The Levant (IPAEng|lə'vænt) is a geographical term that denotes a large area in Western Asia, roughly bounded on the north by the Taurus Mountains, on the south by the Arabian Desert, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, while on the east it extends into Upper Mesopotamia; however, some definitions include nearly all of Mesopotamia. The term "Levant" is somewhat synonymous with the term "Mashriq" derived from the Arabic consonantal root "sh-r-q" (ش ر ق), relating to "the east" or "the sunrise". An imprecise term, "Levant" refers to an area of cultural habitation rather than to a specific geographic region.

The Levant forms the middle part of the Fertile Crescent, between the Nile Valley (Egypt) to the south-west, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) to the east. It consists of Syria, israel, Lebanon and Jordan.


The Levant measures about convert|560|mi|km|abbr=on east to west and convert|330|mi|km|abbr=on north to south. It has an area of approximately convert|200000|sqmi|km2|abbr=on. Its lowest point is the surface of the Dead Sea, convert|1000|ft|m|abbr=on below sea level. Its highest point is the peak of Qurnat as Sawda', convert|10131|ft|m|abbr=on above sea level.


The term "Levant", which first appeared in English in 1497, originally meant a wider sense of "Mediterranean lands east of Venetia". It derives from the Middle French "levant", the participle of "lever" "to raise" — as in "soleil levant" "rising Sun" — from the Latin "levare". It thus referred to the Eastern direction of the rising Sun from the perspective of those who first used it and has analogues in other European languages, notably "morgenland" -or a closely related word meaning "morning land"- in most Germanic languages. As such, it is broadly equivalent to the Arabic term "Mashriq", "the land where the Sun rises".

It is similar to the Ancient Greek name Ανατολία ("Anatolía") which means the "land of the rising Sun", or simply the East. It derives from ανατολή = “the rise, especially the sunrise”, resp. from ἀνατέλλω = to rise, esp. said of the Sun or Moon (ἀνά = up, above + τέλλω = to go, rise, come into existence). For the Greeks, Ανατολία ("Anatolía") is a synonym of Μικρά Ασία ("Mikrá Asía" = Asia Minor), not of Levant.


The term became current in English in the 16th century, along with the first English merchant adventurers in the region: English ships appeared in the Mediterranean in the 1570s and the English merchant company signed its agreement ("capitulations") with the Grand Turk in 1579 (Braudel).

In 19th-century travel writing, the term incorporated eastern regions under then current or recent governance of the Ottoman empire, such as Greece. In 19th-century archaeology, it referred to overlapping cultures in this region during and after prehistoric times, intending to reference the place instead of any one culture.

ince World War I

When the United Kingdom took over Palestine in the aftermath of the First World War, some of the new rulers adapted the term pejoratively to refer to inhabitants of mixed Arab and European descent and to Europeans (usually French, Italian, or Greek) who had "gone native" and adopted local dress and customs.Fact|date=August 2007

The French Mandates of Syria and Lebanon, from 1920 to 1946, were called the Levant states. The term became common in archaeology at that time, as many important early excavations were made then, such as Mari and Ugarit. Since these sites could not be classified as Mesopotamian, North African, or Arabian, they came to be referred to as "Levantine."

Today "Levant" is typically used by archaeologists and historians with reference to the prehistory and the ancient and medieval history of the region, as when discussing the Crusades. The term is also occasionally employed to refer to modern or contemporary events, peoples, states, or parts of states in the same region, namely Israel and the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan,and Syria.

Further uses

The name Levantine is additionally applied to people of Italian (especially Venetian and Genoese), French, or other Euro-Mediterranean origin who have lived in Turkey or the East Mediterranean coast (the Levant) since the period of the Crusades, the Byzantine period and the Ottoman period. The majority of them are descendants of traders from the maritime republics of the Mediterranean (such as the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa and the Republic of Ragusa) or of the inhabitants of Crusader states (especially the French Levantines in Turkey and Lebanon). They continue to live in İstanbul (mostly in the districts of Galata, Beyoğlu and Nişantaşı) and İzmir (mostly in the districts of Bornova and Buca).



ee also

* History of the Levant
* Mashriq
* Southern Levant
* Canaan
* Land of Israel
* Greater Syria
* Bilad al-Sham
* Mesopotamia
* Amarna letters
* Council for British Research in the Levant
* Phoenicia


*Braudel, Fernand, "The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II"
* Julia Chatzipanagioti: Griechenland, Zypern, Balkan und Levante. Eine kommentierte Bibliographie der Reiseliteratur des 18. Jahrhunderts. 2 Vol. Eutin 2006. ISBN 3981067428
*http://www.levantine.plus.com/index.htm. Levantine Heritage Site. Includes many oral and scholarly histories, and genealogies for some Levantine Turkish families.

External links

*The History of the Ancient Near East [http://ancientneareast.tripod.com/Levant.html The Ancient Levant]

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  • levant — levant, ante [ ləvɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. et n. m. • 1080; de 1. lever A ♦ 1 ♦ Qui se lève, en parlant du soleil. Soleil levant. Au soleil levant : à l aurore. Rare « dans la clarté douteuse de cette lune levante » (Pergaud). 2 ♦ N. m. (v. 1260) Côté de l …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • levant — 1. (le van) adj. m. Usité seulement dans cette locution : soleil levant, soleil qui paraît au matin. Je serai là à soleil levant, au soleil levant. Le soleil levant regarde cette maison.    Fig. Adorer le soleil levant, faire sa cour à la faveur… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • levant — Levant. adj. v. Qui se leve. Il n est en usage qu en cette phrase. Soleil levant. je seray là à soleil levant. cette colline est exposée au soleil levant. le soleil levant la regarde. On dit prov. & fig. qu On adore plustost le soleil levant que… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Levant — ist der Familienname von Brian Levant (* 1952), US amerikanischer Filmregisseur, Filmproduzent und Drehbuchautor Oscar Levant (1906 1972), US amerikanischer Komponist Ort: Levant (Maine) Île du Levant ist eine Insel im Mittelmeer vor der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Levant — Le*vant (l[ e]*v[a^]nt ), n. [It. levante the point where the sun rises, the east, the Levant, fr. levare to raise, levarsi to rise: cf. F. levant. See {Lever}.] 1. The countries washed by the eastern part of the Mediterranean and its contiguous… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • levant — m. levant; est point cardinal. « Sus l interior, drech a levant, dos palmiers trason son floquet pus aut que lo teulat. » R. Lafont …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

  • Levant — Le vant (l[=e] vant), a. [F., p. pr. of lever to raise.] (Law) Rising or having risen from rest; said of cattle. See {Couchant and levant}, under {Couchant}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Levant — Le vant (l[=e] vant; 277), a. Eastern. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Forth rush the levant and the ponent winds. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Levant — Mediterranean lands east of Italy, late 15c., from M.Fr. levant the Orient, from prp. of lever to rise (from L. levare to raise; see LEVER (Cf. lever)). The region so called in reference to the direction of sunrise …   Etymology dictionary

  • Levant — [lə vant′, ləvänt′] [Fr levant < It levante (< L levans, rising, raising, prp. of levare, to raise: see LEVER): applied to the East, from the “rising” of the sun] region on the E Mediterranean, including all countries bordering the sea… …   English World dictionary

  • levant — levant1 [lə vant′] vi. [prob. < Sp levantar, to start suddenly (as game), lit., to rise, ult. < L levare, to raise: see LEVER] Brit. to disappear unexpectedly, so as to avoid paying one s debts levant2 [lə vant′, ləvänt′] n. LEVANT MOROCCO …   English World dictionary