Prehistory

History Timeline of Syria

From the Middle Acheulene culture, there are about 900,000 year old traces of early Paleolithic hunters and collectors on the Nahr al-Asi River (Orontes) and in the al-Kawm oasis. The transition to inhabited, agricultural farming communities, dating from about 9500 BC, is among other things. known from Abu Hurayra at Euphrates. During the Neolithic period (c. 8500-5000 BC), there was an agricultural and livestock village with dwellings of sun-dried bricks; important finds besides Abu Hurayra are Mureybet and Buqras.

After about 6500 BC started ceramic production. The Halaf culture, with its center in northeastern Syria around 5500-5000 BC, is especially known for its refined painted ceramics. Between about 5000 and 3300 BC there were several local cultures in western Syria. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Syria. In the north and east, the influence of Mesopotamia was strong; The Habuba Kabira and Jabal Aruda finds in central Euphrates have been considered colonies of Uruk culture in southern Mesopotamia. Habuba Kabira was surrounded by a city wall and had a center with temples and administrative buildings. Both sites have found clay tablets with numerical signs, precursors to the wedge writing.

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History

Early Bronze Age: Protosyric Age (ca. 3000-2100 BC)

Urban culture was now firmly established, and after 2500 BC. some cities in Syria had outgrown their Sumerian counterparts. In the northeast are the most important mining towns of Tall Laylan, Tall Mozan, Tall Brak and Tall Khuera, south of which lies Mari. In the west is the main find town Ebla, where a large archive of wedge writing boards from the palace’s administration was found. About 2300 BC Syria was invaded by Akkadian rulers Sargon and Naramsin, and Ebla and others. Locations were destroyed.

Middle Bronze Age: Ancient Syrian Age (2100-1600 BC)

Syria was now divided into several powerful states, ruled by Amorites and in the north even Hurrites. From Mari there are large archives of Old Babylonian wedge script, found in King Zimri-Lim’s palace. Tall Laylan was under the name of Shubat-Enlil the capital of the Amorite king Shamshi-Adad I, who for a time also ruled Assyria and Mari. The most important city in the northwest during this time was Aleppo, to whose area Ebla belonged. Other significant cities were Qatna and Damascus. Around 1600 BC the Hittusili I and Mursili I Hittus Kings led military expeditions through northern Syria.

Late Bronze Age: Middle Syrian Period (c. 1600-1200 BC)

After the withdrawal of the Hittites, various hurricane states formed the kingdom of Mitanni. Its capital has not been excavated, but an important source of knowledge is Alalakh at Nahr al-Asi (in present-day Turkey). Egyptian troops had ravaged Syria all the way to Euphrates during Thutmosis  III, but soon Egyptian influence was limited to the southwestern coastal area, while Mitanni ruled north around it. About 1350 BC West Mitanni was conquered by the Hittite king of Suppiluliuma. Part of its eastern territory was in Assyria.

Karkemish now became the center of Syria under a Hittite viceroy. The most important excavations for this period have been made in Ugarit and Emar, and the correspondence finds from the Amarna depict the condition in the cities dominated by Egypt. At the end of the period, eastern Syria became part of the Middle Assyrian empire; from this time important finds originate from the provincial capital of Dur-Katlimmu. Around 1200 BC the coast was attacked by the so-called seafarers, and Ugarit and several other coastal cities were destroyed.

Early Iron Age: Neo-Syrian Period (c. 1200-745 BC)

During Tiglat Pileser I, the Assyrians expanded about 1100 BC towards the Mediterranean. From that time on, the Arameans had become a factor of power, and Syria was dominated by small states with Arameans inland, so-called Newtites (or Luvians) in the northwest and Phoenicians on the coast. Arameans and Phoenicians used perishable writing material such as papyrus and skins, which is why very few contemporary texts have been preserved. After prolonged conflicts with Israel and Judah, King Hadad-ezer of Damascus gathered both the Arameans and Israel and others. states to fight against Assyria and succeeded at Qarqar 853 BC hold to the Assyrian expansion. The New Hittite states, on the other hand, Karkemish, often had close contacts with Assyria; inter alia their relief art came to influence the emergence of a new Assyrian counterpart.

