Settlements > Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It was an independent city-state which strong connections to the Hittites, as well as Egypt, Ugarit (/ˌuːɡəˈriːt, ˌjuː-/; Ugaritic: 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ʼUgart; Arabic: أوغاريت) was an ancient port city, the ruins of which are located at what is now called Ras Shamra (sometimes written "Ras Shamrah"; Arabic: رأس شمرة, literally "Cape Fennel"), a headland in northern Syria. Ugarit had close connections to the Hittite Empire, sent tribute to Egypt at times, and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from ca. 1450 BC until 1200 BC. Ras Shamra lies on the Mediterranean coast, some 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Latakia, near modern Burj al-Qasab. Neolithic Ugarit was important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BC, though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands. The city reached its heyday between 1800 and 1200 BC, when it ruled a trade-based coastal kingdom, trading with Egypt, Cyprus, the Aegean, Syria, the Hittites, and much of the eastern Mediterranean. The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, ca. 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art. Evidence of the earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I, 1971–1926 BC. A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments were brought to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit ca. 1350 BC record one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen. Boar rhyton, Mycenaean ceramic imported to Ugarit, 14th–13th century BC (Louvre) From the 16th to the 13th century BC, Ugarit remained in regular contact with Egypt and Alashiya (Cyprus). In the second millennium BC, Ugarit's population was Amorite, and the Ugaritic language probably has a direct Amoritic origin. The kingdom of Ugarit may have controlled about 2,000 km2 on average. During some of its history it would have been in close proximity to, if not directly within the Hittite Empire.