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Abstract

Representing a new approach to the field of Amorite studies, this dissertation, by analyzing the Middle Bronze Age history of the polity of Ugarit, specifically considers whether the material culture and language of Ugarit reflect a degree of cultural correspondence with other sites and cultures known from the Bronze Age Levant. The goal of this approach is two-fold. First, the object of the study is to delve into the Middle Bronze Age history of the site of Ugarit, to understand more about when the Ugaritian dynasty known from the Late Bronze Age first arrived at the site and whether parallels can be drawn with other sites in the region. Second, the study hopes to shed light on the cultural affiliations of the inhabitants of the site of Ugarit in the Middle and Late Bronze Age specifically through evaluating the linguistic orientation of the language of Ugaritic in light of the other Northwest Semitic dialects known from the Bronze Age Levant. In our pursuit of the historical origins of Ugarit, we are not in search of a uniform “Amorite” or “Canaanite” material culture or language. Rather, this study pursues a far more nuanced view of populations in the Bronze Age Levant, with the specific goal of seeing the ancient polity of Ugarit as a unique kin-based culture that shares close ties with other populations in the Levant. ,When viewed in conjunction, the archaeological and linguistic material uncovered in this study serves to enhance our understanding of the historical complexity and diversity of the Middle Bronze Age period of international relations at the site of Ugarit. We might describe the Middle Bronze Age as the first period of true international relations documented by both material features and texts, as population movement, economic growth, and trade all contributed to the reemergence of urbanism after an extended period of ruralism at the end of the Early Bronze Age. The site of Ugarit, strategically located at the intersection of the main maritime and overland trade routes, stood at the center of this new age of international trade and interaction between Mesopotamia and the northern and southern Levant. The population which originally settled the site early in the Middle Bronze Age took advantage of this new period of economic growth, quickly expanding the Middle Bronze Age settlement at the site. Archaeological remains and linguistic evidence indicate that this Middle Bronze Age settlement at the site of Ugarit shared close cultural affiliations with the neighboring Amorite kingdoms, indicating that Ugarit was likely a localized expression of Amorite political expansion in the Middle Bronze Age. While many other Amorite kingdoms were destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the Amorite kingdom of Ugarit retained its autonomy throughout the tumultuous transition from the Middle to Late Bronze Age, thereby preserving its Amorite cultural and religious heritage over the course of more than half a millennium.

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