Tyre, Lebanon

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Sour (Lebanese French)
Tyre Public Beach.jpg
Tyre Public Beach
Lebanon adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 33°16′15″N35°11′46″E / 33.27083°N 35.19611°E / 33.27083; 35.19611 Coordinates: 33°16′15″N35°11′46″E / 33.27083°N 35.19611°E / 33.27083; 35.19611
CountryFlag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon
Governorate South
District Tyre
Established2750 BC
  City4 km2 (2 sq mi)
17 km2 (7 sq mi)
Demonym(s) Tyrian
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Criteriaiii, vi
Designated 1984 (8th session)
Reference no. 299
State PartyFlag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon

Tyre (Arabic : صورṢūr), is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, though in medieval times for some centuries by just a tiny population. It was one of the earliest Phoenician metropolises and the legendary birthplace of Europa, her brothers Cadmus and Phoenix, as well as Carthage's founder Dido (Elissa). The city has a number of ancient sites, including its Roman Hippodrome, which was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. [1] [2]


Today Tyre is the fifth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut, Tripoli, Aley and Sidon, [3] It is a district capital in the South Governorate. There were approximately 200,000 inhabitants in the Tyre urban area in 2016, including many refugees. [4]


Peninsula panorama, 2019 TyrePeninsulaPanorama-RomanDeckert07112019.jpg
Peninsula panorama, 2019

Tyre juts out from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and is located about 80 km (50 mi) south of Beirut.

The present city of Tyre covers a large part of the original island and has expanded onto and covers most of the causeway, which had increased greatly in width over the centuries because of extensive silt depositions on either side. The part of the original island not covered by the modern city of Tyre is mostly of an archaeological site showcasing remains of the city from ancient times.

The neighbouring villages of Burj El Shimali to the East and the refugee camp of Rashidie on the Southern shore are not officially part of Tyre city, but have in fact merged to one urban Greater Tyre over the past decades. [5]


Early names of Tyre include Akkadian Ṣurru, Phoenician Ṣūr (𐤑𐤓), and Hebrew Tzór (צוֹר). [6] In Semitic languages, the name of the city means "rock" [7] after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built. The official name in modern Arabic is Ṣūr (صور).

The predominant form in Classical Greek was Týros (Τύρος), which was first seen in the works of Herotodus but may have been adopted considerably earlier. [6] It gave rise to Latin Tyrus, which entered English during the Middle English period as Tyre. [8] The demonym for Tyre is Tyrian, and the inhabitants are Tyrians.


The submerged ancient harbour SubmergedEgyptianHarbour TyreSour Lebanon RomanDeckert04112019.jpg
The submerged ancient harbour

Tyre originally consisted of two distinct urban centres: Tyre itself, which was on an island just off shore, and the associated settlement of Ushu on the adjacent mainland: [9]

The original island city had two harbours, one on the south side and the other on the north side of the island. It was the two harbours that enabled Tyre to gain the maritime prominence that it did; the harbour on the north side of the island was, in fact, one of the best harbours on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The harbour on the south side has silted over, but the harbour on the north side is still in use. [10] In ancient times, the island-city was heavily fortified.

Ushu (later called Palaetyrus, meaning "Old Tyre," by the ancient Greeks) was actually more like a line of suburbs than any one city and was used primarily as a source of water and timber for the main island city. [11]

Josephus records that the two fought against each other on occasion, [12] but most of the time, they supported one another because they both benefited from the island city's wealth from maritime trade and the mainland area's source of timber, water and burial grounds. [ citation needed ]


"The Abduction of Europa" by Rembrandt Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn - The Abduction of Europa - Google Art Project.jpg
"The Abduction of Europa" by Rembrandt
Bust of Melqart at the National Museum of Denmark Melqart god of the Phoenician city of Tyre.jpg
Bust of Melqart at the National Museum of Denmark

Herodotus, who visited Tyre around 450 B.C., wrote that according to the priests there the city was founded around 2750 BC [13] as a walled place upon the mainland [14] , now known as Paleotyre (Old Tyre). Archaeological evidence has corroborated this timing. Excavations have also found that there had already been some settlements around 2900 B.C. [13] , but that they were abandoned. [15]

The Roman historian Justin wrote that the original founders arrived from the nearby Northern city of Sidon / Saida in the quest to establish a new harbour. [15] [16]

According to the Greek historian Eusebius, the common myth was that the deity Melqart built the city as a favour to the mermaid Tyros and named it after her. [17] Melqart was called Melqart Heracles in Greek, but is not to be confused with the demigod Heracles (Hercules), hero of the 12 labors. [18]

In Greek mythology, Zeus, the ruler of the gods, took the form of a bull in order to abduct the Tyrian princess Europa to Crete. There the couple had three sons - Minos,.Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon, whom became kings of Crete and after their deaths the judges of the Underworld. The continent Europe is named after her.

Some sources go on to say that her brothers Cadmus and Cilix went to search for her, in vain. Instead, Cadmus became the founder and king of the Greek city of Thebes, who also introduced the Phoenician alphabet to the Hellenic world. Cilix fell in love during the quest and gave his name to Cilicia in Asia Minor. Their supposed third brother Phoenix became the eponym of Phoenicia. [19] In this way the Ancient Greek culture expressed its appreciation of the influence that the Phoenician civilisation had on their own. [18]

"Third and second millenia B.C. strata from Tyre [..] are buried so deeply under debris of later periods that its early history is somewhat obscure." [20]

The first half of the second Millenium B.C. in the Eastern Mediterranean was largely "a time of peaceful trade and Tyre probably shared in the commercial activity." [20]

Egyptian period (1700-1200)

Stele of Pharaoh Ramesses II found in Tyre, on display at the National Museum of Beirut NationalMuseumBeirut RamsesII-BasaltStele-Tyre-13cBC RomanDeckert31102019.jpg
Stele of Pharaoh Ramesses II found in Tyre, on display at the National Museum of Beirut
Head of an Egyptian sphinx, 20th c. B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Possibly from Tyre" Head of a sphinx, possibly of Amenemhat I MET 66.99.4 EGDP017910.jpg
Head of an Egyptian sphinx, 20th c. B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Possibly from Tyre"

In the 17th cetury B.C., the settlement came under the supremacy of the Egyptian pharaohs. In the subsequent years it started benefitting from the protection by Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty and prospered commercially. [16]

Archaeological evidence indicates that Tyre had already by the middle of the second millenium established the industrial production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye [20] , which was famous for its beauty and lightfast qualities. [21] It was exploited from the Murex trunculus and Murex brandaris shellfishes, known as Tyrian purple. The colour was, in ancient cultures, reserved for the use of royalty or at least the nobility [22] :

"Tyrians brought their methods in the purple dye industry near to perfection. Their excellent technique of extraction and blending of dyes is the reason why Tyrian purple was so esteemed in the ancient world." [21]

Murex at Tyre's Murex Hotel, 2019 MurexShells-MurexHotel-TyreSour RomanDeckert082019.jpg
Murex at Tyre's Murex Hotel, 2019


"The Tyrians were extremely discreet about their industry to ensure absolute monopoly." [23]

In fact, the very word "Phoenician" is a Greek designation meaning "red" or "purple". [24] However, the ancient author Strabo, who visited Tyre himself, recorded that the dye industry polluted the air so much that its stench made his stay in the city very unpleasant. [21] According to some experts, some 8.000 Murex had to be crushed in order to extract one gram of the dye. [23]

The first clear accounts of the city are given by the ten Amarna letters dated 1350 BC from the mayor, Abimilku, written to Akenaten. The subject is often water, wood and the Habiru overtaking the countryside of the mainland and how that affected the island-city. [13] Eventually, Egyptian forces defeated a Hittite army that besieged Tyre. [18]

While the city was originally called Melqart after the city-god, the name Tyre appears on monuments as early as 1300 BC. Philo of Byblos (in Eusebius) quotes the antiquarian authority Sanchuniathon as stating that it was first occupied by Hypsuranius. Sanchuniathon's work is said to be dedicated to "Abibalus king of Berytus"possibly the Abibaal [25] , who became the Phoenician king of Tyre towards the end of the 2nd millenium BC. [16]

In the 12th century BC, Egypt's pharaohs gradually lost control over the Eastern Mediterranean. [15]

Independent Phoenician period (1200-868)

Rectangular theatre at Al Mina from the 4th century A.D., in a place that had apparently served as a public meeting place since the 8th century B.C.. TyreAlMinaTheatre.jpg
Rectangular theatre at Al Mina from the 4th century A.D., in a place that had apparently served as a public meeting place since the 8th century B.C..
Figurine of a breastfeeding woman and baby from Tyre, Iron Age II, National Museum of Beirut WomanBreastfeedingBaby Tyre-IronAgeII-NationalMuseumOfBeirut 06102019RomanDeckert.jpg
Figurine of a breastfeeding woman and baby from Tyre, Iron Age II, National Museum of Beirut

During the 11th century BC the Phoenician city-states began a commercial expansion, benefiting from the elimination of the former trade centers in Ugarit and Alalakh. [27] The Empire of Tyre relied mainly on trade as well as cultural exchange, rather than on military conquest. Most prominently, the Tyrian civilisation has been widely credited for spreading its alphabet and a Vigesimal numerical system. [28] A decisive factor in this global rise were the extraordinary skills which the scholars of Tyre developed in the field of astronomy to navigate their ships. [29] As the space on the island city was limited, the inhabitants were forced to construct multi-storey buildings. They thus acquired a reputation for being great masons and engineers, also in metalworks and especially in shipbuilding. [18]

"The city government was organized as follows: the king was chosen among the royal families and reigned for life. He was backed by a council of the elders (or magistrates,) and their decisions were controlled by the great merchant families." [18]

