Location in Syria
|Coordinates: 34°36′0″N 37°5′0″E / 34.60000°N 37.08333°E|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+3)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+2)|
Furqlus (Arabic: الفرقلس, Furglus or Furklus) is a town in central Syria, administratively part of the Homs Governorate, east of the city of Homs. Situated at the eastern approaches of the Syrian Desert, the town is located between al-Qaryatayn to the south, Sadad to the southwest, Shinshar to the west, Fatim al-Amuq and al-Sayyid to the northwest, al-Mukharram to the north and Palmyra to the east. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Furqlus had a population of 5,096 in the 2004 census.
Antiquity and etymology
During the Byzantine Empire era in Syria, Furqlus was known as "Betproclis" or "Betroclus," which were Greek transliterations of its original Semitic name "Beth Forklos." Its Latin name was "Proclus." The Arabicization of the latter part of the town's Greek name "proclis" was "Furqlus."
The late 5th-century Byzantine document Notitia Dignitatum listed Betroclus as one of the two sites in Syria where regular Arab army units were stationed as part of the defense of the Phoenicia province. Although they were not listed as foederati, their inclusion in the Notitia Dignitatum suggested that these units possessed distinguished merit. Mentioned as indigenae, Betroclus was the only one of the two where the unit's make-up was entirely indigenous.
The 13th-century Syrian geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi visited Furqlus in 1226, during Ayyubid rule. He wrote that it was "a spring near Salamiyah in Syria. The name is foreign, not Arabic." In 1293, the commander of the Bedouin tribes in Syria, Muhanna ibn Isa, his son Musa ibn Muhanna and his brother Fadl ibn Isa, were arrested at Furqlus during a meeting with the Mamluk sultan, al-Ashraf Khalil, who was there on a hunting expedition.
In 1838 Furqlus was classified as an abandoned village by English scholar Eli Smith. In the late 19th century, Furqlus, which by then had been re-inhabited, suffered a major Bedouin raid, a common occurrence in the town which was surrounded by Bedouin encampments. According to Western traveler John Kelman, the Bedouin seized the fruits of the town's harvest and "emptied the houses ... of every piece of brass that they contained." Consequently, the residents became impoverished and wary of the frequent raids. They temporarily abandoned Furqlus until the Ottoman government in Istanbul established a sizable cavalry garrison there for the Ottoman army. The town's returning residents had to pay extra sums for the state protection which markedly reduced the rate of Bedouin incursions, although they continued steadily nonetheless.
The types of houses in Furqlus during that period were known as "beehives." Instead of the common flat roof homes present in most of Ottoman Syria, the beehive houses were topped by tall white domes that rose to sharp angles at their pinnacles and were intended to protect the residences from rain damage. Furqlus was administered by an array of Arab sheikhs who each headed their own clan or tribe.
The Syrian government, in a joint venture with the governments of Iran, Venezuela and the al-Bukhari Group of Malaysia, began construction of an oil refinery in al-Furqlus in 2009. The estimated cost of the project was $3 billion and the plant would have the capacity to refine 140,000 barrels per day.
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