The scribes of the city of Ugarit created a cuneiform alphabet in the fourteenth century BCE. The alphabet was written in the familiar order we use today.
Archaeologists have discovered extensive writings and evidence of a culture rivaling those of Mesopotamia and Egypt in and around the ancient city of Ebla. Later Syrian scholars and artists contributed to Hellenistic and Roman thought and culture. Cicero was a pupil of Antiochus of Ascalon at Athens; and the writings of Posidonius of Apamea influenced Livy and Plutarch.
Philip Hitti claimed, the scholars consider Syria as the teacher for the human characteristics, and Andrea Parrout writes, each civilized person in the world should admit that he has two home countries: the one he was born in, and Syria.
Syria is a traditional society with a long cultural history. Importance is placed on family, religion, education and self discipline and respect. The Syrian’s taste for the traditional arts is expressed in dances such as the al-Samah, the Dabkes in all their variations and the sword dance. Marriage ceremonies and the birth of children are occasions for the lively demonstration of folk customs.
Traditional Houses of the Old Cities in Damascus, Aleppo and the other Syrian cities are preserved and traditionally the living quarters are arranged around one or more courtyards, typically with a fountain in the middle supplied by spring water, and decorated with citrus trees, grape vines, and flowers.
Outside of larger city areas such as Damascus, Aleppo or Homs, residential areas are often clustered in smaller villages. The buildings themselves are often quite old (perhaps a few hundred years old), passed down to family members over several generations. Residential construction of rough concrete and blockwork is usually unpainted, and the palette of a Syrian village is therefore simple tones of greys and browns.
Syrians have contributed to Arabic literature and music and have a proud tradition of oral and written poetry. Syrian writers, many of whom immigrated to Egypt, played a crucial role in the nahda or Arab literary and cultural revival of the nineteenth century. Prominent contemporary Syrian writers include, among others, Adonis, Muhammad Maghout, Haidar Haidar, Ghada al-Samman, Nizar Qabbani and Zakariyya Tamer.
There was a private sector presence in the Syrian cinema industry until the end of the 1970s, but private investment has since preferred the more lucrative television serial business. Syrian soap operas, in a variety of styles (all melodramatic, however), have considerable market penetration throughout the eastern Arab world.
Although declining, Syria’s world-famous handicraft industry still employs thousands.
Syrian food mostly consists of Southern Mediterranean, Greek, and Middle Eastern dishes. Some Syrian dishes also evolved from Turkish and French cooking. Dishes like shish kebab, stuffed zucchini, yabra’ (stuffed grape leaves, the word yapra’ derives from the Turkish word ‘yaprak’ meaning leaf), shawarma, and falafel are very popular in Syria as the food there is diverse in taste and type. Restaurants are usually open (food is served outdoors).