Damascus (Aramaic דמשק; Greek Δαμασκός): important city in the ancient Near East.
- Mentioned for the first time in the fifteenth century BCE in an Egyptian text from the reign of Thuthmose III (r.1479-1457): T-m-ś-q. (Almost certainly a pre-Semitic name.) Thuthmose III established Egyptian rule in Canaan, which was to last until the mid-twelfth century BCE.
- Fertile plain of the Barada river, which emptied in a lake east of the town
- The Amarna Letters (i.e., the fourteenth century BCE) mention a Damascene king named Biryawaza
- First half of the twelfth century: end to the Bronze Age system. We learn about new people in the Near East who, until then, had not made their appearance. The Aramaeans took control of (a/o) Damascus. In the Bible, Damascus and "Aram" can be words for the same, important Iron Age kingdom.
- In the Bible, especially in the Book of Kings, Aram is mentioned as a rival to Israel and Judah. From Assyrian sources, we know that Aram's king Hadad-Ezer (Biblical: Ben-Hadad) was the leader of a Levantine, anti-Assyrian coalition, which managed to keep the Assyrians away in the Battle of Qarqar (853 BCE).
- Main sanctuary: a temple of the thunder-god Hadad
- In the last quarter of the ninth century, Damascus became part of the Assyrian Empire; a revolt in 727 BCE was suppressed.
- Assyria was replaced by Babylonia, which was in turn replaced by Achaemenid Persia. Damascus was used as treasury, but the details escape our understanding.
- After the battle of Issus (333 BCE), Alexander the Great's general Parmenio captured Damascus.
- Coele Syria was contested between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empire. Seleucid Damascus is taken by Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the Carian War (280-279) and reconquered in the First Syrian War (274-272).
- It was redesigned on a gridiron plan. Like all Seleucid towns, it had a "colonnaded street" (mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as "the street which is called Straight"note The temple of Hadad must have been converted to a temple of Zeus, not unlike the sanctuary at Baalbek.
- 97/96 BCE: the Seleucid princes Demetrius III Eucaerus and Philip I Philadelphus, supported by the Ptolemaic king Ptolemy IX Soter Lathyros, seize Damascus
- They expand their power; Philip moved to Beroea (Aleppo) and Demetrius attacks Judaea, but loses control of the situation and is defeated in 87 when the Parthians invade Syria; in Damascus, he is succeeded by a third brother, Antiochus XII Dionysus
- 83/82: Antiochus XII Dionysus is defeated and killed by the Nabataean Arabs; Damascus is seized by Ptolemy of Chalcis
- 64 BCE: Pompey the Great conquers the Seleucid Empire; Damascus becomes part of the Roman province Syria
- Part of the Decapolisnote
- The apostle Paul visited Damascus, where he met Ananias and was baptized
- Roman legionary base (III Gallica) at Raphanaea
- Severan age: Damascus recognized as colonia
- The temple of Zeus was converted into a church for John the Baptist
- After the battle of the Yarmuk, the city was captured by the Arabs; the church was shared by Christians and Muslims
- Capital of the Umayyad Caliphate
- c.705: the church is converted in the mosque. It still is in use as mosque, but you can recognize all kinds of elements from the former church and temple