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Wall of Syria

This is probably the oldest of all Great Walls. It was detected and first investigated in the late 1990s. Built around 2400 BC, with a length of 220km and a height of 1.0-1.5 meters, it was constructed of drystones and bricks, to provide protection against the Amorites and their animals (to the north-east).

Until the late 19th Century the early history of the third great center of Semitic culture (Palestine and Syria) has been known simply from occasional references in the monuments of Babylonia and Egypt. The excavations in Palestine indicate that before the Semites entered it, the land was inhabited by a race of short stature, living in caves. The Bible also refers to an ancient people, east of the Jordan, whose name, Horites, apparently means cave-dwellers. They may well be survivors of the earlier prehistoric people, who were otherwise expelled or absorbed by the larger and more energetic Semitic immigrants.

The periodical wave theory seems to have been originated by Winckler who in his "Geschichte Babyloniens und Assyriens" says: 'The home of the Semites was Arabia, due to geographical considerations and to the fact that the purest Semites are at present found in that land. The migrations are due to over-population and recur periodically. He said, "we have definite knowledge of four main Semitic migrations northward." These are in reverse order: 1. The Arabian, which began in the seventh century AD, and culminated in the conquest of Islam; 2. the Aramaic, from the fifteenth to the thirteenth century BC; 3. the Amorite, a thousand years earlier, 2400-2100 BC, and 4. another, a thousand years earlier when Babylonia was settled by the Semites.

Palestine attracted tribes from the Arabian desert at a very early date, but the first traces of an extensive Semitic invasion came from about 2200 BC. The Babylonian, Egyptian, and Northern Israelite records agree in calling this people the Amorites. The recurrence of the same proper names in contemporary writings coming from Syria and Babylonia, together with other indications, support, although they do not establish, the conclusion that the wave of Semitic invasion which swept from Arabia westward into Palestine about 2200 BC, also carried the ancestors of Hammurabi, the founders of the first great dynasty of Babylon, eastward across the Euphrates. Certainly, from the days of Hammurabi, the frequent references in the Babylonian tablets to the Amorite country and the Amorites are indicative of the close relation which henceforth existed between the two lands and peoples.

This close and continued relation alone explains the fact that a few centuries later the Babylonian language and cuneiform characters were employed by the governors of Syria and Palestine in writing even to their Egyptian sovereign. It was during the centuries following 2200 BC that Babylonian institutions, ideas, and customs were indelibly stamped upon the Semitic peoples in Palestine.

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