Byblos

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This article is about the Phoenician city. For other uses, see Byblos (disambiguation).
Byblos
City
Byblos Port
Byblos Port
Map showing the location of Byblos within Lebanon
Map showing the location of Byblos within Lebanon
Byblos
Location within Lebanon
Coordinates: 34°07′25″N 35°39′04″E / 34.12361°N 35.65111°E / 34.12361; 35.65111Coordinates: 34°07′25″N 35°39′04″E / 34.12361°N 35.65111°E / 34.12361; 35.65111
Country  Lebanon
Governorate Mount Lebanon Governorate
District Jbeil District
Area
 • City 5 km2 (2 sq mi)
 • Metro 17 km2 (7 sq mi)
Population
 • City 40,000
 • Metro 100,000
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Dialing code +961
Type: Cultural
Criteria: iii, iv, vi
Designated: 1984 (8th session)
Reference No. 295
State Party:  Lebanon
Region: Arab States

Byblos, in Arabic Jubayl (Arabic: جبيل‎  Lebanese --(Phoenician: 𐤂𐤁𐤋 )-- pronunciation: [ʒbejl]), is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon. It is believed to have been occupied first between 8800 and 7000 BC,[1] and according to fragments attributed to the semi-legendary pre-Trojan War Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, it was built by Cronus as the first city in Phoenicia.[2] Today it is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Name[edit]

The old souk in Byblos, Lebanon
Old City of Byblos
Byblos
Terracotta jug from Byblos (now in the Louvre), Late Bronze Age (1600–1200 BC)
Beach volleyball on Byblos's shore

Byblos was a Canaanite city called Gubal during the Bronze Age, at which time it also appears as Gubla in the Amarna letters. During the Iron Age the city is called Gebal in Phoenician (Phoenician: 𐤂𐤁𐤋) and appears in the Hebrew Bible under the name Geval (Hebrew: גבל‎). It was much later referred to as Gibelet, during the Crusades. The city's Canaanite/Phoenician name (GBL, i.e. Gubal, Gebal, etc.) can be derived from gb, meaning "well" or "origin", and El, the name of the supreme god of Byblos' pantheon. The present-day city is known by the Arabic name Jubayl or Jbeil (جبيل), a direct descendant of the Canaanite name. However, the name[clarification needed] is most likely derived from the Phoenician word GBL meaning "boundary", "district" or "mountain peak"; in the Ugaritic language GBL can mean "mountain", similarly to Arabic jabal.

The name Byblos is Greek (Greek: Βύβλος). Papyrus received its early Greek name (byblos, byblinos) from its being exported to the Aegean through Byblos, and the Greek words biblion, plural biblia, and ultimately the word "Bible" ("the (papyrus) book") are traced to that name.[3][4]

History and archaeology[edit]

Byblos is located about 26 miles (42 km) north of Beirut. It is attractive to archaeologists because of the successive layers of debris resulting from centuries of human habitation. It was first excavated by Pierre Montet from 1921 until 1924, followed by Maurice Dunand from 1925 over a period of forty years.[5][6]

The site first appears to have been settled during the PPNB period, approximately 8800 to 7000 BC.[1][7] Neolithic remains of some buildings can be observed at the site. According to the writer Philo of Byblos (quoting Sanchuniathon, and quoted in Eusebius), Byblos had the reputation of being the oldest city in the world, founded by Cronus. During the 3rd millennium BC, the first signs of a town can be observed, with the remains of well-built houses of uniform size. This was the period when the Canaanite civilization began to develop.

