Byblos Lebanon is one of the oldest city around the world, this might sound quiet common as several ancient cities are claimed as the oldest city. Byblos Lebanon also known as Jbeil Lebanon. But ‘Byblos’ certainly holds something different to say! Byblos is one of the contenders for the title of ‘oldest inhabited city’. As per the Phoenicians tradition, the city was founded by the God El. The city is considered a great site for antiquity. The accurate beginning of the city is yet to be confirmed, according to few scholars the site dates back at least 7,000 years ago.
The word Byblos and Phoenician were used interchangeably, and were recognized as city’s earliest inhabitant. Then for several thousand years it was known as ‘Gubal’ and later was named as ‘Gebal’. Then Greeks named the site as ‘Phoenician’ in 1200 BC, since it was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. After which, the city called as ‘Byblos’ because the place was termed as a commercial centre in the papyrus trade.
Presently, Byblos is located 37-Km in north of Beirut. Today, the place is one of the prosperous place with glass building and crowded streets. The Crusaders and Medieval Arabs will continuously be reminder of past. The city holds several excavated archaeological sites.
History of the place
A small community of Neolithic fishing was settled around the shore with other several mono-cellular huts. The huts were made up of sandstone or crushed limestone. Several weapons and tools of the Stone-age period were found. According to the historians, the city was inhabited by Neolithic fishing community around 7,000 years ago.
After which, the city was continuously inhabited by Chalcolithic Period from 3,000-4,000 BC. The Chalcolithic Period brought new customs with the trend of pottery and so. Then gradually, by the preliminary period of the Bronze Age, Canaanite Byblos was developed as a shipping centre. Yes, the place was developed as a timber shipping centre located at the coast of Mediterranean Sea close to the Egypt. Cedar and other woods were shipped to the Old Kingdom of Pharaohs, for funeral rituals and tomb constructions. In return, the shipping centre received papyrus rope, linen, alabaster and gold. This initiated the prosperity of the city.
After several centuries, Amorites tribes set the Byblos on fire. But that didn’t stop trading between Egypt, which continued gaining good returns and expensive gifts to Byblos. Then in 1200 BC, ‘Sea People’ a wave raised in Byblos. The ‘Sea people’ from the north started settling on the eastern Mediterranean Sea who contributed their equal skills to the society to prosper the city. By the time, the tribes started developing their set of alphabets, scripts with modern alphabets.
Byblos continued to benefit throughout first millennium BC, in spite the encroachment of Babylonians and Assyrians. Then Persian entered the city, who ruled from 550-330BC. The fortress with city wall reflects the Persian defence system.
Alexander the Great defeated and came on power, after which Byblos was Hellenised and then Greek became local intelligentsia and language. Greek customs and culture were adopted by residents of Byblos.
Then by 637 AD, Byblos under Arabs was peaceful, but lost its importance over centuries. Then in 1104, Byblos fell for Crusaders who came with granite, large columns which were used for building castles and moats. Then Byblos continued under the power of the Ottoman and Mamluke as a fishing town with several antiquity under dust.
The Byblos was excavated and several ruins of cities were found. The ancient site was rediscovered by French, Ernest Renan in 1860.
Byblos is a city with a mix of tradition and sophistication. It is an old harbour, today the place holds several restaurants, souvenir shop and hotels. It is known as one of the ‘Oldest City’ ad less known for its tourism.