FIRST HALL OF RAS-SHAMRA (Ugarit(
"Excavations of the French Mission"
The Site :
In March 1928 , a Syrian peasant who was tilling his land
near the bay of Minet-el-Baida , about 13 Km north
of Latakia , unearthed a burial vault .
Shortly after, a French archaeological mission under the
direction of Dr. Claude Schaeffer was assigned to dig up the site . The
mission soon shifted its work into a near-by Tell name Shamra situated about
one kilometre from the sea
Consequently , in May 1929 , the mission discovered a
city carrying the name Ugarit which was an Important Canaanite Metropolis
and a centre of one of the richest civilizations of the ancient Orient .
The city enjoyed its hey-day in the fifteenth , fourteenth and thirteenth
centuries B. C.
Thanks to the exploration effected in different points of
the Tell , the existence of four other cities were discovered .The
earliest of these cities dates back to the Neolithic period . About 31
campaigns of excavations under Dr. Claude Schaeffer have been conducted so
far at that very Tell
The Tell is in the shape of a trapezoid . Its height is
about 20 meters in proportion to the surrounding
coastal plain . The following are the five principal strata of the Tell from
top to bottom :
1st stratum : Recent Bronze (1600 to 1200 B.C.
2nd stratum : Middle Bronze ( 2100 to 1600 B.C..(
3rd stratum Ancient Bronze ( from the second half of IV
millennium until about 2100 B.C. ) .
4th stratum Stone-copper age ( from the first half of the
IV millennium B.C.).
5th stratum : Neolithic ( VII? , VI and V millennia B.C).
On the acropolis , at the highest point of the Tell ,
some Greek installations of the 5th C.
B. C. were discovered . There were also different
installations on the surface of the Tell dating back to the Hellenistic ,
Roman and late Islamic ages .
The Canaanites set foot on the Syrian shore In general
and on Ras-Shamra (Ugarit) in particular in the late
3rd millennium . It seems that their advent was as of the beginning of the
2nd millennium B.C. Then they began to constitute the majority of the
inhabitants of Ugarit .
A text written on a clay tablet found in Mari (Tell-al-Hariri)
on the Euphrates ,
tells us that the city which was existing on the site of
Ras-Shamra carried the name ( Ugarit ) . The name is probably derived from
s ( Ugarus )a which means " field " in Babylonian.
The name ( Ugarit ) also appeared in the letters found
at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt . It was an important commercial centre and its
merchants frequented the shores of the Mediterranean .
Its name was also mentioned in the cuneiform texts
uncovered in Anatolia . at Boghaz Koy , capital of the Hittite Empire
The city was completely destroyed in the beginning of the
2nd century B. C. in the wake of the invasion of tribes coming from the
north , called the Sea People , who destroyed all the cities of the
Syrio-Palestinlan coast-Line .
From that time onward . Ugarit disappears from history .
In the 6th century B. C. some Greek merchants brought
their ships to anchor at the bay of Minet-el-Baida (to which they gave the
name Leucos Limen i. e. white haven in Greek ) and
constructed some habitations on the ruins of Ugarit .
The excavations which have been carried out from 1929 so
far brought to light the following :
ó A fortress , the
Royal Palace , another small palace the acropolis and many districts of the