba in southern Houran, and southwest of Houran in Tabqat Fahl and in the Golan Heights to the west in Nhal ‘En Gev-II as well as all over Canaan.
To their east, circa 8300 BC wheat was domesticated and their neighbors to the west in Canaan and to the East in Mesopotamia started living in oval houses. Between 8000 and 7000 BC, people of Hauran were eating mostly hunted gazelles and foxes. Between 7000 and 6000 BC their daily food was mostly domesticated animals (sheep, goat, pig, and cattle) and domesticated cereals.
By the 4th millennium BC (4000 BC to 3000BC) there were many Chalcolithic settlements in the valley of the Yarmouk river.
Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt was a Swiss traveller and orientalist. He wrote his letters in French and signed Louis...
noted his observation of people from the region:
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