Arpad, Syria

Arpad (probably modern Tell Rifaat, Syria) was an ancient Aramaean Syro-Hittite city located in north-western Syria, north of Aleppo. It became the capital of the Aramaean state of Bit Agusi established by Gusi of Yakhan in the 9th century BC.[1] Bit Agusi stretched from the A'zaz area in the north to Hamath in the south.[2]

Arpad, Syria is located in Syria
Arpad, Syria
Shown within Syria
RegionAleppo Governorate
Coordinates36°28′N 37°06′E / 36.47°N 37.10°E / 36.47; 37.10

Arpad later became a major vassal city of the Kingdom of Urartu. In 743 BC, during the Urartu-Assyria War, the Neo-Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III laid siege to Arpad following the defeat of the Urartuan army of Sarduri II at Samsat. But the city of Arpad did not surrender easily. It took Tiglath-Pileser three years of siege to conquer Arpad, whereupon he massacred its inhabitants and destroyed the city.[3] Afterward Arpad served as a provincial capital.[4] Tell Rifaat, which is probably the remains of Arpad, has walls still preserved to a height of eight meters.[5]

Biblical referencesEdit

The city is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible:

  • 2 Kings 18:34; 19:13
  • Isaiah 10:9; 36:19; 37:13
  • Jeremiah 49:23, within the oracle against Damascus, one of the poetic "oracles against foreign nations" found in the later chapters of the Book of Jeremiah.[6]

The Assyrian vizier, Rabshakeh, lists the god(s) of Arpad among those who he alleges have been unable to save their cities from Assyrian assault.[7]


The word Arpad in Hebrew means 'the light of redemption',[8] or 'I shall be spread out (or: supported)'[9]


Tel Rifaat is an oval 250 by 233 meters. Within this, the main citadel is 142 by 142 meters with a maximum height of 30 meters. The defensive wall surrounding the site is about two miles long.

The site has been worked by a team from the Institute of Archaeology or the University of London. After a preliminary examination in 1956, Tell Rifa'at was excavated for two seasons in 1961 and 1964. The team was led by M. V. Seton Williams.[10][11]

In 1977, an archaeological survey was conducted of the area around Tell Rifa'at, also by the Institute of Archaeology.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lipinsky, Edward (2000). The Aramaeans: Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion (Peeters) p. 195.
  2. ^ Lipinsky, 2000, p. 99.
  3. ^ Healy, Mark (1992). The Ancient Assyrians (Osprey) p. 25.
  4. ^ Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. p. 626.
  5. ^ Lipinsky, 2000, p. 529.
  6. ^ Coogan, M. D. et al. (2007), The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, Issue 48
  7. ^ 2 Kings 18:34
  8. ^ "Arpad Definition and Meaning - Bible Dictionary". Bible Study Tools.
  9. ^ "NETBible: Arpad".
  10. ^ M. V. Seton Williams, Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Tell Rifa'at, Iraq, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 68-87, 1961
  11. ^ M. V. Seton Williams, The Excavations at Tell Rifa'at: 1964 Preliminary Report on, Iraq, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 16-33, 1967
  12. ^ John Matthers, Tell Rifa'at 1977: Preliminary Report of an Archaeological Survey, Iraq, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 119-162, 1978


  • P. A. Clayton, The Coins from Tell Rifa'at, Iraq, vol. 29, pp. 143–154, 1967
  • Alan R. Millard, Adad-Nirari III, Aram, and Arpad, Palestine Exploration Quarterly, vol. 105, pp. 161–164, 1973

Coordinates: 36°28′N 37°06′E / 36.47°N 37.10°E / 36.47; 37.10