Cyprus  Israel  Iraq  Jordan  Lebanon  Palestine  Syria   Turkey
(Hatay Province)

Broader definition

 Egypt  Greece   Cyrenaica
(Libya)   Turkey
(whole territory)

Population 44,550,926[a]

Demonym Levantine

Languages Levantine Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Armenian, Circassian, Greek, Kurdish, Ladino, Turkish, Domari

Time Zones UTC+02:00 (EET) ( Turkey
and Cyprus)

Largest cities

Damascus Amman Aleppo Baghdad Beirut Gaza Jerusalem Tel Aviv

The Levant
(/ləˈvænt/) is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean. In its narrowest sense it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria. In its widest historical sense, the Levant
included all of the eastern Mediterranean with its islands,[3] that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece
to Cyrenaica.[2][4] The term entered English in the late 15th century
15th century
from French.[3] It derives from the Italian Levante, meaning "rising", implying the rising of the sun in the east.[2][4] As such, it is broadly equivalent to the term Al- Mashriq
(Arabic: اَلْـمَـشْـرِق‎, [ʔalmaʃriq])[5], meaning "the land where the sun rises".[6] In the 13th and 14th centuries, the term levante was used for Italian maritime commerce in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt, that is, the lands east of Venice.[2] Eventually the term was restricted to the Muslim
countries of Syria-Palestine
and Egypt.[2] In 1581, England set up the Levant Company to monopolize commerce with the Ottoman Empire.[2] The name Levant
States was used to refer to the French mandate over Syria
and Lebanon
after World War I.[2][4] This is probably the reason why the term Levant
has come to be used synonymously with Syria-Palestine.[2] Some scholars misunderstood the term thinking that it derives from the name of Lebanon.[2] Today the term is often used in conjunction with prehistoric or ancient historical references. It has the same meaning as "Syria-Palestine" or Ash- Shaam
(Arabic: الـشَّـام‎, /ʔaʃ-ʃaːm/), the area that is bounded by the Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains
of Turkey
in the North, the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
in the west, and the north Arabian Desert
Arabian Desert
and Mesopotamia
in the east.[7] It does not include Anatolia
(also called Asia
Minor), the Caucasus
Mountains, or any part of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
proper. Cilicia
(in Asia
Minor) and the Sinai Peninsula (Asian Egypt) are sometimes included. The term Levant
was widely used to describe the region from the 18th to the mid-19th centuries, and has had steady but lower usage since the late 19th century;[8] several dictionaries consider it to be "archaic" today.[9] [10] [11] Both the noun Levant
and the adjective Levantine are now commonly used to describe the ancient and modern culture area formerly called Syro-Palestinian or Biblical: archaeologists now speak of the Levant
and of Levantine archaeology;[12][13][14][15] food scholars speak of Levantine cuisine;[16][17] and the Latin
of the Levant
continue to be called Levantine Christians.[18] The Levant
has been described as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and northeast Africa",[19] and the "northwest of the Arabian plate".[20] The populations of the Levant[21][22] share not only the geographic position, but cuisine, some customs, and a very long history. They are often referred to as Levantines.[23]


1 Etymology 2 Geography and modern-day use of the term 3 History 4 Politics and religion 5 Language 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Bibliography 10 Further reading 11 External links

