Map: Syria in c. 1000 BC

Syria 1500BC – 1000BC


The past centuries[1] have seen dramatic twists and turns, here as in other parts of the Middle East.[2] Syria became divided between two great military powers, the Hittite[3] empire and New Kingdom Egypt,[4] whose struggles led to the first military action in history about which any details are known, the battle of Kadesh (1290 BC). Then, the attacks from peoples outside the region led to the collapse of both the Hittite and Egyptian empires.

This has enabled new peoples to come to the fore. The Phoenicians are a people who live in a group of coastal city-states which owe their wealth to maritime trade. Their sailors and merchants are pioneering trade routes throughout the length and breadth of the Mediterranean at this time. In so doing they are spreading a new development, the alphabet, to the Greeks and other western peoples.[5]

To the south, a people have come into the land of Canaan over the past few centuries. These are the Israelites. Originally living in a confederacy of tribes, they have recently formed a powerful kingdom, which is at this time ruled by their famous king, David. The distinctive thing about the Israelites is that they have a monotheistic religion, focussed on the worship of the one God, Yahweh. In this religion are the origins of the modern Jewish faith, as well as the roots of Christianity and Islam.

In different ways, both the Phoenicians and the Israelites will have a deep impact on the future of the entire world.

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