1902 Encyclopedia > Syria


SYRIA. Etymologically, "Syria" is merely an abbre-viation of "Assyria," a name which covered the subject-lands of the Assyrian empire, the subject-peoples being also called "Syrians." Afterwards, in the Graeco-Roman period, the shorter word came to be restricted to the territory west of the Euphrates,—the designation "Syrians," how-ever, being given to the great mass of the Semitic popu-lations dwelling between the Tigris and the Mediterranean, who are more accurately called Aramaeans (Gen. x. 22 ; comp. SEMITIC LANGUAGES, vol. xxi. p. 645 sq.). The present article deals with Syria only in its geographical significance. For a map, see vol. xvi. pi. VIII.

Boundaries and extent. Syria is the designation of the country which extends for about 380 miles (between 36° 5' and 31° N. lat.) along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean; its eastern limit properly speaking is formed by the middle portion of the course of the Euphrates, but in point of fact it insensibly merges into the steppe country which naturally belongs more or less to Arabia. It is only the oases lying nearest the western border of the steppe (e.g., Aleppo, Palmyra) that can be reckoned as belonging to Syria.[821-1] From time immemorial the land between Egypt and the Euphrates has been the battlefield for the empires of western Asia on the one hand and those of Egypt and Africa on the other-. It has also been the territory which the trading caravans of these empires have had to traverse; and by its position on the Mediterranean it has been the medium for transmitting the civilizing influences of the East to the West and again of the West to the East. Hence it is easy to understand how the peoples of Syria should only in exceptional cases have played an independent part either in politics or in art and science; none the less on that account is their place in history one of the highest interest and importance.

Orography. The surface configuration of the country is a uniform one; the mountains for the most part stretch from north to south in parallel ridges, connecting the Cilician Taurus with the Red Sea range. The continuity is broken for short intervals at one or two points. Immediately con-nected with the Cilician Taurus in the north, and forming part of it, is the Alma Dagh (ancient Amanus). At its highest it does not rise much above 6000 feet, but it has an abrupt descent towards the sea, and terminates at its southern extremity in a bold headland, the Ras el-Khanzir. Here the Orontes reaches the sea through a depression in the chain, and the same outlet forms an important pass into the interior of the country. Frequently in ancient times it was only the territory to the south of the lower Orontes valley that was reckoned as constituting Syria. Farther south is the isolated Jebel Akra', about 6000 feet high (the Mons Casius of the ancients), which was held sacred by the Phoenicians; still farther to the south are the low Ansairi Hills, which derive their name from the people inhabiting them. Beyond those the Nahr el-Keblr (Eleu-therus) falls into the sea, and here north Syria may be held to terminate. To the south of this begins the Lebanon district (see LEBANON, vol. xiv. p. 393); an imaginary line drawn eastwards from a point a little to the south of Tyre will represent the southern boundary of what may be designated as middle Syria. Occasionally Syria is spoken of in a narrow sense, as distinguished from Palestine; but there is no scientific ground for such a practice, for the mountains of PALESTINE (q.v.), the southern third of Syria, can be described as a southward continuation of the mountain masses already referred to, and cis-Jordanic as well as trans-Jordanic Palestine is simply a portion of Syria. Indeed the district as far as Sinai can be spoken of as a fourth division of. the same country. A glance at a geological map reveals this very clearly. Cretaceous limestone constitutes the bulk of the hills and plateaus of Syria, and extends towards Sinai, where the zone of primitive rocks is reached. In the south of Palestine, nummulitic limestone and Nubian sandstone make their appearance from Sinai and northern Arabia. In addition to these, alluvial soils are principally met with. In middle Syria especially, eastwards from the upper course of the Jordan, great basaltic masses occur; in the Hauran (comp. BASHAN, vol. iii. p. 410) there are basalt peaks nearly 6000 feet in height. The basalt mountains are often much broken up so as to be quite inaccessible (Harra); but the basalt when decomposed forms the best of arable soils. It is only in isolated cases that the igneous formation ex-tends into western Syria. The tableland to the east of the principal mountain chains consists partly of good clay soil; the steppe (bddiyet esh-skam, also called harndd), which has an average elevation of about 1800 feet, ex-tends towards the Euphrates with a gradual slope.