Neolithic and Chalcolithic levels[edit]

Jacques Cauvin published studies of flint tools from the stratified Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites in 1962.[8] Remains of humans found in Chalcolithic burials have been published by H.V. Vallois in 1937.[9] Tombs from this era were discussed by Emir M. Chehab in 1950.[10] Early pottery found at the tell was published by E.S. Boynton in 1960 with further studies by R. Erich in 1954 and Van Liere and Henri de Contenson in 1964.[11][12][13]

Five levels stratigraphy[edit]

Prehistoric settlements at Byblos were divided up by Dunand into the following five periods, which were recently expanded and re-calibrated by Yosef Garfinkel to correlate with Jericho;

  • Néolithique Ancien (Early Phase) (Ancient Neolithic) corresponding to the PPNB of Jericho, represented by plastered floors and naviform technology, dated between 8800 and 7000 BC;
  • Néolithique Ancien (Late Phase) corresponding to the PNA of Jericho IX (also Yarmukian) between 6400 and 5800 BC represented by pottery, sickle blades, figurines and small points, dated between 6400 and 5800 BC;
  • Néolithique Moyen (Middle Neolithic) corresponding to the PNB of Jericho VIII and represented by pottery, dated between 5800 and 5300 BC;
  • Néolithique Récent (Late Neolithic) corresponding to the Middle Chalcolithic of Beth Shean and represented by pottery, stone vessels, silos, chamber tombs and seals, dated between 5300 and 4500 BC;
  • Énéolithique Ancient (Ancient Chalcolithic) corresponding to the Late Chalcolithic of Ghassulian, represented by jar burials, pierced flint, churn and a violin figurine, dated to between 4500 and 3600 BC and,
  • Énéolithique Récent (Late Chalcolithic) corresponding to the Early Bronze Age, represented by architecture and cylinder seal impressions, dated to between 3600 and 3100 BC.[1]

Néolithique Ancien was a later settlement than others in the Beqaa Valley such as Labweh and Ard Tlaili. It was located on the seaward slope of the larger of the two hills that used to compose ancient Byblos, with a watered valley in between.[14]

The original site spread down into the valley and covered an area of 1.2 hectares (12,000 m2) providing fertile soils and a protected landing place for boats. Dunand discovered around twenty houses although some of the settlement was suggested to have been lost to the sea, robbed or destroyed.[6][15][16][17][18][19][20] Dwellings were rectangular with plastered floors, pottery was usually Dark faced burnished ware with some shell impressions.[21]

Néolithique Moyen was a smaller settlement of no more than 0.15 hectares (1,500 m2) adjacent to the older site. The pottery was more developed with red washes and more varied forms and elaborate decorations, buildings were poorer with unplastered floors.

The Néolithique Récent period showed development from the Moyen in building design, a wider range of more developed flint tools and a far larger variety of pottery with fabrication including silica. Énéolithique Ancien featured developments of "Canaanean blades" and fan scrapers. Adult burials in jars started to appear along with metal in the form of one copper hook, found in a jar. Some jars were lined with white plaster that was applied and self-hardened after firing.[22] Copper appeared more frequently in the Énéolithique Récent period along with multiple burials in tombs and jar handles with impressed signs.[11] Early Bronze Age remains were characterized by the development of Byblos combed ware and a lithic assemblage studied by Jacques Cauvin.[14][23]

Egyptian contact[edit]

Watson Mills and Roger Bullard suggest that during the Old Kingdom, Byblos was virtually an Egyptian colony.[5] The growing city was evidently a wealthy one and seems to have been an ally (among "those who are on his waters") of Egypt for many centuries. First Dynasty tombs used timbers from Byblos. One of the oldest Egyptian words for an ocean going boat was "Byblos ship". Archaeologists have recovered Egyptian-made artifacts as old as a vessel fragment bearing the name of the Second dynasty ruler Khasekhemwy, although this "may easily have reached Byblos through trade and/or at a later period.".[24] Objects have been found at Byblos naming the 13th dynasty Egyptian king Neferhotep I, and the rulers of Byblos maintained close relationships with the New Kingdom pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

Around 1350 BC, the Amarna tablets include 60 letters from Rib-Hadda and his successor Ili-Rapih who were rulers of Byblos, writing to the Egyptian government. This is mainly due to Rib-Hadda's constant pleas for military assistance from Akhenaten. They also deal with the conquest of neighboring city-states by the Hapiru.

