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OLD PORTS OF THE SYRIAN COAST

Ugarit literature depicted the struggle between Ba’al and Yam.

The Canaanites made the Mediterranean an internal lake for their Trade.

Arwad, an artificial island built to increase the area of land.

The Mediterranean played an important role in the life of the peoples that settled on the Syrian coast. It was mentioned in the literature and legends of people as an element of awe, fear, challenge, and generosity .Along its coasts many civilizations prospered. Knowledge, sciences, creative talents, elegant arts and diverse cultures always urged us to discover the relation between man and the sea, and to look for legends and mythologies. In the mythological thought of the old Arab Orient, water was the primary surrounding, that is the main element of creation linked strongly with the underworld. Water, gave life to everything, and the sea was one of its aspects. It was always considered the major threat to “Earth˜and its population.

Along the Syrian coast the Ugariti man of letter portrayed the eternal struggle between the God of rain and storms, Ba’al and the god of sea, Yam who sent Ba’al a message advising him to surrender:

“This is the message of your God “Yam˜. Of your master. Ba’al , surrender˜. But Ba’al, like all the other Gods, refused to surrender .His response was challenging:

Gods , why do you lower your heads? You lower them begging.

Gods, raise your heads . Look, I shall answer the message of Yam.

And after a fierce battle, Ba’al conquers Yam and tames the raging sea, fares into it to discover new worlds and to create new civilizations. Thus started the voyage of man, who could build ports and marinas along the Syrian coast to promote his ships and trade. He built tens of advanced sites and vibrant cities some of which still standing as an example of the power, arts and architecture.

The Inner Lake

The Mediterranean of the old world was like an inner lake where many civilizations grew and prospered along its coasts. Its waters witnessed the ships of different nations conquering its waves, and many peoples reproaching and integrating with each other. The oldest document we had about the sea trade in the Mediterranean is a letter written by The Pharaoh Singzou 2650 BC. in which he demands importing a cargo of forty ships of cedar wood.

Archaeologists of the old the Pharaoh cemeteries found a large number of pottery jars, bottles and pots made in Syria and Egypt that belong to periods earlier than that of Singzou in addition to many tools imported from far places that belong to the stone Neolithic age.  Evidence proved that there were strong trade relations between cities of the Syrian coast and different places on the shores of the Mediterranean, and in the inner world. There are many undisputed references which prove that the peoples along the Syrian coast had been, and for very long periods, the unrivalled masters of the Mediterranean. They controlled the trade routes east of the sea and on long parts of its western shores. Trade routes used to pass through Phoenicia in all the ages and periods of the past. This explains why there was a large number of ports, marinas, piers and trade stations along the Syrian coast.

 

Haifaa Mafalani

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