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Overview

Ebla, The Lost Kingdom That Changed the History of The World


Ebla is an ancient Syrian Kingdom established in Tell Mardikh, about 55 km away from Aleppo. It flourished in the middle of the third millennium BC, as the areas under its rule extended from the Euphrates in the east to the Mediterranean coasts in the west, and from Taurus Mountains in the north, to Hama in the south. Its commercial activity, however, was far more widespread than that.


Ebla was run through a governance system in which the religious authority was separate from the civilian one, and the king was the head of state. Besides the king, the (Abbu) Council, which is equivalent to the Senate, was to oversee the king's practices under his authority. The king was followed by an official named (Lugal) or governor of province. Ancient scripts mention fourteen governors, meaning that Ebla was divided into fourteen provinces.
Looking at the religious aspect, Ebla was characterized by two main traits; polytheism, and authority of the Canaanite deity in the deities’ assembly. Its people worshipped a variety of deities; males and females. Some of which are: Nidakol (god of the moon), Dagon, Shamash (god of the Sun), Kakkab (god of stars), Resheph (god of plague and underworld), Ashtar, Astarte, Lim, and Hadda/Hadad (god of the weather); in addition to the Sumerian and Hurrian deities such as: Enki, Ningi, Ashtabi (Zababa) and Khabat. They also sanctified ancestors and kings.



Ebla lost its high status and independence with the approach of Mary and Kish civilizations, and was subjected to the family of Sargon of Akkad at the hands of King Naram-Sin, after the latter burned the whole city around 2250 BC.
Ebla was mentioned in cuneiform tablets that date back to the era of Sargon I, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, and in the documents that date back to the time of his grandson Naram-Sin. Also, it appeared in the scripts of Ur III dynasty and in those of the ancient Assyrian era. However, the location of Ebla, which was mentioned in many of these scripts and documents, remained vague until the twentieth century. In 1955, at the site of Tell Mardikh, a farmer, accidently with his plough, came across part of a sculptured basin decorated with bulged shapes.
part of it had sculptures of bearded men, and the other beasts of prey with open mouths. In 1964, an Italian expedition headed by Paolo Matthiae began excavation work in this hill. It was not confirmed that the site was the same old Ebla. The kingdom remained unknown until 1968, when the base of a basalt torso with a 26-line Akkadian inscription was found. The inscription indicated that the statue is a gift from the king of Ebla (Ibbit-Lim) son of (Igrish-Kheb) to the temple (Ishtar) in the ancient city of (Ebla). With the name “Ebla” mentioned twice in the inscription, it was confirmed that the location of Tell Mardikh includes the ancient city of Ebla



The most important discovery was the royal palace library, which was burned when the Akkadian king Naram-Sin invaded Ebla. The fire that destroyed the city baked the clay tablets which became weatherproof. Thanks to those, we learned of a mysterious era between 2400 and 2250 BC. The tablets were not written in cuneiform letters; Sumerian or Akkadian, nor did they belong to an identified language. After study and comparison, it was confirmed to be a new Eblaite language. Those tablets turned out to be older than Mary's by 400 years, and Ugarit’s by 1000 years.
The library had a well-organized archive, with so many tablets up to about seventeen thousand and five hundred ones, and several epigraphs written in Eblaite alphabet. Each shelf was dedicated to a theme, with varieties of sizes, dimensions and shapes of the tablets. The form of the tablet suggested its content; prayers and supplications were on small round slabs, legends on rectangular ones, and historical documents on medium, circular or square slabs with rounded corners.

 

In the past, scientists believed that the most important civilizations that existed in the third millennium BC were those of Mesopotamia and Nile Valley, but the discovery of Ebla changed this theory, because it is believed to be just as important as those civilizations. In 1999, this important site was nominated to be registered on the World Heritage List, after a full file was presented examining this site and showing its exceptional global value.