Aram (region) - Wikipedia
Aram (region)
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Aram (Syriac: ܐܪܡ, Arabic: آرام, Hebrew: ארם), also known as Aramea, is the homeland of the Arameans and a historical region mentioned in the Bible, covering much of the present-day Syria, including areas where the cities of Damascus and Aleppo now stand. At its height, Aram stretched from the Mount Lebanon range eastward across the Euphrates, including parts of the Khabur River valley in northwestern Mesopotamia on the border of modern Iraq. During the period from the 10th to the 8th centuries BCE, several Aramean states existed in the region. After the final conquest by the rising Neo-Assyrian Empire in the second half of the 8th century, and also during the later consecutive rules of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (612–539 BCE) and the Achaemenid Empire (539–332 BCE), region of Aram was also known as Eber-Nari. During the Seleucid period (312-64 BCE), the term Syria was introduced as Hellenistic designation for this region, but the native name (Aram) persisted in use among Arameans, up to the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE.[1][2]
Aramea

Aram referred to as Syria & Mesopotamia.
CapitalDamascus, Diyarbakır, Harran, Guzana,
Official languages
Common languagesAkkadian
Aramaic
ReligionAncient Mesopotamian religion
GovernmentMonarchy
Etymology
Various Neo-Hittite and Aramean (orange shades) western states in the 8th century BC
The etymology of the choronym (a type of toponym, designating a country name) Aram, and its relation to corresponding ethnonym for Arameans, is not yet conclusively determined among scholars. Some argue that the regional name (Aram) was derived from the name of the people (Arameans), while other believe that it was the other way around, thus arguing that Arameans were named after their native region. The term aram might be connected with the harami, arami, aramija or ahlamu, meaning "bandits". One explanation is an original meaning of "highlands". This has been interpreted to be in contrast with Canaan, or "lowlands".[3][4]
Early Jewish tradition claims the name is derived from the biblical Aram, son of Shem, a grandson of Noah in the Bible.[5]
Early references
Aramean eastern states (various non-green shades) in the 9th century BC
The region was known as The Land of the Amurru during the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC), Neo-Sumerian Empire (2112–2004 BC) and Old Assyrian Empire (2025–1750 BC) in reference to its largely Amorite inhabitants.
The name Aram can be found from many ancient sources. The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at the East Semitic speaking kingdom Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (c. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured "Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me" (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains.[6] Other early references to a place or people of "Aram" have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC).
There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between the places or proof that the Aramu were actually Aramaeans. The earliest undisputed mention of Aramaeans as a people is in the inscriptions of the Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser I (1114–1076 BC) during the latter part of the Middle Assyrian Empire.[7]
Several of the Aramaean territories located within Aram are also referenced in the Hebrew Bible. They include Aram-Naharaim, Paddan-Aram, Aram-Damascus, Aram-Rehob, and Aram-Zobah.
History
The Arameans appear to have displaced the earlier Semitic Amorite populations of ancient Syria during the period from 1100 BC to 900 BC, which was a Dark Age for the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus, Mediterranean regions, with great upheavals and mass movements of people.
The Arameans emerged in a region which was largely under the domination of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1050 BC) and quickly posed a threat to the Assyrian polity which was largely located west of the Euphrates. In order to nullify this threat, Tiglath-Pileser I (1115–1077 BC) of Assyria performed many campaigns in Aramean territory, although the numerous campaigns that the Assyrian records recorded that he took indicate that Assyrian military campaigns were unsuccessful at exercising power or dominance over the Arameans. Some scholars believe that the Arameans took Nineveh in this time. In the 11th century BC, Assyria fell into decline which may have been caused by the incursions of the emerging Arameans, allowing the Arameans to establish a string of states across the Levant and make notable expansions into Assyrian territory in this time such as in the Khabur Valley. During the period 1050 – 900 BC Arameans came to dominate most of what is now Syria but was then called Eber-Nari and Aramea.[8][9]
Two medium-sized Aramaean kingdoms, Aram-Damascus and Hamath, along with several smaller kingdoms and independent city-states, developed in the region during the early first millennium BCE. The most notable of these were Bit Adini, Bit Bahiani, Bit Hadipe, Aram-Rehob, Aram-Zobah, Bit-Zamani, Bit-Halupe and Aram-Ma'akah, as well as the Aramean tribal polities of the Gambulu, Litau and Puqudu.
There was some synthesis with neo Hittite populations in northern Syria and south central Anatolia, and a number of small so called Syro-Hittite states arose in the region, such as Tabal. The east Mediterranean coast was largely dominated by Phoenician city states such as Tyre, Sidon, Berytus and Arvad.
