Research of the Phoenician Sites in Lebanon (March 2011)

Noboru Ogata (Kyoto University)

This webpage offers the records taken during our research trip in Lebanon in March 2011. The research trip was made as a part of our research project on the Phoenician and Punic culture headed by Professor Takura Izumi of Kyoto University. We visited the Phoenician and Roman sites including Byblos, Sidon and Tyre, and other places.

Phoenicians, northwestern subgroup of the Semitic linguistic family, inhabited modern Lebanon and coastal Syria. They built ships using cedar lumber from Lebanon Mountains, and carried on maritime trade around the Mediterranean. As the bases of their trade many seaport towns were built and the city-states were formed around them. They established many trading posts and colonies along the Mediterranean coast including Carthage, and advanced even outside the Strait of Gibraltar. Phoenicians were also excellent artisans who made craft products of glass and precious metals, and purple-dyed textile materials. Phoenician city-states prospered during the second and first millennia BCE although occasionally they were subject to the terrestrial empires such as Assyria and Persia.

Phoenicians made substantial contributions to the civilization of humankind such as alphabetical writing system. Through the ages of Hellenization and Romanization, however, Phoenicians gradually lost their cultural identity and faded away from the human history. Today, we can see the city remains of Roman style in Tyre.

Ancient Phoenician cities in modern Lebanon and coastal Syria shared some locational characteristics. They were usually small in size, situated on the seacoast or island near the mainland, and used reefs running parallel to the coast as the breakwaters for their harbors. Satellite images are used to clarify these common features.


Synoptic view over the study area using LANDSAT image (ETM+ : June 22, 2000)


Bird’s eye view showing the location of ancient Phoenician cities. Geomorphological data are from SRTM DEM (elevation is exaggerated by two-fold) and the model is draped with the above satellite image. We can observe that Lebanon mountains loom over the Mediterranean coast, and narrow plains stretch along the coast.

March 13 : Flew from Osaka to Beirut via Dubai. Stayed in Beirut (March 14).

March 15 : Traveled across the Lebanon Mountains and visited Anjar and Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley.

Monumental arch in the city ruins of Anjar.
City ruins of Anjar

Temple remains of Baalbek.
Hexagonal court in front of Jupiter Temple

Part of buildings surrounding the Great Court in front of Jupiter Temple.
Facade of Jupiter Temple

Gigantic six columns of Jupiter Temple.
Building part of Jupiter Temple

Bacchus Temple in Baalbek.
Gigantic stone material left in a quarry near Baalbek

March : Visited Byblos in the morning. We visited Tripoli in the afternoon.

CORONA satellite photograph over Byblos taken on March 21, 1968. The arrow indicates the archaeological site of the ancient city.

Bronze age city wall and Crusade’s castle. City ruins of Byblos.
Sarcophagus beneath the city ruins

Stone foundation of a building. City ruins of Byblos.
Temple of Obelisks

Soap workshop in Tripoli, originally build as a caravansary.
Landscape of Tripoli viewed from St. Gilles Citadel

March 17 : Inspected the engraved rock monuments near the mouth of Kelb River. After that, we traveled to Qadisha Valley and saw Lebanon cedars and visited St. Elisée Monastery. Stayed in Bcharre.

Bridge over Kelb River, also known as Dog River.
Engraved rock monument of Esarhaddon, Assyrian king

Surviving Lebanon ceder from ancient times in Qadisha Valley.
St. Elisée Monastery located at the bottom of the gorge of Qadisha Valley

Inside of St. Elisée Monastery.
Town of Bcharre in Qadisha Valley

Setting sun viewed from the hotel in Bcharre.
Lebanon Mountains viewed from the hotel

March 18 : Visited Sidon and Sarepta. We arrived in Tyre in the evening and stayed there.

Eshmun Temple near Sidon.
Throne in Eshmun Temple

CORONA satellite photograph over Sidon taken on June 17, 1967.

The Sea Castle of Sidon.
Old town of Sidon viewd from the Sea Castle

Archaeological site of Tell Brak.
City ruins of Sarepta

Setting sun and Tyre viewed from the tombolo.

‘The City Site’ of Tyre

March 19, forenoon : Visited archaeological sites in Tyre in the morning. Then traveled to Beirut.

CORONA satellite photograph over Tyre taken on June 17, 1967.

Rectangular structure in the city site of Tyre.
Water tanks

Remains of a bath
Colonnade in the city site of Tyre

Necropolis (cemetery) in the ‘Al-Bass’ site of Tyre.
Monumental arch in the ‘Al-Bass’ site of Tyre

Archaeological site under excavation near Sidon.
Excavated remains of a Roman Road

March 19, afternoon : Visited National Museum in Beirut. Then we departed home.

Sarcophagus of Ahiram, King of Byblos.
Obelisk from Temple of Obelisks in Byblos

Bronze figurines from Byblos.
Tribune from Eshmun Temple near Sidon

Mosaic picture depicting the birth of Alexander.
Restored purple-dyed cloth

March 20 : Arrived at Osaka via Dubai.

Created by Noboru Ogata
Since March 6, 2014