published on 28 April 2011
Aleppo is a city in northern modern-day Syria. The ancient name of Aleppo, Halab, is of obscure origin. Some have proposed that Halab means 'iron' or 'copper' in Amorite languages since it was a major source of these metals in antiquity. Halaba in Aramaic means white, referring to the color of soil and marble abundant in the area. Another proposed etymology is that the name Halab means "gave out milk," coming from the ancient tradition that Abraham gave milk to travelers as they moved throughout the region. The colour of his cows was ashen (Arab. shaheb), therefore the city is also called "Halab ash-Shahba'" (he milked the ash-coloured). Because the modern city occupies its ancient site, Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BCE.
Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus. The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BCE, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Arman to the Akkadians. In the Old Babylonian period, Aleppo's name appears as Ḥalab (Ḥalba) for the first time. Aleppo was the capital of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamḥad (c. 1800-1600 BCE). Yamḥad was destroyed by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the 16th century BCE. However, Aleppo soon resumed its leading role in Syria when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife.
Taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, Parshatatar, king of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, conquered Aleppo in the 15th century BCE. Subsequently, Aleppo found itself on the frontline in the struggle between the Mitanni and the Hittites and Egypt. The Hittite Suppiluliumas I permanently defeated Mitanni and conquered Aleppo in the 14th century BCE. Aleppo had cultic importance to the Hittites for being the centre of worship of the Storm-God.
When the Hittite kingdom collapsed in the 12th century BCE, Aleppo became part of the Aramaean Syro-Hittite kingdom of Arpad (Bit Agusi), and later it became capital of the Aramaean Syro-Hittite kingdom of Hatarikka-Luhuti. In the 9th century BC, Aleppo was conquered by the Assyrians and became part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire until the late 7th century BCE, before passing through the hands of the Neo-Babylonians and the Achamenid Persians.
Alexander the Great took over the city in 333 BCE. Seleucus Nicator established a Hellenic settlement at the site between 301-286 BCE. He called it Beroea (Βέροια), after Beroea in Macedon. Northern Syria was the centre of gravity of the Hellenistic colonizing activity, and therefore of Hellenistic culture in the Seleucid Empire. As did other Hellenized cities of the Seleucid kingdom, Beroea probably enjoyed a measure of local autonomy, with a local civic assembly or boulē composed of free Hellenes.
Beroea remained under Seleucid rule for nearly 300 years until the last holdings of the Seleucid dynasty were handed over to Pompey in 64 BCE, at which time they became a Roman province. Rome's presence afforded relative stability in northern Syria for over three centuries. Although the province was administered by a legate from Rome, Rome did not impose its administrative organization on the Greek-speaking ruling class.
The Sassanid Persians invaded Syria briefely in the early 7th century CE. Soon after Aleppo fell to Arabs under Khalid ibn al-Walid in 637 CE. In 944 CE, it became the seat of an independent Emirate under the Hamdanid prince Sayf al-Daula, and enjoyed a period of great prosperity.
5000 BCEFirst settlement in Aleppo.
637 CEAleppo is conquered by Khalid ibn al-Walid.