Syria Old History

By | January 3, 2023

Syria is an independent nation in Western Asia. With the capital city of Damascus, Syria 2020 population is estimated at 17,500,669 according to countryaah. The modern state of Syria was formed during the 20th century, but people have lived in the area for a long time. Traces of early human species have been found in Syrian caves. Historically, the name “Syria” was used to refer to different regions of the eastern Mediterranean coast, in the area that includes present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine / Israel.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Syria, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Homo erectus is the first human species to spread in the Middle East, including today’s Syria. For Syria political system, please check carswers.

Early Homo sapiens – which would develop into modern humans – may have reached the region some 100,000 years ago. Fossil finds have been made in Syria that are interpreted in that direction. (In Europe, Homo sapiens are believed to have reached about 40,000 years ago.) It is also known that for thousands of years Homo sapiens coexisted with Neanderthals, who have also left archaeological traces behind in Syria.

That was before man learned to cultivate the earth and to hold tambourines. That development gained momentum some 11,000 years ago in the “fertile crescent”, which includes today’s Syria and Iraq. According to a study published in the journal Nature 2016, agricultural technology may also have developed simultaneously in western Iran.

Syria is mentioned for the first time in Egyptian sources from the 3000s before Christ in connection with Egyptian expeditions in search of timber. Between about 2400 and 2250 before our era, the Kingdom of Ebla dominated, in whose writings Damascus is already mentioned. The city of western Syria is thus the world’s oldest continuously inhabited capital. In the 21st century BC, Ebla was destroyed by the kingdom of Akkad, which extended over Mesopotamia (the land between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris) and in turn was suppressed by a Semitic nomadic people, the Amorites.

In the 1600s before our era came new conquerors: Egypt, whose rule over the area was challenged by Hittites and Assyrians in various rounds. The coastal city of Ugarit flourished, with large palaces and temples. From the 13th century BC, the Phoenicians, who lived along the coast, expanded their empire. They were good seafarers and built trading cities along the Mediterranean coast. The Phoenicians also developed an alphabet, where the characters stood for consonant sounds. The system was taken over by Greeks, who added characters for vowels and laid the foundation for the Latin alphabet.

In the 7th century before our times, the Assyrians laid down the area, and they were followed by Babylonians and Persians. In the 300s BC, the Persian Empire fell to the forces of Alexander the Great and the whole region came under Greek / Hellenistic influence. After Alexander’s death, the area was ruled by one of his generals, Seleukos, and his successor the Seleukids. Many Greeks moved in and trade power developed, with contacts in India and Europe.

In the year 64 BC, Syria became a Roman province, and from the 300s the area was ruled from Byzantium (Eastern Rome). In the 630s, the region was conquered by Arab forces and incorporated into the growing Islamic empire. From 661 Damascus was the capital and trading center of the Islamic Empire during the Umayyad dynasty. In 747, the Abbasid dynasty rebelled against the Umayyads and moved the center of the empire to Baghdad.

At the end of the 8th century, the area was once again annexed by Egypt, which in the following centuries fought to defend the territory against invasions of Turkish cellists, Christian crusaders and finally Mongols. During the Egyptian Mamluks rule of 1250, the country was weakened by war, famine and plague. Some improvement could be noted since the Ottoman Turks subverted the area in the early 16th century, but by and large the Ottoman era meant stagnation. The Turks had local authorities in charge of the government in exchange for paying taxes to Constantinople / Istanbul.

In the 19th century, the area was opened to Western missionaries who founded schools and universities. At the same time, the Turks reformed the political system. At the end of the century, Arabic literature gained a renaissance, paving the way for nationalism in the 20th century.

During World War I, Syria today became the center of the Arab nationalist movement. In 1920, Faisal, son of the Sheriff of Mecca, proclaimed King of Greater Syria. However, the victorious powers divided the area between themselves in accordance with the secret British-French-Russian Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 – in effect a cut of the Ottoman Empire. Iraq, Jordan, and today’s Israel and Palestine came to the British as a mandate under the League of Nations, while the rest went to France. This laid the foundation for today’s Syria, which, along with Lebanon, was proclaimed a French mandate.

When the French took over, both the economy and the administration were at the bottom. France ruled by hard means and nationalist efforts were defeated. Local uprisings and strikes led to a 1925 revolt, beginning with the drusts in southern Syria. To weaken opposition and take advantage of religious diversity, the French at that time transferred parts of Syria to their mandate in Lebanon and split the rest of Syria into French-controlled small states: a Drusian state in the south, an Alawite in the west, a Sunni state around Damascus and one around Aleppo. The Syrian nationalist movement opposed this and managed to force the French to reunite the country with Damascus as its capital.

The dissatisfaction with the French culminated in 1939, when Turkey was allowed to annex the Hatay province in the northwest. During the Second World War, 1941, new uprisings broke out and in the same year Syria was invaded by Allied forces. The French exile government under General Charles de Gaulle promised the Syrians independence, and it was formally recognized in 1941. However, France dragged its feet and it was until the fall of 1943 before nationalist leader Shukri al-Quwatli could be elected the country’s first president. Independence was not fully realized until April 1946, when the last French soldiers left Syria, under pressure from both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Syria Old History