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Around 2600 to ca. 2240 BCEAround 2600 to ca. 2240 BCECa. 1850-1650 BCE

Ancient Syria /
Arabic: 'īblā


Palace in Ebla (Syria).

Inside a palace.

Excavations at Ebla (Syria)
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1. Economy
2. Governance
3. Religion and Culture
4. History

Ancient city of northern Syria, being one of the regional strongholds from ca. 2600 to 2240 BCE (Bronze Age). Ebla dominated northern Syria and Lebanon as well as parts of northern Mesopotamia.
The modern location of the city of Ebla is Tell Mardikh, about 50 km southwest of modern Aleppo, Unusual for settlements in early civilization, there is no natural defense and no waterways here. Rather, the region of Ebla is on a wide plain, technically a place easy to attack. The emergence of Ebla must is based upon it being a rich region easy to control, defend and tax by a city positioned in its midst. The wealth this brought made it possible to arm a substantial army, thereby gaining the protection the society needed.

Ebla's economic backbone was a rich agricultural region, producing barley, wheat, olives, figs, grapes, pomegranates and flax, and cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were raised, tablets tell that there were 200,000 of them owned by inhabitants of Ebla.
The region was also rich in timber and silver. From this developed a rich handicraft production, with products well fit for export, like fabrics, metal products, olive oil, beer and wood products.
Ebla had trade routes stretching to Egypt, Iran and Sumer. Its strength was in being a transit point for trade, connecting those wealth regions far away with Anatolia and Cyprus. Enla's main port for transshipment was Byblos.
The great rival of Ebla was Mari, to the southeast, on the Euphrates river.

Ebla was ruled by elected kings heading a council of elders and/or merchants. Ebla was the main city of a federation of 17 city-states in total, and answering directly to the king were 14 governors, two of them in Ebla itself. Ebla also forged alliances with city-states like Emar on the confluence of the Euphrates and Galikh rivers, and with the powerful city city of Khammazi in Iran.
From modern finds, it is estimated that around 30,000 people lived here at the most. The city was built inside city walls, with 4 monumental gateways.

Religion and Culture
The religion of Ebla appears to fit within the structures of Canaanite religion. Dabir headed a pantheon, Dagon, Sipish, Hadad, Balatu and Astarte being prominent, specialized gods.
There are several name similarities between the Bible and texts from Ebla, among several others Adam rendered Adamu, Abraham renedered Abarama, and near exact versions for Saul and David. This has caused many speculations spinning off a potential link between Eblaite religion and early Judaism.
Texts from Ebla clearly tell that Ebla was a major educational centre, a reflection of the needs that caused by international trade and international relations.
The language spoken and written here was northwestern Semitic, and identified as Eblaite.

Ca. 2600 BCE: Ebla grows into the main city of the region.
Ca. 2300: Ebla is mentioned in Akkadian texts.
Ca. 2240: Akkadian king, Naram-Sin, attacks Ebla, causing the city to go up in flames. Ebla remained settled, but without its former wealth and strength and with its federation fallen apart.
Around 1850: Ebla is rebuilt to a major city by the Amorites, but not to reach quite the level as in the 3rd millennium.
17th century: Ebla is destroyed by the Hittites, during a period of unrest in the Middle East. Ebla would now only continue as a village.
1964 CE: Excavations at Ebla begins.
1975: Major finds at Ebla, including 15,000 clay cuneiform tablets and fragments from the city archives.

By Tore Kjeilen