Figurine of a Deity from Tyre, 7th century B.C., National Museum of Beirut DeityFigurine-Tyre-7cBC-NationalMuseumOfBeirut 03102019RomanDeckert.jpg
Figurine of a Deity from Tyre, 7th century B.C., National Museum of Beirut
Figurines of Musicians from Tyre, Iron Age II, National Museum of Beirut MusiciansFigurines Tyre -IronAge-II NationalMuseumOfBeirut 06102019.jpg
Figurines of Musicians from Tyre, Iron Age II, National Museum of Beirut

Hiram I, Abibaal's son, ascended the throne in 969 B.C. and led the city-state to a new level of prosperity. Locally, Hiram expanded the urban territory by projects to connect the main island with a number of small rocky islands. Beyond the borders of his kindgdom, he forged particularly close relations with the Hebrew kings David and Solomon. Reportedly, Hiram sent cedar wood and skilled workers who helped in the construction of the great Temple in Jerusalem. [27]

Hiram's regional cooperation as well as his fight against Philistine pirates [18] helped to develop trade with Arabia, and North and East Africa and "such was Hiram's success that the Mediterranean Sea became known as 'the Tyrian Sea". [16]

Commerce from throughout ancient world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre, which thanks to its fortifications offered protection for valuable goods in storage or transit:

Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the Aegean Sea, in Greece, on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage and other places, in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus and even beyond the pillars of Hercules at Gadeira (Cádiz). [30]

The collection of maritime merchant-republic city-states constituting Phoenicia came to be characterized by outsiders and the Phoenicians as Sidonia or Tyria. Phoenicians and Canaanites alike were called Sidonians or Tyrians, as one Phoenician city came to prominence after another.

Phoenicians from Tyre settled in houses around Memphis in Egypt, south of the temple of Hephaestus in a district called the Tyrian Camp. [31]

After Hiram's reign of 34 years, Tyre was rocked by bloody succession fights, as several kings were assassinated. [18]

Assyrian period (868-612)

Stela from the Phoenician necropolis of Tyre, National Museum of Beirut NMBStelaPhoenicianNecropolis.jpg
Stela from the Phoenician necropolis of Tyre, National Museum of Beirut

In the course of the 9th century B.C., the city remained close to the Israelites, as evident through the marriage of Jezebel from a royal Tyrian family with Ahab, King of Israel. [20] However, Tyre started paying tribute to the Assyrians [16] who gradually established sovereignty over Phoenicia. It seems though that Tyre only made a nominal subjection and kept a large degree of independence. [27] Thus, Tyre remained one of the more powerful cities in the Levant. One of its kings, the priest Ithobaal (887–856 BC), ruled as far north as Beirut, and part of Cyprus. [32]

According to the myth, the Northern African city of Carthage (Qart-Hadašt = "New City") was founded in 814 B.C. by Tyre's Princess Elissa, commonly known as Dido ("the wanderer"), who escaped after a power struggle with her brother Pygmalion with a fleet of ships. [16] She has also widely been credited as a pioneer mathematician in planimetrics: Legend has it that she purchased a large piece of land from the local Numid ruler, who granted her the size of land that an oxhide could cover, by having it cut into thin threads, [28]

In the course of the 8th century B.C., the Assyrian kings attempted to increase their sovereignty over Tyre. [18] Hence, the city was besieged by Shalmaneser V with support from Phoenicians of the mainland from around 725 to 720, but was not taken. [33] Cyprus - on the other hand - liberated itself from Tyrian domination in 709. [29]

In the 7th century B.C., Tyre and the other Phoenician city-states not only enjoyed considerable independence, while the Assyrian empire crumbled, but also a booming of trade activities. [20]

Babylonian period (612-539)

After the fall of the Assyrians in 612 BC, Tyre was controlled by the Neo-Babylonians until 586, when it rebelled in an alliance with Egypt, the kingdoms of Judah, Edom, and Moab as well as other Phoenician cities. [20] In reaction, Nebuchadnezzar II started a siege that went on for thirteen years and failed. [16] However, the city instead agreed to pay a tribute. [33]

Due to the long siege, Tyre had suffered economically, as its commercial activities were greatly damaged by the instability. Numismatic sources suggest that as a consequence Tyre lost grounds in its traditional rivalry with neighbouring Sidon, which gained the upper hand. [34]

Persian period (539-332)

Stela from Tyre with Phoenician inscriptions, 4th c. B.C., National Museum of Beirut PhoenicianStela-4cBC-Tyre-NationalMuseumOfBeirut 03102019RomanDeckert.jpg
Stela from Tyre with Phoenician inscriptions, 4th c. B.C., National Museum of Beirut
Sarcophagus known as "Hiram's Tomb", but dated to Persian period HiramTomb SouthLebanon RomanDeckert12082019.jpg
Sarcophagus known as "Hiram's Tomb", but dated to Persian period

The Achaemenid Empire of the Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered the city in 539 B.C. [36] The Persians divided Phoenicia into four vassal kingdoms: Sidon, Tyre, Arwad, and Byblos. They prospered, furnishing fleets for Persian kings. However, when Cambyses II organised a war campaign against Carthage, Tyre refused to sail against its daughter city. [34] Under Persian sovereignty, Tyre - like the other Phoenician city states - was at first allowed to keep its own kings [20] , but eventually the old system of royal families was abolished:

"a republic was instituted [..]: it was the government of the suffetes (judges), who remained in power for short mandates of 6 years." [18]

Tyre's economy continued to rely largely on the production of purple dye from Murex shellfish, which appeared on a Silver coin of Tyre around 450-400 B.C. [37] , when the city started minting its own currency. Other motives on coins included dolphins. [20] Herodotus visited Tyre around 450 B.C. and wrote about the shrine of Melqart:

"one column of the temple was of gold, the other of emerald that 'shone by night.' It may have been made of glass and lit up with a lamp." [18]

According to Roman historian Justin, an insurrection of slaves took place during the Persian period, which spared only the life of one slave-master named Straton - who was then selected by the former slaves to be the new king and established a dynasty. [34]

In 392 BC Evagoras, Prince of Cyprus, started a revolt against the Persian rule with Athenian and Egyptian support. His forces took Tyre by assault - or by secret consent of the Tyrians. However, after ten years he terminated the rebellion and Tyre once again came under Persian control. It abstained from Sidon's insurgency in 352 BC and profited commercially from the subsequent destruction of the neighbouring city. [34]

Hellenistic period (332-126)

A naval action during the siege of Tyre (332 BC). Drawing by Andre Castaigne
, 1888-89. A naval action during the siege of Tyre by Andre Castaigne (1898-1899).jpg
A naval action during the siege of Tyre (332 BC). Drawing by André Castaigne , 1888–89.
Illustration of Alexander's siege by Frank Martini, United States Military Academy Siege tryre.gif
Illustration of Alexander's siege by Frank Martini, United States Military Academy

After his decicive victory over the Persian king Darius III in 333 B.C. and the conquest of Persia, Alexander the Great moved his armies south, exacting tribute from all of coastal Phoenicia's city-states. Tired of Persian repressions, they mostly welcomed the new ruler, yet Tyre resisted his ambitions: [38]

Tyre's king Azemilcus was at sea with the Persian fleet, when Alexander arrived in 332 BC at the gates and proposed to sacrifice to Heracles in the city, which was home to the most ancient temple of Heracles. However, the Tyrian government refused this and instead suggested Alexander to sacrifice at another temple of Heracles on the mainland at Old Tyre. [39]

Angered by this rejection and the city's loyalty to Darius, Alexander started the Siege of Tyre despite its reputation as being impregnable. [16] However, the Macedonian conqueror succeeded after seven months by demolishing the old city on the mainland and using its stones to construct a causeway to the island. [9] [40] [17] [36] [41]

The tallest siege towers ever used in the history of war were moved via this man-made land bridge to overcome the walls of the city, which was running low on supplies. As Alexander's forces moved forward towards linking the fortified island with the mainland, the Tyrians evacuated their old men, women, and children to Carthage. [39] According to some historical sources, fellow Phoenician sailors from Sidon and Byblos, who had been forcefully recruited by Alexander, secretly helped many Tyrians to escape. [18]

Altogether some eight thousand Tyrians were killed during the siege, while Alexander's troops suffered only about four hundred casualties. After Alexander's victory he granted pardon to King Azemilcus and the chief magistrates. Yet according to Arrian, approximately 30,000 citizens of Tyre were sold into slavery. [39]

Hellenistic figurines from Tyre on display at Beirut Intl. Airport, 2019 HellenisticFigurines Tyre NationalMuseumOfBeirut Airport RomanDeckert09112019.jpg
Hellenistic figurines from Tyre on display at Beirut Intl. Airport, 2019

Alexander's legacy still lives on today, since Tyre has remained a peninsula instead of an island ever since. [16] [17]

After Alexander's death in 323 B.C., his empire was divided and Phoenicia given to Laomedon of Mytilene. Ptolemy of Egypt soon annexed the region to his territory, but held only for a few years. [39]

In 315 B.C., Alexander's former general Antigonus began his own siege of Tyre. [42] The city had recovered rapidly after Alexander's conquest [39] , but was still taken a year later. [43] Antigonus' son Demetrius ruled Phoenicia until 287 BC, when it once again passed over to Ptolemy. It remained under the control of his successors for almost seventy years, until the Seleucids under Antiochus III invaded Phoenicia in 198 B.C.. [39]

Fibula in the shape of a marine horse from Tyre, estimated 4th to 1st c. B.C., on display at the Louvre Fibule cheval marin Bj 2230 (2).jpg
Fibula in the shape of a marine horse from Tyre, estimated 4th to 1st c. B.C., on display at the Louvre
Image of a half-shekel from Tyre, 102 BC, depiciting deity Melqart C+B-Shekel-FigC-TyrianHalfShekel.PNG
Image of a half-shekel from Tyre, 102 BC, depiciting deity Melqart

Despite those renewed devastations, Tyre regained its standing under Alexander's successors and as a privilege continued to mint its own silver coins [44] . While some of the trade in the Eastern Mediterranean diverted to Alexandria, [39] Tyre profited from the developing Silk Road. [28]

"Tyre rapidly became Hellenized. Festivals in the Greek manner with offering of sacrifices, gymnastic contests, pageants and processions became part of the life of Tyre." [39]

Some Arabian authors claim that Tyre was the birth-place of Euclid, the "Father of Geometry" (c. 325 B.C.). Other famous scholars from Tyre during the Hellenistic period included the philospohers Diodorus of Tyre, Antipater of Tyre, and Apollonius of Tyre. [28]

In 275 B.C., Tyre abandoned the concept of monarchy and instead became a Republic. [29]

During the Punic Wars, Tyre sympathised with its former colony Carthage. Therefore 195 B.C., Hannibal, after his defeat to the Romans, escaped by ship to Tyre before moving on to Antioch and Ephesus. [39]

Independence from Seleucid Empire (126-64)

In 126 BC, Tyre regained its independence from the fading Seleucid Empire. [45]

One year later it adopted its own lunar-solar-hybrid calendar, which was used for 150 years. [28]

Roman period (64 B.C. - 395 A.D.)

