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Hospitality has always been enumerated among the Eastern virtues. It still subsists in Syria, but prevails most in villages and small towns; among the Bidoween Arabs, and the inhabitants of the Castravan mountains. The hospitable reception that European travellers experience on the road, the officiousness of persons who offer their houses, and services, have been unjustly suspected of always being mercenary. The traveller would oftener find himself at a loss, was his sole dependence for lodging, placed in the covetousness of his host, the value of the present, or bakhsheesh, would hardly induce a person at his ease, to derange the economy of his family, and incur an action in itself deemed honourable, and which, if neglected, would subject him to the contempt of his fellow villagers.

Alexander & Patrick Russell
The Natural History of Aleppo (1794)
Syria: through writers’ eyes

Photographs taken in northern Syria, April 2007.