Rivers. The direction of the principal valleys is determined by that of the mountains. The chief river of Syria in the narrower sense is the Orontes (Arabic _____), which rises in the Beka', the mountain valley between Libanus and Antilibanus, and follows a northerly course. At Antioch, where it is augmented by the stream which flows from the great lake of Ak Deniz, it turns westwards, falling into the sea near the ancient Seleucia. Not far from the source of the Orontes is that of the Litani (formerly Lita), which runs south-wards through the Beka', and afterwards westwards through a deep gorge of its own excavation, having its mouth a little to the north of Tyre; in its lower course it bears the name of El-Kasimiye. The principal river of south Syria is the JORDAN (q.v.). Like it, most of the other streams of Syria rising on the eastern side of the water-shed terminate in inland lakes. Of these may be named the El-A'waj and the Barada (Pharpar and Abana) of Damascus, which lose themselves in the lakes and marshes to the east of the city. In like manner the river of Aleppo falls into the lake El-Math. The 'Afrina (Ufrenus of the ancients) falls into the Ak Deniz lake, and so into the Orontes; the Sadjiir is a tributary of the Euphrates. Other lakes are the great salt lake to the south-east of Aleppo and the remarkable lake near Homs, in the neighbourhood of which the ruins of the old Hittite city of Kadesli have recently been discovered. The coastal streams have been enumerated under LEBANON and PALESTINE (q.v.).

Vegetation. Two distinct floral regions meet in Syria (comp. LEBANON). That of the coast is Mediterranean, and is characterized by a number of evergreen shrubs, with small leathery leaves, and of cpiickly flowering spring plants. On the coast of Phoenicia (comp. vol. xviii. p. 801) and southwards towards Egypt more southern forms of the same vegetation occur, as, for example, Ficus Sycomorus, and especially date-palms. This region is separated from the easterly one, that of the steppe flora, by the ridge of Lebanon and the mountains of Palestine. It is distinguished by the variety of its species, by the dry and thorny character of its shrubs, and by its marked poverty in trees. The Jordan valley has on account of its low level a sub-tropical character. As regards cultivated species, Syria is the home of the olive tree, which, like the vine, is found in all parts ; but the white mulberry for silk is limited to a small district. Syria is throughout far from unfertile ; the district of the Hauran is one magnificent corn-field, while the orchard land about Damascus is renowned far and wide. In former times, how-ever, cultivation was carried on with much greater zeal, and the arrangements for irrigation—a necessity everywhere, especially on the side bordering on the steppe—were much more considerable and more carefully seen to. The numerous ruins on the lands at present under cultivation and still more on those to the east of them indicate that the limits of agriculture were once more exten-sive and the population much denser than at present. During the Roman period frontier fortresses on the edge of the steppe served to check the rapacity and barbarizing influence of the Bedouin hordes.

Climate. Syria presents great diversities of climate. The mountains, though sometimes not absolutely very high, arrest the west winds blowing from the Mediterranean, so that the atmospheric precipita-tion is much greater on the western than on the eastern slopes. Hence the springs on the eastern versant are fewer, and cultivation is therefore confined to isolated areas resembling oases. The rainfall drains off with great rapidity, the beds of the streams soon drying up again. Within historic times the climate, and with it the productivity of the country, cannot have greatly changed ; at most the precipitation may have been greater, the area under wood having been more extensive. Except for Jerusalem, we have hardly any accurate meteorological observations ; there the mean annual temperature is about 63° Fahr.; in Beyrout it is about 68°. The rainfall in Jerusalem is 36'22 inches, in Beyrout 21'66. The heat at Damascus and Aleppo is great, the cooling winds being kept off by the mountains. Frost and snow are occasionally experienced among the mountains and on the inland plateaus, but never along the coast. Even the steppe exhibits great contrasts of temperature; there the rainfall is slight and "the air exceedingly exhilarating and healthy. The sky is continuously cloudless from the beginning of May till about the end of October; during the summer months the nights as a rule are dewy, except in the desert. Rain is brought by the west wind ; the north-west wind, which blows often, moderates the heat. On the other hand, an ozoneless east wind (sirocco) is occasionally experienced—especially during the second half of May and before the beginning of the rainy season—which parches up everything and has a prejudicial influence on both animal and vegetable life. On the wdiole the climate of Syria—if the Jordan valley and the moister districts are excepted —is not unhealthy, though intermittent fevers are not uncommon in some places.

