The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          



Archaeological Sites


The ancient Mesopotamian city of Mari is located on the west bank of the Euphrates River in present-day Syria and today goes by the name of Tel Al-Hariri, which means “mound of silkman”. Its strategic location made Mari a very important city during ancient times. It was a key city on the trade route between Syria and Mesopotamia, which helped to make it a powerful and prosperous kingdom. The site at Mari was discovered accidentally in the early 1930s by Arabs that were digging graves. Excavations began shortly afterwards by a group of archaeologists from France. Under the direction of Andre Parrot, the excavators uncovered many artifacts and structures, including temples, a royal palace and many cuneiform tablets. The evidence gathered from Mari, indicate that it had been occupied from before the 3rd millennium B.C. to about 1750 B.C. when the city was captured and destroyed by Hammurabi of Babylon.

The largest and most important find in Mari is the royal palace of King Zimri-Lim. He was the king of Mari between 1782 and 1759, a very prosperous time. The palace is located in the northeastern part of the city and measures approximately 258,335 square feet in size. It consists of nearly three hundred rooms, stores, courtyards, and a library that contained over twenty thousand cuneiform tablets. These tablets consist of many letters, reports, and diplomatic correspondence from all parts of Mesopotamia and its surrounding region. The letters and correspondence between King Shamshi-Adad and his two sons that were exchanged during the time shortly before 1800 B.C., paint us a fairly clear picture of what things were like in Mesopotamia during that period. Everything from politics and state administration to economic and legal information are contained on these cuneiforms. Palaces that were constructed earlier have been found underneath the Zimir-Lim palace. Research on these palaces is still being conducted.

Mari also contains many temples that are located both at the center of the site and at the outer areas. There are a series of temples along the west wall that are dedicated to the goddess Ishtar, dating from 2500 to 1800 B.C.. Theses temples, along with Votive statues and wall paintings from various structures, that include the famous Investiture of Zimri-Lim, show that Mari was an artistic center with a highly advanced style of its own and had a great influence on the surrounding regions.

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