Nothing is known of Baalbeck prior to the Greek conquest of Syria (332 B.C.). After the death of Alexander the Great (323), the region fell to the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, under which the town was called Heliopolis, probably for its Egyptian namesake. In 200 it was conquered by the Seleucid Antiochus III (the Great) and remained a Seleucid possession until the fall of that dynasty (64 B.C.), at which time it came under Roman control. Several decades later it was made a Roman colony and was settled by a legion. Baalbeck passed into Byzantine hands and then came under Arab domination (637 A.D.). From then until the 20th century, it was administered by the various Muslim rulers of Syria. After World War I the French mandatory authorities included Baalbeck in Lebanon.
Three major earthquakes occurred in the 12th century, in 1139, 1157, and 1170. The one in 1170 ruined Baalbek’s walls and, though Nur ad-Din repaired them, his young heir Ismaʿil was made to yield it to Saladin by a 4-month siege in 1174.
One of the principal structures on the site is the Temple of Jupiter (completed 2nd century ce), only portions of which remain. It was a massive building, entered by a propylaea, or entranceway, leading to a hexagonal forecourt and then to a rectangular main court 343 feet (104.5 metres) long and 338 feet (103 metres) wide. The court was surrounded by elaborately decorated exedrae (semicircular benches) and opened onto a portico whose 84 granite columns were brought from Aswān in Upper Egypt. On a high terrace at the western end of the court stood the sanctuary, a Corinthian building with 54 columns—10 on each front and 19 on each flank, each 62 feet (19 metres) high and 7.5 feet (2.3 metres) in diameter. The temple was dedicated to three deities: the Syrian thunder god Hadad, equated with Jupiter; the Syrian nature goddess Atargatis, equated with Venus; and a youthful god, probably a vegetation spirit, equated by the Greeks with Hermes the shepherd, hence by the Romans with Mercury. Originally a purely agricultural cult was practiced there; later it seems to have developed aspects of a personalistic mystery religion, worship of the youthful god apparently having acquired orgiastic features.
(completed 2nd century ce), only portions of which remain. It was a massive building, entered by a propylaea, or entranceway, leading to a hexagonal forecourt and then to a rectangular main court 343 feet (104.5 metres) long and 338 feet (103 metres) wide. The court was surrounded by elaborately decorated exedrae (semicircular benches) and opened onto a portico whose 84 granite columns were brought from Aswān in Upper Egypt. On a high terrace at the western end of the court stood the sanctuary, a Corinthian building with 54 columns—10 on each front and 19 on each flank, each 62 feet (19 metres) high and 7.5 feet (2.3 metres) in diameter. The temple was dedicated to three deities: the Syrian thunder god Hadad, equated with Jupiter; the Syrian nature goddess Atargatis, equated with Venus; and a youthful god, probably a vegetation spirit, equated by the Greeks with Hermes the shepherd, hence by the Romans with Mercury. Originally a purely agricultural cult was practiced there; later it seems to have developed aspects of a personalistic mystery religion, worship of the youthful god apparently having acquired orgiastic features.
The oldest settlement was on an island in the river that progressively silted up. The city was known in antiquity as Berytus.
In 140 B.C. the city was destroyed by Diodotus Tryphon in his contest with Antiochus VII Sidetes for the throne of the Macedonian Seleucid monarchy. Beirut was soon rebuilt on a more conventional Hellenistic plan and renamed Laodicea in Phoenicia (Greek: Λαοδίκεια ἡ ἐν Φοινίκῃ) or Laodicea in Canaan in honor of a Seleucid Laodice. The modern city overlies the ancient one, and little archaeology was carried out until after the end of the civil war in 1991. The post-war salvage excavations (1993-to date) have yielded new insights in the layout and history of Roman Berytus.
Mid-first-century coins from Berytus bear the head of Tyche, goddess of fortune; on the reverse, the city’s symbol appears: a dolphin entwines an anchor. This symbol was later taken up by the early printer Aldus Manutius in 15th century Venice.
