- The study of Near Eastern medieval castles
- The citadel of Apamea (Syria)
The village of Qal'at al-Mudiq sits on top of a tell overlooking the wide al-Ghab plain, which was developed and cultivated systematically during the 20th century. The defensive works built on the highest point of the plateau were studied for the first time in 2001 and 2002 by a French research team led by Nicolas Faucherre (now a professor at the LA3M, Université d’Aix-Marseille), on a mission funded by MAEDI with the support of the Centre d’études supérieures de la civilisation médiévale (CESCM) at the Université de Poitiers. The team, composed of Philippe Dangles, Nicolas Prouteau and Cyril Yovitchitch, was welcomed by the Belgian mission of Professor Jean-Charles Balty, who had been studying the neighbouring city of Apamea for several decades.
The tell was probably the citadel of the Hellenistic city, but also the site of a much earlier anthropogenic occupation. The remains of a mud-brick structure dating from the 3rdmillennium have been uncovered near the modern town gate. Evidence of prehistoric stone implements was also found at the base of the tell.
The objectives of the French mission formed part of a broader approach aimed at expanding knowledge of Islamic fortifications in relation to the Crusades. The work at Qal'at al-Mudiq began with an inventory and the recording of the defensive constructions of the enceinte on the top of the tell, and various related works revealed during this mission. Most of the remains have now been incorporated into the village buildings - dwellings, sheds, stables etc. - and the cooperation of the local population was a decisive factor in their study.
The on-site analysis of the visible defensive and technical works confirmed that the vast majority of buildings still standing date from the refortification works of the Ayyubid Sultans of Aleppo and their followers from the late 12th century to the first half of the 13th century. The elaborate design of the entrance was studied in particular detail and revealed several successive structures, the oldest probably dating from the Late-Byzantine occupation of the region in the 10th to 11th centuries.
In the group of buildings under study, various elements indicate that the site was occupied prior tothe Ayyubid reconstruction: the presence of a fortified reduit inside the enceinte with its own entrance, and the regular building layout in part of the enceinte, suggesting an earlier enceinte, probably destroyed by the series of earthquakes that hit the region in the second half of the 12th century.