Under the Mamelukes a citadel (Qala'at Mudiq) was built and the site became a popular stopoff point for pilgrims on their way to Mecca. One of the things that I (Mo) find intriguing about the Middle East is the way in which people document their trips to Mecca. In Palestine you often see images of boats, planes and car alongside the Kaaba (a large black cubical building thought to have been built by Abraham). This is a doorway in Aleppo indicating that someone has made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
My (Mo) research
As many of you know, we never take 'real' vacations, often combining work with play. When we visit archaeological sites I am always on the lookout for looting, tourist behaviours, and the types of archaeological souvenirs (artifacts) on sale. As we approached Apamea, our driver Khaled warned us that we would be offered archaeological artifacts to buy. He reminded us that it is illegal to buy artifacts and take them out of Syria. I read the same warning about Apamea in our guide books.
Sure enough, not five minutes into our visit to Apamea we were approached by some guys arriving on motorbikes. They had the ubiquitous coins, roman glass and some very poor imitation cylinder seals (of a type, which would not be found at a Roman site).
The artifact sellers (who knows if they were the looters) appeared almost from nowhere and we wondered how they knew we were there. As we walked down the cardo (the central north-south street in any Roman town) we looked over to a grassy knoll where we realized that all of the "sales people" were hanging out waiting for their unsuspecting prey. They all seemed quite unconcerned when we told them we were archaeologists and what they were doing was haram (forbidden). All fodder for future articles and/or the book.
We then continued on our way to the famous Crusader castle of Krac de Chevaliers (or the Krac as it referred to in the guide books).