Etymology See also: Names of the Levant

French medal commemorating the war in Cilicia

The term Levant, which appeared in English in 1497, originally meant the East
in general or "Mediterranean lands east of Italy".[24] It is borrowed from the French levant "rising", referring to the rising of the sun in the east,[24] or the point where the sun rises.[25] The phrase is ultimately from the Latin
word levare, meaning 'lift, raise'. Similar etymologies are found in Greek Ἀνατολή (Anatolē, cf. Anatolia), in Germanic Morgenland (literally, "morning land"), in Italian (as in "Riviera di Levante", the portion of the Liguria coast east of Genoa), in Hungarian Kelet, in Spanish and Catalan Levante and Llevant, ("the place of rising"), and in Hebrew (Hebrew: מִזְרָח‎, mizrāḥ). Most notably, "Orient" and its Latin
source oriens meaning "east", is literally "rising", deriving from Latin
orior "rise".[26] The notion of the Levant
has undergone a dynamic process of historical evolution in usage, meaning, and understanding. While the term "Levantine" originally referred to the European residents of the eastern Mediterranean region, it later came to refer to regional "native" and "minority" groups.[27] The term became current in English in the 16th century, along with the first English merchant adventurers in the region; English ships appeared in the Mediterranean in the 1570s, and the English merchant company signed its agreement ("capitulations") with the Ottoman Sultan in 1579.[28] The English Levant Company
Levant Company
was founded in 1581 to trade with the Ottoman Empire, and in 1670 the French Compagnie du Levant was founded for the same purpose. At this time, the Far East
was known as the "Upper Levant".[2]

Postcard bearing a French stamp inscribed Levant

In early 19th-century travel writing, the term sometimes incorporated certain Mediterranean provinces of the Ottoman empire, as well as independent Greece
(and especially the Greek islands). In 19th-century archaeology, it referred to overlapping cultures in this region during and after prehistoric times, intending to reference the place instead of any one culture. The French mandate of Syria
and Lebanon (1920–1946) was called the Levant
states.[2][4] Geography and modern-day use of the term

Satellite view of the Levant
including Cyprus, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and the Northern Sinai

Today, "Levant" is the term typically used by archaeologists and historians with reference to the history of the region. Scholars have adopted the term Levant
to identify the region due to it being a "wider, yet relevant, cultural corpus" that does not have the "political overtones" of Syria-Palestine.[b][c] The term is also used for modern events, peoples, states or parts of states in the same region,[29] namely Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey
are sometimes considered Levant
countries (compare with Near East, Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia). Several researchers include the island of Cyprus
in Levantine studies, including the Council for British Research in the Levant,[30] the UCLA
Near Eastern Languages and Cultures department,[31] Journal of Levantine Studies[32] and the UCL Institute of Archaeology,[19] the last of which has dated the connection between Cyprus
and mainland Levant
to the early Iron Age. Archaeologists seeking a neutral orientation that is neither biblical nor national have used terms such as Levantine archaeology
Levantine archaeology
and archaeology of the Southern Levant.[33][34] While the usage of the term "Levant" in academia has been restricted to the fields of archeology and literature, there is a recent attempt to reclaim the notion of the Levant
as a category of analysis in political and social sciences. Two academic journals were recently launched: Journal of Levantine Studies, published by the Van Leer Jerusalem
Institute and The Levantine Review, published by Boston College. ISIL has adopted the term "Levant" within the English translation of their self-designation.[citation needed] History Main articles: History of the Middle East, Prehistory of the Levant, History of the ancient Levant, History of Palestine, and History of Israel Politics and religion

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The largest religious group in the Levant
are the Muslims and the largest cultural-linguistic group are Arabs, due to the Muslim conquest of the Levant
in the 7th century and subsequent Arabization of the region.[35][36] Other large ethnic groups in the Levant
include Jews, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians and Armenians.[37] The majority of Levantines are Sunni, Salafi, nondenominational or Shia Muslim. There are also Jews, Christians, Yazidi
Kurds, Alawites, Nizari, Druze, and Ismailis.[citation needed] Until the establishment of the modern State of Israel
in 1948, Jews lived throughout the Levant
alongside Muslims and Christians; since then, almost all have been expelled from their homes and sought refuge in Israel. There are many Levantine Christian groups such as Greek and Oriental Orthodox Mainly Syriac Orthodox, Maronite, Roman Catholic, and Protestant. Armenians
mostly belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are Levantines or Franco-Levantines who are mostly Roman Catholic. There are also Circassians, Turks, Samaritans, and Nawars. There are Assyrian peoples belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East
(autonomous) and the Chaldean Catholic Church (Catholic).[citation needed] In addition, this region has a number of sites that are of religious significance, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque,[38] the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,[39] and the Western Wall[40] in Jerusalem. Language Most Levantine populations speak Levantine Arabic, also known as Mediterranean Arabic (شامي, Šāmī). In Israel, the primary language is Hebrew; Arabic is an official language, and the Arab minority speaks a dialect of Levantine Arabic
Levantine Arabic
essentially indistinguishable from the forms spoken in the Palestinian territories. In Cyprus, the majority language is Greek, followed by Turkish, and then a dialect of Levantine Arabic, Cypriot Maronite Arabic. Some communities and populations speak Aramaic, Greek, Armenian, Circassian, French, or English.[citation needed] August Jochmus (freiherr von Cotignola)'s The Syrian War and the Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1840-1848: In Reports, Documents, and Correspondences, Etc, Volume 1, published in 1883, stated that Italian was previously the most common western European language in the Levant, but that it was being replaced by French.[41] See also

