History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine

History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine

History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine

History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine

Excerpt

The history of Syria, using the name in its geographic meaning, is in a sense the history of the civilized world in miniature. It is a cross-section of the history of the cradle of our civilization and of a significant part of our spiritual and intellectual heritage. To do justice to it one must not only control the ancient Semitic languages and medieval Arabic literature but should also have competence in the Greco-Roman histories and the Turkish and Persian fields -- to say nothing of modern Western European languages and historical material.

No such claim can be made by the author. His studies have been limited to the Semitic field and his researches to the Arabic and Islamic one. Impressed, however, by the fact that, while numberless monographs have been written dealing with some region in Syria or covering a certain epoch in its long and chequered history, there is hardly a single work that gives a balanced comprehensive picture of the life of the whole area as a unit from the earliest times to the present, he felt bold to make the attempt. The Phoenicians of Lebanon -- it should be remembered --, the Hebrews of Palestine, the Arabs of Damascus, all of whom have been the subject of comparatively intensive historical research, cannot be fully understood unless treated as integral parts of the people of greater Syria and projected against a common background of contemporary Near Eastern culture.

The task was far from an easy one. How to keep in hand, through the maze, the golden thread upon which to hang the chronicle of significant events in the life of a country which had been normally an adjunct of other states presented in itself a major problem. The attempt to sift the store of available data, utilize its essential elements, interpret their relevance and integrate the whole into a consecutive story that would be serviceable to the student as well as to the cultured layman had its own difficulties If the result, which lays no claim to originality and holds no aspiration to definiteness, meets the present-day need for a readable, non-technical, yet reliable . . .

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