woensdag 24 september 2014

Arwad before the Phoenicians

ARWAD before the Phoenicians.
A few kilometers away from the Syrian coast lies a small island: er-Ruad. Nowadays it is used by some fishermen. However this island was in antiquity a very important town. For the beginning we must go back in time to at least the second millennium BC.
In the Akkadian language it was called Ar-ma-da, Ar-ru-da-ai or Ar-ru-ad-da. The Phoenicians named it ‘RWD. The Greeks: Arados and in latin: Aradus.
Arwad became one of the important cities of the Phoenicians, but before that the town existed already in the time of the Canaanites.
The town was mentioned in Ebla (as A-ra-wa-ad) and that is all the way in the third millennium BC. Arwad was also known in Ugarit and Alalakh. The Egyptians under Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) came nearby during the 29th year of his reign. He plundered the farms and land on the mainland behind Arwad.
Even the bible in Genesis X 15-18 gives attention to the place:
 “Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn and Heth and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arwadites, the Zemites and the Hamathites.”
We encounter the first man of Arwad with a name on a temple of pharaoh Seti I (1317-1301 BC) at Abydos in Egypt. The inscription (SYRIA XLVII, 1970, p.371) says:
“I, Abdo, son of [….], the Arwadite (h’rwdy).”
Probably the earliest clear mention of Arwad comes out of the so-called el-Amarna letters as Ar-wa-da or Er-wa-da. In the 14th century BC the Amurru under the guidance of Abdi-Ashirta and his son Aziru tried to reach the coast and took several towns in the province Canaan of Egypt. And here Arwad is beginning to play a significant role. Rib-Addi of Byblos writes about that a message to the pharaoh Amenophis III (1402-1364 BC) in the letter EA 53-63:
“Zimrida of Sidon and Aziru, the rebel against the king, and the people of Arwad has consulted with each-other and made a conspiracy and the have gathered ships, war-chariots and their ‘niru’soldiers in order to capture Tyre….”
In reality Tyrus would be invaded much later. In the beginning this peculiar coalition succeeded in conquering Ullaza and Sumur. Later the fleet of Arwad blocked the harbour of Byblos and in the end many harbours on the coast of the Libanon went over to the Amurru and their allies.
Seti I and Ramses II are trying to restore the Egyptian province of Canaan, but after the undecided battle of Kadesj the region of Arwad stays for a century under the Hittite influence.

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