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3 - Religion in ancient Ugarit

Nicolas Wyatt
Affiliation:
Emeritus Professor, University of Edinburgh
John R. Hinnells
Affiliation:
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
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Summary

Introduction

There is a sense in which no religion dies, unless it be through the extermination of its believers and practitioners and the destruction of its sacred traditions. So long as there is any historical continuity, elements, however transformed in the transmission, will survive into the belief systems of the physical and cultural heirs of the community under examination. This is certainly the case with the religion of Ugarit, whose links with contiguous and subsequent cultures can be so well documented.

The city of Ugarit, rediscovered and excavated continuously from 1929 to the present day at the north Syrian coastal site of Tell Ras Shamra, 11 km north of Latakia (Map 3.1), has yielded more substantial written records than any other in the Levant throughout the ancient (BCE) period, and indeed more than all other sites in Syria, the Lebanon and Israel put together. While this archive is fairly restricted in scope, dating from the Late Bronze Age, from the late fourteenth to the first decade of the twelfth century BCE, its religious contents in particular betray wide influences, and have significant links with later religious tradition, in Greece, the Levant and in particular Israel. The importance of this material is out of all proportion to its limited quantity, and if one archaeological site should be identified as the most significant for the early history of the entire region (including Israel), Ras Shamra has perhaps the best claim.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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  • Religion in ancient Ugarit
  • Edited by John R. Hinnells, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Book: A Handbook of Ancient Religions
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511488429.004
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  • Religion in ancient Ugarit
  • Edited by John R. Hinnells, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Book: A Handbook of Ancient Religions
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511488429.004
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Religion in ancient Ugarit
  • Edited by John R. Hinnells, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Book: A Handbook of Ancient Religions
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511488429.004
Available formats
×