History Files
 

 

Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria

 

 

 

MapUgarit

Although Ugarit was probably occupied much earlier, its first permanent settlement seems to date to around 6000 BC, at which point a fortified wall was put up around it. The city was located on the Syrian coast, and remains within modern Syria. It lay on the crossroads of trade routes from Babylonia, Anatolia and Egypt and, thanks to its good sea harbour, traders from all the major states conducted business there. First mentioned in records in about 1800 BC by Ebla, the city reached its height during the mid-fifteenth century BC under Egyptian overlordship, and maintained its position until the start of the twelfth century BC.

Ugarit has so far provided archaeologists with the largest selection of Syrian texts, including something unique to this city: two private libraries which both date from Ugarit's last days, although other cities, such as Emar, have yielded literary material as well. Ugarit's own script seems to have originated in about 1400 BC, when cuneiform characters were adapted to the local language. Such works are the only extensive remnants of literature from this area, except for the later Hebrew Bible.

c.6000 BC

Ugarit is first founded as a permanent settlement, probably after some centuries (or even millennia) of being used as a seasonal encampment. The erection of a fortified wall at this point shows that the settlement pattern here has changed, and that the site's current occupants have no plans to leave.

c.1776 BC

Following the break-up of the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia, Yamkhad becomes the dominant force in north-western Syria, controlling Ugarit.

c.1478 BC

Egypt expands rapidly through Palestine and reaches Mitanni-controlled Syria, making Ugarit a vassal state. The Egyptians also raid further inland, where local resistance is supported by Mitanni. Hittite agents are constantly at work, trying to draw Syrian states over to them, a policy which gradually sees them gain more influence. Nothing is known about the three earliest named rulers of Ugarit.

Niqmadu I

Yaqurum

Ibiranu I

? - c.1354 BC

Ammistamru I

c. 1353 - 1318 BC

Niqmadu II

Son. Became a vassal of the Hittites.

c.1340 BC

Suppiluliuma, the new Hittite ruler, takes control of northern Syria. The king of Ugarit informs the Hittites of a planned revolt by Alalakh, so that kingdom is incorporated directly into the empire, with its lands being assigned to Ugarit as a reward, along with the territories of Nuhašše and Niya (in northern Syria). Ugarit remains a Hittite subject state but with its own royal house still in place.

c.1317 - 1314 BC

Arhalba

Son.

c.1313 - 1251 BC

Niqmepa

Brother.

c.1250 - 1210 BC

Ammistamru II

Son. Divorced his wife, daughter of Benteshina of Amurru.

c.1209 - 1200 BC

Ibiranu II

Son.

c.1200 - 1195 BC

The Hittite empire is destroyed by the Kaskans and the Sea Peoples. Other important Hittite cities, such as Emar, also disappear after a period of troubles which are characterised by attacks by seaborne raiders. There may be a severe attack on Ugarit in around 1195 BC, as some sources date this as the city's last days.

c.1199 - 1192 BC

Niqmadu III

Son.

c.1191 - 1182 BC

Ammurapi / Hammurabi

Possible usurper, emphasising the absence of Hittite control.

c.1182 BC

Ammurapi is the last ruler of Ugarit. Much of Ugarit's army is in Hittite Anatolia (and probably lost by this time), and the fleet is near the Lukka lands, despite advice from the kings of Alashiya and Carchemish that Ugarit should look to its own defences. Consequently, the city is attacked by seven ships of Sea Peoples (believed to be the Shekelesh) and is destroyed. The state disappears from the historical record and its location is forgotten until 1928, although the former 'summer palace' at Ras Ibn Hani is soon reoccupied and rebuilt.