Beirut was conquered by Pompey in 64 B.C. The city was assimilated into the Roman Empire, veteran soldiers were sent there, and large building projects were undertaken. Beirut was considered the most Roman city in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.
In 14 B.C., during the reign of Herod the Great, Berytus became a colonia and was named Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus. Its law school was widely known; two of Rome’s most famous jurists, Papinian and Ulpian, both natives of Phoenicia, taught there under the Severan emperors. When Justinian assembled his Pandects in the 6th century, a large part of the corpus of laws was derived from these two jurists, and in 533 Justinian recognized the school as one of the three official law schools of the empire. After the 551 Beirut earthquake the students were transferred to Sidon.
In 1888, Beirut was made capital of the Ottaman vilayet (governorate) in Syria, including the sanjaks (prefectures) Latakia, Tripoli, Beirut, Acre and Bekaa. By this time, Beirut had grown into a cosmopolitan city and had close links with Europe and the United States. It also became a centre of missionary activity that spawned educational institutions, such as the American University of Beirut. Provided with water from a British company and gas from a French one, silk exports to Europe came to dominate the local economy. After French engineers established a modern harbor in 1894 and a rail link across Lebanon to Damascus and Aleppo in 1907, much of the trade was carried by French ships to Marseille. French influence in the area soon exceeded that of any other European power.
The Lebanon cedar is the national emblem of Lebanon, and is displayed on the flag of Lebanon and coat of arms of Lebanon. It is also the logo of Middle East Airlines (MEA), which is Lebanon’s national carrier. It is unknown when the first cedar of Lebanon was planted in Britain, but it dates at least to 1664, when it is mentioned in Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber. In Britain, cedars of Lebanon are known for their use in London’s Highgate Cemetery.
C. libani has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Historically, there were various attempts at conserving the Lebanon cedars. The first was made by the Roman emperor Hadrian; he created an imperial forest and ordered it marked by inscribed boundary stones, two of which are in the museum of the American University of Beirut.
Over the centuries, extensive deforestation has occurred, with only small remnants of the original forests surviving. Deforestation has been particularly severe in Lebanon, but extensive reforestation of cedar is carried out in the Mediterranean region. Lebanese cedar populations are also expanding through an active program combining replanting and protection of natural regeneration from browsing goats, hunting, forest fires, and woodworms. The Lebanese approach emphasizes natural regeneration by creating proper growing conditions. The Lebanese state has created several reserves including the Chouf Cedar Reserve, the Jaj Cedar Reserve, the Tannourine Reserve, the Ammouaa and Karm Shbat Reserves in the Akkar district, and the Forest of the Cedars of God near Bsharri.
The Phoenicians were a great maritime people, known for their mighty ships adorned with horses’ heads in honor of their god of the sea, Yamm, the brother of Mot, the god of death. The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Jebail (Byblos). Phoenician city-states began to take form c. 3200 B.C. and were firmly established by c. 2750 B.C. Phoenicia thrived as a maritime trader and manufacturing center from c.1500-332 B.C. and was highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and an impressive level of skill in the manufacture of luxury and common goods.
From the ninth to sixth centuries B.C. they dominated the Mediterranean Sea, establishing emporiums and colonies from Cyprus in the east to the Aegean Sea, Italy, North Africa, and Spain in the west. They grew rich trading precious metals from abroad and products such as wine, olive oil, and most notably the timber from the famous cedars of Lebanon, which forested the mountains that rise steeply from the coast of their homeland.
Acting as cultural middlemen, the Phoenicians disseminated ideas, myths, and knowledge from the powerful Assyrian and Babylonian worlds in what is now Syria and Iraq to their contacts in the Aegean. Those ideas helped spark a cultural revival in Greece, one which led to the Greeks’ Golden Age and hence the birth of Western civilization. The Phoenicians imported so much papyrus from Egypt that the Greeks used their name for the first great Phoenician port, Byblos, to refer to the ancient paper. The name Bible, or “the book,” also derives from Byblos.
The Phoenician alphabet is derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures. The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet was directly derived from Phoenician. Another derivative script is the Aramaic alphabet, which was the ancestor of the modern Arabic script. The Modern Hebrew script is a stylistic variant of the Aramaic script. The Greek alphabet (and by extension its descendants, such as Latin, Cyrillic, Runic, and Coptic) was also derived from Phoenician.
As the letters were originally incised with a stylus, most of the shapes are angular and straight, although more cursive versions are increasingly attested in later times, culminating in the Neo-Punic alphabet of Roman-era North Africa. Phoenician was usually written from right to left, although there are some texts written in boustrophedon.
Beginning in the 9th century BC, adaptations of the Phoenician alphabet — such as Greek, Old Italic, Anatolian, and the Paleo-Hispanic scripts were very successful. The alphabet’s success was due in part to its phonetic nature; Phoenician was the first widely used script in which one sound was represented by one symbol, which meant that there were only a few dozen symbols to learn. This simple system contrasted with the other scripts in use at the time, such as cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, which employed many complex characters and were difficult to learn.
Another reason for its success was the maritime trading culture of Phoenician merchants, which spread the use of the alphabet into parts of North Africa and Europe. Phoenician inscriptions have been found in archaeological sites at a number of former Phoenician cities and colonies around the Mediterranean, such as Byblos (in present-day Lebanon) and Carthage in North Africa. Later finds indicate earlier use in Egypt.
Phoenician had long-term effects on the social structures of the civilizations that came in contact with it. As mentioned above, the script was the first widespread phonetic script. Its simplicity not only allowed it to be used in multiple languages, but it also allowed the common people to learn how to write. This upset the long-standing status of writing systems only being learned and employed by members of the royal and religious hierarchies of society, who used writing as an instrument of power to control access to information by the larger population. The appearance of Phoenician disintegrated many of these class divisions, although many Middle Eastern kingdoms, such as Assyria, Babylonia and Adiabene, would continue to use cuneiform for legal and liturgical matters well into the beginning of the first millennium A.D.
The sites chosen were generally offshore islands or easily defensible promontories with sheltered beaches on which ships could be drawn up. Carthage (from the Phoenician Kart-Hadasht, New City or Land, founded by Queen Elissar of Tyre), destined to be the largest Phoenician colony and in the end an imperial power, conformed to the pattern.
Tradition dated the foundation of Gades (modern Cádiz; the earliest known Phoenician trading post in Spain) to 1110 BC, Utica (Utique) to 1101 BC, and Carthage to 814 BC. The dates appear legendary, and no Phoenician object earlier than the 8th century BC has yet been found in the west. At Carthage some Greek objects have been found, datable to about 750 or slightly later, which comes within two generations of the traditional date. Little can be learned from the romantic legends about the arrival of the Phoenicians at Carthage transmitted by Greco-Roman sources. Though individual voyages doubtless took place earlier, the establishment of permanent posts is unlikely to have taken place before 800 BC, antedating the parallel movement of Greeks to Sicily and southern Italy.
Material evidence of Phoenician occupation in the 8th century BC comes from Utica, and of the 7th or 6th century BC from Hadrumetum (Susah, Sousse), Tipasa (east of Cherchell), Siga (Rachgoun), Lixus, and Mogador (Essaouira), the last being the most distant Phoenician settlement so far known. Finds of similar age have been made at Motya (Mozia) in Sicily, Nora (Nurri), Sulcis, and Tharros (San Giovanni di Sinis), Bithia and Olbia in Sardinia, and Cádiz and Almuñécar in Spain. Unlike the Greek settlements, however, those of the Phoenicians long remained politically dependent on their homeland, and only a few were situated where the hinterland had the potential for development. The emergence of Carthage as an independent power, leading to the creation of an empire based on the secure possession of the North African coast, resulted less from the weakening of Tyre, the chief city of Phoenicia, by the Babylonians than from growing pressure from the Greeks in the western Mediterranean; in 580 BC some Greek cities in Sicily attempted to drive the Phoenicians from Motya and Panormus (Palermo) in the west of the island. The Carthaginians feared that if the Greeks won the whole of Sicily they would move on to Sardinia and beyond, isolating the Phoenicians in North Africa. The successful defense of Sicily was followed by attempts to strengthen limited footholds in Sardinia; a fortress at Monte Sirai is the oldest Phoenician military building in the west. The threat from the Greeks receded when Carthage, in alliance with Etruscan cities, backed the Phoenicians of Corsica in about 540 BC and succeeded in excluding the Greeks from contact with southern Spain.
Venerable historical traditions recount the Phoenician voyages to found new cities. Utica, on the Tunisian coast of North Africa, was reputedly founded in 1178 BC, and by 1100 BC the Phoenician city of Tyre supposedly had a Spanish colony at Gadir (Cadiz). Although intriguing, these historical traditions are unsupported by evidence. Excavations confirm that the Phoenicians settled in southern Spain after 800 BC. Their search for new commodities led them ever farther westward and was the reason for their interest in southern Spain’s mineral wealth. The untapped lodes of silver and alluvial deposits of tin and gold provided essential raw materials with which to meet the increasing Assyrian demands for tribute. By 700 BC silver exported from the Río Tinto mines was so abundant that it depressed the value of silver bullion in the Assyrian world. This is the background for Phoenician interest in the far west.
Phoenician commerce was conducted by family firms of ship owners and manufacturers who had their base in Tyre or Byblos and placed their representatives abroad. This accounts for the rich tombs of Phoenician pattern found at Almuñécar, Trayamar, and Villaricos, equipped with metropolitan goods such as alabaster wine jars, imported Greek pottery, and delicate gold jewelry. Maritime bases from the Balearic Islands (Ibiza) to Cadiz on the Atlantic were set up to sustain commerce in salted fish, dyes, and textiles. Early Phoenician settlements are known from Morro de Mezquitilla, Toscanos, and Guadalhorce and shrines from Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar and the Temple of Melqart on the island of Sancti Petri near Cadiz. After the fall of Tyre to the Babylonians in 573 BC and the subjugation of Phoenicia, the early prosperity faded until the 4th century. Many colonies survived, however, and Abdera (Adra), Baria (Villaricos), Carmona (Carmo), Gadir (Cadiz), Malaca (Málaga), and Sexi (Almuñécar) thrived under the trading system established by Carthage for the central and western Mediterranean. Eivissa (Ibiza) became a major Carthaginian colony, and the island produced dye, salt, fish sauce, and wool. A shrine with offerings to the goddess Tanit was established in the cave at Es Cuyram, and the Balearic Islands entered Eivissa’s commercial orbit after 400 BC. In 237 BC, just before the Second Punic War, Carthage launched its conquest of southern Spain under Hamilcar Barca, founded a new capital city at Cartago Nova (Cartagena) in 228 BC, and suffered crushing defeat by the Romans in 206 BC.
The Colonies, Phoenicia’s Diaspora
Among the most outstanding colonies or trading posts which the Phoenicians had established were the cities of Genoa, where they went in with the Celts and established a flourishing colony, and Marseille which they started as nothing more than a trading post before it became fully Hellenized.
It is very probable that the tremendous colonial activity of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians was stimulated in the 8th to 6th centuries BC by the military blows that were wrecking the trade of the Phoenician homeland in the Levant. Also, competition with the synchronous Greek colonization of the western Mediterranean cannot be ignored as a contributing factor.
The earliest site outside the Phoenician homeland known to possess important aspects of Phoenician culture is Ugarit (Ras Shamra), about six miles north of Latakia. The site was already occupied before the 4th millennium BC, but the Phoenicians only became prominent there around 1991-1786 BC.
According to Herodotus, the coast of Libya along the sea which washes it to the north, throughout its entire length from Egypt to Cape Soloeis, which is its furthest point, is inhabited by Libyans of many distinct tribes who possess the whole tract except certain portions which belong to the Phoenicians and the Greeks.
Tyre’s first colony, Utica in North Africa, was founded perhaps as early as the 10th century BC. It is likely that the expansion of the Phoenicians at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC is to be connected with the alliance of Hiram of Tyre with Solomon of Israel in the second half of the 10th century BC. In the following century, Phoenician presence in the north is shown by inscriptions at Samal (Zincirli Hüyük) in eastern Cilicia, and in the 8th century at Karatepe in the Taurus Mountains, but there is no evidence of direct colonization. Both these cities acted as fortresses commanding the routes through the mountains to the mineral and other wealth of Anatolia.
Cyprus had Phoenician settlements by the 9th century BC. Citium, known to the Greeks as Kition (biblical Kittim), in the southeast corner of the island, became the principal colony of the Phoenicians in Cyprus. Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, several smaller settlements were planted as stepping-stones along the route to Spain and its mineral wealth in silver and copper: at Malta, early remains go back to the 7th century BC, and at Sulcis and Nora in Sardinia and Motya in Sicily, perhaps a century earlier. According to Thucydides, the Phoenicians controlled a large part of the island but withdrew to the northwest corner under pressure from the Greeks. Modern scholars, however, disbelieve this and contend that the Phoenicians arrived only after the Greeks were established.
In North Africa the next site colonized after Utica was Carthage (near Tunis). Carthage in turn seems to have established (or, in some cases, reestablished) a number of settlements in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, the Balearic Islands, and southern Spain, eventually making this city the acknowledged leader of the western Phoenicians. Leptis Magna, a titular see of Tripolitana was founded by the Sidonians in a fine and fertile country, it was the most important of the three towns which formed the Tripoli Confederation (Libya toay). The remains of the ancient Phœnician town are still visible, with the harbour, quays, walls, and inland defence, which make it look like Carthage. This city subsequently became the centre of a Greek city, Neapolis, of which most of the monuments are buried under sand. Notwithstanding Pliny (Nat. Hist., V, xxviii), who distinguishes Neapolis from Leptis, there is no doubt, according to Ptolemy, Strabo, and Scyllax, that they should be identified. Leptis allied itself with the Romans in the war against Jugurtha. Having obtained under Augustus the title of civitas it seems at that time to have been administered by Carthaginian magistrates; it may have been a municipium during the first century of the Christian Era and erected by Trajan into a colony bearing the name of Colonia Ulpia Trajana, found on many of its coins. The birthplace of Septimius Severus, who embellished it and enriched it with several fine monuments, it was taken and sacked in the fourth century by the Libyan tribe of Aurusiani (Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVIII, vi) and has never since completely recovered. It was at that time the seat of the military government of Tripolitana.
Phoenician KART-HADASHT, Latin CARTHAGO, great city of antiquity, traditionally founded on the north coast of Africa by the Phoenicians of Tyre in 814 BC. It is now a residential suburb of the city of Tunis. Its Phoenician name means New Town or Land.
A brief treatment of ancient Carthage follows. For full treatment, see North Africa: History.
Various traditions concerning the foundation of Carthage were current among the Greeks, who called the city Karchedon; but the Roman tradition is better known because of the Aeneid, which tells of the city’s foundation by the Tyrian princess Elissar or Elyssa (Dido in Greek), who fled from her brother Pygmalion (the name of a historical king of Tyre who ruled a century after Hiram). The inhabitants were known to the Romans as Poeni, a derivation from the word Phoenikes (Phoenicians), from which the adjective Punic is derived. According the Greek historian Timaeus (c. 356-260 B.C.), Carthage was founded in 814 B.C. by a Elyssa who gathered up the royal treasury and a group of supporters and traveled to Cyprus, another Phoenician colony. Thereafter she traveled to North Africa where present day country of Tunis is.
The site chosen for Carthage in the centre of the shore of the Gulf of Tunis was ideal: the city was built on a triangular peninsula covered with low hills and backed by the Lake of Tunis with its safe anchorage and abundant supplies of fish. The site of the city was well protected and easily defensible. On the south the peninsula is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. The ancient citadel, the Byrsa, was on a low hill overlooking the sea. It is said, the local Berber permitted Elyssa and her people to have as much land at that which could be covered with a single oxhide. Hence, she was supposed to have cut an oxhide into thin strips and encircled the hill. Some of the earliest tombs have been found there, though nothing remains of Carthage’s domestic and public buildings. Byrsa means fortress in Phoenician. Byrsa in Greek and Latin mean hide from which bourse or stock-market, and purse are derived.
The standard of cultural life enjoyed by the Carthaginians was probably far below that of the larger cities of the classical world. Punic interests were turned toward commerce. In Roman times Punic beds, cushions, and mattresses were regarded as luxuries, and Punic joinery and furniture were copied. Much of the revenue of Carthage came from its exploitation of the silver mines of North Africa and southern Spain, begun as early as 800 BC.
From the middle of the 3rd century to the middle of the 2nd century BC, Carthage was engaged in a series of wars with Rome called the Punic Wars (Phoenicians Wars). These wars, which are known as the Punic Wars, ended in the complete defeat of Carthage by Rome. When Carthage finally fell in 146 BC, the site was plundered and burned, and all human habitation there was forbidden.
Phoenicians from the city of Tyre dwell all round memphis, and the whole place is known by the name of “the camp of the Tyrians.” Within the enclosure stands a temple, which is called that of Venus the Stranger.
Glass manufacturing, Sidon’s most important enterprise in the Phoenician era, was conducted on a vast scale, and the production of purple dye was almost as important. The small shell of the Murex trunculus was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty.
In AD 1855, the sarcophagus of King Eshmun’azar II was discovered. From a Phoenician inscription on its lid, it appears that he was a “king of the Sidonians,” probably in the 5th century BC, and that his mother was a priestess of ‘Ashtart, “the goddess of the Sidonians.” In this inscription the gods Eshmun and Ba‘al Sidon ‘Lord of Sidon’ (who may or may not be the same) are mentioned as chief gods of the Sidonians. ‘Ashtart is entitled ‘Ashtart-Shem-Ba‘al ‘‘Ashtart the name of the Lord’, a title also found in an Ugaritic text.
In the years before Christianity, Sidon had many conquerors: Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and finally Romans. Herod the Great visited Sidon. Both Jesus and Saint Paul are said to have visited it, too (see Biblical Sidon, below). The city was eventually conquered by the Arabs and then by the Ottoman Turks.
Like other Phoenician city-states, Sidon suffered from a succession of conquerors. At the end of the Persian era in 351 BC, it was invaded by the emperor Artaxerxes III and then by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, when the Hellenistic era of Sidon began. Under the successors of Alexander, it enjoyed relative autonomy and organized games and competitions in which the greatest athletes of the region participated. In the Necropolis of Sidon, important finds such as the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Lycian tomb and the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women were discovered, which are now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul.
When Sidon fell under Roman domination, it continued to mint its own silver coins. The Romans also built a theater and other major monuments in the city. In the reign of Elagabalus a Roman colony was established there, and was given the name of Colonia Aurelia Pia Sidon. During the Byzantine period, when the great earthquake of AD 551 destroyed most of the cities of Phoenice, Beirut’s School of Law took refuge in Sidon. The town continued quietly for the next century, until it was conquered by the Arabs in AD 636.
