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The Rise and Fall of the Aramaeans in the Ancient Near East, from Their First Appearance until 732 BCE

New Studies on Aram and Israel

Gotthard G. G. Reinhold

In the early nineties, after Reinholds first publication »Die Beziehungen Altisraels zu den aramäischen Staaten in der israelitisch-judäischen Königszeit« an archaeological find came to light with the broken pieces of the early Aramaic written Têl Dan Stela, which has greatly illuminated the portrait of Aram and ancient history of Israel. The author offers a renewed overview to the Aramaean history on the foundation of the forced researches in the last 50 years. This begins with the early testifying of Aram in cuneiform sources of the 3rd/2nd Mill. B.C. from the Mesopotamian and Syrian area and ends with the decline of Aram-Damascus. The Volume incorporates a revised edition of the researches history and two excurses about the newest palaeographic results to the second line of the Bar-Hadad Stela of Aleppo in Syria on the base of precision photographs and computer-enhancements and presents a new transcription and translation of the Têl Dan Stela fragments. These are a certain basis to build on the royal line of sucession in Aram-Damascus and to illuminate their historical background in the Ancient Near East. Reinhold emphasizes, that the results of archaeology could always be adapted or replaced by recent discoveries; but he hopes that the «New Studies on Aram and Israel» will be served as a base for the future research of the Near Eastern Archaeology and History.

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1 The Attestation of Aram in the Oldest Written Materials from Syria and Mesopotamia during the 3rd and 2nd Millennia

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1    The Attestation of Aram in the Oldest Written Materials from Syria and Mesopotamia during the 3rd and 2nd Millennia

According to the textual evidence of the ancient Near East, West Semitic seminomadic tribes infiltrated Mesopotamia and Syria from the Arabian Desert as early as the third millennium BCE. Cuneiform sources first attest the root *aram in designations of a particular geographic region as well as cities and villages—all most likely referring to proto-Aramean tribes. Regarding the precise referents of the terms Aram, Arame, Aramu, and Arami, these denominations initially serve as toponyms and thus allude to the names of villages, cities, or urban areas along with their immediate settlements and hinterlands, against a minority of scholars who advocate for a “city-state Aram” during this early period. Stemming from the region of Nippur (Nifur) during the time of Naram-Sin of Akkad (conventionally 2254–2218), tablet AO 5475 comments on the king’s victory over Harshamatki Lord of Aram and Am (= Armânum)6. F. Thureau-Dangin has transcribed the relevant passage as [Na-ra-am-d ] Sin | [šar] [ki-ib-ra-t]im | ar-ba- im| i-nu |Har-ša-ma-at-ki | bêl A-r[a]-am | ù | Am |……., and, hence translated: Narâm-Sin, roi des quatre régions lorsqu’il combattit Haršamatki, seigneur d’Aram et Am….7 Aram, then, stands for a region or settlement west of the Tigris in this Akkadian royal inscription dating to 2200.8 ← 13 | 14 →

As for Syria, Tell Mardikh (ancient Ebla) has yielded an archive with thousands of cuneiform tablets, wherein the...

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