History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria





This was an early Syrian city founded somewhere at the end of the third millennium BC. Now known as Tell Erfad, it was close to the city of Alep, and was a subject of the state of Yamkhad which was ruled from Alep. The surviving mound was excavated in the 1950s and 1960s, although access to the site is difficult. A mud brick fortification wall dated to the sixteenth or fifteenth centuries BC was discovered, as were some basalt and limestone masonry remains which may have belonged to the later Aramaean city.

c.2000 - 1340 BC

From its initial founding until the fourteenth century, Arpad is controlled by Yamkhad.

c.1340 BC

Suppiluliuma, the new Hittite ruler, takes direct control of much of northern Syria, including Alep and Arpad.

c.1200 BC

With the collapse of the Hittite empire, and the general instability which grips the region, some cities in Syria are destroyed, while Arpad probably comes under the control of the Hittites in Carchemish.

Bit Agusi (Akhan / Yakhan)

The Aramaeans moved into Syria once Assyrian influence faded in the twelfth to tenth centuries BC, and took over many cities. The historical record is very sketchy until the ninth century, so little is known of how they took over in Arpad. In doing so they removed the city from under the control of Carchemish, and formed the minor state of Bit Agusi (which included Napigu and later Aleppo), perhaps only shortly before the Assyrian invasion of around 870 BC. The state of Pattin formed their westerly neighbour, while Bit Adini and Carchemish were to the immediate north.

fl c.870 BC

Gusi of Yakhan / Gusu / Agusi

Dynasty founder.

c.870 BC

Ashurnasirpal II crosses the Euphrates with his Assyrian army, erupting into Syria. Bit Agusi's territory is one of many invaded by him, and Gusi pays tribute.

fl c.850 - 830s BC

Arame / Aramu / Atarsamek

Son. Attested by Assyrian inscriptions between 858-834 BC.

833 BC

Shalmaneser III seizes a town from Bit Agusi in which Arame still rules.

mid-700s - 740 BC


743 - 740 BC

The Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III besiege Bit Agusi for three years, thanks to it being an ally of Urartu. Once captured, the city is destroyed and its inhabitants are massacred. A coalition of princes which had been allied to the city is also defeated, including the kings of Kummuhu, Que, Carchemish, and Gurgum. Bit Agusi is never repopulated.