Ancient Syrians. Of the political relations of Syria in ancient times we know but little. Each town with its surrounding district seems to have con-stituted a small separate state; the conduct of affairs naturally devolved upon the noble families. At a very early period—as early probably as the 15th century B.C.—Syria became the meeting-place of Egyptian and Babylonian elements, resulting in a type of western Asiatic culture peculiar to itself, which through the com-merce of the Phcenicians was carried to the western lands of the Mediterranean basin. Industry especially attained a high state of development; rich garments were embroidered and glass and the like were manufactured. The extant inventories of spoil carried off by the ancient conquerors include a variety of utensils and stuffs. The influence exercised at all times on Syrian art by the powerful neighbouring states is abundantly confirmed by all the recent finds. The Syrians were more original in wdiat related to religion : every place, every tribe, had its "lord" (Ba'al) and its "lady" (Ba'alat); the latter is generally called 'Ashtar or 'Ashtaret. Besides the local Baal there were "the god of heaven" (El) and other deities ; human sacrifices as a means of propitiating the divine wrath were not uncommon. But in the Syrian mythology foreign influences frequently betray themselves. Over against its want of originality must be set the fact, not merely that Syrian culture spread ex-tensively towards the west, but that the Syrians (as is shown by recently discovered inscriptions) long before the Christian era exercised over the northern Arabs a perceptible influence, which afterwards, about the beginning of the 1st century, became much stronger through the kingdom of the Nabatseans. The art of writing was derived by the Arabs from the Syrians.

Relations with ancient Egypt. Something about the ancient political and geographical relations of Syria can be gleaned from Egyptian sources, especially in connexion with the campaigns of Thothmes III. in western Asia. The Egyptians designated their Eastern neighbours collectively as 'Amu. Syria up to and beyond the Euphrates is called more pre-cisely Sahi (or Zahi), and is regarded as consisting of the following parts :—(1) Rutenu, practically the same as Palestine (occasionally Palestine with Ccelesyria is called Upper Rutenu, as distinguished from Lower Rutenu extending to the Euphrates); (2) the land of the Cheta (sometimes reckoned as belonging to Rutenu), with Kadesh on the Orontes as its capital; (3) Naharina, the land on both sides of the Euphrates (extending, strictly speaking, beyond the Syrian limits); (4) Kaftu, the coast land of the Phoenicians (Fenchu), along with Cyprus. The Canaanites in general are called Cham. From these lands the Egyptian kings often derived rich booty, so that in those days Syria must have been civilized and prosperous. Moreover, we possess enumerations of towns in the geographical lists of the temple of Karnak and in a hieratic papyrus dating about 200 years after Thothmes III. Some of these names can be readily identified, such as Aleppo, Kadesh, Sidon, and the like, as well as many in Palestine. These materials, however, do not enable us to form even a moderately clear conception of the condition of the country at that time. It is certain that most of the cities are of very great antiquity.

Cheta. It appears that the Cheta very probably were a non-Semitic people and that their power for a time extended far beyond the Syrian limits. Their inscriptions have not yet been deciphered with certainty. Within Syria their kingdom extended westwards from the middle course of the Eu-phrates to the neighbourhood of Hamath ; their capital appears to have been Carchemish. The most prevalent opinion identifies Carchemish with Jerabi's on the Euphrates, an identification which is favoured by the recent discovery of important '' Hittite " monuments at the place. Before then the so-called "Hamath stones" were the most important inscriptions of the Cheta we possessed, but numerous others, as well as various other remains, are now at our command, and show that the influence of the powerful Cheta kingdom extended far into Asia Minor (compare HITTITES). The kingdom disappeared at an early date, but some of the minor Cheta states continued to subsist down to the 12th century B.C.

Aramaens. Next to the Cheta the Aramaeans were the people who held the most important towns of Syria, gradually advancing until at last they occupied the whole country. Of the Aramaean stocks named in Gen. x. 23, xxii. 21 sq., very little is known, but it is certain that Aramamns at an early period had their abode close on the northern border of Palestine (in Maachah). A great part was played in the history of Israel by the state of Aram Dammesek, i.e., the territory of the ancient city of Damascus (see vol. vi. p. 790) ; it was brought into subjection for a short time under David. The main object of the century-long dispute between the two king-doms was the possession of the land to the east of the Jordan (Hauran, and especially Gilead). Another Aramaean state often mentioned in the Bible is that of Aram Zobah. That Zobah was situated within Syria is certain, though how far to the west or north of Damascus is not known ; in any case it was not far from Hamath. Hamath in the valley of the Orontes, at the mouth of the Beka' valley, was from an early period one of the most important places in Syria; according to the Bible, its original inhabitants were Canaanites. The district belonging to it, including amongst other places Riblah (of importance on account of its situation), was not very extensive. In 733 B.C. Tiglath-Pileser II. compassed the overthrow of the kingdom of Damascus ; he also took Arpad (Tell Arfad), an important place three hours to the north of Aleppo. Hamath was taken by Sargon in 720. Henceforward the petty states of Syria were at all times subject to one or other of the great world-empires, even if in some cases a certain degree of in-dependence was preserved.

