Friday, April 18, 2008


Byblos, one of the oldest towns in the world goes back at least 7,000 years. The rise and fall of nearly two dozen successive levels of human culture on this site makes it one of the richest archeological areas in the country. Under the domination of the Egyptian pharaohs in the 3rd and 32nd millennia B.C Byblos was a commercial and religious capital of the Phoenician coast.

It was here that the first linear alphabet, ancestor of all modern alphabet, (through Greek and Latin), was invented: the precursor of our modern alphabet which had traveled by the year 800 BC to Greece, changing forever the way man communicated. The sarcophagus of Byblos’ king Ahiram, now in the national museum, bears the oldest known Phoenician inscription. Byblos was also the centre of the Adonis cult, the god of vegetation who dies in winter and was renewed each spring. Like its sister cities, Byblos was destroyed in the earthquake of 551 A.D. It regained some consequence in crusader times when it came under the county of Tripoli. A modest town under the Mamlukes and ottomans, Byblos grew rapidly during the recent war in Lebanon when commercial activities moved from Beirut to regional capitals.

The busy modern town, 36 kilometers north of Beirut, has as its touristic hub the roman medieval port. In this area are the crusader castle and church as well as the extensive remains of city’s past- from Neolithic times to the crusader era. A beautiful mosque adds to the cultural mix in the old part of Byblos. Cafes and restaurants, plus an interesting wax museum can also be visited.

Byblos is one of the top contenders for the "oldest continuously inhabited city" award. According to Phoenician tradition, it was founded by the god El. Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars say the site of Byblos goes back at least 7000 years. It was the Greeks, some time after 1200 BC, who gave the name "Phoenicia", referring to coastal area. And they called the city "Byblos" (Papyrus in Greek), because of the importance of this commercial center in the papyrus trade. Long before Greece and Rome, this ancient town was a powerful, independent city-state with its own kings, culture and flourishing trade. For several thousand years it was called Gubla and later Gebal, while the term Canaan was applied to the coast in general.

The rise and fall of nearly two dozen successive levels of human culture on this site makes it one of the richest archaeological areas in Lebanon. The main places of interest to visit in Byblos are the Castle and church, built by the Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Egyptian temples; the earliest of which dates back to the 4th millennium BC, the Phoenician Royal Necropolis, and the Roman Amphitheater.

No comments:

Naharnet Lebanon News

Marketing in Lebanon