It appears Egyptian contact peaked during the 19th dynasty, only to decline during the 20th and 21st dynasties. Although the archaeological evidence seems to indicate a brief resurgence during the 22nd and 23rd dynasties, it is clear after the Third Intermediate Period the Egyptians started favoring Tyre and Sidon instead of Byblos.[25]

Archaeological evidence at Byblos, dating back to around 1200 BC, shows existence of a Phoenician alphabetic script of twenty-two characters; an important example of this script is the sarcophagus of king Ahiram. The use of the alphabet was spread by Phoenician merchants through their maritime trade into parts of North Africa and Europe. One of the most important monuments of this period is the temple of Resheph, a Canaanite war god, but this had fallen into ruins by the time of Alexander.

The Medieval Church of St. John in Byblos, Lebanon
Traditional Lebanese house overlooking the Mediterranean sea, Byblos. This house is within the antiquities complex and illustrates the modern ground level with respect to excavations

Eastern empires[edit]

In the Assyrian period, Sibittibaal of Byblos became tributary to Tiglath-pileser III in 738 BC, and in 701 BC, when Sennacherib conquered all Phoenicia, the king of Byblos was Urumilki. Byblos was also subject to Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (r. 681–669 BC) and Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627 BC), under its own kings Milkiasaph and Yehawmelek.

In the Persian period (538–332 BC), Byblos was the fourth of four Phoenician vassal kingdoms established by the Persians; the first three being Sidon, Tyre, and Arwad.

Western empires[edit]

Hellenistic rule came with the arrival of Alexander the Great in the area in 332 BC. Coinage was in use, and there is abundant evidence of continued trade with other Mediterranean countries.

During the Greco-Roman period, the temple of Resheph was elaborately rebuilt, and the city, though smaller than its neighbours such as Tyre and Sidon, was a center for the cult of Adonis. In the 3rd century, a small but impressive theater was constructed. With the rise of Christianity, a bishopric was established in Byblos, and the town grew rapidly. Although a Persian colony is known to have been established in the region following the Moslem conquest of 636, there is little archaeological evidence for it. Trade with Europe effectively dried up, and it was not until the coming of the First Crusade in 1098 that prosperity returned to Byblos, known then as Giblet.

Byblos, under the name of Gibelet or Giblet, was an important military base in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 11th and 12th century, ruled by the Embriaco family, and the remains of its Crusader castle are among the most impressive architectural structures now visible at its center. The town was taken by Saladin in 1187, re-taken by the Crusaders, and eventually conquered by Baibars in 1266. Its fortifications were subsequently restored. From 1516 until 1918, the town and the whole region were part of the Ottoman Empire. Byblos and all of Lebanon was placed under French Mandate from 1920 until 1943 when Lebanon achieved independence.

Education[edit]

Byblos is home to the professional schools of the Lebanese American University. The LAU Byblos Campus houses the Medical School, the Engineering School, the School of Architecture and Design, the only US accredited Pharmacy School in the Middle East, the School of Business, and the School of Arts and Sciences. The Campus is situated on a hill overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea.

Tourism[edit]

Byblos is re-emerging as an upscale touristic hub.[26] With its ancient port, Phoenician, Roman and Crusader ruins, sandy beaches and the picturesque mountains that surround it make it an ideal tourist destination. The city is known for its fish restaurants, open-air bars, and outdoor cafes. Yachts cruise into its harbor today like they did in the sixties and seventies when Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra were regular visitors to the city.[26]

Crusader Fort
Museum inside the Crusader Castle in Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Historic Quarter
  • Ancient Phoenician temples

In the archaeological site of Byblos there are the remains of the Great Temple (also known as L-Shaped temple) built in 2700 BC, Temple of Baalat Gebal built in 2700 BC and Temple of the Obelisks built around 1600 BC.

