2. Ancient history Syria has been a cradle of civilization for at least 10,000 years. It was home to the ancient majestic city of Ebla, which flourished from 1800 B.C. to 1650 B.C. A vast trove of 20,000 cuneiform tablets unearthed in the city provided an unprecedented look at everyday life in Mesopotamia at the time. Since then, it has been part of the major empires of history: At various times, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, Macedonians and Romans ruled the region.
3. Notable places The biggest cities in the country -- Aleppo, in the northwest, and Damascus, in the southwest -- are truly ancient. Damascus was first mentioned in an Egyptian document dating to 1500 B.C. Carbon dating from archaeological sites near Tell Ramad, just outside of Damascus, suggests that site has been occupied as far back as 6300 B.C.
Aleppo may be one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world: There is evidence of human inhabitance of the area from about 6000 B.C., and because the city was along the Silk Road, it saw bustling trade for centuries. (Photos: Survival of an Ancient Civilization in Syria)