Syria Old History

Syria Old History

HISTORY: FROM THE ORIGINS TO THE ROMAN CONQUEST

According to Pharmacylib, the history of Syria is initially the history of a complex of small territories and states, most of which formed by a central city or oasis: Damascus, Hama, Homs, Qatna, Aleppo, Karkemiš, Palmira and on the Ugarit coast, Arwad, Byblos etc. The territory was an important crossing area with large caravan roads, therefore often subject to the influence of foreign people, first of all Semites (Canaanites, Arameans and Arabs) but also Egyptians, Hurrians and Hittites, Urartians and Scythians, Macedonians and Greeks. With the conquest of Alexander the Great (332 BC) Syria (which had been a satrapy of the Persian Empire since the conquest of Cyrus, 538) became a satrapy of the Greco-Macedonian Empire. After the struggles between the diadochi it came into possession of Seleucus who began the Seleucid dynasty, reigning until 64 BC. C. on a territory including Sogdiana, Bactriana, Aracosia, Geodrosia, Mesopotamia, present-day Syria and part of present-day Turkey. In the Seleucid organization, the territory included the “royal land” (basiliké chora), an enormous large estate administered by the sovereign, and the cities (poleis) with particular statutes; the territory was administratively divided into satrapies and eparchies. Hellenization appeared to the Seleucids as the tool to homogenize a territory that included very different peoples in terms of language, religion, ethnicity. The Hellenization wanted by the Seleucids, however, was often imposed by force causing serious lacerations such as the Jewish opposition to Antiochus Epiphanes. Like Alexander, in fact, they carried out Hellenization through the foundation of Greek cities (Antioch, Laodicea, Seleucia) but they failed to integrate the agricultural element with the Hellenic or Hellenized urban element. All this constituted the inner fragility of this empire which was rapidly shattered following the Roman intervention, the secession of the Parthian province (which detached Mesopotamia) and the regained autonomy of Judea. Finally the last Seleucids were victims of civil wars and Syria was conquered by Tigranes of Armenia and immediately after by the Romans commanded by Lucullus (69 BC). In 63 a. C. in the context of the reorganization of Asia Minor carried out by Pompey, Syria became a Roman province and the Euphrates was established as a border between the Romans and the Parthians which often engaged the Romans militarily. In 194 d. C. Septimius Severus divided Syria into two provinces (Coelesyria or Syria Maior in the north and Syria Phoenice in the south). In 260 d. C. the Persians conquered Antioch and the same emperor Valerian was captured. Constantius II created in Coelesyria the ‘ Augusta Euphratensis. In the sec. V Syria was divided into five territories.

HISTORY: FROM THE EASTERN EMPIRE TO THE FIRST WORLD WAR

It then became part of the Eastern Empire, not without being subjected to Sassanid invasions, the last of which lasted until 628. Even before Muhammad Syria had suffered some Arab infiltration; but only after the death of the Prophet did the Arabs begin to conquer it, not with a specific political purpose, but only to take possession of places and goods more attractive than those of the desert. The victories of Khālid ibn al-Walīd at Agnadayn (634) and Marg as-Suffar (635) opened the way to Damascus, which surrendered in September 635. A strong Byzantine army, led by the same brother of the emperor Heraclius, was defeated on the Yarmuk (636) and Syria was definitively lost for Byzantium, an event to which the population, harassed by a greedy administration and faithful to a Monophysite creed that Byzantium rejected, resigned themselves without drama. If at first the Arabs camped in Syria as an army in enemy land, the situation changed when an Arab governor of Syria, Muʽāwiyah, became caliph and founded a dynasty, called the Umayyads. Just as his predecessor ʽAlī had leaned on the forces of Iraq, so Muʽāwiyah established the basis of his power in Syria. Following this, not only did Damascus become the splendid capital of the nascent Islamic Empire, but the Syrian element, more cultured and more open of the rulers, was brought to the top of the administration, becoming the ruling class of the Empire. It remained so until the Caliphate of Marwān (744-750), the last Umayyad, who moved the capital to Harran in Mesopotamia. Then when the Abbasids wanted to rule the Islamic world from Kufa and, subsequently, from Baghdad, Syria fell into a simple province, often disliked by the caliphs for its rebellious spirit and for the continuous expectation of a messiah who would free it from the Iraqi yoke. While the Islamic Empire tended to become more and more Iranian, Syria, while remaining on the sidelines, permanently retained the Arabic language and culture; and in the meantime the religion of Mohammed spread widely without destroying a Christianity that remained very much alive. The rule of Baghdad was repeatedly interrupted by the rise of dynasties of autonomous governors, such as the Tulunids (end of the 9th century), the Ikhsidids (mid-10th century), the Hamdanids (second half of the 10th century); he was then brutally shaken by the precarious conquest of the Fatimites of Egypt (late 10th century), and ended forever with the advent of the Seljuk Turks (11th century), who in turn, discordant and disorganized, were beaten by the Crusaders (late 11th century-first half century. XII). The dominance of the Latin nations lasted a little over a century, severely threatened by Saladin and his successors: at the end of the century. XIII the Mamluk sultans of Egypt erased the last traces of it. Plundered by the Mongols (1299-1303), invaded by Tamerlane (1399-1400), Syria ended up under the Ottoman scepter (1516); thus began a period of decline and exploitation without compensation. Between 1830 and 1840 the country fell again under Egyptian rule, then returning to the restoration of Ottoman rule with Turkish permission to install Christian missions and colleges. In 1860 a revolt of Maronite Christians who had rebelled against the ruling class (Drusi) and the feudal system was suppressed . In the second half of the century. XIX a strong nationalistic movement was awakened in Syria: even the bitter contrasts between Muslims and Christians subsided in the face of the need for a Young Turks resistance against the repressions of ʽAbd ül-Ḥamid II and then of the gods.

Syria Old History