Dating from about 6000 BC, Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) lies about 7 mi/11 km north of Latakia and 85 mi/135 km southwest of Aleppo.
In its prime, the Phoenician maritime civilization had indoor plumbing and developed the world's first alphabet—then invaders destroyed the city around 1200 BC. But the site is most important for discoveries made since 1929: Two temples and the Ras Shamra Tablets were uncovered there.
These tablets, spread among various Syrian museums and the Louvre in Paris, contain valuable information (circa 1500 BC) about Canaanite religions, which has helped clarify part of the Old Testament. (The best of the tablets are in the National Museum in Damascus.) The area is usually visited as an excursion from Aleppo.
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