Greek period. The foundation of numerous Greek cities shortly after Alexander's time was of great importance for Syria; ANTIOCH (q.v.), founded about 300 B.C. by Seleucus, became the capital of the Syrian kingdom of the Seleucidae. Among other influential Greek towns were Apamea on the Orontes and Laodicea. The SeleucidEe had severe struggles with the Ptolemies for the possession of the south-ern part of Syria (comp. ISRAEL, vol. xiii. p. 420).

Under Roman sway. After having been reckoned for a short time (from 83 to 69 B.C.) among the dominions of Tigranes, king of Armenia, the country was conquered for the Romans by Pompey (64-63 B.C.). It is impossible here to follow in detail the numerous changes in the distribution of the territory and the gradual disappearance of particular dynasties which maintained a footing for some time longer in Chalcis, Abila, Emesa, and Palestine ; but it is of special interest to note that the kingdom of the Arab Nabatffians (comp. vol. xvii. p. 160) was able to subsist for a considerable period towards the north as far as Damascus. In the year 40 B.C. Syria had to endure a sudden but brief invasion by the Parthians. The country soon became one of the most important provinces of the Roman empire; its proconsulship was from the first regarded as the most desirable, and this eminence became still more marked afterwards. Antioch, adorned with many sumptuous buildings, as the chief town of the provinces of Asia, became in point of size the third city of the empire ; its port was Seleucia, snrnamed Pieria. The high degree of civilization then prevailing in the country is proved by its architectural remains dating from the early Christian centuries; the investigations of De Vogue have shown that from the 1st to the 7th century there prevailed in north Syria and the Hauran a special style of architecture,—partly no doubt following Graeco-Roman models, but also showing a great deal of originality in details.

Roman divisions. The administrative divisions of Syria during the Roman period varied greatly at different times ; subjoined is an enumeration of them as they existed at the beginning of the 5th century. (1) Syria Euphratensis, which had for its capital Hierapolis (Syr. Mabóg ; Arab. Mainbidj; Gr. Bambuke). The kingdom of Commagene, beyond the limits of Syria, belonged to Syria Euphra-tensis ; its capital was Samosata, at the point where the Euphrates leaves the mountains, and it had other important towns on that river, such as Europus (the modern Barbalissus). (2) Syria I., or Ccelesyria, having Antioch as its capital. The name Ccelesyria (he koine Syria) originally, no doubt, was applied to the valley between Libanus and Antilibanus, but was afterwards extended to the district stretching eastwards from the latter range. (3) Syria II., or Syria Salutaris, with Apamea (Arab. Fámiya, the modern Kal'at el-Mudik) on the Orontes as capital. (4) Phoenice Maritima; capital, Tyre. (5) Phoenice ad Libanum; capital, Emesa (Hims). To this division Damascus and Palmyra belonged ; occa-sionally they were reckoned to Ccelesyria, the middle strip of coast being designated Syrophcenicia. (6, 7, 8) Palestina I., II., and III. For these, which from the time of Vespasian had governors of their own, see vol. xviii. p. 177. (9) Arabia (capital, Bostra), which embraced all the region from the Hauran to the Arnon, and skirted the Jordan valley, stretching southwards to Petra. Through the kingdom of the Nabataeans Roman influence pene-trated from Syria far into northern Arabia.

Under Mohammedan rule. In 616 Syria was subjugated for a brief period by the Persian Chosroes II.; from 622 till 628 it was again Byzantine ; 636 and the immediately following years saw its conquest by the Mohammedans (see MOHAMMEDANISM, vol. xviii. p. 562). Mo'awija, the first Ommayad caliph, chose Damascus for his residence ; but in 750 the capital of the empire was removed by the 'Abbasids to Baghdad. Under the early caliphs the Arabs divided Syria into the following military districts (gonds). (1) Filistin (Palestine), consisting of Judaea, Samaria, and a portion of the territory east of Jordan ; its capital was Ramleh, Jerusalem ranking next. (2) Urdun (Jordan), of which the capital was Tabariye (Tiberias); roughly speaking, it consisted of the rest of Palestine as far as Tyre. (3) Damascus, a district which included Baalbec, Tripoli, and Beyrout, and also the Hauran. (4) Hims, including Hamath. (5) Kinnasrin, corresponding to northern Syria; the capital at first was Kinnasrin to the south of Haleb (Aleppo), by which it was afterwards superseded. (6) The sixth district was the military frontier ('awásim) bordering upon the Byzantine dominions in Asia Minor. The struggles of the Mohammedan dynasties for the possession of Syria cannot be gone into here ; suffice it to say that throughout their course the country still enjoyed a considerable degree of prosperity.

