Countries and regions of the Levant in the broad, historic meaning (equivalent to the Eastern Mediterranean)[1]
  Countries of the Levant in 20th century usage[3]
  Countries and regions sometimes included in the 21st century
Countries and regionsNarrow definition:
 Akrotiri and Dhekelia
 Turkey (Hatay Province)
Broad definition may also include:
 Libya (Cyrenaica)
 Turkey (whole country)
PopulationNarrow definition: 44,550,926[a]
LanguagesArabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Circassian, Domari, Greek, Hebrew, Kurdish, Turkish
Time ZonesUTC+02:00 (EET) and UTC+03:00 (FET/AST)
Largest cities

The Levant (/ləˈvænt/) is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology and other cultural contexts, it is equivalent to a stretch of land bordering the Mediterranean in southwestern Asia,[4][5] i.e. the historical region of Syria ("greater Syria"), which includes present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and most of Turkey southwest of the middle Euphrates. Its overwhelming characteristic is that it represents the land bridge between Africa and Eurasia.[5] In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the Eastern Mediterranean with its islands;[6] that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica in eastern Libya.[3][2]

The term entered English in the late 15th century from French.[6] It derives from the Italian levante, meaning "rising", implying the rising of the Sun in the east,[3][2] and is broadly equivalent to the term al-Mashriq (Arabic: ٱلْمَشْرِق, [ʔal.maʃ.riq]),[7] meaning "the eastern place, where the Sun rises".[8]

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.[3] Eventually the term was restricted to the Muslim countries of Syria-Palestine and Egypt.[3] In 1581, England set up the Levant Company to monopolize commerce with the Ottoman Empire.[3] The name Levant States was used to refer to the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon after World War I.[3][2] This is probably the reason why the term Levant has come to be used more specifically to refer to modern Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus.[3] Some scholars mistakenly believed that it derives from the name of Lebanon.[3] 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: ٱلشَّام, /ʔaʃ.ʃaːm/), the area that is bounded by the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the north Arabian Desert and Mesopotamia in the east, and Sinai in the south (which can be fully included or not).[9][5] Typically, it does not include Anatolia (also called Asia Minor), the Caucasus Mountains, or any part of the Arabian Peninsula proper. Cilicia (in Asia Minor) and the Sinai Peninsula (Asian Egypt) are sometimes included.

As a name for the contemporary region, several dictionaries consider Levant to be archaic today.[10][11][12] 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;[13][14][15] food scholars speak of Levantine cuisine;[4] and the Latin Christians of the Levant continue to be called Levantine Christians.[16]

The Levant has been described as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and northeast Africa",[17] and in geological (tectonic) terms as the "northwest of the Arabian plate".[18] The populations of the Levant[19][20] share not only the geographic position, but cuisine, some customs, and history. They are often referred to as Levantines.[21]

  1. ^ Gagarin 2009, p. 247; Oxford Dictionaries 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Encarta 2009, "Levant"
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gagarin 2009, p. 247
  4. ^ a b Gasiorowski, Mark (2016). The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. {p. 5: "... today the term Levantine can describe shared cultural products, such as Levantine cuisine or Levantine archaeology". {isbn|081334994X}}.
  5. ^ a b c Steiner & Killebrew, p. 9: "The general limits ..., as defined here, begin at the Plain of 'Amuq in the north and extend south until the Wâdī al-Arish, along the northern coast of Sinai. ... 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 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."
  6. ^ a b Oxford Dictionaries 2015.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Naim 2011, p. 921.
  9. ^ Steiner & Killebrew, p. 2.
  10. ^ LEVANT archaic The eastern part of the Mediterranean with the islands and neighbouring countries. New Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd ed., revised, 2005.
  11. ^ LEVANT, THE. A general term formerly given to the E shores of the Mediterranean Sea from W Greece to Egypt. The Penguin Encyclopedia, revised 2nd ed., 2004.
  12. ^ 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.).
  13. ^ 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 in North America... a growing consensus regarding the appropriate terminology... archaeological field research in the Levant"
  14. ^ 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."
  15. ^ Steiner & Killebrew (2013). p. 1-2.
  16. ^ 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"
  17. ^ Cite error: The named reference UCL was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  18. ^ Egyptian Journal of Geology - Volume 42, Issue 1 - Page 263, 1998
  19. ^ "Ancient Ashkelon - National Geographic Magazine". Ngm.nationalgeographic.com. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  20. ^ "The state of Israel: Internal influence driving change". BBC News. 6 November 2011.
  21. ^ Orfalea, Gregory (2006). The Arab Americans: A History. Olive Branch Press. Northampton, MA. Page 249.

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