  • Byblos Castle
Main article: Byblos Castle

Byblos Castle was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century. It is located in the archaeological site near the port.

  • Medieval city wall

The old medieval part of Byblos is surrounded by walls running about 270m from east to west and 200m from north to south

  • Mosque
Sultan Abdul Majid mosque in Byblos, Lebanon

The old mosque by the Castle dates back to Mamlouk times in mid 1600, it was renovated by Sultan Abdul Majid and the mosque adopted his name afterwards.

  • Byblos Wax Museum
Main article: Byblos Wax Museum

This museum displays wax statues of characters from Phoenician times to current days

  • St John the Baptist Church

Work on the church started during the Crusades in 1116. It was considered a cathedral and was partially destroyed during an earthquake in 1176 AD. It was transformed into stables by Islamic forces after the fall of the city, and was given to the Maronites as a gift by Prince Youssef Chehab of Lebanon in the mid-1700s, after they aided him in capturing the city.

  • Byblos Fossil Museum
Main article: Byblos Fossil Museum

Byblos Fossil Museum has a collection of fossilized fish, sharks, eel, flying fish, and other marine life, some millions of years old.

  • Historic Quarter and Souks

In the southeast section of the historic city, near the entrance of the archaeological site, is an old market where tourists can shop for souvenirs and antiques, or simply stroll along the old cobblestone streets and enjoy the architecture.

  • Byblos International Festival

This summer music festival is an annual event that takes place in the historic quarter.

Threats to Byblos[edit]

The 2006 Lebanon War negatively affected this ancient site by covering the harbor and town walls with an oil slick.[27][clarification needed]

Today[edit]

Byblos public beach

Today, Byblos is a modern city that still retains its historical past. Byblos remains as one of Lebanon's major tourist sites due to its rich history and scenic mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. Most residents of Byblos are Maronite Catholics. There are also some Shia Muslims that remain, whose ancestors were inhabitants of the city before expulsion at the end of the 13th century by the Mamluk Turks based on a fatwa from Ibn Taymiyyah. It is said that the city of Bint Jbeil ("daughter of Jbeil") in southern Lebanon was founded by those displaced Shi'a. Byblos has three representatives in the Parliament of Lebanon: two Maronites and one Shi'a.[28]

Bibliography[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Byblos is twinned with:

Condé Nast Traveler[edit]

Byblos was chosen by Condé Nast Traveler as the second best city in the Middle East for 2012, beating Tel Aviv and Dubai,[29] and by the World Tourism Organization as the best Arab tourist city for 2013.[30]

