Lebanese people are known to travel the world, perhaps having something to do with their Phoenician ancestry. But as with any other country, there are the few who are left behind to guard the innocence. I mean the kind of innocence that is so endearing it borders and utter kindness.
This is the kind of old man who would ask you where you are coming from assuming from you camera that you must be a tourist, otherwise why would you want to photograph a stupid vegetable stall. And then you answer, something like Shanghai, and he then goes on to ask you if you know so and so who is married to so and so, whose friend travelled to China, and did you happen to meet them there? It is so lovely to meet people like this, where simplicity is a joy, and life is uncomplicated, basic, uncluttered with too much information.
Eyes like these are much more easily brought to glow of wonder.
castle walls detail at Byblos~ Lebanon
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!
sarcophagus at Byblos
Lebanon’s location and unique geography and natural resources make it appear like a delicious pie that every passer-by dreams of grabbing a part of. Throughout history and since the days of the Phoenicians, Lebanon was forced to endure influences and occupations by Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, the coming of Christianity for the Galilee, the Crusades of the Middle Ages, the Mamluks of Egypt bringing Islam to the region, the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Maans, the Shihabs, then later the French Mandate over Lebanon and Syria and finally after the Arab-Israeli conflict, parts of Lebanon were invaded and occupied by both Israel and Syria until this very day.
And despite all of this Lebanon stands as unique as it ever was, as the jewel of the middle east, proud, beautiful, full of life, effervescent!
the missing pieces
Sidon sea castle built by the Crusaders in 1228~ South Lebanon
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.
riders of the seas~ a detail of a ship carved in stone ~ Tyre, south Lebanon