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42 The Political Abroach to the Classical World
populations was extensive; the ethnographical and political map
of Hither Asia was profoundly altered. The Gasgas, tribes who
had long harassed the Hittite kingdom on its northern and wes-
tern fronts, had been carried as far east as the borders of Assyria.
Remnants of the Hittites themselves were to be found in Syria.
The new-comers from Europe settled down to form prosperous
States in Asia Minor; the Mushki of Phrygia appear later as
powerful neighbours and opponents of the Assyrian Empire.
The collapse of the Hittite power led to the establishment of
the Aramaeans in the Fertile Crescent. For centuries past,
semi-nomadic tribes had been filtering in from the desert oases.
Now, finding the land disorganized and depopulated, they
settled in greater numbers and began to form independent
States, each ruled by a petty king. They quickly adopted the
civilization which they found in their new homes—a civilization
in which Hittite and Babylonian elements were blended—but
they introduced their own language. Being able business men,
they soon restored to the cities of Syria, Hamath and Aleppo,
Carchemish, Damascus, and the rest, their old prosperity, so
that these Semitic States achieved considerable importance
within the limited sphere of their several interests. In the south
of Palestine, the sheikhs of Edom and Moab set up independent
kingdoms as neighbours of the Philistines. Only in the wealthy
Phoenician cities of the coast, Ugarit and Byblus, Tyre and
Sidon, there was little change. They recovered from the shock
of the foreign invasions and continued in their role of middle-
men for the trade of the civilized world.
For a time there was no great Power in the Near East. Egypt,
exhausted by her efforts abroad and weakened by a line of in-
effective Pharaohs, came under the rule of priest kings. Baby-
lonia, emerging from the long obscurity of Cassite rule, was still
troubled by Elamite raids and by an influx from the Western
Desert of Semitic tribes, the Chaldeans. Under the leadership
of a king of the old native stock, Nebuchadnezzar I, the country