Syria is one of the oldest inhabited regions in the world with archaeological finds dating the first human habitation at c. 700,000 years ago. The Dederiyeh Cave near Aleppo has produced a number of significant finds, such as bones, placing Neanderthal habitation in the region at that time and shows continual occupation of the site over a substantial period. The region was known as Eber Nari ('across the river') by the Mesopotamians and included modern-day Syria, Lebanon, and Israel (collectively known as The Levant). Eber Nari is referenced in the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah as well as in reports by the scribes of Assyrian and Persian kings. The modern name of Syria is claimed by some scholars to have derived from Herodotus' habit of referring to the whole of Mesopotamia as 'Assyria'.
The Umayyad Mosque was built on the site of the Roman Temple of Jupiter, converted into the Church of St John the Baptist in 379 CE. After the Islamic conquest of Damascus, the holy site was shared between the Christians and the Muslims of the city. By the succession of the Umayyad Caliph al-Walid bin Abd al-Malik, the church was demolished and a vast congregational mosque constructed instead.
The temple of the Storm God has sat at the top of the citadel mound of the ancient city of Aleppo in Syria for four and a half millennia, buried for nearly three of those beneath later architectural remains. A German expedition working on the citadel since 1996 has recovered the plan of the temple in all its phases, from the Early Bronze through the Iron Ages. These finds provide important artistic, religious, and historical data for the period of the Hittite domination and the subsequent Neo-Hittite period in the region.