The ancient city of Ebla in northwestern Syria flourished from the middle of the third millennium BCE to the middle of the second. At its height in the second half of the second millennium, it was a major seat of economic power and culture, rivaling the Mesopotamian and Egyptian Empires. Ebla was re-discovered through archaeological excavations in the 1960s although local residents undoubtedly knew of its ruins long before this.
The ruins of Ebla are located in a mound approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Aleppo known as Tall Mardikh (Tell Mardikh). The physical form of the mound consists of a central hillock measuring around 170 meters in diameter (the citadel), a large depression surrounding this hillock forming an ovoid shape (the lower city), which is in turn enclosed by a ridge (the remains of the city walls). It thus follows the form of other bronze-age cities in northern Mesopotamia.1
The history of the city is evident in its archaeological remains as well as in textual sources, both from other sites and from an archive of cuneiform tablets that was excavated in situ in the so-called "Palace Complex G," the second palace of Ebla. The archives coincide with the period of time just before the city's first destruction ca. 2300. The city was rebuilt a second and third time, lasting as a major center until ca. 1600 BCE when it was destroyed by the Hittite king Mursili I. Only the acropolis appears to have been inhabited in phases after this third and final destruction.
1. Matthiae, Ebla, 42.
Matthiae, Paolo. Ebla: An Empire Revisited. Translated by Christopher Holmes. Doubleday & Company: Garden City, NY, 1981.