In the crusading period the kingdom of Jerusalem, whose rulers were never able to establish a foothold to the east of the Jordan, extended northwards to Beyrout; next it was the countship of Tripoli on the coast; and beyond that in north Syria was the principality of Antioch. Syria suffered severely from the Mongol invasions (1260), and it never recovered its former prosperity.

Turkish supremacy. In 1516 the Ottomans took it from the Egyptian Mamelukes. Under the Turks its administrative divisions again varied at different times ; out of the five pashalics of Aleppo, Tripoli, Damascus, Sidon (later 'Akka), and Jerusalem two vilayets were subsequently formed, having their capitals at Aleppo and Damascus. Quite recently south Palestine has been made a separate vilayet from that of Damascus.

Languages. Rude stone monuments (circles and dolmens) and other prehistoric remains show that Syria must have been inhabited from a very early period. "Within historic times a great number of different nation-alities have fought and settled within its borders, the majority belonging to the Semitic stock. This last circumstance has ren-dered possible a considerable degree of fidelity in the tradition of the oldest local names. After the Aramaeans had absorbed what remained of the earlier population, they themselves were very powerfully influenced by Graco-Roman civilization, but as a people they still retained their Aramaean speech. At present an Aramaic dialect largely mixed with Arabic is spoken in three villages on the eastern slope of Antilibanus (in Ma'lula, Bakh'a, and Jub'adin), but this small survival is on the point of disappearing. Through-out the whole country elsewhere the language spoken is Arabic, but with Aramaic elements, especially in the language of the pea-sants. Ethnographically the Aramaic element of the population admits of being distinguished from the Arabic type ; it is specially strong in the mountain districts. The majority of the Christians dwelling in Syria may be regarded as representatives of the Aramaean race. No traces of the earlier races, such as the Canaanites or Phoenicians, can any longer be distinguished ; and every trace of the presence of Greeks, Romans, and Franks has completely disappeared.

Arab elements of population. In the Arab immigration, two principal types are to be distinguished,—the pure Arab type of the nomad tribes (Bedouins) and the type of the sedentary town Arabs and peasants, which shows an intermixture of foreign and older elements. The two confront each other in sharp contrasts. Bedouin tribes are scattered throughout the wdiole country ; despising agriculture and the settled life, they are found with their camels, sheep, and goats on the borders of the territories appropriated by the peasants. Being more or less inde-pendent of the Government, especially in the district bordering on the steppe, they are able to exact black mail from their sedentary brethren. Taxed thus on both hands, the life of the peasant is economically far from an easy one ; hence it should be the duty of Government to restrain the influence of the nomads and to force them as far as possible to form fixed settlements. In this respect the policy of the Turks during the 19th century to ensure the safety of the peasants and of travellers has been on the whole successful. In the districts bordering on the coast there are no large nomadic tribes, and on the higher plateaus of the cultivated land the power of the Bedouins is much reduced; but south of Palestine and everywhere on the edge of the steppe they continue much as before. The most powerful tribe of the Syrian desert is that of the 'Aneze, falling into numerous subdivisions, of which the Ruwala, Wuld 'All, Hesene, and Bischer may be mentioned. The tribe, estimated to number 300,000 in all, extends far into Arabia and reaches the Euphrates. The other Bedouin tribes of Syria have for the most part tolerably definite and circumscribed territories. East of the Jordan the best known are the 'Adwin on the Balka and the Bani Sakhr in Moab. The Bedouins to the south of the Dead Sea are called Ahl el-Kibli ("the people of the south") in contradistinction to those of the north (Ahl esh-Shemal). Finally, there occur sporadically in central and northern Syria nomadic Turkish tribes. Gipsy hordes are also met with in con-siderable numbers.

