Stylites were ascetics who lived on platforms atop columns. This movement had practitioners into the nineteenth century, from Mosul in today’s northern Iraq to Gaul in France. Syria was home to large numbers of stylites, including the first stylite, Symeon Stylites the Elder (ca. 389–459). Some twenty-eight stylite complexes have been identified in Syria. The best known are Qal‘at Sem‘an, enclosing the column of Symeon Stylites the Elder (ca. 389–459), and the Wondrous Mountain, built around the column of Symeon Stylites the Younger (521–562). Each was a thriving pilgrimage complex, drawing pilgrims from Byzantium’s southern provinces and beyond.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.