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Syria, History

kingdom of Syria, Seleucus, Seleucids, Mongol invasion, Western Roman Empire

As early as about 1800 bc King Shamshi-Adad I of Assyria is thought to have established his capital, Shubat Enlil, at present-day Tell Leilan in the extreme northeast of Syria. The kingdom was later conquered by Hammurabi of Babylonia, and the region was long afterward influenced principally by Egypt and Babylon. Parts of the region were conquered successively by the Egyptians and the Hittites, and, in the 8th century bc, by Assyria. In the 6th century bc the region passed first to the Chaldeans and then to the Persians (538 bc). Alexander the Great made it a part of his empire in 333 and 332 bc, and at the close of the 4th century bc it was appropriated by Seleucus I, one of Alexander’s generals, who founded Antioch as the capital. During the 3rd century bc the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids contended for the possession of lower Syria and Palestine. Both areas, and much of western Asia, passed to the Seleucids, whose realm became known as the kingdom of Syria. In 64 bc Syria was made a Roman province.

After the far-flung Roman dominions were divided into two parts in ad 395, the Western Roman Empire with its capital at Rome and the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire with its capital at Constantinople, Syria remained a Byzantine province for approximately 240 years. It was conquered in 636 by the Arabs and was quickly absorbed into their rapidly expanding Islamic empire. In 661 Damascus became the seat of the powerful Umayyad caliphs. At that time it was one of the most important and splendid cities of the Muslim world. Later it was supplanted by Baghdad in present-day Iraq.

In 1099 the Crusaders incorporated part of the region into the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem and part into the principality of Antioch. In a subsequent campaign (1174-1187), Saladin, sultan of Egypt, took Syria and overthrew the kingdom of Jerusalem. The many wars centering on Syria impoverished the land and its people; its ruin was completed by a Mongol invasion in 1260.

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Article key phrases:

kingdom of Syria, Seleucus, Seleucids, Mongol invasion, Western Roman Empire, Hittites, Chaldeans, Roman province, Saladin, Islamic empire, Assyria, Constantinople, western Asia, Baghdad, Muslim world, Persians, Damascus, century bc, Antioch, Arabs, Crusaders, Syria, Egyptians, realm, Rome, empire, Palestine, ruin, capital, seat, land, parts, people, region, time, years, areas


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