The background of the semitic people

On the other hand, the so-called building inscription of Bir-Rokeb, dating from the last third of the eighth century, is purely Aramaic — a proof that the Aramaization of Northern Syria was in full progress. Aramaic Semites These represent a third wave of Semitic immigration. In cuneiform inscriptions dating from the beginning of the fourteenth century B. They are mentioned as Ahlami. Their expansion probably took place within the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries B.

As early as the reign of Salmanasar I they had pressed far into Mesopotamia and become a public scourge, in consequence of which the stream of immigration could not longer be restrained. Their further advance into the territory of the Euphrates and towards Syria took place about B. By then ninth century all Syria was Aramiaicized; many small states were formed, principally successors of the Hittite Kingdom. In like manner the remaining Aramaic states succumbed. A new rebellion was suppressed by Sargon, and with this the rule of the Aramaeans in Syria ended.

In the meanwhile, the Aramaean element in Mesopotamia was constantly growing stronger. At the beginning of the ninth century we hear of a number of small Aramaic states or Bedouin territories there.

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Nevertheless, the immigration continued. In the struggles of Assyria the Aramaeans of Mesopotamia always made common cause with its enemies and even under Assurbanipal they were allied with his opponents. From this time we hear nothing more of them. They were probably absorbed by the remaining population. Their language alone, which the Arammans in consequence of their numerical superiority forced upon these countries, survived in the sphere of the North Semitic civilization, and was not obliterated until the Islam's conquest.

The potent Arabic displaced the Aramaic dialects with the exception of a few remnants. Since the second half of the eighth century the use of Aramaic as a language of intercourse can be proved in Assyria , and about the same time it certainly prevailed in Babylonia among the commercial classes of the population. In the West also their language extended in a southerly direction as far as Northern Arabia. For Aramaic had become the general language of commerce, which the Semitic peoples of Western Asia found themselves compelled to adopt in their commercial, cultural, and political relations.

The Aramaic elements of the population were absorbed by the other peoples of the existing civilized lands. They developed a distinct nationality in Damascus.

In Mesopotamia itself, in the neighbourhood of Edessa , Mardin , and Nisibis, Aramaic individuality was long preserved. But the culture of this country was afterwards strongly permeated by Hellenism. One of the last political formations of the Aramaeans is found in Palmyra , which in the first century B.

It flourished until the ambitious design of Odenathus and Zenobia to play the leading part in the East caused its destruction by the Romans. A small fragment of Aramaic-speaking population may be still found in Ma'lula and two other villages of the Anti-Lebanon. So-called New Syrian dialects, descendants of the East Aramaic, are spoken in Tur'Abdin in Mesopotamia, to the east and north of Mosul, and in the neighbouring mountains of Kurdistan, as well as on the west shore of Lake Urmia. Of these Aramaic-speaking Christians a part lives on what was clearly ancient Aramaic territory; but for those on Lake Urmia we must assume a later immigration.

Nestorian bishops of Urmia are mentioned as early as A. Arabic-Abyssinian Semites Arabs The most powerful branch of the Semitic group of peoples, are indigenous to Central and Northern Arabia, where even today the original character is most purely preserved. At an early period they pressed forward into the neighbouring territories, partly to the North and partly to the South. In accordance with linguistic differences they are divided into North and South Arabians.

Northern Arabia is composed partly of plains and deserts , and is, therefore, generally speaking, the home of wandering tribes of Bedouins. The South, on the other hand, is fertile and suitable for a settled population. For this reason we find here at an early date political organizations, and the sites of ruins and inscriptions bear witness to the high culture which once prevailed.

The natural richness of the country and its favourable situation on the seacoast made the South Arabians at an early period an important commercial people. It is generally dated as early as the middle of the second millennium before Christ, although for the present it is better to maintain a somewhat sceptical attitude as regards this hypothesis. At all events, the Minaeans, at an early period, probably avoiding the desert by a journey along the eastern coast, emigrated from North-eastern Arabia.

To the south and south-east of the Minaeans were the Katabans and the Hadramotites, who were cognate in language and who stood in active commercial relations with Ma'in, under whose political protectorate they seem to have lived. The spirit of enterprise of this kingdom is shown by the foundation of a commercial colony in the northwestern part of the peninsula in the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Akabah, viz. The downfall of the Ma'in kingdom was, according to the usual assumption, connected with the rise of the Sabaean kingdom.

Semitic Branch

The Sabaeans had likewise emigrated from the North, and in constant struggles had gradually spread their dominion over almost all Southern Arabia. Their capital was Ma'rib. Their numerous monuments and inscriptions extend from about B. At the height of its power, Saba received a heavy blow by the loss of the monopoly of the carrying trade between India and the northern regions, when the Ptolemies entered into direct trade relations with India. Still the Sabaean Kingdom maintained itself, with varying fortune, until about A. After its fall the once powerful Yeman was constantly under foreign domination, at last under Persian.

Ultimately, Southern Arabia was drawn into the circle of Islam. Its characteristic language was replaced by the Northern Arabic, and in only a few localities of the southern coast are remnants of it to be found: the so-called Mahri in Mahraland and the Socotri on the Island of Socotra. Northern Arabia had in the meanwhile followed its own path. To the east of Mussran to far into the Syrian desert we hear of the activity of the Aribi at first in the ninth century B. Assurbanibal, especially, boasts of important victories over them in his struggles with them for the mastery of Edom , Moab , and the Hauran c.

Some of the tribes possessed the germs of political organization, as is shown in their government by kings and even queens. While these ancient Aribi for the most part constituted nomadic tribes, certain of their descendants became settled and achieved a high culture. Thus, about B. From their cliff-town of Petra they gradually spread their dominion over North-western Arabia, Moab , the Hauran, and temporarily even over Damascus.

Their prosperity was chiefly due to their carrying trade between Southern Arabia and Mediterranean lands. The language of their inscriptions and coins is Aramaic, but the names inscribed upon them are Arabic.

Its annexation caused the prosperity of the above-mentioned Palmyra, whose aristocracy and dynasty were likewise descended from the Aribi. Subsequent to these many other small Arabian principalities developed on the boundary between civilized lands and the desert ; but they were for the most part of short duration. Of greatest importance were two which stood respectively under the protection of the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Kingdom as buffer states of those great powers against the sons of the desert : the realm of the Ghassanites in the Hauran, and that of the Lahmites, the centre of which was Hira, to the south of Babylon.

In the second half of the sixth century A.

In one district alone, the centre of which was Mecca, did pure Arabism maintain an independent position. In this City, A. And so in the seventh century another evolution of Semitism took place, which in the victorious power of its attack and in its mighty expansion surpassed all that had gone before; the offshoots of which pressed forward to the Atlantic Ocean and into Europe itself.

Semite | Definition, Peoples, & Facts |

Abyssinians At an early epoch South Arabian tribes emigrated to the opposite African coast, where Sabaean trade colonies had probably existed for a long time. As early as the first century A. The conquerors brought with them South Arabian letters and language, which in their new home gradually attained an individual character. And so they called their kingdom Yteyopeya.

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From Aksum as a base they gradually extended their dominion over all Abyssinia , the northern population of which today shows a purer Semitic type, while the southern is strongly mixed with Hamitic elements. At an early date the south must have been settled by Semites, who spoke a language related to Ge'ez, which was afterwards to a great extent influenced by the languages of the native population, particularly by the Agau dialects.

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A descendant of this language is the Amharic, the present language of intercourse in Abyssinia itself and far beyond its boundaries. APA citation. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. MLA citation.

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