Tyre, Lebanon

Tyre (; Arabic: صُور, romanized: Ṣūr; Phoenician: ????????, romanized: Ṣūr; Greek: Τύρος, translit. Týros) is a city in Lebanon, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, though in medieval times for some centuries by just a small population. It was one of the earliest Phoenician metropolises and the legendary birthplace of Europa, her brothers Cadmus and Phoenix, as well as Carthage's founder Dido (Elissa). The city has many ancient sites, including the Tyre Hippodrome, and was add...Read more

Tyre (; Arabic: صُور, romanized: Ṣūr; Phoenician: ????????, romanized: Ṣūr; Greek: Τύρος, translit. Týros) is a city in Lebanon, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, though in medieval times for some centuries by just a small population. It was one of the earliest Phoenician metropolises and the legendary birthplace of Europa, her brothers Cadmus and Phoenix, as well as Carthage's founder Dido (Elissa). The city has many ancient sites, including the Tyre Hippodrome, and was added as a whole to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984. The historian Ernest Renan noted that "One can call Tyre a city of ruins, built out of ruins".

Today Tyre is the fourth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon. It is the capital of the Tyre District in the South Governorate. There were approximately 200,000 inhabitants in the Tyre urban area in 2016, including many refugees, as the city hosts three of the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon: Burj El Shimali, El Buss, and Rashidieh.

The ancient city of Tyre is located along the coast of Phoenicia in modern Lebanon. The site has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The city became a prominent Phoenician city-state between the 9th and 6th centuries BCE, settling prestigious colonies around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Carthage and Leptis Magna. It went under Persian rule in 572 BCE, before being conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. Monumental archaeological remains dated from the subsequent Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval periods led to its inscription on its archaeological remains on the UNESCO World’s Heritage list in 1984.

The Roman historian Justin wrote that the original founders arrived from the nearby city of Sidon in the quest to establish a new harbour. The famous Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484–425 BCE), born in the city of Halicarnassus, visited Tyre around 450 BCE at the end of the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 BCE), and wrote in his Histories that according to the priests there, the city was founded 2300 years earlier (around 2750 BCE),[1] as a walled place upon the mainland, now known as Paleotyre (Old Tyre).

The Phoenician Tyrians' international trade network was based on its two harbours which are mentioned by ancient writers (Arrian, Anabasis, 2, 24; Strabo, Geography, 16,2,23). The northern harbour opened toward the Phoenician city of Sidon and has been therefore referred to as the “Sidonian Harbour” by 19- and 20th-century scholars, but it was referred to as the "Port of Astronoe" during Late Antiquity.[2] The southern harbour opened toward Egypt and was referred to as the “Egyptian Harbour”. The location of the two harbours has been the subject of speculations since the 17th Century.[3] The submarine excavation of a large, 4-6th Century BCE breakwater north of the city,[4][5] and the discovery of 250 BCE to 500 CE harbour sediments behind this breakwater[6] demonstrated the existence of a northern harbour repeatedly, if not permanently, throughout Antiquity under the modern harbour of Tyre.

The location of the southern harbour is more elusive. Renan (1864-1874) envisioned it as an extensive structure now located offshore, south of the former island. Subsequent diving surveys identified submerged man-made structures on the seafloor within 150 m of the former island.[7][8] Antoine Poidebard, who was the first to have them explored by divers in 1939, saw in these structures former breakwaters enclosing a harbour with two entrances.[9] The geographic area enclosed within these structures is therefore often referred to as the “Southern Harbour”. These structures have also been interpreted as a polder-like area protecting an urban district (El-Amouri et al., 2005; Frost, 1971; Renan, 1864-1874). A Phoenician-style breakwater was recently found within this area, but excavation is needed to confirm its age ascription.[10] Harbour sediments found behind the structure suggest that the breakwater was part of the Egyptian harbour.[11][12] Harbour sediments found near Hiram's Tower, further north, mark an early location of the Sidonian Harbour.[11]

The development of Tyre was profoundly affected by the construction of a causeway built by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE to seize the city. This reportedly 750 m-long[13] and 60 m-wide causeway was laid over a submarine shoal less than 5.4 m deep.[14] This shoal was interpreted as a sandbank (also called a ‘salient’), formed by the accretion of sand in the lee of the island, under the effects of the refraction and diffraction of waves around the island. The causeway interrupted longshore sand transport, forcing sand to accumulate along the causeway, rapidly creating an emerged sandy isthmus (or tombolo), linking the island to the mainland.[15][16]

This sandy isthmus rapidly inflated during the centuries following the construction of the causeway. By early Imperial Roman times, monumental buildings had been built over most of its surface. Their layout implies that the isthmus was by then nearly as wide as today. Therefore, the isthmus had completely reshaped the eastern coast of Tyre Island within 6-10 centuries after the construction of the causeway, spurring a radical transformation of the city.

^ Herodotus. Histories, Book 2. Greek original ^ Aliquot, Julien (2020). "The Port of Astronoe in Tyre". BAAL. Hors- Série 18: 61–70 – via HAL. ^ Renan, E., 1864-1874. Mission de Phénicie dirigée par Ernest Renan: Texte. Impr. impériale. ^ Castellvi, G., Descamps, C., Kuteni, V.P., 2007. Recherches archéologiques sous-marines à Tyr. ^ Noureddine, I., Mior, A., 2013. Archaeological Survey of the Phoenician Harbour at Tyre, Lebanon. ^ Marriner, N., Morhange, C., Doumet-Serhal, C., Carbonel, P., 2006. Geoscience rediscovers Phoenicia's buried harbors. Geology 34, 1-4. ^ El-Amouri, M., El-Hélou, M., Marquet, M., Noureddine, I., Seco Alvarez, M., 2005. Mission d'expertise archéologique du port sud de Tyr, résultats préliminaires. Baal Hors Série II, 91-110. ^ Frost, H., 1971. Recent observations on the submerged harbourworks at Tyre. Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth 24, 103-111. ^ Poidebard, A., 1939. Un grand port disparu: Tyr: recherches aériennes et sous-marines: 1934-1936. P. Geuthner. ^ Goiran, Jean-Philippe; Brocard, Gilles; De Graauw, Arthur; Kahwagi-Janho, Hany; Chapkanski, Stoil (2021). "Evolution of sea level at Tyre during Antiquity". Bulletin d'Archéologie et d'Architecture Libanaise. 21: 305–316. ^ a b Brocard, Gilles; Goiran, Jean-Philippe; de Graauw, Arthur; Chapkanski, Stoil; Dapoigny, Arnaud; Régagnon, Emmanuelle; Husson, Xavier; Bolo, Aurélien; Pavlopoulos, Kosmas; Fouache, Eric; Badawi, Ali; Yon, Jean-Baptiste (15 January 2024). "Growth of the sandy isthmus of tyre and ensuing relocation of its harbors". Quaternary Science Reviews. 324: 108463. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2023.108463. ISSN 0277-3791. S2CID 266282297. ^ "Where is the Phoenician harbour of Tyre?". 26 January 2024. ^ four stades acc. to Diodorus Siculus, Hist, 17, 7 and to Quintus Curtius Rufus, Hist, 4, 2, but 700 paces acc. to Pliny, Natural History V, 17 ^ three fathoms acc. to Arrian, Anabasis, 2, 18 ^ Marriner, N., Goiran, J., Morhange, C., 2008. Alexander the Great's tombolos at Tyre and Alexandria, eastern Mediterranean. Geomorphology 100, 377-400. ^ Nir, Y., 1996. The city of Tyre, Lebanon and its semi‐artificial tombolo. Geoarchaeology 11, 235-250.
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