Byblos is one of the top contenders for the "oldest continuously inhabited city" award. According to Phoenician tradition the God El founded and even the Phoenicians considered it a city of great antiquity. Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars say the site of Byblos goes back at least 7,000 years.

Ironically, the words "Byblos" and "Phoenicia" would not have been recognized by the city's early inhabitants. For several thousand years it was called "Gubla" and later "Gebal," while the term "Canaan" was applied to the coast in general.

It was the Greeks, some time after 1200 B.C., who gave us the name "Phoenicia," referring to the coastal area. And they called the city "Byblos" (papyrus" in Greek), because this commercial center was important in the papyrus trade.

Bronze Age

At the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (about 3000 B.C.) Byblos was populated by Canaanite. During the Bronze age the port of Byblos developed into the most important timber shipping center on the eastern Mediterranean and ties with Egypt were very close. The pharaohs of the Old Kingdom needed the cedar and other wood for shipbuilding, tomb construction and funerary ritual. In return, Egypt sent gold, alabaster, papyrus rope and linen. Thus began a period of prosperity, wealth and intense activity. The most important remains of that time are little bronze figurines found in the "temple of Obelisk" in the site of Byblos. The figurines are today at the National Museum in Beirut.




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