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c E. J. Peltenburg; Alexander Wasse; Council for British Research in the Levant (2004). Garfinkel, Yosef., "Néolithique" and "Énéolithique" Byblos in Southern Levantine Context* in Neolithic revolution: new perspectives on southwest Asia in light of recent discoveries on Cyprus. Oxbow Books. ISBN 978-1-84217-132-5. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  2. ^ The Theology Of The Phœnicians: From Sanchoniatho
  3. ^ Brake, Donald L. (2008). A visual history of the English Bible: the tumultuous tale of the world's bestselling book. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8010-1316-4. 
  4. ^ "Byblos (ancient city, Lebanon) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  5. ^ a b Watson E. Mills; Roger Aubrey Bullard (1990). Mercer dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-86554-373-7. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Moore, A.M.T. (1978). The Neolithic of the Levant. Oxford University, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. pp. 329–339. 
  7. ^ Vogel, J.C. Waterbolk, H.T., Groningen Radiocarbon Dates X, Radiocarbon, 14, 6–110 / 105, 1972.
  8. ^ Cauvin, Jacques., Les industries lithiques du tell de Byblos (Liban), L'Anthropologie, vol. 66, 5–6, 1962.
  9. ^ Vallois, H.V., Note sur les ossements humains de la nécropole énéolithique de Byblos (avec 2 planches). Bulletin du musée de Beyrouth. Tome I, 1937. Beyrouth, in 4° br., 1 f.n.c., 104 pages, 7 planches hors-texte.
  10. ^ Chehab, Emir M., Tombes des chefs d'époque énéolithique trouvés à Byblos, Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth. Tome IX, 1949–1950, Beyrouth, in-4° br., 117 pages et 9 pages de texte arabe, 14 planches hors-texte et 1 carte dépliante.
  11. ^ a b Boynton, E.S., The Ceramic Industry of Ancient Lebanon. (Available in MS in American University of Beirut and in microfilm in Harvard Library) 1960.
  12. ^ Erich, R., Relative chronologies in Old World Archaeology, Chicago, 1954.
  13. ^ Van Liere, W. and Contenson, Henri de, "Holocene Environment and Early Settlement in the Levant", Annales archéologiques de Syrie, volume 14, pp. 125–128, 1964.
  14. ^ a b Lorraine Copeland; P. Wescombe (1965). Inventory of Stone-Age sites in Lebanon, p. 78-79. Imprimerie Catholique. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Rapport préliminaire sure les fouilles de Byblos en 1948, 1949, BULLETIN DU MUSEE DE BEYROUTH. Tome IX, 1949–1950, Beyrouth, in-4° br., 117 pages et 9 pages de texte arabe, 14 planches hors-texte et 1 carte dépliante.
  16. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Fouilles de Byblos, vol II, Atlas, Paris, 1950d (also part I, 1954 – part II, 1958)
  17. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Chronologie des plus anciennes installations de Byblos, Revue Biblique, vol. 57, 1950b
  18. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Rapport préliminaire sure les fouilles de Byblos en 1950, 1951 & 1952, Bulletin du musée de Beyrouth. Tome XII, 1955, Beyrouth, in-4° br., 58 pages, 16 pages de texte arabe, 20 planches hors-texte.
  19. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Rapport préliminaire sure les fouilles de Byblos en 1954, 1955, Bulletin du musée de Beyrouth. Tome XIII, 1956, Beyrouth, in-4° br., 95 pages, 3 figures ou plans, 28 planches hors-texte dont 2 transcriptions de texte.
  20. ^ Fleisch, Henri., Préhistoire au Liban en 1950, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Français, vol. 48, 1–2, p. 26. (Contains report on Byblos presented by Maurice Dunand to the 3rd C.I.S.E.A., Brussels, 1948), 1951.
  21. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Rapport préliminaire sure les fouilles de Byblos en 1960, 1961 & 1962, Bulletin du musée de Beyrouth. Tome XVII, 1964, Beyrouth, in-4° br., 110 pages, 7 planches.
  22. ^ Dunand, Maurice., Rapport préliminaire sure les fouilles de Byblos en 1957, 1958 & 1959, Bulletin du musée de Beyrouth. Tome XVI, 1961, Beyrouth, in-4° br., 135 pages. 26 figures, 40 planches hors-texte, 8 planches hors-texte en dépliant.
  23. ^ Fleisch, Henri., Néolithique du Proche-Orient, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Français, vol. 49, 5–6, p. 212. (Contains report on Byblos excavations of 1951 by Maurice Dunand), 1952.
  24. ^ Wilkinson, Toby, 1999, Early Dynastic Egypt p.78.
  25. ^ Shaw, Ian: "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt", page 321. Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-280458-7
  26. ^ a b Beehner, Lionel (2010-01-03). "Byblos, Lebanon's Ancient Port, Is Reborn". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  27. ^ Dr. Lina G. Tahan. "ICOMOS Heritage at Risk 2006/2007". ICOMOS. 
  28. ^ "Lebanon Elections 2005". Proud-to-be-lebanese.com. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  29. ^ "Middle East: Top 5 Cities: Readers' Choice Awards : Condé Nast Traveler". Cntraveler.com. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  30. ^ http://www.nna-leb.gov.lb/en/show-news/7801/Byblos-crowned-best-Arab-tourist-city. Retrieved 20 June 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]