The language of Aramaic may have first appeared among the Aramaeans in the 11th century B.C. It was spoken by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C., and then, before Alexander the Great defeated Persian King Darius III, Aramaic was the official language of the Achaemenid Dynasty of the Persian Empire (c. 550-330 B.C.).
Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the language of the Jewish common people probably by the 6th century B.C., during the Jewish Babylonian captivity. Parts of the Talmud or Gemara and certain Old Testament books were written in Aramaic. Centuries later, Jesus and his apostles are thought to have spoken Aramaic. It was replaced by Arabic in the seventh century, although Aramaic continues to be spoken in geographic pockets even today.
History of Aramaic divides the periods of Aramic history into the following:
- Old Aramaic, 925-700
- Official or Imperial (Assyrian) Aramaic, 700-200
- Middle Aramaic, 200 B.C. - 200 A.D.
- Late Aramaic, 200-700
- Modern Aramaic, 700 to the present.