3.2. History of M.

3. Maaloula > 3.2. History of Maaloula

3.2.1. Prehistory:

Archaeological evidence suggests that hominid species originated in Africa, and the Levant was certainly the main route for the dispersal of Homo erectus into Eurasia. In other words, the Levant is the site of the earliest ancient-human presence outside of Africa.

History of Maaloula, the first Hominid Migration

Figure The First Hominid Migration out of Africa {atlasofhumanevolution.com}

History of Maaloula, Hominid migration.

Figure Hominid migration to Europe and Asia {atlasofhumanevolution.com}

Many cultures have succeeded in this region during the prehistoric era, the most important of which are: Oldowan, Acheulean, Mousterian, Aterian, Emiran, Ahmarian, Levantine Aurignacian, Kebaran, Natufian and Khiamian.

Since Maaloula is blessed with a relatively mild climate, perennial springs, flint availability and a large number of rock shelters, the entire area of Maaloula is rich in sites going back to the Early Stone Age (at least 500,000 years ago), though only a few were excavated until now.

History of Maaloula, bedrock mortar.

Figure Bedrock mortar to grind grains in one of the caves of Maaloula {Conard: The 2004 Excavation at Kaus Kozah Cave}

History of Maaloula, caves of the Old Maaloulian

Figure Caves of the Old Maaloulian {© Rimon Wehbi 2009}

3.2.2. Recorded History:

The Aramaean culture is basically the continuing development of the local culture of the Bronze Age.

Damascus was the capital of what was the most powerful state in the Levant, Aram-Damascus, and Maaloula was one of its towns.

Aramaean kingdoms in the Levant ca. 900 BCE

Figure Aramaean kingdoms in the Levant ca. 900 BCE {Gzella: Die Wiege der ersten Weltsprache altaramäische}

Several invasions:

The kingdom of Aram-Damascus was repeatedly attacked by the Neo-Assyrian Empire until it finally became an Assyrian province by Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 BCE.

This was followed by the empires who invaded the region and took control of it, but the culture of the people did not change and they kept their language, culture and traditions to this day. They were helped by their isolation in the mountains and their lack of intermingling with the invading armies and foreign rulers who were often in the big cities.

Figure The Empires: Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Achaemenid, Macdonian {Wikipedia> Users: Ningyou, Zunkir, WillemBK, Captain Blood~commonswiki}

Figure The Empires: Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, Sasanian {Wikipedia> Users: Javierfv1212, Tataryn, Tataryn, Ro4444}

Figure Caliphates, Seljuk, Ottoman, Sykes-Picot Agreement {Wikipedia> Users: DieBuche, MapMaster, Chambo; Encyclopædia Britannica}


In the 1st century CE, the Apostle Thomas preached the Christ to Maaloulians, who were among the first to enter Christianity. Since then, a large number of shrines, churches and monasteries have been built in Maaloula. During the 4th century CE, Maaloula was the center of a bishopric. As history shows, its bishop Eutychus attended the first ecumenical council in 325 CE and signed the constitution of the Christian faith.

Maaloula catastrophe:

In 2013 Maaloula was subject to systematic vandalism by terrorist gangs who destroyed, burned and looted its homes and churches, and killed, kidnapped and displaced its people for many months. Perhaps this was the first time in history that the people of Maaloula were displaced from their land, and what it means to destroy the culture and human heritage that have endured for thousands of years. Today, the largest percentage of Maaloulians live outside of Maaloula. Despite their strong sense of belonging, they are forced to integrate into their new surroundings and to renounce their Aramaic mother tongue.

History of Maaloula. The oldest altar.

Figure The oldest Christian altar in the world is in the monastery of Saints Sergius and Bacchus {Unknown photographer}

Despite what has happened, like their rocks, the people of Maaloula do not give up and are doing everything possible to restore life and preserve its language, monuments and culture.

Rimon Wehbi   02/06/2021

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