Panorama of "Al Mina" (City Site) TyreCitySiteUNESCOworldculturalheritage RomanDeckert07082019.jpg
Panorama of "Al Mina" (City Site)
"Ain Sur": the spring of Tyre where Jesus reportedly drank water AinSur-AinHiram Tyre RomanDeckert07082019.jpg
"Ain Sur": the spring of Tyre where Jesus reportedly drank water

When the area of "Syria" became a province of the Roman Empire in 64 B.C., [46] Tyre was allowed to keep much of its independence, as a "civitas foederata", [47] A decree found at Tyre infers that Marcus Aemilius Scaurus - Pompey's deputy in Syria - played the key role in granting Tyre the privileged status of remaining a free city. Scaurus did apparently so "against a certain payment". [48]

The Hippodrome, 2009 Roman Hippodrome in Tyre, Lebanon.jpg
The Hippodrome, 2009

Tyre continued to maintain much of its commercial importance. Apart from purple dye, the production of linen became a main industry in the city [48] as well as garum fish sauce, "comparable to caviar in our days". [49] Its geographical location made Tyre the "natural" port of Damascus, to which it was linked through a road during the Roman period, [50] and an important meeting point of the Silk Road. [28] Thus the Tyrians extended their areas of hegemony over the adjoining regions, such as in northern Palestine region, settling in cities such as Kedesh, [51] Mount Carmel [52] and north of Baca. [53]

The Triumphal Arch (reconstructed) Tyre Triumphal Arch.jpg
The Triumphal Arch (reconstructed)

It is stated in the New Testament that Jesus visited the region of Tyre. Some sources tell that he drank water with John sitting on a rock by the spring of Ain Sur (Source of Tyre), which is also known as Ain Hiram, named after the Phoenician king. [26] According to the bible, Jesus healed a Gentile (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24) and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mark 3:8; Gospel of Luke 6:17, Matthew 11:21–23). Apparently, some of those who followed him hailed from Tyre. [48]

Palestra at the City site (2005) TyreAlMina.jpg
Palestra at the City site (2005)

A Christian congregation was founded in Tyre soon after the death of St. Stephen. Paul the Apostle, on his return from his third missionary journey, spent a week in conversation with the disciples there. [48] According to Irenaeus of Lyon in On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis , the female companion of Simon Magus came from here.

In the early second century A.D., Emperor Hadrian, who visited the cities of the East around 130 A.D., conferred the title of Metropolis on Tyre: "great city" mother of other cities. This status was of "utmost importance" [54] , as it settled the ancient rivalry with Sidon in Tyre's favour - for the time being. [48] According to the Suda encyclopedia, the orator Paulus of Tyre, who served as an ambassador to the Imperial court in Rome, played the main role in securing this prestigious title. [54] Hadrian also allowed Tyre to mint its own coins. [18]

"UNDER ARMOUR": Marble statue of Hadrian from Tyre at the National Museum of Beirut NationalMuseumOfBeirut EmperorHadrianMarble-Tyre RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
"UNDER ARMOUR": Marble statue of Hadrian from Tyre at the National Museum of Beirut

Subsequently, the famous "Arch of Hadrian" and one of the largest hippodromes in the world (480m long and 160m wide) were constructed. [55] The amphitheater for the horse-racetrack could host some 30.000 spectators. An aqueduct of about 5 km length was built to supply the city with water from the Ras Al Ain basins in the South. [17]

Marble bust of Septimius Severus from Tyre, National Museum of Beirut NationalMuseumOfBeirut SeptimiusSverus-marble-Tyre RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
Marble bust of Septimius Severus from Tyre, National Museum of Beirut

In the middle of the second century, the cartographer Marinus of Tyre became the founder of mathematical geography, paving the way for Claudius Ptolemy's Geography. Other famous scholars from Roman Tyre include the pre-eminent jurist Ulpian, as well as the philosophers Maximus of Tyre, who was one of the tutors of emperor Marcus Aurelius [18] , and Porphyry of Tyre. [28]

When in 193 A.D. Septimius Severus and Pescennius Niger competed against each other for the throne of Rome, Tyre sided with Severus, who was born in Tyre's former colony Leptis Magna. [56] Niger's troops in retaliation looted Tyre and killed many of its inhabitants. Yet after the defeat of his rival, Severus rewarded Tyre's loyalty with the status of a Colony, which enabled the city to regain some of its wealth [48] as it granted Tyrians Roman citizenship, with the same rights as Romans themselves. [18] In 198 A.D. Tyre became the capital of the province Syria Phoenice. [29]

During the third century A.D. the Heraclia games - dedicated to Melqart-Heracles (not to be confused with the demigod Heracles, hero of the 12 labors) [18] - were held in the Tyrian hippodrome every four years. [48]

Relic of Saint Christina in the Maronite Cathedral of Tyre ExOssibusStChristinae MaroniteCathedralTyre RomanDeckert04102019.jpg
Relic of Saint Christina in the Maronite Cathedral of Tyre
Roman relief at the necropolis RomanRelief SarcophageNecropolisTyre RomanDeckert.jpg
Roman relief at the necropolis

Faced with the growth of christianity in the third century, the Roman authorities supported paganism and encouraged the practise of Tyre's ancient cults, especially the worshipping of Melqart. When Emperor Decius ordered a general prosecution of Christians in 250-251 AD, followers of Jesus in Tyre suffered as well. According to the ancient bishop and historian Eusebius, the Christian scholar Origen died in Tyre around 253 AD due to injuries from torture. [48]

In the wake of the Diocletianic Persecution as the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, followers of Jesus in Tyre were harshly affected as well. According to religious accounts, one of the most prominent martyrs was Saint Christina, the daughter of the city's governor, who was executed around 300 A.D., after her own father had her tortured. In 304 A.D., some 500 Christians were reportedly persecuted, tortured and killed in Tyre. [57]

Lead coffin from Tyre area, 3rd to early 4th century, at the Musee d'art et d'histoire in Geneva LeadCoffin Roman 3-4c Tyre MAH-Geneva RomanDeckert16112019.jpg
Lead coffin from Tyre area, 3rd to early 4th century, at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva

Relief on a sarcophagus in the Roman-Byzantine necropolis of Al Bass FaceReliefOnSarcophagus RomanNecropolis-AlBass-Tyre-Lebanon RomanDeckert20112019.jpg
Relief on a sarcophagus in the Roman-Byzantine necropolis of Al Bass

However, less than a decade later "the young, and very rich" Bishop Paulinus had a basilica constructed upon the ruins of a demolished church [58] , which in turn had probably been built upon the ruins of the ancient Temple of Melqart. Reportedly, Origen was buried behind the altar. In 315 A.D., just two years after the Edict of Milan about the benevolent treatment of Christians, the Cathedral was inaugurated by Bishop Eusebius, who recorded his speech and thus a detailed account of the site in his writings. Not only is this considered the oldest description of a Christian church, but moreover:

"The Cathedral of Paulinus is considered the oldest in Church History ". [17]

Subsequently, Tyre became caput et metropolis, "head and capital" of the churches of the region. [18]

Saint Frumentius - who was born around that time in Tyre - became the first bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, after he and his brother Edesius had accompanied an uncle on a voyage to the Red Sea and ended up shipwrecked on the Eritrean coast. While Edesius returned to Tyre to become a priest, Frumentius has been widely credited with bringing Christianity to the Kingdom of Aksum. [18]

Byzantine period (395-640)

Marble plate from Tyre, Byzantine Period, National Museum of Beirut ByzantineMarblePlate Tyre NationalMuseumOfBeirut RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
Marble plate from Tyre, Byzantine Period, National Museum of Beirut
Al Mina Site, probably Byzantine TyreAlMinaCitySite ByzantineMosaicHearts RomanDeckert030102018.jpg
Al Mina Site, probably Byzantine

In 395 Tyre became part of the Byzantine Empire and continued to flourishing. Not only its traditional glass and purple-dyeing industries allowed the city to prosper during this period [16] : as Tyre was stayed in a strategic position of the Silk Road, [28] it also profited from establishing a silk production after its secret procedures had been smuggled out of China. [18]

The necropolis on mainland Tyre with more than three hundred sarcophagi from the Roman and Byzantine periods thus grew to be one of the largest in the world. A main road of some 400m length and 4,5m width paved with limestone was constructed there during the Byzantine times. [17] Closeby, two churches with marble decorations were built in the 5th and early 6th century A.D. respectively, when construction in ancient Tyre reached its zenith. [59]

