al-Bara (along with Sergilla and Dana) are among the so-called ‘Dead Cities’ of the limestone Bélus massif of northern Syria. These are, in fact, the remains of prosperous late Roman-Byzantine village or small town communities that exemplify the wealth of rural Syria at that time, well-preserved because the region’s population declined in later centuries, although some of the structures have clearly been modified and re-used for agricultural purposes subsequently. They have been widely studied, notably by Georges Tchalenko (Villages antiques de la Syrie du nord , 1953) and Georges Tate G. Tate, Les campagnes de la Syrie du nord, 1992, reviewed by me in The Journal of Roman Studies 86, 1995)
Collectively these constitute a World Heritage Site as the ‘Ancient Villages of Northern Syria’, added to the UNESCO list in 2011. Idlib province, where these sites are located, has been the location of significant fighting between the Free Syrian Army and Syrian government forces, leading to substantial damage caused by combat, squatter occupation by displaced persons, and illicit exploitation of one kind or another.
I’m happy for these images to be used privately, for teaching or research purposes. I’m also happy for them to be published on-line or in print so long as I’m notified and receive acknowledgment with a credit that includes my name (Nigel Pollard) and a reference to Swansea University