Syria History – pre-Islamic Period

By | May 25, 2021

The pre-Islamic period

The first traces of settlement can be found in Syria as early as the 7th millennium BC. prove. Some of these settlements – initially in the Euphrates and Tigris regions – grew into cities. In Ugarit, today Ras Shamra, Ebla, Qatana, Mari, Habuba Kabira, Hammam et-Turkman and Tell Brak, ideas of urbanization for an organized society developed.

The first empires of the Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians and Persians emerged. The Hittites came from Anatolia, invaded Syria around 1600 and conquered the kingdom of Qatana. 1284 BC The decisive battle between the Egyptians under Pharaoh Ramses II and the Hittites under King Mutwallis II took place near Homs. As a result, Egypt no longer controlled all of Palestine, and the Hittites controlled Syria until a new empire besieged the country: the old Assyrian Empire. It was located in the central Tigris region and extended towards northern Mesopotamia and eastern Syria. The old forces faded.

Now the Aramaic language in the Middle East developed more and more into a communication and diplomatic language, also among the Seleucids and Romans. The Arameans are a group of people from the Near East who founded several kingdoms in Syria (11th century) since the end of the Bronze Age (including Damascus and Aleppo). They occupied the vacuum left by the fall of the Hittite and Assyrian empires.

The Phoenicians now also played a role in the Levant – in the coastal cities of Byblos, Tire, Sidon, Arvad and in Ugarit. A little later, in the 6th century BC, the Persian Empire also began to expand.

According to thereligionfaqs, the largest military company in Asia was that of Alexander the Great. It started in 334 BC. and ended eleven years later with Alexander’s death in Babylon. Alexander the Great opened Syria, rooted in the Middle East, to Mediterranean culture. But it also brought the ancient civilizations of the East closer to the European world; the mutual influence found its cultural expression in Hellenism.

Alexander’s empire was deeply divided after his death. Even his general Seleukos could not establish the unit.

The Arab tribe of the Nabataeans had its center in Petra; 83 BC they expanded their rule to Damascus. Now, on the one hand, Syria came increasingly under the influence of the Romans, on the other hand, it became a trading center and thus increasingly wealthy. Luxury goods from the east and west came onto the market, but new doctrines also spread: Christianity, Zoroastrian ideas from Iran and Hellenistic-Greek ideas.

The Romans extended their rule to the Persian Gulf and all of Syria became part of the Pax Romana.

Syria History - pre-Islamic Period

Palmyra: The Kingdom of Zenobias

During the Seleucid period, a new Arab state emerged in the middle of the Syrian desert. He combined Roman and Syrian cultural elements. He was forced to assert himself against the oppressing Sassanids (260 AD). After the king’s assassination, Palmyra was ruled by his wife, Queen Zenobia. In 269 they had conquered all of Syria and advanced with an army of 70,000 men south to Egypt and north to Anatolia. When Zenobia became too powerful for the Romans, Aurelian struck back; 272 Palmyra was conquered and Queen Zenobia had to go into exile in Rome. This was followed by the destruction of Palmyra by Aurelian: He had “left” the city and its residents to his soldiers because he could no longer pay the army, which turned out to be a mistake – he had destroyed the empire he wanted to restore. Palmyra’s wealth through its prominent position as a trading metropolis had also brought prosperity to Rome, which now failed to materialize. In 2015 the city of Palmyra was conquered by the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS). They irrevocably destroyed a number of buildings. In 2016, the state was retaken by the troops loyal to the government.


The Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire in Syria and was ruled from Constantinople. The Byzantine period was an ecclesiastical age. During this time, a lot of construction activity developed in Syria: monasteries, churches, mausoleums and houses of landowners, which can still be seen today using the example of the Dead Cities.

In the 4th and 5th centuries, the struggle for direction and the struggle over dogmas began in established Christianity, which led to the community splitting. The disputes finally culminated a few centuries later in the great schism of the Eastern and Western Churches (Constantinople and Rome).