Religions. The religious as well as the ethnographical types are strongly divergent. The bulk of the population are Mohammedan; the Bedouins have not much religion of any kind, but they profess Islam. Besides orthodox Moslems there are also Shi'ite sects, such as that of the Metawile (especially in northern Palestine), as well as a number of religious communities whose doctrine, combining philosophical and Christian with Mohammedan elements, is the outcome of the process of fermentation that characterized the first centuries of Islam. To this last class belong the Ishmaelites, Nosairians, and especially the DIUTSES (q-v.). In many cases it is obvious that the political antipathy of natives against the Arabs has found expression in the formation of such sects. The Nosairians, for instance, and no doubt the Druses also, were originally survivals of the Syrian population. The Jews are found exclusively in the larger centres of population ; in every case they have immigrated back from Europe. The Christians are an important element, constituting probably as much as a fifth of the whole population ; the majority of them belong to the Orthodox Greek Church, which has two patriarchs in Syria, at Antioch and Jerusalem. Catholics— United Greeks, United Syrians, and Maronites—are numerous. The mission of the American Presbyterian Church, which has had its centre in Beyrout for the last sixty years, has done much for Syria, especially in the spread of popular education ; numerous publications issue from its press, and its medical school has been extremely beneficial. The Catholic mission has done very good work in what relates to schools, institutes, and the diffusion of literature. The Christians constitute the educated portion of the Syrian people ; but the spirit of rivalry is producing stimulative effects on the Mohammedans, who have greatly fallen away from that zeal for knowledge which characterized the earlier centuries of their faith.

Area and population. Accurate statistics of any kind for Syria cannot be had; even the area of the land under cultivation is unknown. The returns of population are, according to the Turkish official documents, only approximations. The total population may safely be put at less than 2,000,000 ; an official estimate in 1872-73 gave 1,365,680, of whom 976,322 were Mohammedans. Probably, however, this was an under-estimate. Reclus (Nouv. Geogr. Univ., Paris, 1884) gives the area of Syria as 183,000 square kilometres (70,638 square miles) and the population as 1,450,000.

Cornmerce and industry. From the Egyptian and Assyrio-Babylonian monuments we learn that in ancient times one of the principal exports of Syria was timber; this has now entirely ceased. But it continues to export wheat, and with good roads the amount could be very largely increased. Other articles of export are silk cocoons, wool, hides, sponges, and fruits (almonds, raisins, and the like); the amounts of cotton, tobacco, and wine sent out of the country are small. The only good harbours are those of Beyrout and Alexandretta (Scan-deroon). The caravan trade with the East has almost entirely ceased, and the great trade routes from Damascus northwards to Aleppo and eastwards through the wilderness are quite abandoned. The traffic with Arabia has ceased to be important, being limited to the time of the going and returning of the great pilgrim caravan to Mecca, which continues to have its mustering-place at Damascus. The native industries in silk, cotton, and wool have been almost entirely destroyed by the import trade from Europe. The land is poor in minerals, including coal; water-power also is deficient, so that the introduction of European industries is attended with difficulties even apart from the insecurity of affairs, which forbids such experiments as the improvement of agriculture by means of European capital. As regards the cultivation of the soil Syria remains stable; but the soil is becoming relatively poorer, the value of the imports constantly gaining upon that of the exports.

Literature.—Ritter, Erdlkunde von Asien, vol. xvii., parts 1 and 2, Berlin, 1854-55 ; Burckhardt, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, London, 1822 ; Lortet, La Syrie d'aujourd'hui, Paris, 1884; Baedeker, Palestine and Syria; Murray's Syria and Palestine; Porter, Five Years in Damascus, 2 vols., London, 1855 ; Burton and Drake, Unexplored Syria, 2 vols., London, 1872 ; A. v. Kremer, Mittelsyrien u. Damascus, Vienna, 1853. For the art history of Syria De Vogue's Syrie Centrale: architecture civile et religieuse du ler au 7me siecle (Paris, 1865-77) may be consulted, and on its trade Zwiedineck v. Sudenhorst, Syrien u. seine Bedeutung für den Welthandel, Vienna, 1873. (A. SO.)


821-1 In the cuneiform inscriptions Syria is called Mát Hatti, "the land of the Cheta," a desgination transferred from the north Syrian people of that name (see below) to the region as a whole: Mát Aharri, the "hinder" or "western" land, denotes more properly the southern portion, but is also used for the whole. By the Arabs it is called Esh-Shâm (more properly Esh-Sh'am), "the land on the left hand," as distinguished from Yemen, "the land on the right"; but the designation originally implied a wider region than the Syria defined above, including as it did a portion of Arabia.

The above article was written by: Prof. A. Socin.

Search the Encyclopedia:

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries