The Phoenician port city is one of the oldest cities in Lebanon. Traces of settlement go back to the 5th millennium BC. The most important monuments include the ruins of the Baalat Gebal Temple (2700 BC) and the Obelisk Temple (1900–1600 BC), numerous royal tombs (around 1800 BC) and the tomb of Ahiram, a theater and the crusader castle.
Byblos ruins: facts
|Official title:||Byblos ruins|
|Cultural monument:||old port city of the Phoenicians, among others with the ruins of the temple of Baalat Gebál (2700 BC) and those of the so-called obelisk temple, the royal tombs with 9 underground tombs of the kings of Byblos, including that of king Ahiram with an inscription in the Phoenician alphabet, with the Persian fort, the Roman column street (around 300), the Roman theater (around 218), the crusader castle and the Ottoman souk|
|Location:||Byblos, north of Beirut|
|Meaning:||one of the oldest cities in Lebanon and closely linked to the spread of the Phoenician alphabet|
Byblos ruins: history
|5th / 4th Jtsd. V. Chr.||first traces of settlement|
|2300 BC Chr.||Conquest by Semitic Amorites|
|1900-1600 BC Chr.||Construction of the obelisk temple with 26 obelisks|
|1842-1797 BC Chr.||under Amenemhet III. there is evidence that timber was imported from Byblos to Egypt|
|around 1200 BC Chr.||first longer inscription in Phoenician alphabet on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram|
|875 BC Chr.||Assault by an army of the Assyrian king Assurnasirpal II.|
|555-333 BC Chr.||Persian suzerainty|
|332-64 BC Chr.||after the campaigns of Alexander the great Hellenistic epoch|
|64 BC Chr.||Beginning of Roman rule|
|1104||Capture by crusaders, construction of the crusader castle|
|1840||Shelling of the Ottoman base by the English fleet|
|1921-75||Excavations by French archaeologists|
The hour of birth of our alphabet
According to commit4fitness, archaeologists are still arguing which city in the world is the oldest continuously inhabited. Byblos, the Phoenician port city in Lebanon, is definitely one of the contenders. Because there is evidence that seaworthy fishermen built a hut settlement on the coast north of Beirut more than 7000 years ago. Djubail – the current Arabic name of the city – ties in with these early roots.
In the third millennium BC, the fishing village developed into the mighty walled port city called Gebál. The Egyptian pharaohs imported cedar wood from there for the construction of their ships and their pyramids; They paid with gold, fine fabrics and papyrus scrolls, as evidenced by grave goods. During this time, Gebál was one of the richest port cities in Phenicia and was an important trading point for papyrus. Since Greek immigrants settled here, the Greek name Byblos for the Egyptian papyrus – the “paper” – became the new city name and the ancient name Phenicia for the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
During this time Phoenician scribes, with knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian characters, devised a writing system of 22 phonetic letters which they used for their records and which became known in the Mediterranean thanks to their merchant ships. The sarcophagus of King Ahiram, who ruled in Byblos, bears the first inscription that has come down to us in this system. The Greeks recognized the advantage of this new, letter-based writing system, supplemented it with phonetic symbols of their language and called this alphabet »Phönikia grammata«. The utility of letters was tremendous: within a few years they could be learned and communicated in writing. It is possible that the later great cultural contributions of the Greeks would never have occurred.
In the following millennia Byblos came under the rule of the powers that control the eastern Mediterranean. They all left their marks carved in stone: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks under Alexander the Great, the Romans under Pompey. In Byzantine times, Byblos even became a bishopric, while the city was under Arab rule in the 7th century. During this time the mighty fortress was built on the northern outskirts, which today towers over the old town of Djubail and the entire excavation area.
The knightly kingdom of Jerusalem, established by the Crusaders in Palestine, lasted for two hundred years, and Byblos, now called Giblet, flourished unexpectedly as a port of transit and supply for the knightly armies under their new merchants from Genoa. But neither its wealth nor the huge square knight’s castle, surrounded by a high wall with five defensive towers, nor its patron saint Johannes, whose name the crusader chapel built in the castle courtyard bore, could save the city from the conquest by the Mamelukes. From now on the ancient ruins fell into disrepair, and by the end of the First World War there was nothing more than a small fishing nest of the city. It is thanks to French archaeologists like Ernest Renan that we know today of the importance of Byblos, later then Pierre Montet and finally Maurice Dunand, who completed his excavations in the mid-1970s. The millennia-old history, which is characterized by successive epochs of destruction and reconstruction, can be traced back to the hill plain of rubble and stones that is visible today, the height of which is over twelve meters and on which ruins from the various eras since the pre-urban Neolithic were uncovered are. The square castle of the Franconian crusaders towers above everything. Through its gates you enter a unique archaeological site in which 7,000 years of human history are presented in an open-air museum. which is characterized by successive epochs of destruction and reconstruction, can be seen on the hill plain of rubble and stones that is visible today, the height of which measures over twelve meters and on which ruins from different epochs since the pre-urban Neolithic were uncovered. The square castle of the Franconian crusaders towers above everything. Through its gates you enter a unique archaeological site in which 7,000 years of human history are presented in an open-air museum. which is characterized by successive epochs of destruction and reconstruction, can be seen on the hill plain of rubble and stones that is visible today, the height of which measures over twelve meters and on which ruins from different epochs since the pre-urban Neolithic were uncovered. The square castle of the Franconian crusaders towers above everything. Through its gates you enter a unique archaeological site in which 7,000 years of human history are presented in an open-air museum.