With the advent of the Neo Assyrian Empire, the region was invaded on several occasions, since the middle of the 9th century,[10] and finally fell under the control of Assyrian kings during the second half of the 8th century BCE.[11] Large numbers of people living in the region were deported into Assyria, Babylonia and elsewhere.[12] A few steles that name kings of this period have been found, such as the 8th-century Zakkur stele. The Assyrians and Babylonians themselves adopted a Mesopotamian form of Aramaic, known as Imperial Aramaic in the 8th century BC, when Tiglath-pileser III made it the lingua franca of his vast empire. The Neo Aramaic dialects still spoken by the indigenousAssyrians and Mandeans of northern Iraq, south east Turkey, north east Syria and north west Iran, descend from this language.
The Neo Assyrian Empire was riven by unremitting civil war from 626 BC onward, weakening it severely, and allowing it to be attacked and destroyed by a coalition of its former vassals between 616 and 605 BCE. The region of Aram was subsequently fought over by the Neo-Babylonian Empire and Egyptians, the latter of whom had belatedly come to the aid of their former Assyrian overlords. The Babylonians prevailed and Aram became a part of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (612–539 BC) where it remained named Eber-Nari.
The Persian Achaemenid Empire (539–332 BC) overthrew the Babylonians and conquered the region. They retained the Imperial Aramaic introduced by the Assyrians, and the name of Eber-Nari.
In 332 BC the region was conquered by the Greek ruler, Alexander the Great. Upon his death in 323 BC this area became part of the GreekSeleucid Empire, at which point Greek replaced the Assyrian introduced Imperial Aramaic as the official language of Empire, as were the names Eber-Nari and Aramea. This area and other parts of the former Assyrian Empire to the east (including Assyria itself) were renamed Syria (Seleucid Syria), a 9th-century BC Hurrian, Luwian and Greek corruption of Assyria (see Etymology of Syria and Name of Syria), which had for centuries until this point referred specifically to the land of Assyria and the Assyrians, which in modern terms actually covered the northern half of Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey and the north western fringes of Iran, and not the bulk of modern Syria and Lebanon and its largely Aramean and Phoenician inhabitants.[13]
It is from this period that the later Syria vs Assyria naming controversy arises, the Seleucids confusingly applied the name not only to the Mesopotamian land of Assyria itself, but also to the lands west of Euphrates which had never been part of Assyria itself, but merely Aramean, Phoenician, Neo-Hittite and Sutean inhabited colonies. When they lost control of Assyria itself to the Parthians, the name Syria survived but was dislocated from its original source, and was applied only to the land west of Euphrates that had once been part of the Assyrian empire, while Assyria-proper went back to being called Assyria (and also Athura/Assuristan). However, this situation led to both Assyrians and Arameans being dubbed Syrians and later Syriacs in Greco-Roman culture.
This area, by now called Syria, was fought over by Seleucids and Parthians during the 2nd century BCE, and later still by the Romans and Sassanid Persians. Palmyra, a powerful Aramean kingdom arose during this period, and for a time it dominated the area and successfully resisted Roman and Persian attempts at conquest. The region eventually came under the control of the Byzantine Empire. Christianity began to take hold from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD, and the Aramaic language gradually supplanted Canaanite in Phoenecia and Hebrew in Israel (the Roman Palestine).
In the mid-7th century AD the region fell to the Arab Islamic conquest. The Aramaic language survived among a sizable portion of the population of Syria, who resisted Arabization. However, the native Western Aramaic of the Aramean Christian population of Syria is spoken today by only a few thousand people, the majority having now adopted the Arabic language. Mesopotamian Eastern Aramaic, which still contains a number of loan words from the Akkadian language, as well as structural similarities, still survives among the majority of ethnically distinct Assyrians, who are mainly based in northern Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey and north west Iran.
See also
References
  1. ^ Lipiński 2000.
  2. ^ Younger 2016.
  3. ^ Lipiński 2000, p. 51-54.
  4. ^ Gzella 2015, p. 16.
  5. ^ See Genesis 10:22
  6. ^ "T2K3.htm". ucla.edu.
  7. ^ Lipiński 2000, p. 25-27.
  8. ^ W.T. Pitard, Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception vol. 2, De Gruyter, 2009, pg. 638
  9. ^ Marti Nissinen, "Assyria" in (ed. Herbet Niehr) The Arameans in Ancient Syria (Brill, 2014, pp. 273-274)
  10. ^ Lipiński 2000, p. 375-376.
  11. ^ Lipiński 2000, p. 406-407.
  12. ^ Lipiński 2000, p. 315.
  13. ^ Rollinger 2006, p. 283-287.
Sources
External links
Media related to Aram (region) at Wikimedia Commons
Last edited on 20 April 2021, at 00:29
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