Late Iron Age (ca. 745-333 BC)

The King of Assyria Tiglat Pileser  III sought to fully incorporate Syria, and the Aramaic states of the north and west were subjugated. Damascus fell 732 BC, and during Sargon  II (reigned 721-705 BC), Hama and Karkemish became Assyrian as well. Only the Phoenician coastal cities retained limited independence. When Assyria’s power weakened, Egypt instead came to master Western Syria up to Karkemish. Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon defeated 605 BC Egyptians and later also conquered the Phoenician cities. The Persian Conquest of Babylonia 539 BC finally led to the incorporation of Syria into the Akemenid Empire (see historical map Iran).

Hellenistic Syria (333-64 BC)

Since Alexander the Great 333 BC conquering Syria, the area became a dispute between his successor Ptolemy I and Antigonus I, and after the latter’s death in 301 BC between Ptolemies and Seleukids, between whom numerous Syrian wars were fought during the 200 and 100 BC. The Seleucid kingdom, whose capital had been moved from Seleukia at Tigris to Antioch (now Antakya in Turkey) at Orontes, gradually shrunk to about 100 BC. covered little more than the areas around Antioch and Damascus. The Seleukids were frequent city founders and built several cities in Syria, including Apamea and Laodikeia (Latakia). Other important cities were Palmyra and Dura-Europos.

Syria during Rome and Byzantine (64 BC – 636 AD)

Since Syria 83 BC occupied by the Armenian King Tigranes, it was made under the name of Syria to the Roman province of Pompey 64 BC The capital became Antioch. The province also included present-day Lebanon and parts of present-day Israel and Turkey; the area east of the Euphrates was part of the province of Mesopotamia, which, however, only occasionally belonged to the Roman Empire. Syria was an important consular province with four legions, the area of ​​which was gradually expanded until about 200 AD. was shared in Coele Syria in the north and Phoenice in the south.

In the fight against the Sasanids in the east, the important caravan city of Palmyra became a near enough independent buffer state under Prince Odenathus and his comrades and successor Zenobia in the 260s, but was again incorporated into the Roman Empire by Aurelianus in 273. During Diocletian, the province was divided into four parts, three of which included present-day Syria. As a border region, Syria suffered from the protracted wars between the Byzantine Empire and the Sasanids, which prepared the way for the Arab conquest.

Syria under Umayyad, Egyptian and Ottoman supremacy

In the years following the Battle of Yarmuk 636, Syria became part of the fast-growing Islamic empire, and Damascus became the 661 center of the Umayyad caliphate, which lasted to 750. Most of the population eventually converted to Islam and became Arab. From the end of the 8th century, Syria came under various Egyptian regimes and was subjected to several invasions, including by the Crusaders, who established a number of feudal states in Syria, and by Mongols. The Egyptian Mamluks extended 1260 under Sultan Baybar’s empire to Syria.

The Ottoman Turks conquered Syria in 1516-17 and divided the country into the provinces of Aleppo, Damascus and Tripoli. The larger cities and the surrounding area were controlled directly from Constantinople. The so-called millet system gave the state’s religious community some autonomy, and local rulers had limited freedom. However, tax would be paid to Constantinople. Syria came under Egyptian rule after a military invasion in 1831 but returned to the Ottoman Empire in 1840.

European influence in various areas was encouraged, and Syria was also part of the relative reform activities that had begun with Mahmud II at the beginning of the 19th century. led to a renaissance for Arabic literature. This laid the foundation for an Arab nationalism, which grew parallel to the Turkish one. During World War I, Syria became the center of this nationalism, pan-Arabism, with branches far outside Syria and with the hope of being able to establish a free Arab kingdom after the war. But Britain and France secretly agreed in 1916 to split up parts of the Ottoman Empire among themselves (see Sykes-Picot Treaty).