On 4 December 1110 Sidon was captured, a decade after the First Crusade, by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem and King Sigurd I of Norway. It then became the centre of the Lordship of Sidon, an important lordship in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Saladin captured it from the Crusaders in 1187, but German Crusaders restored it to Christian control in the Crusade of 1197. It would remain an important Crusader stronghold until it was finally destroyed by the Saracens in 1249. In 1260 it was again destroyed by the Mongols. The remains of the original walls are still visible.
After Sidon came under Ottoman Turkish rule in the early 16th century, it became the capital of the Sidon Eyalet (province) and regained a great deal of its earlier commercial importance.
There is evidence of settlement in Tripoli that dates back as early as 1400 BCE. In the 9th century BCE, the Phoenicians established a trading station in Tripoli and later, under Persian rule, the city became the center of a confederation of the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Arados Island. Under Hellenistic rule, Tripoli was used as a naval shipyard and the city enjoyed a period of autonomy. It came under Roman rule around 64 BCE. The 551 Beirut earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Byzantine city of Tripoli along with other Mediterranean coastal cities.
During Umayyad rule, Tripoli became a commercial and shipbuilding center. It achieved semi-independence under Fatimid rule, when it developed into a center of learning. The Crusaders laid siege to the city at the beginning of the 12th century and were able finally to enter it in 1109. This caused extensive destruction, including the burning of Tripoli’s famous library, Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge), with its thousands of volumes. During the Crusaders’ rule the city became the capital of the County of Tripoli. In 1289, it fell to the Mamluks and the old port part of the city was destroyed. A new inland city was then built near the old castle. During Ottoman rule from 1516 to 1918, it retained its prosperity and commercial importance. Tripoli and all of Lebanon was under French mandate from 1920 until 1943, when Lebanon achieved independence.
During the Mamluk period, Tripoli became a central city and provincial capital of the six kingdoms in Mamluk Syria). Tripoli ranked third after Aleppo and Damascus. The kingdom was subdivided into six wilayahs or provinces and extended from Jubayl and Aqra mountains south, to Latakia and al Alawiyyin mountains north. It also included Hermel, the plain of Akkar, and Hosn al-Akrad (Krak des Chevaliers).
Tripoli became a major trading port of Syria supplying Europe with candy, loaf and powdered sugar (especially during the latter part of the 14th century). The main products from agriculture and small industry included citrus fruits, olive oil, soap, and textiles (cotton and silk, especially velvet).
Tyre originally consisted of two distinct urban centres, Tyre itself, which was on an island just off shore, and the associated settlement of Ushu on the adjacent mainland. Alexander the Great connected the island to the mainland by constructing a causeway during his siege of the city, demolishing the old city to reuse its cut stone.
The original island city had two harbours, one on the south side and the other on the north side of the island. It was the two harbours that enabled Tyre to gain the maritime prominence that it did; the harbour on the north side of the island was, in fact, one of the best harbours on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The harbour on the south side has silted over, but the harbour on the north side is still in use.
In ancient times, the island-city of Tyre was heavily fortified and the mainland settlement, originally called Ushu (later called Palaetyrus, meaning “Old Tyre,” by the ancient Greeks) was actually more like a line of suburbs than any one city and was used primarily as a source of water and timber for the main island city.
Tyre was founded around 2750 BC according to Herodotus and was originally built as a walled city upon the mainland. Phoenicians from Tyre settled in houses around Memphis, south of the temple of Hephaestus in a district called the Tyrian Camp. Tyre’s name appears on monuments as early as 1300 BC. Philo of Byblos (in Eusebius) quotes the antiquarian authority Sanchuniathon as stating that it was first occupied by Hypsuranius. Sanchuniathon’s work is said to be dedicated to “Abibalus king of Berytus”—possibly the Abibaal who was king of Tyre.
There are ten Amarna letters dated 1350 BC from the mayor, Abimilku, written to Akenaten. The subject is often water, wood and the Habiru overtaking the countryside of the mainland and how that affected the island-city.