From a tomb in the Necropolis, 440 A.D.: "possibly the oldest fresco of the Virgin Mary worldwide." (National Museum of Beirut) ByzantineTomb-Tyre-VirginMaryHalo NationalMuseumOfBeirut RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
From a tomb in the Necropolis, 440 A.D.: "possibly the oldest fresco of the Virgin Mary worldwide." (National Museum of Beirut)

During the entire period of Byzantine rule, the archbishopric of Tyre had primacy over all the bishops of the Levant. Yet, while Christianity was the main religion, some people reportedly continued to worship the Phoenician deities, especially Melqart. [18]

Over the course of the 6th century A.D., a series of earthquakes shattered the city and left it diminished. The worst one took place in 551 A.D. [18] It destroyed the Great Triumphal Arch on the mainland. [44] On the Southern part of the peninsula, the Egyptian harbour and parts of the suburb were submerged in the sea. [59]

In addition, the city and its population suffered during the 6th century increasingly from the political chaos that ensued when the Byzantine empire was torn apart by wars. [18]

The city remained under Byzantine control until it was captured by the Sassanian shah Khosrow II at the turn from the 6th to the 7th century A.D., and then briefly regained until the Muslim conquest of the Levant, when in 640 it was taken by the Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate. [28]

Early Muslim period (640-1124)

Remains of the Fatimid Mosque: water basin and circuits for ablutions FatimidGrandMosque TyreSour RomanDeckert23112019.jpg
Remains of the Fatimid Mosque: water basin and circuits for ablutions
7th-8th c., National Museum of Beirut Vase-VII-VIIIc Tyre NationalMuseumOfBeirut RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
7th-8th c., National Museum of Beirut

As the bearers of Islam restored peace and order, Tyre soon began to prosper again and continued to do so during half a millenium of Caliphate rule [44] This was despite the fact that the city stayed reduced to a part of the old island after the devastations of the earthquakes in the 6th century A.D. [59]

In the late 640s, the caliph's governor Muawiyah launched his naval invasions of Cyprus from Tyre, [16] but the Rashidun period only lasted until 661. [28] It was followed by the Umayyad Caliphate (until 750) and the Abbasid Caliphate. Tyre became a cultural center of the Arab world which hosted many well-know scholars and artists. [28] In the course of the centuries, Islam spread and Arabic became the language of administration instead of Greek, [28] [38] though some people reportedly still continued to follow the ancient religion of Melqart. [18]

Terracotta cup, 9th-10th c., National Museum of Beirut TerracottaCup-Tyre IX-Xc NationalMuseumOfBeirut RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
Terracotta cup, 9th-10th c., National Museum of Beirut

During the Ismaili Shia Fatimid Caliphate, a Grand Mosque was constructed [26] in the place that probably had been the location of the Temple of Melqart before. [17]

Meanwhile, Tyre's economy remained part of the Silk Road. [28] In addition to its traditional industries of purple dye and glass production, sugar production from cane fields around the city became another main business. [18]

In the Revolt of Tyre (996–998), the populace of the city rose against Fatimid rule, led by an ordinary sailor named 'Allaqa - but were brutally suppressed in May 998.

In 1086 it fell into the hands of the Seljuks who lost it in 1089 to the Fatimids. By that time, some estimates put the number of inhabitants at around 20,000. [61]

Ten years later, Tyre avoided being attacked by paying tribute to the Crusaders who marched on Jerusalem. In 1111, King Baldwin I of Jerusalem laid siege on the city for almost five months [62] , but retreated after some 2.000 of his troops had been killed. [16]

Crusader period (1124-1291)

Crusader Cathedral ruins site, 2019 CrusaderCathedralPanorama-TyreSour-Lebanon RomanDeckert04092019.jpg
Crusader Cathedral ruins site, 2019
1874 illustration JohannNepomukSepp MeerfahrNachTyros1879 TyreCrusaderCrowningCathedral p245.jpg
1874 illustration

On July 7 of 1124, in the aftermath of the First Crusade, Tyre was the last city to be eventually conquered by the Christian warriors - a Frankish army on the coast and a Venetian fleet from the sea side [62] - following a siege of five and a half months [16] that caused great suffering from hunger to the population. [62]

Terracotta cup from Tyre, Crusader period, National Museum of Beirut TerracottaCup Tyre 12-13c NationalMuseumOfBerlin 06102019.jpg
Terracotta cup from Tyre, Crusader period, National Museum of Beirut

Under its new rulers, Tyre was divided into three parts: two thirds to the royal domain of King Baldwin and one third as autonomous trading colonies for the Italian merchant cities: mainly to the Doge of Venice, who had a particular interest in supplying silica sands to the glassmakers of Venice. [18] In addition, there were a Genoese quarter [61] , and a Pisan neighbourhood. [62]

In 1127, Tyre was shaken by a heavy earthquake that caused many casualties, and more earthquakes followed in 1157 and 1170. [62]

Nevertheless, Tyre became one of the most important cities of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, still being part of the Silk Road. [28] It kept booming with commercial activity, especially glassware by the Jewish community, Sendal silk cloth, purple dye [63] , and sugar factories. [62] Contemporary estimates put the number of residents at around 25,000. [61]

1187 siege, 1474 illustration Tyre 1187.jpg
1187 siege, 1474 illustration

The city was the see of a Roman Catholic archbishopric, whose archbishop was a suffragan of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; its archbishops often acceded to the Patriarchate. The most notable of the Latin archbishops was the historian William of Tyre, who held the office from 1175 to 1184 while also being chancellor of the kingdom. [62]

1874 photo of cathedral exterior JohannNepomukSepp MeerfahrNachTyros1879 TyreCrusaderCathedral-Exterior p241.jpg
1874 photo of cathedral exterior

The Saint Mark Cathedral of Tyre was built upon on the ruins of the Fatimid Grand Mosque [26] - which in turn had probably been constructed upon or at least the near the ruins of the ancient Temple of Melqart. [17]

Despite this Christian domination, there was peaceful coexistence of religion: the Jewish community was estimated to number some 500 members [61] , and Muslims continued to follow Islam, most prominently Um Ali Taqiyya, "one of the first Tyrian women who excelled in poetry and literature". [28] There were reportedly even still followers of the ancient religion of Melqart. [18]

Terracotta tile from Tyre, Crusader period, National Museum of Beirut Musee National de Beyrouth - carreau de terre cuite tyrien.jpg
Terracotta tile from Tyre, Crusader period, National Museum of Beirut

After the loss of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187, many crusaders escaped to Tyre with its strong fortifications: "The refugee barons of Palestine were now crowded in the city." Saladin put on the Siege of Tyre twice but gave up on New Year's Day 1188. In the meantime, Frankish military and naval reinforcements had arrived, so that Conrad of Montferrat was able to organise an effective defense. Subsequently, Tyre's Cathedral became the traditional coronation place for the kings of Jerusalem and a venue for royal marriages. [62] [17]

1874 photo of the cathedral interior JohannNepomukSepp MeerfahrNachTyros1879 TyreCrusaderCathedral-Interior p249.jpg
1874 photo of the cathedral interior

When the German Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, also known as Frederick Barbarossa, drowned in 1190 in Asia Minor while leading an army in the Third Crusade, his bones were reportedly buried in the cathedral of Tyre. [64] After the reconquest of Acre by Richard I of England on July 12, 1191, the seat of the kingdom moved there.

On April 27 of 1192, Conrad of Montferrat - who had been elected as king of Jerusalem just days before - was assassinated at Tyre by members of the Order of Assassins. [62]

In 1202 and 1203 more earthquakes caused severe damages in Tyre. [62]

In 1210, John of Brienne and his wife Maria of Montferrat were crowned in Tyre to be King and Queen of Jerusalem. [65]

The ruins of the Cathedral, 2019 CrusaderCathedral TyreSourLebanon RomanDeckert07112019.jpg
The ruins of the Cathedral, 2019

In 1247, Tyre Tyre was separated from the royal domain and became allotted to Philip of Montfort as the Lordship of Tyre. A decade later, Philip expelled the Venetians from the one third of the city that had been conceded to them in 1124. [63]

In May 1269, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars led an abortive raid upon Tyre after failed negotiations about a truce. [66] In September of that year, Hugh III of Cyprus was crowned King of Jerusalem in Tyre. [62]

A year later, Philip was killed by an Assassin, apparently in the employ of Baibars. The new Lord of Tyre became Philip's eldest son, John of Montfort. After his death in 1283 and the death of his brother Humphrey of Montfort in 1284, John's widow Margaret of Antioch-Lusignan - who was the sister of Hugh III - became the Lady of Tyre. Two years later she entered into a land control treaty with Baibars' successor Al-Mansur Qalawun. [66]

In 1291, Margaret ceded the Lordship of Tyre to her nephew Amalric of Lusignan and retired to the monastery of Our Lady of Tyre in Nicosia.