Syria under French rule

The division was confirmed at a conference in San Remo in 1920, where Syria joined France as a mandate under the League of Nations and where Lebanon, which was expanded at the expense of Syria, was also separated as a French mandate. Shortly before, Faysal, the son of Husayn ibn Ali, who led the Arab revolt against the Turks, had been proclaimed king of Syria by the Syrian nationalists. France occupied Damascus, and Faysal was forced to leave Syria. The French mandate was divided in 1925 in Syria, Latakia and Jabal ad-Duruz (now al-Arab). The dissatisfaction was great with the French government, which exploited the country’s religious divide, and led to an open revolt in 1925-26. France responded by bombing Damascus. The nationalists were on a constant collision course with France, which in 1939 surrendered Alexandretta (Iskenderun) and its surroundings to Turkey, and in 1941 led the dissatisfaction to open revolt. In June 1941, Allied forces invaded Syria, where the French authorities had recognized the Vichy regime and opened the country to the Axis powers. General de Gaulle’s exile government promised Syria independence, which was recognized in 1941, but it was not until 1943 before elections could be held and a nationalist government with Shukri al-Quwwatli as president could be formed.

Syria after independence

Syria participated in the Arab attack on the new state of Israel in 1948 and has since been at the forefront of the fight against Israel and the “liberation of Palestine”. After the war, followed a long period of instability, coups and coup attempts. Syria and Egypt formed a union in 1958, the United Arab Republic, which, however, already dissolved in 1961 due to Syrian dissatisfaction with Egypt’s dominance. In 1963, the Bath Party came to power and carried out a number of nationalizations, and a new coup in 1966 brought a doctrinal branch of the party to power. Syria participated in the six-day war against Israel in 1967, thereby losing the Golan Mountains.

In 1970, Hafiz al-Asad seized power at the head of the Bath Party’s moderate bankruptcy, and he was elected president in 1971. Ideology was partly to give way to increased pragmatism in the sphere of foreign policy and the economy. The Bath Party’s pan-Arabism was subordinated to Syria’s national interests, even though the Pan-Arabian rhetoric was kept alive. The ties with the Soviet Union established in the 1950s existed and were confirmed in an agreement in 1980. Relations with the West improved, despite al-Asad’s regime being accused of human rights violations and for supporting international terrorism and drug trafficking. al-Asad surrounded himself with Muslims from his own Alawite sect and from the home region near Latakia, which led to tensions with the country’s Sunni Muslims, who are in the majority. The opposition has mainly come from this direction but also included intellectual groups. Together, these 1980s formed an alliance with demands for free elections and an end to the exceptions laws of 1963. The regime was also subjected to violence and terrorist attacks by mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, which in 1982 led a revolt in Hama. It was brutally knocked down by government troops.

In 1973, Syria along with Egypt attacked Israel in the October war and had some success in the beginning. With Israel’s counter-offensive, the war turned. In 1976, Syria militarily intervened in Lebanon’s civil war and since then has had a decisive influence on Lebanon’s policy, which was confirmed by far-reaching cooperation agreements with this country in 1991. The end of the war and the dissolution of the Soviet Union brought Syria closer to the west and especially the United States. Syria participated, for example. in the UN Alliance during the Kuwait War of 1990-91 and participated in the 1991-2000 peace process for the Middle East; in bilateral talks with Israel, where Syria demanded the return of the Golan Mountains in exchange for peace with Israel. These negotiations were interrupted in 2000 and are still unsuccessful.

