Golden Fleece > Ugarit
craftsman's art and music's measure
a cradle of urban culture
The accidental discovery in 1928 of this ancient port on the Mediterranean coast revealed an important city that takes its place alongside Ur and Eridu as a cradle of urban culture. Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall about 8,000 years ago. The city was destroyed about 3,200 years ago, at the end on the Bronze Age. During the twentieth century excavations revealed extensive libraries of clay tablets written in a cuneiform alphabet without vowels, that was previously unknown.
A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic alphabet was first. While many of the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order suggests that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions.
Translation of Ugaritic texts has led to a new appraisal of Hebrew literature. There are similarities in divine imagery and poetic form. Many of the actual word pairings found in the Ugaritic text also are repeated in Hebrew poetry. While Ugaritic poems portray larger than life human figures and deities in human form, Hebrew poems celebrate the power of God in the affairs of men. The imperatives of ethical monotheism required the freer and more flexible medium of prose to show the fluctuating and ambiguous behaviour of man as a moral agent acting from the peculiarity of his own character.
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