Excavations in the Orontes valley and Nahar El Kabir show
that human activity in Syria goes back around one million
years. Latamneh and the caves near Palmyra date from 500,000
years. Archeological findings at Mouraibet revealed the
oldest home from the Neolithic era (9th millennium. By the
fifth millennium, the so-called “Halaf” era started near
Khabour. Vestiges of the Uruk civilization in Mesopotamia
(4th millennium) are found at Habbouba on the Euphrates.
During the 3rd millennium, two great powers emerged: Mari
and Ebla. By the second millennium, Syria became a center of
political and cultural activity. Aleppo, Ugarit and other
kingdoms played an important role in such activities during
this millennium. Arameans found their way to Syria,
particularly to Damascus in the first millennium. During the
4th century B.C., Syria became the center of the Seleucide
State, whose culture, along with the Greek’s was prominent.
Selucos Nikator built: Apamea, Antioch, Seleucia, Laodicea
and Cyrus. As a result of the conquestof Pompeus in 64 B.C.,
Syria passed under the domination of the Romans; Bosra,
Palmyra and Apamea stand witnesses to the greatness of Syria
in the Roman epoch.
Syria played an important role in the nascent Christianity
by spreading it throughout the world. By the beginning of
the 5th century, the Byzantines could not defend Syria
against the Persians. The Arab period started in the 7th
century, and Damascus became the capital of the Ummayyads.
The Crusaders left their vestiges in Syria, especially along
the coastal area. The Ottoman rule, which lasted till the
beginning of the 20th century, started in the 16th century.