IN ancient Babylonian usage Suri, from which our name Syria is derived, meant Northern Mesopotamia and the adjacent districts of the Armenian and Taurus mountain chains. In Greek and Roman times it was limited eastward and northward and was extended southward, so that it came to denote the region between the Taurus, the Euphrates, the Syrian Desert, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. This application of the name has become traditional, but it does not commend itself to the historian of the ancient Orient. From time immemorial the northern half of this region has been peopled by different races from the southern half, and politically the two divisions have been independent until comparatively recently. For these reasons it is advisable to limit the name Syria to the territory between the Taurus and Mount Hermon, and to apply to the remaining portion of the East Mediterranean coast the name of Palestine. This name is due to a late Greek extension of the meaning of Philistia; we have, however, no ancient designation that covers the region so precisely.
Oriental history divides naturally into three main