Middle East

Overlapping regional designations

Fertile Crescent Mashriq Mesopotamia Near East
and Middle East Western Asia

Sub-regional designations

Southern Levant


French post offices in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
("Levant" stamps) History of the Levant Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant
(Referred to in current events as ISIL or ISIS) Levantines ( Latin
Christians), Catholic Europeans in the Levant Levantine Sea

Other places in the east of a larger region

Levante, Spain Riviera di Levante, Italy


^ Population of 44,550,926 found by adding all the countries' populations (Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Hatay Province) ^ "Nevertheless, despite such a well-reasoned basis for the identification of Levantine archaeology, the adoption of this term by many scholars has been, for the most part, simply the result of individual attempts to consider a wider, yet relevant, cultural corpus than that which is suggested by the use of terms like Canaan, Israel, or even Syria-Palestine. Regardless of the manner in which the term has come into common use, for a couple of additional reasons it seems clear that the Levant
will remain the term of choice. In the first place scholars have shown a penchant for the term Levant, despite the fact that the term ‘Syria-Palestine’ has been advocated since the late 1970s. This is evident from the fact that no journal or series today has adopted a title that includes ‘Syria-Palestine’. However, the journal Levant
has been published since 1969 and since 1990, Ägypten und Levante has also attracted a plethora of papers relating to the archaeology of this region. Furthermore, a search through any electronic database of titles reveals an overwhelming adoption of the term ‘Levant’ when compared to ‘Syria-Palestine’ for archaeological studies. Undoubtedly, this is mostly due to the fact that ‘Syria-Palestine’ was a Roman administrative division of the Levant
created by Hadrian (Millar 1993). The term ‘Syria-Palestine’ also carries political overtones that inadvertently evoke current efforts to establish a full-fledged Palestinian state. Scholars have recognized, therefore, that—for at least the time being—they can spare themselves further headaches by adopting the term Levant
to identify this region" (Burke 2010)[page needed] ^ "At the beginning of this Introduction I have indicated how difficult it is to choose a general accepted name for the region this book deals with. In Europe we are used to the late Roman name 'Palestine,' and the designation 'Palestinian Archaeology' has a long history. According to Byzantine usage it included Cis Jordan
and Trans Jordan
and even Lebanon
and Sinai. In modern times, however, the name 'Palestine' has exclusively become the political designation for a restricted area. Furthermore, in the period this book deals with a region called 'Palestine' did not yet exist. Also the ancient name 'Canaan' cannot be used as it refers to an older period in history. Designations as: 'The Land(s) of the Bible' or 'the Holy Land' evoke the suspicion of a theological bias. 'The Land of Israel' does not apply to the situation because it never included Lebanon
or the greater part of modern Jordan. Therefore I have joined those who today advocate the designation 'Southern Levant.' Although I confess that it is an awkward name, it is at least strictly geographical." (Geus 2003, p. 6)


^ Gagarin 2009, p. 247; Encarta 2009, "Levant"; Oxford Dictionaries 2015. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gagarin 2009, p. 247 ^ a b Oxford Dictionaries 2015. ^ a b c d Encarta 2009, "Levant" ^ Gagarin 2009, p. 247; Naim 2011, p. 921;

