Bringing together, for the first time, the relevant evidence from Ugarit to the High Roman Empire, this study seeks to clarify the role of privately organized groups in Levantine societies. It connects these findings to recent advances in the study of ancient private associations, which stress their capacity to create a ‘fourth space’ next to (and combining) politics, cult and the members’ personal life. Applying this model to a region with a long history of sociability has the potential to change some basic assumptions about the development of Near Eastern societies. Instead of the timeless continuity often postulated for the region, the sphere of private corporate organization underwent significant changes in the course of time. As the ‘fourth space’ never develops in isolation from other societal spheres, this observation has broader implications, and highlights the impact of both the Hellenistic and the Roman conquests.