Impressive Syrian Limestone Altar, ca. 3rd - 2nd Century BCE. Recessed top for placing incense and high relief of flying griffin on front. Tapered body standing on four triangular legs. In excellent condition. 4" x 4" x 4" Ex: Estate of George Halpern, New York, acquired from Charles Ede, Ltd. London, 1972. The first reference to an altar is the one built by Noah after the flood (Gen. 8:20) Abraham is the next builder of altars, the first three related to his circuit of wanderings within Canaan. Civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth, centred on the city of Ebla (founded in 3000 BC). Between 2500 BC and 2400 BC the city controlled a Semitic kingdom in Syria. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad around 2260 BC; the city was restored as the nation of the Amorites a few centuries later and flourished through the early second millennium BC until it was conquered by the Hittites. During the second millennium BC, Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Arameans as part of the general disruptions associated with the Sea Peoples; the Phoenicians settled along the coastline of these area as well as in the west (Now Lebanon & The current Syrian coast), in the area already known for its cedars. Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Hittites variously occupied the strategic ground of Syria during this period, as it was situated in between their various empires. Eventually the Persians took control of Syria as part of their general control of Southwest Asia; this control transferred to the Greeks after Alexander the Great's conquests and thence to the Romans and the Byzantines.