Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


(o͞ogərēt`), ancient city, capital of the Ugarit kingdom, W Syria, on the Mediterranean coast N of modern Latakia. Although the name of this city was known from Egyptian and Hittite sources, its location and history were a mystery until the accidental discovery (1928) of an ancient tomb at the small Arab village of Ras Shamra. Excavations begun in 1929 established the identity of the mound as the site of ancient Ugarit. The site was been particularly rich in finds, which have yielded much valuable historical information and from which a partial account of the city has been constructed.

Ugarit was probably occupied from the first appearance of humans in Syria. The lowest level of the mound dates from the Neolithic period, the 5th millennium B.C. It developed as a great center of commerce, having important connections with Mesopotamia. By the 4th millennium Ugarit had reached a high stage of development and was part of the general civilization of ancient Syria. Between 3000 and 2000 B.C., important ethnic changes took place at Ugarit, brought about by the northward migrations of Amorites and Semitic Canaanites. Early in the 2d millennium, because of invasions from the north and east, Ugarit turned to an alliance with Egypt, and from this period Egyptian influence was strong in the city. The city was also the most important center of Minoan trade in Syria. The 15th and 14th cent. B.C. were the period of highest prosperity for Ugarit. Trade developed tremendously, and the city expanded in size. The rich and abundant art of this period shows that an important Mycenaean colony existed in the city. Foreign invasions and economic change in the 12th cent. B.C. caused Ugarit to decline. By the end of the century, although it was not completely abandoned, it had ceased to exist as an important town.

Among the more important discoveries at Ugarit are tablets from the 14th cent. B.C. Written in a cuneiform script, in a hitherto unknown language, Ugaritic, they record the poetic works and myths of the ancient Canaanites. They are written in an alphabet that is one of the earliest known. Ugaritic has been identified as a Semitic language, related to classical Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, and these tablets, the first authentic specimens of pagan Canaanite literature, have been of great importance to students of language and of the Bible. They offer evidence that the stories of the Old Testament were based on written Canaanite documents as well as being passed down orally.


See C. F. A. Schaeffer, The Cuneiform Texts of Ras Shamra-Ugarit (1939); J. Obermann, Ugaritic Mythology (1948); D. A. Rolles, Canaanite Myths and Legends (1956); C. H. Gordon, Ugarit and Minoan Crete (1966); R. Whitaker, Concordance of the Ugaritic Literature (1972); S. Stanislav, A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language (1985).



an ancient city-state of Ugarites and Canaanites in northern Phoenicia, on the site of present-day Ras Shamra. First mention of Ugarit dates from early in the second millennium B.C., when the city-state was controlled by Egypt and Jamhad. Beginning in the 16th century B.C., Ugarit was under the dominion of Egypt; it came under the rule of the Hittites in the early 14th century B.C. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 12th century B.C.

Ugarit included approximately 180 communal farming settlements, whose inhabitants paid taxes and rendered services to the state, that is, the king. The king controlled trade, large landholdings, and handicrafts, which relied on semislaves known as “the king’s people.” The royal servants included the maryans, warriors to whom the king distributed land, chariots, and horses. The ruling class, which owned the movable property and slaves, comprised large landowners, higher royal officials, “friends of the king, ” and merchants.

Ugarit was an international trading center for Egypt, the Aegean countries, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the interior of Syria.


Liverani, M. Storia di Ugarit nell’etá degli archivi politici. Rome, 1962.
Nougayrol, J. “Guerre et paix á Ugarit.” Iraq, 1963, vol. 25, part 2.
References in periodicals archive ?
In fact the magician priest, in possession of all these cultic texts, appears to have been the main cultic officiant of Ugarit, apart from the king, who served as the only offering and sacrificial priest and the rb khnm.
It was against this backdrop that Ugarit managed to express some level of local cultural autonomy.
Spiritual journey: Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou in Ugarit, Syria, which is considered by some to be the single most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.
The artist began working on this theme in 1994, after a trip to Syria where she saw ancient Ugarit tablets that date back to the 1300Eoe1/4"1400BC.
Both countries claim to be the birthplace of the first alphabet (Phoenician) in the world -- at Byblos in Lebanon and Ugarit in Syria -- and neither is wrong, it's just a bit complicated.
The new system will be in a position to restore the existing Ugarit system between Cyprus-Syria and to provide a high-quality alternative route between the two countries.
The discussion of marginal topics such as Ugarit in chapter 2 facilitates no proper comparison with other chapters; it also leaves open how many more of the smaller languages could possibly have been included but are not.
The Semites, worshippers of baalim (see Baal ), had a fairly rich culture, many evidences of which have been uncovered in the 20th century at Ugarit and elsewhere.
If you're struggling to decide where to go for your next dining experience, why not try Syrian and Lebanese grill restaurant, Ugarit, on Cross Church Street.
The one-week event wrapped up activities on Saturday with a traditional folk show performed by Ugarit dance group entitled "Syria.
His topics include instrument gods and musician kings in early Mesopotamia, Mari and the Amorite Age, Kinnaru of Ugarit, David and the divine lyre, lyric landscapes of early Cyprus, the Kinyradai of Paphos, the melding of Kinyas and Kothar, and Syro-Cilician approaches.