The wonders of Syria

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Syria is one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth. Syria is home to many of the world's oldest civilizations dating back to the fourth millennium BC.

Agriculture first appeared in Syria thousands of years ago which made it possible for civilization, as we know it, to begin. Men began building houses and establishing settlements. They studied astronomy and began singing the earliest known songs. They were early painters and sculptors.

In ancient Syria people discovered metallurgy and began forming bronze and copper into tools that proved useful for domestic, military and aesthetic uses.

The kingdom of Ugarit (Ras Shamra) was where mankind’s first alphabet was formed.

At Ebla (Tel Merdikh) one of the largest and most comprehensive archives of the ancient world was found that covered matters of industry, diplomacy, trade, art and agriculture. The first colored glass was invented in Syria 3,000 years ago. In the thirteenth century, two Italian brothers came to Syria to learn the skill of glass-blowing, which they took back to Venice, and started fashioning "Venetian" glass. In 636 AD Muslim Arab tribes entered Syria and brought the Arabic language and Islam which are both used in Syria today.

Syria is the cross roads of three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe, and between the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Nile. Historically, the Silk Road led from China to Palmyra and then to Syria's coastal ports on the Mediterranean. Because of this, Syria became a center of trade and a melting-pot of ideas, beliefs and talents.

During the Greek and Roman eras, Syria was a center for culture and politics. Several Roman emperors were natives of Syria.

Damascus is the world's oldest inhabited city. When walking around one is constantly reminded of this fact by the ancient architecture that surrounds you.

In Aleppo (the second largest city in Syria) a fantastic fortress rises from the center of the city where in the year 2,000 BC, Abraham is said to have milked his cow, giving the city its name. The bazaar of Aleppo is one of the most beautiful in the East where you can still find vendors selling silk, scarves, perfumes, soaps, rugs and jewelry. Aleppo’s unique location enabled it to be the link in trade between Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent and Egypt. This unique position also made it the subject of invasions from the Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans which all left their mark and influence on the city.

During the Ottoman period, Aleppo was an important center of trade with Turkey, France, England and Holland which also influenced the architecture which can be seen today.

Sam’an is 50 to 60 km outside of Aleppo. It was named after the hermit Saint Simon (Sam'an) who was a shepherd from northern Syria who became a monk after a dream. Following Saint Simon's death in 459, the Emperor had a cathedral built where the saint used to pray. The cathedral had a column from which Saint Simon used to preach. The only part left of the column is the stone in the picture below. The cathedral was later damaged severely by an earthquake. Maaloula is a village nearby Damascus where the houses are carved out of the mountain stone. Its inhabitants still speak Aramaic which was the language from the time of Jesus Christ.

Hama is well known for its large waterwheels which date from the roman times.

Wherever you go in Syria, you can’t help but realize that you are in a very ancient and historically important place. You see it everywhere. There are live archaeological digs going on everywhere.

Every day, someone uncovers something that hasn’t been seen for thousands of years. Your trip to Syria will be very exciting, get ready for an adventure!

Harry Kaplanian, (Boca Raton, FL, USA) is the web master of " Harry's Stock Photos " " North Pole Toy Shop ". He can be contacted at both sites.