The start of the second millennium BC saw the ancient Middle
East undergoing a period of collapse.
Due to a mixture of failing
harvests, population decline, and invasion, the Third Dynasty of Ur
in southern Mesopotamia had been swept away, and the repercussions also
seem to have hit Syria. While Amorite states fought over the scraps
of Sumer, in northern Syria the number of settlements underwent a
reduction, probably caused by an economic downturn, and it took two
centuries for the region to recover.
Once that recovery was underway, from about 1800 BC, many new
states appeared in Syria and northern Mesopotamia, as Amorites and
newly arrived Hurrians made their presence felt. The Kingdom of
Upper Mesopotamia briefly unified much of the region in a foretaste
of the Mitanni domination of the same territories which would take
place by about 1500 BC. After its fall, the state of Yamkhad
dominated Syria until about 1595 BC.
Further north, in Anatolia, a series of small city states which
had existed for perhaps a millennium now began to emerge from obscurity,
although only on a limited basis. A
new people, the Hittites, were heading westwards, probably from the
Caucuses, and they began carving out a space for themselves. In southern
and western Anatolia, Luwians had dominated since about the
twenty-third century BC, and by around 1600 BC two Luwian states
began to emerge as they encountered the Hittites and Mitanni.
In the far west, although the city of Troy had been in existence for over
1400 years, that too only began to appear in records from around
1600 BC onwards. Previous to that it had been home to a relatively
basic civilisation, with little writing of its own. The limited levels of knowledge regarding all of
these states reveals a lack of records, even from the Hittites to an
extent, especially when compared to Syria and Mesopotamia.