Dating kedar

Following a good deal of contact with the Assyrians, and therefore mentions in Assyrian records, Damascus later proved to be an important city for many of the region's great empires, and the old city's Roman-era walls are still highly visible despite a much greater modern city having grown up around it.

The fact that they were re-fortified by successive masters - including the Ayyubids and Mamelukes - helped of course.

Despite this beneficial location, Damascus appears not to have achieved any importance until it was occupied by the Semitic Aramaeans in the tenth century BC.

Under Aramaean leadership it enjoyed a period of independence as a regionally-powerful city state, often tied closely to Israelite politics (and therefore being mentioned many times in the Old Testament).

However, it remains unclear when the initial settlement area graduated into something that could be referred to as a city.

The ancient city of Damascus was founded on the south bank of the River Barada, behind the mountains of Lebanon, with the city being surrounded by an oasis.

The regional power vacuum which was created when that city was destroyed around 1200 BC allowed groups of Aramaeans to migrate into the area.

Sensing the weakness of the neighbouring Mitanni empire (as well as of Egypt), Aziru of Amurru makes a secret deal with the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma.

He also establishes himself as a strong king in the region, taking control in Damas and even going so far as to conquer the city of Sumur (later mentioned within the context of Biblical Canaanite city states), where the Egyptian representative has his residence.

This was an important north-south trade route between Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia which also benefited other kingdoms along the route, including Edom and Moab.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder, from Damascus: A History, Ross Burns (Routledge, 2005), and from Arameans, Wayne T Pitard (2000).) Uz is claimed as the first-born son of Aram, who himself is the son of Shem in the genealogy of nations descended from Noah, ancestor of the Israelites.

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