Mamluk period (1291-1516)

Terracotta cup from Tyre, 14th c., National Museum of Beirut MamlukCup-Tyre NationalMuseumOfBeirut 03102019.jpg
Terracotta cup from Tyre, 14th c., National Museum of Beirut
Terracotta cup, Mamluk period, National Museum of Beirut TerracottaCup-Tyre-Mamluk NationalMuseumOfBeirut RomanDeckert06102019.jpg
Terracotta cup, Mamluk period, National Museum of Beirut

In the same year of Dame Margaret's retirement - in 1291 - Tyre was again taken, this time by the Mamluk Sultanate's army of Al-Ashraf Khalil. [16] Reportedly, the whole population had evacuated the city by ship on the day that Acre as one of the last Crusader strongholds had fallen after two months of siege, so that the Mamluks found Tyre empty. [67]

The Sultan had all fortifications demolished in order to prevent the Franks from re-entrenching. [61] The Crusader cathedral, which had been damaged by an earthquake before, was destroyed by the conquerors as well. [64]

The traditional pottery and glassware industry in Tyre continued its production of artful objects during the early Mamluk period. [38] However, the purple dye industry, which had been a major source of income for the city throughout its previous history, did not get started again, since new dyes like Turkey red were cheaper. [37]

Illustration of the ruins of Tyre in the 17th century by Cornelis De Bruyn Tyrus btv1b85929097.jpg
Illustration of the ruins of Tyre in the 17th century by Cornelis De Bruyn

Subsequently, Tyre - "the London of the Old World" [67] - lost its importance and "sank into obsurity." When the Moroccan explorer Ibn Batutah visited Tyre in 1355, he found it a mass of ruins. [68] Many stones were taken to neighbouring cities like Sidon, Acre, Beirut, and Jaffa [67] as building materials. Ezekiel's ancient prophecy about the destruction of Tyre was thus finally fulliflled. [13] In 1610, the English traveller George Sandys noted about his visit to Tyre:

"This once famous Tyre is now no other than a heap of ruins; yet have they a reverent respect: and do instruct the pensive beholder with their exemplary frailty." [67]

Ottoman period (1516-1918)

Khan Sour / Khan Al-Ashkar, 2019 KhanSour-KhanAlAshkar TyreSour RomanDeckert16082019.jpg
Khan Sour / Khan Al-Ashkar, 2019
Khan Sour / Khan Al-Ashkar, 2019 KhanSour-KhanAlAshkar-UpperGallery-TyreSour RomanDeckert20082019.jpg
Khan Sour / Khan Al-Ashkar, 2019
The tombstone of Nassar TombAbbasAlMohammadAlNassar MaachoukTyre RomanDeckert19112019.jpg
The tombstone of Nassar

Maan family district rule

The Ottoman Empire conquered the region in 1516-17, [16] yet Tyre remained untouched for another ninety years until the beginning of the 17th century, when the Ottoman rulers appointed the Druze leader Fakhreddine II of the Maan family to administer Jebel Amil (modern-day South Lebanon) and Galilee in addition to the districts of Beirut and Sidon. [69]

One of his projects in Tyre was the construction of a residence for his brother, Prince Younes Al-Maani. It "subsequently became the property of the Franciscan fathers." The building was later used as a garrison and transformed into a Khan [26] [70] , "traditionally a large rectangular courtyard with a central fountain, surrounded by covered galleries" [71] . Its ruins are still standing in the centre of today's Souk marketplace area and are known as Khan Al-Ashkar [26] [70] , or also as Khan Sour.

The tomb of Nassar on a hill of Maachouk neighbourhood, 2019 Tomb-NabiMashouk-Nassar-Tyre 22112019.jpg
The tomb of Nassar on a hill of Maachouk neighbourhood, 2019

However, the efforts to develop the city, including a cooperation with Florence to rebuild the harbour, came to a halt when the Ottoman rulers had Fakhreddine II executed in 1635. [72]

Al-Saghir / Al-As'ad family district rule

In the following years, Ali al-Saghir - a leader of the discriminated Metwali, the Shia muslims of what is now Lebanon - established a dynasty that dominated the area of Jebel Amil until the mid-twentieh century. [69] The scions of its al-As'ad clan have continued to play a political role into the 21st century, though of lately a rather peripheral one. [73]

In 1697 the English scholar Henry Maundrell visited Tyre and found only a "few" inhabitants, who mainly subsisted upon fishing. [50]

Nevertheless, a few years Tyre was - at least nominally - at the center of the schism within the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch [74] : its archbishop of Tyre and Sidon - Euthymios Saif - had been working on regaining communion with the Holy See in Rome at least since 1683. In 1701, by secret decree he was appointed by the Congretation Propaganda Fide to be the Apostolic Administrator of the Melkites. [75] [76] In 1724, one year after Saifi's death, his nephew and student Seraphim Tanas was elected as Patriarch Cyril VI of Antioch. He quickly affirmed the union with Rome and thereby the separation from the Greek Orthodox Church. [77] However, only a handful of Christian families actually lived in Tyre at the time. Church services were held in the ruins of Saint Thomas church near the remains of the Crusaders Cathedral. [62]

Greek Catholic St. Thomas Cathedral with the Franciscan church of the Holy Land in the back MelkiteCathedralStThomasTyre-northsideview2019 RomanDeckert.jpg
Greek Catholic St. Thomas Cathedral with the Franciscan church of the Holy Land in the back
Burj Al Mobarakee (2018) AlMobarakeeTower TyreSourLebanon RomanDeckert01112018.jpg
Burj Al Mobarakee (2018)

Around 1750, Tyre's ruler from the Shiite dynasty of al-Saghir (see above) [69] , Sheikh Abbas Al-Mohamad Al-Nassar, initiated a number of construction projects in order to attract new inhabitants to the almost deserted town. [72] Amongst these development projects was a mosque, which is nowadays known as the Old Mosque, the Serail as his own headquarters at the Northern port, and the Al Mobarakee Tower, which is the only military tower still existing today. [26] [70]

In 1752, construction of the Melkite cathedral of Saint Thomas was started thanks to donation from a rich merchant, George Mashakka - also spelled Jirjis MIshaqa [78] - in a place that had already housed a church during the Crusader period in the 12th century. [26] The tobacco trader had been persuaded by governor Nassar to move from Sidon to Tyre. Numerous Greek Catholic families followed him there. Mashakka also contributed greatly to the construction of the mosque. [62]

However, in 1780 the resurgence of Tyre suffered a backlash when Nasser was killed in a power-struggle with the Ottoman governor of Sidon, Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar, and the Shiite autonomy in Jebel Amil ended for a quarter century. [69]

Egyptian Occupation (1831-1839)

In 1831 Tyre fell under the rule of Mehmet Ali Pasha of Egypt. A number of Egyptians settled in the city, which still today features a "Street of the Egyptians" in its old town. [72] However, in 1839 Shiite forces in Jebel Amil under the leadership of Hamad al-Mahmud from the al-Saghir dynasty (see above) rebelled against the Egyptian occupation. They were rewarded by the Ottoman rulers with the restoration of Shiite autonomy in the area. Al-Mahmud was succeeded in 1852 by Ali al-As'ad, who died in 1865 after a power struggle with his cousin Thamir al-Husain. [69]

French influence zone (from mid-19th c. on)
1843 lithograph by Louis Haghe The ancient city of Tyre, taken from the isthmus. Coloured l Wellcome V0049481.jpg
1843 lithograph by Louis Haghe
Greek-Orthodox St. Thomas Tyre-Sour Lebanon StThomas-GreekOrthodoxChurch RomanDeckert02112018.jpg
Greek-Orthodox St. Thomas

Meanwhile, the Egyptian occupation had opened the door for European intervention in Ottoman affairs through various Lebanese communities. Thus France and allied Maronite leaders increased their influence across Lebanon from the mid-19th century onwards. [69] In this context, Tyre saw more of a renaissance of Christianity as well:

In 1860, the Greek-Orthodox church of Saint Thomas was consecrated near the Greek-Catholic Saint Thomas Cathedral. Around the same time, the Latin-Catholic church of the Holy Land was established by the Franciscan order. [70] [26]

In 1860, first archaeological excavations were commissioned by Emperor of the French Napoleon III and undertaken by the French historian Ernest Renan. After his departure irregular digging activities disturbed the historical sites. [13]

Sepp's team in the Cathedral ruins JohannNepomukSepp MeerfahrNachTyros1879 TyreCrusaderCathedralColumns p257.jpg
Sepp's team in the Cathedral ruins

In 1874, the Bavaria n historian and politician Johann Nepomuk Sepp led a mission to Tyre to search for the bones of Frederick Barbarossa. The expedition had the approval of Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire, and openly pursued ambitions to establish a German colony. While Sepp and his team failed to discover Barbarossa's remains, they did excavate the ruins of the Crusader cathedral and took a number of archaeological findings to Berlin where they were exhibited. [64] For their excavations, Sepp and his team had some 120 people evicted, though with some compensation, with the support of local authorities. [79]

According to Sepp, Tyre had some 5,000 inhabitants in 1874. [79]

In 1882, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition founded a school at the Western sea side of the Christian quarter.

A street in Tyre around 1900 Along the sea coast. Street in Tyre LOC matpc.22598.jpg
A street in Tyre around 1900
"Our Lady of the Seas" MaroniteCathedralOurLadyOfTheSeas TyreLebanon RomanDeckert04092019.jpg
"Our Lady of the Seas"

In the 1880s, many Lebanese from Tyre emigrated to West Africa in order to escape poverty. The city thereafter became known as "Little West Africa". In Senegal, most immigrants originated from Tyre. Hence, one of its main promenades is called "Avenue du Senegal" (see photo in section "Demographics"). [80]

In 1903, excavations were resumed by the Greek archaeologist Theodore Makridi, curator of the Imperial Museum at Constantinople. Important findings like fragments of marble sarcophagi were sent to the Ottoman capital. [13]

In 1906, construction of the Maronite cathedral of "Our Lady of the Seas" near the modern harbour was finished. It was built on the on the foundations of an older church. [26]

Tyre harbour pre-WWI TyreLebanon Harbour1898-1914 LibraryOfCongress-MatsonCollection.jpg
Tyre harbour pre-WWI

In 1908, the Ottoman call for elections triggered a power-struggle in Jebel Amil between the Sunni dynasty of al-Sulh in Sidon, which dominated the coastal region and was supported by some leading Shiite families, and the Shia clan of the al-As'ad clan from the al-Saghir dynasty (see above), which dominated the hinterland. [69] It was

"a 'dark age' of ignorance and feudalism; it was a time when the masses, al ama, were terrified of their masters and landlords, of the Ottoman officialdom, a time when the flock [..] took life as 'slavery and obedience.'" [81]

World War I

At the beginning of the First World War in 1914, many Shiites in Jebel Amil were conscripted and thus had to leave their farms. One year later famine struck as locusts devastated the fields. This triggered another wave of emmigration to Africa and also to the USA. [69]

