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Beginning around 2600 BCEBeginning around 2600 BCEBeginning around 2600 BCE

Ancient World /
Ancient Syria

Urkesh Nagar Mari Damascus Yamkhad Carchemish Alalakh Ebla Ugarit Hamath Qatna Euphrates river Harran

Eye-idols of Nagar, Syria. Middle 4th millennium BCE.
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Eye-idols of Nagar, Syria. Middle 4th millennium BCE.

Palace in Ebla (Syria).

Inside a palace at Ebla.

Unearthing of a basalt statue of King Ishtup-Ilum, ca. 2100 BCE at Mari
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At Mari, the unearthing of a basalt statue of King Ishtup-Ilum, ca. 2100 BCE.

Decorative mask ca. 14th century BCE, with Egyptian characteristics. Qatna
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Decorative mask of Qatna, ca. 14th century BCE.

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The surprisingly modest and narrow main gate to the city of Ugarit.

Ancient Syria is defined as the early historical stages of the cultures in the lands that today form modern Syria. The land definition of "Syria" is among the more clearly delineated: from the Mediterranean Sea to the deserts near today's Iraq; from the mountains of Anatolia to the thinly populated belt between Syria and Jordan.
This region has one of the world's deepest histories, being home to two of the cities claiming to be the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world: Damascus and Aleppo. The first settled city here was Ugarit, emerging in the middle of the 7th millennium BCE, the regions of Damascus and Aleppo came first in the 4th millennium.
Ancient Syria is both home of primary civilizations, civilizations that emerge directly from peoples of the region, as well as secondary civilizations, civilizations that are formed by immigrants, or according to patterns of neighbouring countries.
Syria found itself as the natural region of expansion of great powers in Mesopotamia, and was also the region that Ancient Egypt expanded into during its period of greatest power. The battle of Kadesh, the most famous battle in Egyptian history, was on Syrian territory. Eventually, new forces to the north emerged, at first the Hittite Empire. Syria itself was geographically smaller than its neighbours, and from this comes the primary explanation to why Syria would become a region mainly defined by its neighbours, more than its own powers.
Syria's early civilizations emerged in the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE, and for many centuries these cultures were strong and independent. Greater military skills, improved communications would make Syria a battle ground for foreign empires. Syria remained a centre of great civilizations, but then no longer as independent ones. One exception became Ugarit, located on the coast it managed to escape the clashes of interests further inland. Already from ca. 2240 Syria became a hemisphere of Mesopotamian powers, before the Hittites from north, from the lands of modern Turkey around 1600. Around 1000, Mesopotamia returned to control Syria, until the arrival of the Persians 6th century, later Alexander the Great in the 4th.

Around 3200-around 2200 BCE.

Ca. 2900-1759 BCE. This is also a geographical and historical part of Mesopotamia.

2600 to 2240 BCE

Around 2250-

Around 2250-around 1800 BCE.

Around 2000 BCE until 12th century.

1500-1360, this was really a kingdom of Mesopotamia.

2000-1600 BCE.

Around 1900-1375.


2nd millennium BCE.

1175-990 BCE.

11th century-ca. 720 BCE.

Ca. 2900-1759 BCE.

By Tore Kjeilen