An important independent city-state and commercial center in the Orontes Valley in northern Syria. Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh), which had close ties with nearby Mesopotamia, rose to prominence twice. The first time was in the late third millennium B.C., when it thrived by trading timber, textiles, and cattle, of which it was said to own more than two hundred thousand head. The local palace contained numerous workshops and employed nearly five thousand artisans and servants. The principal deity worshipped in the city was the Semitic storm god, Dagan. Ebla was sacked circa 2250 b.c., apparently by an Akkadian army, although the ruler who led that army is still disputed by scholars. Ebla's second period of prosperity was about 1800 to 1650 b.c., when Amorites controlled it. Little is known about the city in this era, which ended when the Hit-titesdestroyeditforgood.
   Ebla was largely forgotten until 1964, when excavations began by Italy's University of Rome La Sapienza under the direction of Paolo Matthiae. The Italians uncovered an archaeological bonanza in the form of the city's archive, consisting of some twenty thousand clay tablets. These bear cuneiform symbols in Sumerian and Ebalite, a Semitic language related to Akkadian. Translations have revealed tribute lists, trade contracts, law cases, diplomatic letters, and more, providing important insights about the economic and cultural life of the inhabitants.
   See also: Dagan; Hittites; Syria; trade

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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