As opposition to the Turkish rulers grew across the Levant, Arab nationalism was on the rise in Jebel Amil as well. However, in March 1915 the Ottoman authorities launched a new wave repressions and arrested a number of activists of the Decentralisation Party in Tyre as in other cities like Sidon, Nabatiya, and Beirut. Some of them were executed. [69]

Meanwhile, the French Army used the historical garrison building of Khan Al-Ashkar as a base. [26]

Arab Kingdom of Syria (1918-1920)

Sayed Sharafeddin in 1938 SayedAbdulHusseinSharafeddin ID-photo 1938.jpg
Sayed Sharafeddin in 1938
Aerial view between 1900 and 1920 TyreLebanon AerialView1900-1920 LibraryOfCongress-MatsonCollection.jpg
Aerial view between 1900 and 1920

After the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman rule started in 1916 and the Sharifian Army conquered the Levant in 1918 with support from the British Empire, the Jamal Amil feudal leader Kamil al-As'ad, who had been an Ottomanist before, declared the area - including Tyre - part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria on the 5th of October, 1918. [69]

However, this support for Faisal I put the ruling class of Jebel Amil into conflict with the interests of the French colonial empire. [69]

The leading prominent supporter of unity within a Greater Syria [82] and organiser of nonviolent resistance against the French ambitions in Jabil Amil became the Shi'a Twelver Islamic scholar Sayyid Abdel Hussein Sharafeddine (born 1873), the Imam of Tyre, who had played a decicive role in the 1908 power struggle between the al-As'ad clan of the al-Saghir dynasty and the al-Sulh family (see above):

"He achieved his prominent position in the community through his reputation as a widely respected 'alim [religious scholar] whose books were taught in prominent Shi'ite schools such as Najaf in Iraq and Qum in Iran." [69]

In early 1920, Sharafeddin led a Shia delegation to Damascus to make the case for unity with Syria. [81] However, already in July of that year, the pan-Arabist rule ended after less than two years [69] :

French colonial rule (1920-1943)

When in 1920 violent clashes took place in the Jabal Amel area between armed Shia and Maronite groups, a French colonial army defeated the Shia forces, while French warplanes and artillery bombarded Tyre and other towns in the area. In September 1920, the French rulers proclaimed the new State of Greater Lebanon with Tyre and the Jabal Amel as the Southern part of the Mandate. [83] Still in 1920, the first municipality of Tyre was founded, which was headed by Ismail Yehia Khalil [84] from the Shia feudal dynasty of al-Khalil.

In contrast, Imam Sharafeddin as the most prominent opponent of the French imperialist project fled the city:

"His home in Tyre was looted by French soldiers, his books and manuscripts were confiscated, another home in a neighboring village was burned. He fled to Damascus, but had to quit that city for Egypt and then for a brief stay several months in Palestine before he was allowed to return to his base in Tyre." [81]

In 1921, an archaeological survey of Tyre was undertaken by a French team under the leadership of Denyse Le Lasseur. [13]

During the 1920s, emigration from Tyre via Marseille to Western Africa reached a peak as Southern Lebanese were driven out by poverty again. However, this trend was curbed when the French colonial rulers in Africa imposed stricter controls on immigration. [80]

French Air Force photo from the early 1930s Tyre-aerial-photo-by-France-Military-1934.jpg
French Air Force photo from the early 1930s
Scan of Sharafeddin's 1938 passport, noting that he was "literate" SayedAbdulHusseinSharafeddin Carte-d-Identite ID 1938.jpg
Scan of Sharafeddin's 1938 passport, noting that he was "literate"

Meanwhile, Imam Sharafeddin resurged as the most defining character for the development of Tyre in the first half of the 20th century. While he succeeded Khalil as head of the municipal council until 1926 [84] , he first and foremost changed the city and its hinterland by becoming a social reformer [80] and "activist": [81]

In 1928, the first Shi'a mosque in Tyre was constructed, using local traditional architecture and centered around two Roman granite columns. It was named Abdel Hussein Mosque after Sharafeddine. [26]

The Northern shore in 1936 Tyre along the N. shore. LOC matpc.03553.jpg
The Northern shore in 1936

Another French archaelogical mission took place between 1934 and 1936 that included aerial surveys and diving expeditions. It was led by the Jesuit missionary Antoine Poidebard, a pioneer of aerial archaeology. [13]

In 1936, the French colonial authorities set up a camp for Armenian refugees in Rashidieh on the coast, five kilometres south of Tyre city. [85] One year later, another one was constructed in the El Bass (El Buss) area of Tyre. [86]

1937 also saw a historical turning point, when Imam Sharafeddine founded a school for girls, the first primary school in South Lebanon altogether. It soon expanded, not least thanks to donations from merchants who had emigrated from Tyre to Western Africa and made their fortunes there. [80] And it soon "became a nucleus for political activity in Tyre in particular and Jabal 'Amil as a whole". [69]

World War II

After the start of the Second World War, French troops once again used the historical garisson building of Khan Al-Ashkar as a base. [26] [70] When in 1940 French soldiers dug out an anti-tank trench at Tyre on the road leading South, they discovered a marble sarcophagus from the first or second century A.D., which is exhibited at the National Museum in Beirut. [87]

In Mid-1941, a joint British-Free French campaign began to topple the Vichy regime in Syria and Lebanon. It relied heavily on Indian troops [88] and also included the Australian 21st Brigade. [89] These forces liberated Tyre from the Nazi-collaborators on June 8th. [90]

1943 Lebanese independence

When France dispatched troops to Beirut during the 1945 Levant Crisis, it was Imam Sharafeddin who sent a petition to the Legation of the United States in the capital:

"We inhabitants of Jabal Amil protest strongly against landing of foreign troops in our country, which is free. This is a slighting of our liberty and a disdain of our honor. We are prepared to defend our independence. We would not hesitate to shed the last drop of our blood to that effect." [81]

In 1946, Jafariya School was upgraded to be a Secondary School, the first in Southern Lebanon. Shia Imam Sharafeddine appointed as its founding director George Kenaan, a Lebanese Christian.

In 1947, archaeological excavations were started by Maurice Chehab, the first Director General of Antiquities of Lebanon. [13]

1948 Palestinian exodus

Graffito of Naji Al-Ali in Ramallah Naji al Ali Graffiti, Ramallah, 2012 AmerShomali.jpg
Graffito of Naji Al-Ali in Ramallah
View of Tyre's Old Town in 1950 Zicht opTyrus aan de Middellandse zee, Bestanddeelnr 255-6313.jpg
View of Tyre's Old Town in 1950

When the state of Israel was declared in May 1948, Tyre was immediately affected: with the Palestinian exodus - also known as the Nakba - thousands of Palestinian refugees fled to the city, many of them by boat. On 17 July 1948, two Israeli frigates shelled Tyre [91] in order to attack a unit of Fawzi al-Qawuqji's Arab Liberation Army. [92]

Subsequently, Tyre's position next to the closed border further marginalised the city, "which was already sidelined by Beirut and Sidon." [16]

Still in 1948, the Burj Shimali camp was established next to the Tyre peninsula, mainly for displaced from Hawla, Tiberias, Saffuri and Lubieh. [93] The same year, an irregular camp was established at the Jal Al Bahar coastal strip in the Northern part of Tyre, [94] mainly by Palestinian refugees from the village Tarshiha. [95] In Maachouk - with Burj Al Shimali 1 km to the East - Palestinian refugees settled on agricultural lands owned by the Lebanese State. [96]

In the 1950s, the Armenian refugees from El Bass were resettled to the Anjar area, while Palestinians from the Acre area in Galilee moved into the camp. [86]

Many of the teachers at the Jafariya Primary and Secondary school were well-educated refugees from Palestine, amongst them the famous cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who worked as a drawing instructor in the early 1960s and went on to create Handala, the iconic symbol of Palestinian identity and defiance. [97]

In the 1950s, the number of Lebanese from Tyre joining the diaspora in West Africa increased once again, corresponding to yet another rise in poverty. [80]

1958 Lebanese Civil War

RACHID KARAMI Square in Tyre Tyre-Sour Lebanon RashidKaramiSquareSign RomanDeckert06112018.jpg
RACHID KARAMI Square in Tyre
Bullet holes in the Jafariya School from the 1958 counter-insurgency 1958bulletholes-Jafariya-School-Tower-TyreSour-RomanDeckert07082019.jpg
Bullet holes in the Jafariya School from the 1958 counter-insurgency

After the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser in February 1958, tensions quickly escalated in Tyre between the government authorities of President Camille Chamoun and local supporters of pan-arabism. In popular reaction, demonstrations took place in Tyre - as well as in Beirut and other cities - that promoted pro-union slogans and protested against US foreign policy. [98] A Durham thesis concludes that the Jafariya school

"played a major role in the 1958 revolution, and constituted a nucleus for the resistance movement against President Chamoun." [69]

"Tough" Kazem al-Khalil Kazem-alkhalil.JPG
"Tough" Kazem al-Khalil

In March riots in Tyre and solidarity strikes in other towns were reported, "when five youths were sent to jail for trampling on the Lebanese flag and replacing it with that of the UAR." [99] On 2 April, five protestors were killed and twelve were injured. Opposition leaders like Rashid Karami expressed support for the people of Tyre. The neighbouring city of Saida joined the strike in Tyre. [98] In May, both cities - like Tripoli - briefly came under the control of the Nasserist insurgents. [100]

Kamil al-Asaad from the feudal al-Saghir dynasty, whose father Ahmed al-Asaad had been Speaker of the Lebanese parliament, supported the rebellion [101] , whereas the rival Shiite politician Kazem el-Khalil, a long-time member of parliament and like al-Asaad a scion of a family of large landowners, was Chamoun's political ally in Tyre [102] [103] :

