Minet el-Beida

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Minet el-Beida
المينا البيضا
Duck container, a toilette article designed to hold make-up. Hippopotamus tusk, 13th century BC. Found at Minet el-Beida.
Duck container found at Minet el-Beida.
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Syria
Located on the Mediterranean coast of Syria
Shown within Syria
Alternate name Ma'hadu
Location Latakia, Syria
Coordinates 35°36′25″N 35°46′34″E / 35.607°N 35.776°E / 35.607; 35.776
Type settlement, port
Founded late fifteenth century BC
Periods Bronze Age
Cultures Canaanite
Satellite of Ugarit
Events Bronze Age collapse
Site notes
Excavation dates 1928—1935
Archaeologists Claude F. A. Schaeffer
Ownership Public
Public access No
Duck container Louvre AO14778.jpg
Salhi • Minet el-Beida
Ras Ibn Hani • Royal Palace
Ammittamru I • Niqmaddu II
Arhalba • Niqmepa
Ammittamru II • Ibiranu
Niqmaddu III • Ammurapi
Language • Alphabet • Grammar
Baal Cycle • Legend of Keret
Danel • Hurrian songs
Baal with Thunderbolt

Minet el-Beida (Arabic: المينا البيضا‎, The White Harbor; or ancient Ma'hadu) is a small bay located 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) north of Latakia, Syria on the Mediterranean Sea. [1] It is an important archaeological site because it served as the harbor town and necropolis for Ugarit.


Minet el-Beida takes its name from the white rocks at the entrance of the bay.[2] Located 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) west from Ugarit, the bay is the best natural port along that entire stretch of the coastline.[3] The bay is now smaller than it was in the Bronze Age, because of the action of the alluvial fill.[4]

The town was first settled in the late fifteenth century BC. The town plan resembles that of Ugarit, with irregular streets. Houses consisted of a courtyard surrounded by rooms, a well and an oven. Some houses contained underground tombs. The port town also had storehouses used for goods both imported or awaiting export. One such storehouse had 80 shipping jars still preserved inside.[4] The site witnessed the first great entrepôt for international overseas trade with the Aegean and beyond, and with the central Mediterranean.[5]


It was the 1928 chance discovery in Minet el-Beida that prompted the excavation of the site and later of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra). The discovery happened when a local farmer was attempting to plough his land and his ploughshare struck a large piece of stone which turned out to be one of a number of stone slabs which formed the roof of a vaulted tomb.[2]

Claude F. A. Schaeffer led the French excavation team at Minet el-Beida. The site was immediately recognized to be the main port for the Kingdom of Ugarit. It was the object of archaeological exploration until 1935 when it was abandoned in order to concentrate all efforts on Ras Shamra.[6]

Finds at the site indicate that Ugaritians formed the main element in the population, but with a large number of foreigners including Egyptians, Cypriots, Hittites, Hurrians, and people from the Aegean. Remains found at the site included, Cypriot pottery both imported and locally made; ivory cosmetic boxes from Egypt; Mycenaean pottery; bronze weapons and tools; cylinder seals and inscribed tablets.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael C. Astour, Ma'Hadu, the Harbor of Ugarit, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 13, iss. 1, pp. 113 – 127, 1970
  2. ^ a b Watson; Wyatt, 1999, p.6.
  3. ^ Younger, 2007, p.103.
  4. ^ a b c Gates, 2003, p.165.
  5. ^ Hansen, 2000, p.109.
  6. ^ Younger, 2007, p.109.