The Bedouin Village of Shanhas

Panorama of the Bedouin village of Shanhas, semi-sedentarism on the western piedmont. Photo: Minna Lönnqvist 2000© SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

The village of Shanhas

Photo: Taija Turunen 2000 © SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

The village of Shanhas is situated ca. 1.6 km northeast from Qasr al-Hair al-Sharqi. The village was founded in 1960. Nowadays it consists of ca. 40 semi-sedentary pastoral families who, besides permanent houses, still use tents in their courtyards and during their seasonal migrations. In a Landsat 7 satellite image the layout of the village with scattered houses appears to follow the layout of a Bedouin tent village.

Satellite map on Shanhas

Mapping on Landsat-7 ETM panchromatic channel images by Minna Lönnqvist 2000 © SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

There are families from three tribes: Sbai, Shiat and Amirat. The main livelihood of the families consists of a pastoral economy based on sheep rearing. Donkeys are also used for transport. The cultivation of wheat in the nearby wadis is considered subsidiary. The seasonal pastures of the Bedouins are in the area of Hassake on the Khabur River, and the village was abandoned for the summer of 2000.

In the center of the village there was a school and an unfinished mosque. Some typical dwelling houses and courtyards were measured, and items found in the courtyards were recorded. The houses were rectangular with either one or two doors on their longer side. They were made of mud bricks, covered by mud plaster and the roofs were covered by wooden beams overlain by mud plaster.

Household structures at Shanhas

Photo: Taija Turunen 2000 © SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

The courtyards were open, and they contained cylinder-like tannurs (bread clay ovens) and sealed mud plaster silos not only containing grain but other property. Some had animal pens and mud plaster "houses" for poultry. Heaps of dry brush for fuel, containers with tents and water tanks were often set behind the houses. Items left for the purpose of anticipating return consisted of guphas (rubber baskets), aluminium trays for baking bread, clothes and shoes.

 

Shifting Cultivation and signs of increased desertification in the area of Shanhas and Qasr al-Hair. The analysis of the fields of Shanhas with the CORONA satellite photograph (the contours of the fields) from the 1960s and Landsat images from the 1980s by Markus Törmä 2005. © SYGIS – Jebel Bishri, the Finnish Project in Syria

Click the link below to see a videoclip:
Qasr al-Hair al-Sharqi and the Village of Shanhas
(file format: MPEG, file size: 18.6 MB)
© Ghadi Boustani 2000

SYGIS
Jebel Bishri
The Finnish Project in Syria