A new book highlights the magnificence of “Shamal” ... an ancient Syrian Aramaic kingdom

The Aramean kingdoms in Syria , mainly  “ Shamal” in the far northwest of Syria, have  given  this land a unique identity that characterized  all the civilizations that followed it because of its richness and comprehensiveness.   

In his new book titled “Shamal.. an ancient Syrian Aramaic Kingdom 1000-722 BC” the researcher Dr. Abbas Faraj devotes his book  to introduce  this kingdom  in addition to  its cultural achievements, especially since it is almost unknown to the public of readers. 

Faraj begins his book , issued by the Syrian General Authority for Books,by explaining that the word  “Shamal” was named  according to the most favorable opinion of the Amorites, who are the nations  that  inhabited the metropolitan areas of Mesopotamia and the Levant, because it is  located in the northern side according to them.

He  indicated  that its  geographical location led to the prosperity of economic life and it excelled in the field of agriculture, specifically by cultivating wheat, barley and olives.  “Shamal”  was also famous for spinning the fabric, as evidenced by the pride of one of the kings of “Shamal”, called (Kilamowa), who  clothed his people with silk.

The book explained  that this type of textile, which was known in “Shamal”, was called (Bousi) and does not refer to a specific raw material, but rather to high and expensive quality material where  the fabric was spinning in private workshops.  

 The archaeological excavations revealed  tools and means used for  spinning textiles  including , bronze needles and  small spindles made of bone  to spin fibers on a wooden spindle.  

The manufacture of ivory-inlaid furniture in the kingdom of “Shamal” gained great importance as a result  of kings’ interest to acquire them including  chairs, tables, benches and thrones.  

Faraj noted that the traditions of this ancient craft are still common to this day and we find it in the manufacture of ivory-inlaid wooden boxes which  are used to preserve clothes and others. 

The writer pointed  out that the  “Shamal”  society included  a number of disparate classes in terms of rights and duties. There were two classes :  the first  class referred  to the category of common people, and the second one  represented the class of rulers and the rich. 

One of the most important features of the Kingdom is its richness of artworks and palaces decorated with the most beautiful engraved paintings and gates surrounded by high-precision sculptures, as “Shamal” was famous for its architecture and sculpture , especially the statues of lions that were carved from huge stone pieces . They   were placed in front of the city gates and palaces in order to guard it according to their belief from evil and hostile spirits.  

According to Faraj , the kingdom is also distinguished by its composition of a mixture of Aramaic, Phoenician and Assyrian cultures, where their effects were evident in several areas  including language, divine deities and the arts of various kinds.   

The kingdom  was also built according to an architectural plan in a fortified geographical area and was dominated by a defensive feature , but that did not prevent the fall of the kingdom when the Assyrians invaded it and  they turned it into a province under their rule.  

Rawaa Ghanam