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Ugarit

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Ugarit (/juːˈɡɑːrɪt, uː-/;[1] Ugaritic: 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ʼUgart; Arabic: أُوغَارِيت‎ Ūġārīt or أُوجَارِيت Ūǧārīt; Hebrew: אוּגָרִית‎ Ugarit) was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident in 1928 together with the Ugaritic texts.[2] Its ruins are often called Ras Shamra[note 1] after the headland where they lie.

Ugarit had close connections to the Hittite Empire, sent tribute to Egypt at times, and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya),[3][4] documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from c. 1450 BCE until its destruction in c. 1200 BCE; this destruction was possibly caused by the mysterious Sea Peoples or internal struggle. The kingdom would be one of the many dismantled during the Bronze Age Collapse.

Ras Shamra lies on the Mediterranean coast, some 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Latakia, near modern Burj al-Qasab.

Neolithic Ugarit was important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BCE, though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.[citation needed] The city reached its heyday between 1800 and 1200 BCE, when it ruled a trade-based coastal kingdom, trading with Egypt, Cyprus, the Aegean, Syria, the Hittites, and much of the eastern Mediterranean.[5]

The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, c. 1800 BCE. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art. Evidence of the earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I, 1971–1926 BCE. A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments were brought to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit c. 1350 BCE record one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen.[citation needed] From the 16th to the 13th century BCE, Ugarit remained in regular contact with Egypt and Alashiya (Cyprus).[citation needed]

In the second millennium BCE, Ugarit's population was Amorite, and the Ugaritic language probably has a direct Amoritic origin.[6] The kingdom of Ugarit may have controlled about 2,000 km2 on average.[6]

During some of its history it would have been in close proximity to, if not directly within the Hittite Empire.

The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi (circa 1215 to 1180 BCE), was a contemporary of the last known Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. However, a letter[8] by the king is preserved, in which Ammurapi stresses the seriousness of the crisis faced by many Near Eastern states due to attacks. Ammurapi pleads for assistance from the king of Alashiya, highlighting the desperate situation Ugarit faced:

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