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  • Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent and Eastern Arabia. Having first appeared as a script in 1st century AD Assyria after being spoken there as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries, the classical language of Edessa, preserved in a large body of Syriac literature. Indeed, Syriac literature comprises roughly 90% of the extant Aramaic literature. The terms Syrian and Syriac emerged during the Neo Assyrian Empire, and are originally 9th century BC Indo-Anatolian and Greek derivatives of 𒀸𒋗𒁺 𐎹 Aššūrāyu/Assur, and for five centuries or more referred to only Assyria proper, a region encompassing modern Northern Iraq, Southeast Turkey and Northeast Syria, and the Assyrian people. However, from the late 4th century BC, the Seleucid Empire also applied this term to The Levant and its largely Aramean and Canaanite inhabitants as well as Assyria, and from this point the term was applied without distinction to both Assyria and The Levant.

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