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OUR CITY

37 km north of Beirut, Byblos is the oldest continuously inhabited city of the world. About 7,000 years ago a small Neolithic fishing community settled along the shore and several of their monocular huts with crushed limestone floors can be seen on the site.

By the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (about 3000 B.C.), Canaanite Byblos had developed into the most important timber-shipping center on the eastern Mediterranean and ties with Egypt were very close.

Around 1200 B.C. a wave of the so-called "Sea Peoples" from the north spread to the eastern Mediterranean, and some settled on the southern coast of Canaan. These seafarers probably contributed their skills to the maritime society we know today as Phoenicia. About this same time the scribes of Byblos developed an alphabetic phonetic script, the precursor of our modern alphabet. By 800 B.C., it had traveled to Greece, changing forever the way man communicated. The earliest form of the Phoenician alphabet to date is the inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos.

Throughout the first millennium B.C., Byblos continued to benefit from trade in spite of Assyrian and Babylonian encroachments. The Persian, who ruled the city from 550-330 B.C, marked the archeological site with large and impressing remains of constructions.

After conquest by Alexander the Great, Byblos was rapidly Hellenized and Greek became the language of the local intelligentsia. In the first century B.C. the Romans under Pompey took over Byblos and other Phoenician cities, ruling them from 64 B.C. to 395 A.D.

There are few remains of the Byzantine Period (395-637 A.D.)in Byblos, partly because construction was of soft sandstone and generally of poor quality.

Under Arab rule beginning 637 A.D. Byblos was generally peaceful but it had declined in importance over the centuries and archaeological evidence from this period is fragmentary.

In 1104 Byblos fell to the Crusaders who came upon the large stones and granite columns of the Roman buildings and used them for their castle and church.

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