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PRE-ISLAMIC ARAB HISTORY
Early Arab history was handed down from one generation
to the other by word of mouth, poems, legends and proverbs hundred of
years after the occurrence of the events which they were referring to.
WHAT WAS DISCOVERED?
In the nineteenth century many attempts took place to decipher "cuneiform" writings
of the pre-Christian era. Successful attempts revealed a striking similarity
between the languages of the Babylonians, Assyrians (note these are different
from the Syrians), Aramaic, Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Amorites, Hebrews, Arabians
and Abyssinians (currently Ethiopia).
WHO IS SEM (SHEM)?
This discovery indicated that all these people must have come from the same roots,
and they must have common ancestors. Their common ancestors were the original "Arabs" or "Semites" referring
to the tribe of Sem (or Shem) one of three sons of Noah.
word "Arab" means "desert dweller" in
the Semitic language, and the earliest Arab settlement was in Yarab where Yemen is
located today. These were the fifth generation descendants of Sem (or
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Around 3500 B.C.
AND DECLINE OF GREAT CIVILIZATIONS
When the Arabian Peninsula could not sustain the growing population of its Arab
inhabitants any more, migration started around 3500 B.C. into two major directions
to find the necessary resources.
One migration took place along the west coast of Arabia called "Hejaz" and
through "Sinai" into Egypt where
the Semites mixed with the Hamites (descendants of Ham son
of Noah) to produce the Egyptians. They absorbed
elements of science and culture to produce the basis of our current
The second migration took place along the eastern coast
of Arabia into the land of the Mesopotamia, which is today's Iraq,
and settled in the valley of The Tigris and The Euphrates,
where the Semites mixed with the non-Semitic Sumerians to produce the Babylonians.
Like in Egypt they adapted local resources and scientific methods to
their own needs and produced great civilizations.
Thousand years later, the Semites mixed also with the
population in Syria and Palestine and
created the Amorites and the Phoenicians.
Tiglath-Pileser III Receiving Homage,
745/727 BC Neo-Assyrian Founders Society Purchase, Ralph Harman
Booth Bequest Fund Photograph © 1984 The Detroit Institute
Around 1200 B.C. – 900 B.C.
Around 1200 B.C., the nomadic Hebrews arrived in Palestine and established
the world's first monotheistic faith, which in turn became the base of the
Christian and the Moslem belief.
Around that same time frame, the Arameans moved
into Syria and established their capital at Damascus,
which is the capital of Syria today.
Around 900 B.C.
Around the ninth century B.C. the Arameans lost their empire
to the Assyrian descendants of the Babylonians who
originated in Nineveh which is today's Mosul city
in Iraq, and created a great empire that stretched from Babylonia in
southern Iraq to Armenia in the north and Phoenicia in
today's Lebanon, in the west. This empire was as powerful
as the Babylonian empire but never surpassed it.
538 B.C. – 332 B.C. – 63 B.C.
The Chaldeans succeeded the Assyrians in ruling Mesopotamia,
Syria and southern Turkey for a short period and
until the invasion of the Parthian ancestors of today's Persians, in 538 B.C.,
followed by the Greeks in 332 B.C., and the Romans in 63 B.C.
The great empires of Europe in modern history concentrated their attention
on the fertile northern and western Arabian territories. They left the desert
wastes of the Arabian Peninsula alone.
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