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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
At Ugarit, warrior poetry was only used over a short period of time and consisted of longer poems, while the Old Testament contained only short poems and was part of a very long tradition.
The earliest example of alphabetic writing was a clay tablet with 32 cuneiform letters found in Ugarit in Syria and dated to 1450 B.C., according to the Guinness Book of Records, not to mention the cuneiform tablets unearthed in Tal Mardikh which yielded written documentation of Ebla Kingdom.
"Une relation etroite existait manifestament entre ces deux nouvelles bibliotheques d'Ugarit, distantes seulement d'une quinzane de metres." (8)
Die keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani und anderen Orten / The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and Other Places, 3rd ed.
Clr Andrew Cooper, who brought the matter to council, queried why Ugarit's sign was being singled out when Cross Church Street was covered in "garish" plastic signs of takeaways.
Millard's colleagues and former students highlight his emphasis on how uses of writing in the ancient Near East and in relation to the Bible in 15 essays on literacy in an oral environment, law in Aramaic epigraphy, mis-spellings in cuneiform alphabetic texts from Ugarit, ambiguity and delusion in Israelite prophecy, whether 4Q341 is an exercise for spelling and for spells, the origins of the inscribed Greek stela, the role of accident in the knowledge of the ancient Near East, and other topics.
Kirklees officials say the wooden-style sign on the Ugarit restaurant on Cross Church Street is out of keeping with the building's Grade II listed status.
The trip will be launched in front of the National Museum in Damascus and it will include visiting Krak des Chevaliers in Homs, the archeological site of Ugarit in Lattakia, Tartous Museum and Amrit archeological site.
Vidal (Munster: Ugarit Verlag, 2010), 165-93; and K.
But now Ghassan Bateha has been ordered to make changes to his wooden sign outside the popular new grill, Ugarit, on Cross Church Street, less than three weeks after its opening.
since 7000 years, Syria is still spreading peace and from it the initial alphabet of Ugarit, the essence of everything," was born, Rula Hamidah, a Bulgarian was living with her family in Syria till recently said at the beginning of the film.