"The Khalils, with their age-old ways, [..] were known for being particularly rough and hard." [81]

Musa Sadr era (1959-1978)

Sayyed Musa Sadr speaking in Tyre The speech of Imam Musa Sadr in the people of Tyre.jpg
Sayyed Musa Sadr speaking in Tyre
Sadr in his house in Tyre Imam Musa Sadr in his House in Sour).jpg
Sadr in his house in Tyre

After Sayed Sharafeddine, the founder of modern Tyre, had died in 1957 [69] , his sons and the Shia community of Southern Lebanon asked Sharafeddine's relative Sayyid Musa Sadr to be his successor as Imam. [104] Sharafeddine had invited the Iran-born Sadr for his first visits to Tyre in previous years [105]

In 1959, Sadr moved to Tyre and at first encountered not only suspicion, but also opposition. [81] Yet, within just a few years he managed to create a broad following. [106] As "one of his first significant acts" established a vocational training center in neighbouring Burj el-Shimali that became "an important symbol of his leadership" [104] as well as other charity organisations. [69] His base became the Abdel Hussein Mosque at the entry of the old town. [26]

The harbor between 1950 and 1977 Along the Mediterranean coast, southward. Tyre, harbor. Acts 21-3 LOC matpc.22994.jpg
The harbor between 1950 and 1977

While feudal lord Kazem al-Khalil lost his seat in Parliament, one of Sharafeddin's sons - Jafar Sharafeddin - was elected to the national assembly of deputies and made the following plea there, which summarises the precarious socio-economic situation in the mid-20th century:

"The district of Tyre has sixty villages, to which God Almighty has given all kinds of beauty. But the rulers of Tyre have deprived Tyre and the surroundings of their rights. Of these sixty villages only a dozen or so have anything that could be called a school or a paved road. Forty villages are without a school. These sixty villages go thirsty in this age of science and the machine, while a river [the Litani] passes them by on the way to the sea. All sixty villages lack electricity. Electricity is the fortune of more privileged districts. .. These sixty villages are deserted, inhabited by old men and women; the young ones have departed to toil in the heat of Africa. Thousands more have come to Beirut, to toil among others of their kind. Tyre itself, the heart of the district, has suffered what no city can suffer. It has become a deformed, ruined place. Everything in it falls short of what a civilised place should be. The government should restore to Tyre its splendor." [81]

Sadr eventually also established political institutions: firstly the Shi'ite Council, Harakat al-Mahrumin in 1967, which broke the feudalist power-monopoly of the al-As'ad family. Then the founding of the Afwaj al-Muqawama al-Lubnaniyya (Amal) in 1974 [107] reached out beyond the Shia communities of Southern Lebanon to those fragmeted ones in the Bekaa Valley and Beirut for creating a united Shia idenity in the Lebanese context. [69] However, Sadr also sought close cooperation with the Christian minorities [108] , especially with the Greek-Catholic Melkites under the leadership of Tyre's archbishop Georges Haddad. [109]

By the 1960s, Tyre had a population of some 15,000 inhabitants. [72] During that decade it increasingly became subject to a rural-to-urban movement that has been ongoing ever since. [4]

In 1963, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) set up a “new camp” in Rashidie to accommodate refugees from Deir al-Qassi, Alma, Suhmata, Nahaf, Fara and other villages in Palestine. [85] In 1968, there were almost 25,000 registered Palestinian refugees in the camps of Tyre: 3,911 in Al Bass, 7,159 in Burj Al Shimali, and 13,165 in Rashidia. [110]

In 1970, Jafar Sharafeddin became Minister of Water Resources in a technocratic government by Saeb Salam.

One of the fiercest opponent of the growing Palestinian guerrilla presence in southern Lebanon in the early 1970s was the longtime MP Kazem al-Khalil who was re-elected as a deputy in 1972. [103]

1975–1990 Lebanese Civil War

At the beginning of the civil war in 1975, one of the residences of feudal lord Kazem al-Khalil "was dynamited". Another one of his homes "was seized by Palestinian guerrillas". [111]

When Syria invaded Lebanon in mid-1976, it committed to a proposal by the Arab League not to cross the Litani River southwards. So while the Civil War had started in South Lebanon, it was spared from much of the internal fighting. However, many young men from the area moved northwards to take part in combat. [112]

Thus, it was again especially the common people of Tyre and its hinterlands, who greatly suffered after the beginning of the civil war in 1975. [16] Due to growing mass-poverty a new wave of emigration from Tyre area to West Africa, especially to Ivory Coast, though not so much to Senegal as before. [80]

1978 South Lebanon conflict with Israel

After numerous attacks and reprisals involving the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invaded, as part of the so-called 1978 South Lebanon conflict, and Tyre was badly damaged. [113] The official account by the United Nations is as follows:

"In the early 1970s, tension along the Israel-Lebanon border increased, especially after the relocation of Palestinian armed elements from Jordan to Lebanon. Palestinian commando operations against Israel and Israeli reprisals against Palestinian bases in Lebanon intensified.

Unfinished memorial for the 314 UNIFIL casualties with an incomplete list of 209 names in Tyre, 2019 UNIFIL-casualities-memorial-TyreSourLebanon July2019 RomanDeckert.jpg
Unfinished memorial for the 314 UNIFIL casualties with an incomplete list of 209 names in Tyre, 2019

On 11 March 1978, a commando attack in Israel resulted in many dead and wounded among the Israeli population; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) claimed responsibility for that raid. In response, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon on the night of 14/15 March, and in a few days occupied the entire southern part of the country except for the city of Tyre and its surrounding area.On 15 March 1978, the Lebanese Government submitted a strong protest to the Security Council against the Israeli invasion, stating that it had no connection with the Palestinian commando operation. On 19 March, the Council adopted resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), in which it called upon Israel immediately to cease its military action and withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory. It also decided on the immediate establishment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The first UNIFIL troops arrived in the area on 23 March 1978." [114]

Sadr Disappearance

A banner commemorating the 40th anniversary of Sadr's disappearance

After Musa Sadr's mysterious disappearance following a visit to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on 31st August 1978, his legacy has continued into the present. He has been widely credited with "bringing the Shi'ite community onto an equal footing with the other major Lebanese communities." [69]

While the loss of Sadr was great, it also became and has remained a major rallying point for the Shia community across Lebanon, but particularly in Southern Lebanon. [107]

1982 Lebanon War with Israel
Graffiti in Rashidieh camp Graffiti in Rashidieh camp.JPG
Graffiti in Rashidieh camp
Khan Al-Ashkar/Khan Sour KhanAlAShkar-KhanSour historyplate-RomanDeckert2019.jpg
KhanSour-KhanAlAshkar WarDamage-SourTyre RomanDeckert16082019.jpg
Khan Al-Ashkar/Khan Sour

Following an assassination attempt on Israeli ambassador Argov in London Tyre was damaged again in the 1982 Lebanon War. The city was used as a base by the PLO and was nearly destroyed by Israeli artillery. [113] Historical buiildings like the Serail [26] and Khan Al-Ashkar (Khan Sour) were heavily damaged by IDF shelling as well. [70]

In 1982, at the beginning of the war, the population of urban Tyre was estimated to be around 23,000. [115] However, the number of registered Palestinian refugees in the camps of the city and surrounding areas was even bigger: there were 5,415 in Al Bass, 11,256 in Burj Al Shimali, and 15,356 in Rashidia. [110] Those in the Burj Al Shimali camp in 1982 [93] and the Rashidieh camp between 1982 and 1987 were heavily affected. In Rashidieh "more than 600 shelters were totally or partially destroyed and more than 5,000 Palestine refugees were displaced." [85] El Bass camp, on the other side, was spared much of the violence. [86]

1982 photo by an Israeli author Lebanon - Tyre - Matzuva Trip Summer 1982 (1150706445).jpg
1982 photo by an Israeli author

After the 1982 war, the city was the site of an Israeli military post. In November 1982, Hezbollah carried out a suicide-attack which was named "Jal Al Bahar" after the Palestinian gathering. It killed ninety Israeli soldiers and officers at their military headquarters in Tyre as well as an unknown number of Lebanese and Palestinians who were detainees in the complex. In October 1983, another such attack on the new IDF headquarters in Tyre killed 29 Israeli soldiers and officers, wounding another thirty [83] as confirmed by the Israeli government. [116] Only in 1985, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the two operations. [83]

In 1984, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared Tyre a World Heritage Site in an attempt to halt the damage being done to the archaeological sites by the armed conflict and by anarchic urban development. [16]

In April 1985, the Israeli forces withdrew from Tyre and instead established a self-declared "Security Zone" with its collaborating militia allies of the South Lebanon Army (SLA). [116]

Unlike in other areas of fighting, there were no forced displacements of Christians in Tyre and Tyre area after the AMAL Movement took over control under the leadership of Nabih Berri [108] , who was a graduate of Jafariya High School.

