Historical periods are the attempt of the historian to shape the endless flow of events in time into meaningful, coherent entities. Periods are often bracketed by "decisive" events and comprise one or more dominant features which give "unity" to the period so chosen. The periodization of history must by necessity remain a work in progress. It is always an attempt of interpretation and giving meaning and, hence, always open to revision. Ottoman rule over the Arab provinces was always considered as such a period, defined by the conquest and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The present article tries to probe in how far these events are indeed meaningful for the periodization of the history of Bilad al-Sham, the geographical Syria.