Article

Ugarit

Robert Hawley

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online March 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0063
Ugarit

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Ugarit (also spelled “Ougarit,” especially in French publications) was the name of an ancient city (as well as the surrounding kingdom of which it served as capital) located on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. Its ruins are found on the tell of Ras Shamra, located some ten kilometers north of the modern port city of Latakia. The French (and subsequently Syro-French) archaeological excavations conducted on the site since 1929 (and which continue to this day) provide evidence for an essentially continuous occupation of the site from the Neolithic (8th millennium bce) through the end of the Bronze Age (2nd millennium bce). The city was destroyed, and apparently never subsequently reoccupied on a comparably large scale, in the early 12th century bce. It is above all this final period of the city’s history that is best known: the Late Bronze Age levels (especially 14th–12th centuries bce) have furnished an abundant documentation, not only architectural and archaeological but also epigraphic (nearly five thousand inscribed objects, mostly in some form of cuneiform writing, have been discovered). Such an epigraphic corpus (in a variety of scripts and languages, but especially in the local vernacular and in Akkadian) is relatively modest in comparison with that of other ancient sites such as Hattuša and Ebla, but it is nevertheless of considerable importance, because it provides one of the most direct witnesses to the indigenous scribal and intellectual traditions of the Levantine coast in the 2nd millennium bce. Indeed, the particular fame of Ugarit owes to the discovery there of texts written in a previously unknown local script and language that have come to be known as “Ugaritic” (named after the kingdom where it served as the local vernacular). The texts in Ugaritic provide the oldest significant corpus discovered to date of texts in a local West Semitic language of the Levantine area. It was the linguistic and literary similarities with Biblical Hebrew and the Hebrew Bible that assured the fame of Ugarit in the beginning of the 20th century, but the study of Ugaritic has today moved beyond the frame of reference of biblical studies. Because the author of this bibliography is a philologist (and not an archaeologist or an art historian), the primary focus here will be on the texts, and because the author’s work is primarily on the texts in the Ugaritic language, it is the bibliography on those texts that will be covered most thoroughly.

Article.  26454 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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