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By Philip K. Hitti

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Syria and Palestine now became part of a great empire, one of the largest of antiquity. Within a quarter of a century after its birth this empire was to comprise the whole civilized world from Egypt and the Ionian cities in Asia Minor to the Punjab in India and then to begin casting covetous eyes across the Hellespont into the only civilized The far-flung parts of the empire were part of Europe. brought together by better roads than had ever existed, by a uniform stamped coinage and by an official language, Aramaic.

Its main features were mourning for the death of the vegetation deity Baal, rites to enable him to overcome his adversary (the god of death) and thereby to ensure enough rain to produce a new crop, and rejoicing at his resurrection and marriage to the fertility goddess Ishtar. Associated with the idea of the periodic dying of the vegetation in the summer heat and its revival in spring, was that of the renewed vigour of the sun after its apparent defeat in winter, as embodied in the early Tammuz myth.

Many Copper Age villages were by a rude wall, for protection against enemies. In the meantime impetus was given to agriculture and animal husbandry. The ox, sheep and goat, whose domestication began in the Neolithic, were now widely used, as evidenced by their frequent appearance on figurines. The pig was the preferred animal for sacrifice, and the dove was associated with the goddess of fertility. Almost all of encircled the had their location in river and depended upon irrigation. Chalcolithic settlements valleys or alluvial plains In the realm of agriculture the outstanding Chalcolithic achievement thus came to be irrigation culture, involving the cultivation of several varieties of garden vegetables lettuce, onions, garlic, chick-peas, horse-beans and condi: ments.

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