Amy Chua (2004), World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability p. 212; Mandyam Srinivasan, Theodore Stank, Philippe-Pierre Dornier, Kenneth Petersen (2014), Global Supply Chains: Evaluating Regions on an EPIC Framework – Economy, Politics, Infrastructure, and Competence: “EPIC” Structure – Economy, Politics, Infrastructure, and Competence, p. 3; Ayubi, Nazih N. (1996), Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East
p. 108; David Thomas, Alexander Mallett (2012), Christian- Muslim
Relations. A Bibliographical History. Volume 4 (1200-1350), p. 145; Jeff Lesser (1999), Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities, and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil p. 45

^ Naim 2011, p. 921. ^ Margreet L. Steiner; Ann E. Killebrew (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: C. 8000-332 BCE. OUP Oxford. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-19-921297-2. The western coastline and the eastern deserts set the boundaries for the Levant... The Euphrates and the area around Jebel el-Bishrī mark the eastern boundary of the northern Levant, as does the Syrian Desert
Syrian Desert
beyond the Anti-Lebanon range's eastern hinterland and Mount Hermon. This boundary continues south in the form of the highlands and eastern desert regions of Transjordan  ^ Google Ngram Viewer plot ^ LEVANT archaic The eastern part of the Mediterranean with the islands and neighbouring countries. New Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd ed., revised, 2005. ^ LEVANT, THE. A general term formerly given to the E shores of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
from W Greece
to Egypt. The Penguin Encyclopedia, revised 2nd ed., 2004. ^ LEVANT, (vieilli) Le Levant: les pays, les régions qui sont au levant (par rapport à la France) et spécialt. les régions de la Méditerrranée orientale. Le Nouveau Petit Robert de la langue française, (1993 revised ed.). ^ Thomas Evan Levy, Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future: The New Pragmatism, Routledge, 2016 ISBN 1134937466. Thomas E. Levy, "The New Pragmatism", p. 8: "after 1994, it is possible to see an increase in the use of the less geographically specific and more political [sic] neutral words 'Levant' or 'Levantine' in scholarly citations.... It is important to highlight the pedigree of the term 'Syro-Palestinian' and its gradual replacement by the term 'Levant' or 'Levantine' because the latter is a more culturally and politically neutral term that more accurately reflects the tapestry of countries and peoples of the region, without assuming directionality of cultural influence.". Aaron A. Burke, "The Archaeology of the Levant
in North America: The Transformation of Biblical and Syro-Palestinian Archaeology" p. 82ff: "A number of factors account for the gradual emergence during the past two decades of what is now widely identified as Levantine archaeology
Levantine archaeology
in North America... a growing consensus regarding the appropriate terminology... archaeological field research in the Levant" ^ William G. Dever, The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: When Archaeology and the Bible Intersect, 2012, ISBN 0802867014, p. 249: "Today, however, the discipline is often called Palestinian, Syro-Palestinian, or Levantine archaeology." ^ Ann E. Killebrew, Margreet Steiner, The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE (title), 2013 ISBN 9780199212972 doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199212972.001.0001 ^ "levantine+archaeology"&cd_min:2000,cd_max:2099&tbm=bks Google search results ^ Mark Gasiorowski, The Government and Politics of the Middle East
and North Africa, 2016 ISBN 081334994X, p. 5: " the term Levantine can describe shared cultural products, such as Levantine cuisine or Levantine archaeology" ^ "levantine+cuisine"&cd_min:2000,cd_max:2099&tbm=bks Google search results ^ Michel Elias Andraos, "Levantine Catholic Communities in the Diaspora at the Intersection of Many Identities and Worlds", in Michael L. Budde, Scattered and Gathered: Catholics in Diaspora, 2017 ISBN 1532607091 p. 24: "The word 'Levantine' in the title is used on purpose instead of the 'Middle East' or the 'Near East'.... I use 'Levantine' more than the two other designations, because this is the term being used more often nowadays by Christian communities in the Middle East
to describe their shared identity as al-maseeheyoun al-mashriqeyoun, Levantine Christians" ^ a b The Ancient Levant, UCL Institute of Archaeology, May 2008 ^ Egyptian Journal of Geology - Volume 42, Issue 1 - Page 263, 1998 ^ "Ancient Ashkelon - National Geographic Magazine". 2002-10-17. Retrieved 2011-10-17.  ^ "The state of Israel: Internal influence driving change". BBC News. 2011-11-06.  ^ Orfalea, Gregory The Arab Americans: A History. Olive Branch Press. Northampton, MA, 2006. Page 249 ^ a b Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary. "Levant". Retrieved 2012-07-27.  ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition ^ Balme, Maurice; Morwood, James. "Chapter 36". Oxford Latin
Course Part III (2nd ed.). p. 19.  ^ "Journal of Levantine Studies". The Van Leer Jerusalem
Institute. Retrieved 30 January 2014.  ^ Braudel, p. [page needed]. ^ e.g., "The Levant
Crisis: Syria, Iraq, and the Region", Australian National University [1]; Center for Strategic and International Studies, " Egypt
and the Levant", 2017 [2]; Michael Kerr, Craig Larkin, eds., The Alawis of Syria, 2015 ISBN 9780190458119 ^ Sandra Rosendahl (2006-11-28). "Council for British Research in the Levant
homepage". Retrieved 2010-07-05.  ^ Biblical and Levantine studies, UCLA ^ "About JLS". Journal of Levantine Studies.  ^ Dever, William G. "Syro-Palestinian and Biblical Archaeology", pp. 1244-1253. ^ Sharon, Ilan "Biblical archaeology" in Encyclopedia of Archaeology Elsevier. ^ Kennedy, Hugh N. (2007). The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In. Da Capo Press. p. 376. ISBN 978-0306817281.  ^ Lapidus, Ira M. (13 October 2014) [1988]. A History of Islamic Societies (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0521514309.  ^ Shoup, John A (2011-10-31). Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia. ISBN 9781598843620. Retrieved 26 May 2014.  ^ Mustafa Abu Sway. "The Holy Land, Jerusalem
and Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
in the Qur'an, Sunnah and other Islamic Literary Source" (PDF). Central Conference of American Rabbis. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-28.  ^ "Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem". Jerusalem: 2010-02-21. Retrieved 2012-07-07.  ^ Frishman, Avraham; Kum Hisalech Be’aretz, Jerusalem, 2004 ^ Jochmus, August freiherr von Cotignola). The Syrian War and the Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1840-1848: In Reports, Documents, and Correspondences, Etc, Volume 1. A. Cohn, 1883. p. RA3-PA179.


