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Syria, Ancient History of

Situated in the Middle East and bordered by several countries including Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Syria was among the oldest inhabited places in the world. Based on the Bible Timeline it can be dated back to 1954 BC. The Dederiyeh Cave, which is located in Syria, contains a wide range of archeological finds including ceramics, tools and human skeletons that prove the existence of humans in this place.

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Key Facts about Ancient Syria

Based on historians, Syria was a thriving trade region, largely because of its several ports located on the Mediterranean. It was also ruled by many Mesopotamian empires that supported its growth and development as a nation. The regions including Syria were once known by the name Eber Nari, which means “across the river.” It was the Mesopotamians who gave this name to the regions, and this included a few other areas including modern-day Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Together, these nations were called “The Levant.”

syria_ancient_biblical
‘Reliefs from Tel Halaf dating to the Aramean kingdom of Bit Bahiani.’

In the Books of Nehemiah and Ezra, Eber Nari was often mentioned. There were also accounts of the region in the texts of the Persian and Assyrian kings. As for the modern name of the region of Syria, it was noted by some scholars that this originated from Herodotus, as he had a habit of pertaining to the entirely of Mesopotamia as simple Assyria.

Thus, when the Assyrian Empire reached its end in 612 BC, its western regions were referred to as Assyria. However, it was popularly known as Syria when the Seleucid Empire took over. There were assumptions, though, that the name originated from the Hebrew language as the inhabitants were called Siryons. The people were called this way because of the metal armor worn by the soldiers, which was called “Siryon.”

Early Developments in the Regions of Syria

There were early settlers in the area including Tell Brak. After some excavations made in this region, there were arguments by scholars that early civilization started in the north. However, it was also possible that progress has been simultaneous in both of the areas in Mesopotamia. It was only after Max Mallowan’s excavations at Tell Brak that it confirmed them in this part of the region.

Mari and Ebla were the two most significant cities in Syria during early civilizations. These two cities were known to dress in Sumerian fashion, and they worshiped deities by the Sumerians. Also, there were cuneiform tablet collections that were written in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages. These tablets included information about the day to day life and economy of the early civilization in the region, as well as some personal letters.

As for the excavations conducted in Ebla, it was discovered that the palace was burned once including Nineveh‘s famous library. Fortunately, the fire helped bake the clay tablets, which also preserved these. Hence, these tablets provided an understanding of the life and civilizations in Mesopotamia including Ancient Syria.

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