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                          

 


Syria  

Ugarit
Ras Shamra
Site

Unlike the excavation sites of the resembling Mari and Ebla, Ugarit was built with stone not with mud-bricks. Which is why most of the ruins are quite evident. 

The site itself is a large tell or hill of accumulated ruins from past kingdoms, and in some parts of the tell it has been excavated far enough to excavate the artifacts of the 7th Millennium BC. The main entrance is through a ticket office on the West side of the site. To the south are remains of the fortress and the walls and gate that used to protect the main palace complex. The walls and fortress belong to the 15th century BC after the city's redevelopment. 

The main palace dates back to the 14th to 13th century BC. There are two pillars on both sides of the entrance. Through the entrance between the pillars is a courtyard sort of reception area which opens up into the rest of the palace. On the left of this courtyard are a few rooms that where the important archives were found. Also evident in the courtyard are the water canals that would send the water around the building. Further on are the 90 rooms situated in a maze like structure covering an area of approximately 6500 sq. meters. 

Although this is all on the first floor level, this layout of rooms were buildings of several stories high. The stonework was usually mixed with wooden work. This palace is where the ruling family or dynasty used to live, and it is possible to imagine the importance of this palace's role, which was quite self dependant even having the facilities for baking the archive tablets. In some of the rooms you can often see staircases which used to lead to the upper floors.

On both the north and south sides of the main palace is what are called subsidiary palaces. There are also a few resident houses with a shrine, and the Governor's residence, which is older as it was not rebuilt after the 14th century BC. East of the main palace is the residential area. There is a large building in this quarter which is called the House of Rupanu. Further up the tell is the main temple area. There are two temples on this acropolis, one dedicated to the worship of the Semitic patron deity Baal, and the other to Dagon. 

The temple of Baal is structured as a courtyard with an altar in the center, the cella like that of the Palmyrean Temple of Bel. The temple of Dagon who is God of the Underworld, follows the same plan as the Baal temple. In between the two temples are the priests quarters where an archive of religious writings and chants were found.

Some private houses were found, which have provided information about the various handicrafts that the inhabitants may have practiced including ship building, weaving, and ceramic work, not to mention bronze work.

 
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Toronto - Canada
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