Instead, Syria appears to be an increasingly isolated state. The shift in the presidential post in 2000, when Hafiz al-Asad died and was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Asad, aroused hopes for change in Syria. These hopes were buried in the mid-00s, after the regime again went hard for the opposition and strengthened its authoritarian rule. Conflicts with the United States also increased; Syria condemned the US Alliance’s occupation of Iraq in 2003. Subsequently, Syria was accused of supporting the bathists in Iraq and was designated by the United States as a “rogue state” and subject to sanctions. Israel conducted a series of air strikes against Syrian targets in 2003 and 2007. In April 2005, Syria was forced to evacuate Lebanon after intense pressure from mainly France and the United States, but also by the UN. The Syrian regime had then been accused of a series of assassinations of Lebanese politicians.

Civil war and chaos

In early 2011, popular protests erupted against President Bashar al-Asad’s government, inspired by the events in Tunisia, Egypt and several other Arab countries during the Arab Spring. The Syrian government turned down the protests by force but also made some symbolic concessions to calm the protesters. However, al-Asad rejected more in-depth reforms as well as a regime change, which was a demand put forward by the protesters. The conflict escalated quickly.

Many western and Arab countries supported the opposition and in August 2011, the United States, the EU and several Arab countries also demanded al-Asad’s departure. However, the UN could not intervene in the conflict, as both the Russian Federation and China supported al-Asad, thus stopping all decisions in the Security Council through its veto power.

In the summer of 2011, armed rebel groups began to appear in increasing numbers. At the end of the year, civil war prevailed in large parts of the country (see Syrian Civil War). Turkey and Arab countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia began to provide widespread support to armed rebel groups. The US would later also join this strategy. At the same time, the Russian Federation and Iran assisted the government with weapons and money.

Gas attacks against civilians

In 2012-13, the fighting intensified sharply. The conflict spread in the country, leading to a humanitarian disaster and mass escape from the country. By the end of 2013, more than 3 million Syrian refugees had sought protection from the UNHCR in one of Syria’s neighboring countries. OPCW noted that chemical weapons, especially the deadly nerve gas sarin, had been used on at least four occasions in 2013. This led to the world’s demand for al-Asad to destroy the country’s chemical weapons. In September 2013, Syria joined the UN Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In 2012, President al-Asad began to lose control of much of the country but was able to maintain its rule in Syria’s most densely populated areas, including most major cities. His army is supported in particular by the religious minorities in the country.

Islamic State is growing

Throughout the war, the Syrian opposition has been plagued by fragmentation and internal chaos. The armed guerrilla movements are basically exclusively Sunni Muslims and the uprising soon began to be characterized by fundamentalist noises. Several of the strongest rebel militia are striving to establish a Sunni Islamic extremist conservative state. Among the most fanatical forces are Jabhat al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaeda, as well as the Islamic State (IS), which broke out of al-Qaeda in 2013-14. The more moderate rebel groups supported by the United States and its allies are usually brought together under the designation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Syria’s neighboring countries and other states are involved in the conflict, not least after IS took over large parts of Syria and Iraq in the spring and summer of 2014. Iran has helped recruit Shiite militants to al-Asad’s side, while many Sunni Muslim volunteers have joined. to IS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Russian support for al-Asad

In northern Syria, fighting has also raged between various Arab groups and the Kurdish secular militia People’s Defense Units (YPG), which is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The YPG militia has received airline support from primarily the United States in its battles with IS, which has upset Turkey, which is an important force behind many Arab rebel groups but fights against the PKK at home. In 2015, the Russian Federation sent flights to join the war on al-Asad’s side. Peace talks between al-Asad’s government and the parts of the opposition supported by the US and its allies have been held in several rounds with the support of the UN but without reaching clear results. Since 2016, a parallel negotiation process is underway in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, with the Russian Federation, Turkey and Iran as driving forces.

Millions of people on the run

The humanitarian situation in the country is extremely difficult. By 2020, up to 1 half million people have been killed and more than 5 million are on the run, mainly in Syria’s immediate area. In addition, another 6-7 million people had been displaced within the country.

History of Syria
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