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Saint Simeon Church, Syria, 1978

Photo: Ruins of Syrian church

The isolated ruins of the Church of Saint Simeon stand beneath a turquoise sky in the Syrian desert. This sprawling complex, located on a hill 37 miles (60 kilometers) from the nearest city (Aleppo), was built between A.D. 476 and 491 to honor St. Simeon Stylites, the famed ascetic monk who spent nearly 40 years in prayer atop a 40-foot (12-meter) pillar. The remains of the pillar can still be seen in the church's courtyard.

(Photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, "Ebla: Splendor of an Unknown Empire," December 1978, National Geographic magazine)

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Photograph by James Stanfield

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