Gold bowl from Ugarit (picture from


One of the most exciting archaeological discoveries for the study of the Old Testament was made at Ras Shamra on the Syrian Coast well north of ancient Israel. Excavations since 1929 showed the site to be the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit.

The real treasure was not buildings or jewelry, but large quantities of writings, both archival material valuable in showing how ancient Canaanite city life worked and more "literary" works revealing a wealth of information about Canaanite culture.

The language of Ugarit (a Canaanite dialect referred to as Ugaritic) is very close indeed to biblical Hebrew and so throws much light on the meaning of biblical words and expressions.

In the Bible rare words resembling Aramaic words had often been thought to be indications of later writing, and so led scholars to doubt the originality of passages where they occurred. Finding parallel texts from Ugarit using these expressions often helps us to recognize the originality of the Bible text.

This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos , if you have reached it as a standalone page, to view it in context, go to
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.