History of Hamah

The ancient settlement of Hamath was occupied from the early Neolithic to the Iron Age. The site is inside a tight curve of the Orontes, which made it relatively easy to defend, and was the original place of the settlement; later on, as the town grew beyond it, the mound became the military center of Hama. Remains from the Chalcolithic era have been uncovered by Danish archaeologists on the mount on which the former citadel once stood. The excavation took place between 1931 and 1938 under the direction of Harald Ingholt. The stratigraphy is very generalized, which makes detailed comparison to other sites difficult. Level M (6 m or 20 ft thick) contained both white ware (lime-plaster) and true pottery. It may be contemporary with Ras Shamra V (6000-5000 BC). The overlying level L dates to the Chalcolithic Halaf-period.

The Amorite people colonized the area during the third millennium BC. The Amorites came from Mari on the River Euphrates, some 250 miles (400 km) to the east of Hama, and they colonized many parts of what is now Syria and Iraq. Although the town appears to be unmentioned in cuneiform sources before the first millennium BC, the site appears to have enjoyed great prosperty around 1500 BC, during which time it was presumably an Amorite dependency of Mittanni, an empire along the Euphrates in northeastern Syria. Mitanni was subsequently overthrown by the Hittites, who controlled all of northern Syria following the famous Battle of Kadesh against the Egyptians under Ramses II near Homs in 1285. The site also shows Assyrian and Aramaean settlement.

 By the turn of the millennium, the centralized old Hittite Empire had fallen, and Hama is attested as the capital of a prosperous Aramaean neo-Hittite kingdom known from the Hebrew Bible as Hamath (Aramaic: Ḥmt; Hittite: Amatuwana; Hebrew: חֲמָת, Ḥmṯ), which traded extensively, particularly with Israel and Judah. The Aramaean and Hittite peoples lived comparatively peacefully,