Symposium on “Syria’s Ancient Ruins and Civilization”

The Arab Cultural Centre in Jaramana recently hosted a symposium on “Syria’s Ancient Ruins and Civilization” with the participation of researchers Iman al-Hourani and Mu’taz Rafe’i. The two researchers cast light on some important sides of Syria’s great civilization and its crucial contribution to human civilization in various domains.

Researcher al-Hourani underlined the importance of Syria’s history and its geographical location referring that Syria’s civilization dates back to 10.000 years. She stressed that most archaeological studies proved that Syria is the cradle of human civilization, pointing out that the development of agriculture in Syria meant settled communities. Tribes and peoples began to prefer agriculture to hunting and with the appearance of bronze and copper tools, agriculture developed quickly. Along with the development in agriculture came a development in trade, as urbanized communities began to engage in various economic activities. In this land, Man discovered the secrets of Agriculture and Metallurgy, and invented the very first alphabet.  The lecturer added that religions, Philosophies, language of trade, systems of urban development, of diplomatic and cultural exchange; all these germinated in geographical Syria.  She reviewed Syria’s main contribution to human civilization, especially the discovery of the first alphabet and the first music piece. 

In turn, Rafe’i talked about Mari Kingdom and its diverse contributions to human civilization in various spheres. He also shed light on Ebla’s kingdom and its civilization. The Great Kingdoms of Ebla and Mari are the sites of where the invention of writing began. Found in both are tablets of Cuneiform writing, the royal archives that contributed to unveiling important information about social, economic and political life in ancient times. These kingdoms lasted about 1000 years due to their cultural development, their rising trade with both Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, and due to the irrigation of the Euphrates. Both of these kingdoms were taken over by the Acadians from Mesopotamia and then by the Amorites at the end of this period. This period also saw the rise of Ugarit where the oldest written alphabet in the world is believed to have been developed. Ugarit and Byblos grew to become powerful commercial centres.

One part of his lecture was devoted to Palmyra and its fundamental trade role between the East and the West. The lecture  talked about Queen Zenobia who assumed power on regency of her son after the death of her husband Oedenthius. She defied the Romans and achieved several victories against them expanding her empire eastward and westward. But in the end, the Roman emperor Aurlien achieved victory against Zenobia taking her a captive to Rome. Many legends and stories have been woven around the fate of Zenobia in Rome, one of them is that Aurlien himself admired her character and married her.

He also talked about Damascus seven gates, the Umayyad Mosque and the ancient churches of Damascus, referring to the interaction between Muslims and Christians in Syria over various ages and the peaceful co-existence Syria enjoys since time immemorial.