Beirut, one of the oldest cities known to man, destroyed by earthquakes at least 7 times, has been known by names such as Colonia, Julia, Augusta, Felix and Berythus, and was home to the world’s first law school. The teachers of Beirut School of Law helped draft the famous Justinian Code. Beirut was then named ‘Mother of Legislation’.
Despite the various total destructions and the later occupations of Beirut by Arabs, Crusaders, Romans, Ottomans, French mandate, and most recently Israeli and Syrian presences, the beautiful and buzzing cosmopolitan city was and still is referred to as ‘Paris of the middle east’. I still remember being in total awe of how many different languages are spoken on the city streets and the impressively rich culture and panorama of arts adorning its galleries and museums.
To be in Beirut is to experience all that the past as well as the future has to offer and it is about finding yourself living the moment to the extreme with people who choose to love life as a first priority. Yes the Beirut feeling is contagious and it can leave you longing to go back with every single part of your being.
As a small child our first family home and school were in the city of Byblos. It is daunting to think that the city I grew up in is in fact the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world!
Byblos is said to have been founded by El, the god of Phoenicians, but archaeological evidence of settlements dating back around 7000 years was found on the site of the city. Byblos(Greek for Papyrus) is the name that was given to the city by the Greeks around 1200 BC due to its importance in the papyrus and cedar wood export in the region, especially to Egypt. Egypt had very close ties with Byblos and about 60 letters were found in the Amarna tablets in Egypt that were written by the king of Byblos requesting aid from Akhnaten, the Egyptian Pharao, in matters of war.
On this site the famous sarcophagus of Ahiram, King of Byblos was excavated.
I adore the history of Lebanon and just the thought that most of it remains a total mystery, makes me tingle!
Possibly the oldest and first metropolis of the Phoenicians, the ‘traders in purple’, the inventors of the first known alphabet from which all other alphabets were derived, inventors of the precious purple dye from the murex shell used for royal clothing, the founders of the kingship of city states called Canaan, Sidon is known to have been inhabited since early prehistory, since pre-pottery times. In Phoenician times and since around 2000 BC, it became the home of the priestess Ashtart, goddess of the Sidonians, and Eshmun, god of the Sidonians.
The very rich and complex Phoenician history in Lebanon is a fascinating area of research for Lebanese and international historians and archaeologists alike. So many civilizations were still to pass through and leave their marks and their scars on this little country, but the Phoenician culture is what resonates most where the Lebanese culture is concerned.