Syria History

Syria History

Syria (“Old Syria”) as a cultural geographic term describes the area between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea and the area south of Gaziantep (Turkey) to the Hauran. It is not identical with the territory of the modern Syrian state, which on the one hand the (Turkish) province Hatay and Lebanon no longer belong, and on the other hand east of the Euphrates includes territories belonging to Mesopotamia on the Balikh and Khabur rivers. According to barblejewelry, Old Syria is combined with Palestine to the south to form the historical landscape “Syria-Palestine”; The name Canaan has been handed down for the northern Levant coast.


Finds from the Paleolithic in Syria are known from coastal and river terraces as well as from caves. A rich succession of Palaeolithic cultures was found in Jabrud (Jabrud culture). The Mesolithic development, especially in southern Syria, was influenced from Palestine (Natufia). Important sites of the early Neolithic – characterized by settlements with round buildings – are Tell Mureybit and Tell Ramad. The later settlements move on to rectangular dwellings (e.g. buqras). The actual Neolithic is due to the Mersin in Asia Minor related Amik or Amk culture, which was named after the hill found in the plains of the same name east of the lower Orontes. The most important sites of the Copper Age (Chalcolithic) are Ras Shamra (Ugarit), Tell Halaf and Hamath (Hama).

Ancient oriental time

Syria was from the 3rd millennium BC onwards. An area that is culturally v. Chr. a. received influences from Mesopotamia and Egypt, then also from the Aegean region. The clay tablet archives of Ebla (around 2400 BC) not only testify to a dense settlement of the arable plains, but also to lively trade. a. on the routes from Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf via northern Syria to Egypt, whose products, especially lapis lazuli, were also found in Ebla. At the time of the kings of Akkad (24th / 23rd centuries BC), Syria was included in their conquests. a. the mining of silver and timber were used. The rulers of Lagasch (Gudea, around 2122–2102) and the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (around 2112–2004) undertook expeditions to northern Syria. The importance of Syria grew at the end of the 3rd / beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Because the focus of long-distance trade shifted from the Gulf area to the eastern Mediterranean. The Syrian ports of Ugarit and Gubla (Byblos) played an important role there, as did Alalach, the capital of the country of Mukish, near the mouth of the Orontes.

Since Syria was not a political entity, its history began in the 2nd millennium BC. Largely influenced by militarily strong neighboring states: Egypt controlled southern Syria in the 14th / 13th centuries. Century BC BC as provinces of Canaan and Upe (with Damascus). The Hurricane state of Mitanni, whose center was in Upper Mesopotamia, temporarily ruled northern Syria as far as the sea. And Hatti, the empire of the Hittites, which ruled from Anatolia from Syria to the land of Amurru (around Homs), had sovereignty over a number of local princes, with whom z. T. State treaties were concluded. When this ruling system around 1200 BC Chr. Et al. collapsed by the Sea Peoples, groups of the Aramaeans won Influence that founded their own states (including Damascus). Phoenician trading cities such as Arados, Byblos, Sidon and Tyros existed on the coast. Century BC Came under the rule of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Babylonians. 539 BC The Persians of the Achaemenidssubjugated Syria, which became a province with Palestine.

Greek and Roman times

With the conquest by Alexander the Great in 333/332 BC The Hellenization of the country began. 301 BC BC Syria came under the rule of the Seleucids (in the north) and the Ptolemies (in the south). From the 2nd century BC Various small states (including the Itureans) were formed in Syria. 64/63 BC. Chr taught Pompey the Roman province of Syria one, who also belonged to Phenicia; In 194 AD it was divided into Syria Coele (Coilesyria) and Syria Phoenice (Phenicia). In 395 Syria became part of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. a. numerous church buildings still bear witness.

Islamic empires

After the conquest by the Muslim Arabs (634–637 / 640), the Umayyad caliphs made Damascus the capital of their empire in 661. The gradual Arabization and then Islamization of the country began, but the ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity remained (until today), which also had an impact on the development of politics, culture and the economy.

Northern Syria was the frontier area to Byzantium, which at times successfully advanced into Syria in the 10th century. In 970 the Egyptian Fatimids took Damascus, in 1077 they were ousted by the Seljuks. The Syrian coastal country and parts of northern Syria were conquered by Christian crusaders (crusades) after 1097. Under the Sengids (Sengi ; until 1181), Aijubids (until 1290) and Mamluks (until 1516), the Islamic offensive against the Crusaders began in Syria. In 1258 the Mongols could also be stopped here. In 1400 Timur conquered briefly the country and devastated it. From the 13th to the 15th centuries, the cities of Syria were important centers of Islamic culture.

Ottoman rule

1516 / 17–1918 Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire. It was of particular importance because of long-distance trade and as a starting point for the pilgrimage to Mecca. Thanks to several Franco-Turkish treaties (“capitulations”), brisk trade with Europe has been carried out by French merchants in particular since 1535. In 1831 Syria was conquered by Egyptian troops under Ibrahim Pasha . However, under European pressure, they had to withdraw again in 1840. After riots by Druze against Christians in Damascus and later Lebanon (Maronites) in 1860, Napoleon III intervened . ; In 1861 the autonomous province of Mont Liban was created. From the second half of the 19th century, Syria developed alongside Egypt to become the center of the Arab rebirth and the pan-Arab movement. In 1901 Syria became the starting point of the Hidjas Railway.

Kingdom of Syria and League of Nations mandate

In the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, Great Britain and France shared areas of influence in the Middle East. Syria was assigned to the French area of ​​interest. Occupied by British and Arab troops under Feisal when Ottoman rule collapsed in 1918. On March 18, 1920 the independence of Syria was declared; Feisal I was proclaimed king. However, the Arabs’ striving for a state of their own in Syria, Palestine, Transjordan and Lebanon clashed with France’s claims. The establishment of the French League of Nations mandate for Syria (Conference of San Remo, April 1920; Peace Treaty of Sèvres) was followed by the invasion of French troops and Feisal’s abdication who fled Damascus on July 25, 1920. France officially assigned Syria as a mandate of the League of Nations (1922, mandate areas).

Taking advantage of the religious and ethnic minorities, it separated the Alawi region (state of the Nusairians), the Djebel Druze (autonomous region of the Druze) and Lebanon (declared a separate state in August 1920) from Syria. In 1925/27 the mandate power put down uprisings in Syria. After tensions with Syrian officials (including President H. al-Atassi) France suspended the constitution of 1930. The French-Syrian treaty of 1936 on the independence of Syria was not ratified by the French parliament. In 1939 the (since 1920) autonomous sanjak of Alexandrette came to Turkey (Hatay Province). The occupation of the country by British and free French troops in the Second World War (June / July 1941) was followed on September 27, 1941 by the declaration of (formal) independence as the Republic of Syria, the reintegration of the Alawite area and the Djebel Druze (1942) as well as the Elaboration of a new constitution. The leader of Free France, C. de Gaulledeclared Syria independent again on January 1, 1944, but the British and French troops only evacuated the country after growing unrest on April 17, 1946 (full independence; national holiday). Syria became a member of the UN and the Arab League as early as 1945.

Syria History