Braudel, Fernand, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II [full citation needed] Burke, Aaron (2010), "The Transformation of Biblical and Syro-Palestinian Archaeology", in Levy, Thomas Evan, Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future: The New Pragmatism, London: Equinox  "Levant", Encarta, Microsoft, 2009  Geus, C. H. J. de (2003), Towns in Ancient Israel
and in the Southern Levant, Peeters Publishers, p. 6, ISBN 978-90-429-1269-4  Gagarin, Michael (31 December 2009), Ancient Greece
and Rome, 1, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, p. 247, ISBN 978-0-19-517072-6  Naim, Samia (2011), "Dialects of the Levant", in Weninger, Stefan; et al., The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook, Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, p. 921  "Levant", Oxford Dictionaries Online, Oxford University Press 

Further reading

Julia Chatzipanagioti: Griechenland, Zypern, Balkan und Levante. Eine kommentierte Bibliographie der Reiseliteratur des 18. Jahrhunderts. 2 Vol. Eutin 2006. ISBN 3-9810674-2-8 Levantine Heritage site. Includes many oral and scholarly histories, and genealogies for some Levantine Turkish families. Philip Mansel, Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean, London, John Murray, 11 November 2010, hardback, 480 pages, ISBN 978-0-7195-6707-0, New Haven, Yale University Press, 24 May 2011, hardback, 470 pages, ISBN 978-0-300-17264-5

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