Cultures > Aram

Aram

Background

Aram was the ancient civilization of the Arameans who were a Semitic people that lived in ancient Mesopotamia. The capital of the Aram civilization was Damascus and they were based in modern day Syria. The Arameans displaced the original Amorites who were living in the region following their expulsion from Babylonia by the Assyrians. The first description of them in the historical record comes from inscriptions related to the Egyptian king named Amenhotep III.

These inscriptions put the Arameans in the region between 1200 BCE and 900 BCE which coincides with Assyrian attempts to reclaim the territory as well. Prior to this period the Assyrian king named Adad Nirari I and his successors Shalmeneser I, and Tukulti-Ninurta I had managed to make significant military gains against the Mitanni and the Hittites which created a power vacuum in the region and allowed for migrations of new people to settle down as often the conquered populations were forcibly relocated.

This entire period coincides with the Bronze Age Collapse which was a massive dark age for the entire Mediterranean region, north Africa and Mesopotamia. During this time there was a massive displacement of people and massive amounts of warfare and chaos. The Assyrians who managed to stabilize their internal borders were not so successful at expanding during this period which allowed new groups to settle around their borders. During this period of massive political and social chaos the Arameans came to control all of the region of northern Mesopotamia to the west of the Assyrians.

Assyrian Empire

Under the rule of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BCE) the civilization of Aram would be conquered and assimilated into the Assyrian empire along with many others. During this time there were two major Aramean kingdoms based around the city-states of Damascus and Hamath although there were also several smaller independent kingdoms as well in the surrounding region. These smaller city-states were a blend of Aram-Hittite culture such as the city of Tabal.

After exerting some independence the Arameans were again conquered by the Neo-Assyrians in 732 BCE under the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III. During his time large segments of the Aramean population were deported and relocated into Assyria and the conquered neighboring Babylonia. One of the best pieces of physical evidence that helps archaeologists discern the Aramean history during this period is the Zakkur Stele which was an ancient king list.

The territory would be held by the Assyrians until the Babylonians led by Nabopolassar and the Medes led by Cyaxares would devastate the region and eliminate the Assyrian civilization for good. It would later be incorporated into the Neo-Babylonian Empire ruled by Nebuchadnezzar II.

Achaemenid Empire

The area of Aram would continue to be ruled by the Babylonians until it was conquered by Cyrus the Great in his formation of the Achaemenid Empire.

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Secondary Sources