Post-Civil War

A 2005 poster in Tyre depicting Sadr, Berri, and Nasrallah (clockwise) The Shia South (48707465).jpg
A 2005 poster in Tyre depicting Sadr, Berri, and Nasrallah (clockwise)

The long occupation left Southern Lebanon in general and Tyre in particular "depressed long after the 1991 cease fire" of the civil war. [16]

In the 1992 elections, Kamil al-As'ad from the feudal family headed a list that competed with AMAL. Nasir al-Khalil, the son of Tyre's former longtime deputy Kazim al-Khali, was not elected. [117]

In the 1998 Municipal Elections, Amal won "a startling victory of twenty one seats in Tyre" ahead of Hezbollah, led by Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. Six years later, Amal held Tyre as its traditional stronghold, but lost support in the District of Tyre to Hezbollah. [83]

2006 Lebanon War
UNIFIL soldiers and staff from the cruise ship MV SERENADE evacuate refugees from Tyre, 20 July 2006 Tyre Lebanon 2006.JPG
UNIFIL soldiers and staff from the cruise ship MV SERENADE evacuate refugees from Tyre, 20 July 2006
Aftermath of the IAF attack on Tyre that killed 14 civilians on 16 July 2006 Tyre-Lebanon1.jpg
Aftermath of the IAF attack on Tyre that killed 14 civilians on 16 July 2006
Dust rises after an IAF airstrike on Tyre, 26 July 2006 Tyre air strike.jpg
Dust rises after an IAF airstrike on Tyre, 26 July 2006

During Israel's invasion in the July 2006 Lebanon War, several rocket-launching sites used by Hezbollah to attack Israel were located in rural areas around the city. [118] At least one village near the city was bombed by Israel as well as several sites within the city, causing civilian deaths and adding to the food shortage problem inside Tyre: [119]

Italian marines on the shores of Tyre on 1 September 2006 Italian UN soldiers Lebanon 2006.jpg
Italian marines on the shores of Tyre on 1 September 2006

According to Human Rights Watch, on July 16 around noon a strike by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) on a residential apartment building behind the Jabal Amel Hospital - known as the Sidon Institute - at the outskirts of Tyre killed eight members of a family. At about the same time, five civilians were killed by another aerial assault on Burj Al Shimali, including two children. Later in the afternoon of that same day, another airstrike on a multistorey apartment building in Tyre, which also housed the Civil Defense Forces, killed 14 civilians, amongst them a one-year-old girl and a Sri Lankan maid. On August 13, five civilians were killed in Burj El Shimali, amongst them three children and one Sri Lankan maid. [120] UNIFIL troops helped with heavy bulldozers to clear debris from those bombardments. [114]

Shayetet 13 (Israeli naval commandos) also raided Hezbollah targets within the city. [121] On August 6, IDF commandos raided a building on the outskirts of Tyre killing at least two Hezbollah fighters. [120]

Meanwhile, again according to the official UN account, on the diplomatic level,

"On 11 August 2006, the Security Council, following intense negotiations, passed resolution 1701 calling for a full cessation of hostilities in the month-long war based upon, in particular, 'the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations' in Lebanon.Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict, the Security Council created a buffer zone free of 'any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL' between the United Nations-drawn Blue Line in southern Lebanon and the Litani river ". [114]

A UNTSO car in Tyre UNTSO TyreSourLebanon RomanDeckert20092019.jpg
A UNTSO car in Tyre

Still in August 2006, Italian reinforcements for UNIFIL landed in amphibian crafts on the shores of Tyre. While UNIFIL had a troops strength of about 2,000 at that point in time, the Security Council soon expanded the mandate of UNIFIL, and increased it to a maximum of 15,000 troops. [114]

Post-2006 War

Deployment of UNIFIL forces, 2018 UNIFIL Deployment February 2018.pdf
Deployment of UNIFIL forces, 2018

At least since 2006, Tyre city and its Southern surrounding areas have since been part of the Italian UNIFIL sector, whereas its Northern surrounding areas have been part of the Korean sector. [5] UNIFIL has been assisted by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).

As UINIFIL has got a budget for small community projects as well [122] , the Italian contingent in particular has supported a variety of civil society activities with great visibility. Amongst them are efforts to preserve the archaeological heritage [123] , to assist artistic expression and interaction [124] , to conduct medical campaigns [125] , as well as to support the children's right to play by constructing playgrounds and supporting clown therapy for children with special needs. [126]

The Amal Movement and Hezbollah are the most popular parties, representing all of the Shi'a seats in the city as of the 2009 elections.[ citation needed ]

On 9 December 2011, UNIFIL reported that one of its vehicles "traveling on a road at the southern outskirts of the city of Tyre was targeted by an explosion." Five peacekeepers of unnamed nationalities were injured and evacuated. [127]

The mayor of Tyre is Hassan Dbouk. [4] He is also the President of the Union of Municipalities of the District. [123] Dbouk has decried a lack of capacities at the local government level, while arguing that

There is a complete absence of the central government here”. [128]

On 18th October 2019, an arson attack devastated the Rest House hotel at Tyre beach. [129]

Coast Nature Reserve

A Green Sea Turtle diving through the submerged Egyptian Harbour GreenTurtle TyreSourLebanon SubmergedAncientHarbour RomanDeckert18102019.jpg
A Green Sea Turtle diving through the submerged Egyptian Harbour
A sea turtle emerging from the water off Tyre SeaTurleTyre-RomanDeckert11092019.jpg
A sea turtle emerging from the water off Tyre

Tyre enjoys a reputation of having some of the cleanest beaches and waters of Lebanon. [16] [130] However, a 2016 UN HABITAT city profile of Tyre found that "seawater is also polluted due to waste water discharge especially in the port area." [4] There is still also considerable pollution by solid waste. [131]

The Tyre Coast Nature Reserve was decreed in 1998 by the Ministry of Public Works. It is 3.5 km long and covers over 380 hectares (940 acres), which mean it is the widest shore on the country’s coast. The area is divided into three zones:

Info station of the reserve CoastNatureReserve-InfoStation-TyreSour RomanDeckert26092019.jpg
Info station of the reserve

- the Tourism zone features a public beach of 900m and restaurant tents during the summer season hosting up to 20,000 visitors on a busy day;

- the Agricultural and Archaeological zone next to the springs of Ras El Ain,

- the Conservation zone as a sanctuary for sea turtles and migrating birds. [131]

Due to its diverse flora and fauna, the reserve is a designated Ramsar Site. It is an important nesting site for migratory birds and the endangered Loggerhead and green sea turtle and the shelter of the Arabian spiny mouse and many other important creatures (including wall lizards, common pipistrelle, and european badger). [132] [133]

There are frequent sighting of dolphins in the waters off Tyre. [134]

Cultural heritage

Sign marking Tyre according to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Note the ruins of the Mamluk House (left) which has been rehabilitated since. Tyre in Lebanon marking as protected cultural property.jpg
Sign marking Tyre according to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Note the ruins of the Mamluk House (left) which has been rehabilitated since.
Columns with tourists Tyre-109945.jpg
Columns with tourists

Large-scale excavations started in 1946 under the leadership of Emir Maurice Chéhab (1904-1994), "the father of modern Lebanese archaeology" who for decades headed the Antiquities Service in Lebanon and was the curator of the National Museum of Beirut. His teams uncovered most remains in the Al Bass/Hippodrome and the City Site/Roman baths. Those works stopped though soon after the 1975 beginning of the Civil War and many records were lost. [135]

Excavation activities only started again in 1995 under the supervision of Ali Khalil Badawi. [59] Shortly afterwards, an Israeli bomb destroyed an apartment block in the city and evidence for an early church was revealed underneath the rubble. Its unusual design suggests that this was the site of the Cathedral of Paulinus which had been inaugurated in 315 A.D. [136] .

In 1997, the first Phoenician cremation cemetery was uncovered in the Al Bass site, near the Roman necropolis. [38]

The hostilities of the 2006 Lebanon War put the ancient structures of Tyre at risk. This prompted UNESCO's Director-General to launch a "Heritage Alert" for the site. [137] Following the cessation of hostilities in September 2006, a visit by conservation experts to Lebanon observed no direct damage to the ancient city of Tyre. However, bombardment had damaged frescoes in a Roman funerary cave at the Tyre Necropolis. Additional site degradation was also noted, including "the lack of maintenance, the decay of exposed structures due to lack of rainwater regulation and the decay of porous and soft stones". [138]

Since 2008, a Lebanese-French team under the direction by Pierre-Louis Gatier of the University of Lyon has been conducting archaeological and topographical work. When international archeological missions in Syria came to a halt after 2012 due to the war there, someof them instead started excavations in Tyre, amongst them a team headed by Leila Badre, director of the Archeological Museum of the American University of Beirut (AUB), and Belgian archaeologists. [135]

Tyre on Jupiter's Europa moon, photo by the Galileo spacecraft PIA01633 Tyre impact structure Europa.jpg
Tyre on Jupiter's Europa moon, photo by the Galileo spacecraft

Threats to Tyre's ancient cultural heritage include development pressures and the illegal antiquities trade. [139] A highway, planned for 2011, was expected to be built in areas that are deemed archaeologically sensitive.[ citation needed ] A small-scale geophysical survey indicated the presence of archaeological remains at proposed construction sites. The sites have not been investigated. Despite the relocation of a proposed traffic interchange, the lack of precise site boundaries confuses the issue of site preservation. [138]

A 2018 study of Mediterranean world heritage sites found that Tyre's City site has "the highest risk of coastal erosion under current climatic conditions, in addition to 'moderate' risk from extreme sea levels." [140]

Like many of the cities in the Levant and in Lebanon, the architecture since the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s has been of poor quality, which tend to threaten the cultural heritage in the built environment before the war.[ citation needed ]

In 2013, the International Association to Save Tyre (IAST) made headlines when it launched an online raffle in association with Sotheby's to fund the artisans’ village "Les Ateliers de Tyr" at the outskirts of the city. Participants could purchase tickets for 100 Euros to win the 1914 ‘Man with Opera Hat’ painting by Pablo Picasso. [141] IAST president Maha El-Khalil Chalabi descends from a Shiite family of large landowners. Her father was Kazem el-Khalil, who was a close ally of President Chamoun. [102]

A multi-ring structured region on Europa, the smallest of the four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, is called "Tyre". The asteroid 209 Dido is named after the legendary Tyrian-Carthaginian princess.


The prophesied destruction of Tyre as painted by John Martin. John Martin - Destruction of Tyre - Google Art Project.jpg
The prophesied destruction of Tyre as painted by John Martin.

The Bible makes several references to Tyre:

Other writings

Cultural Life

Rivoli Cinema, 2019 RivoliCinema TyreSour RomanDeckert30092019.jpg
Rivoli Cinema, 2019
Al Hamra Cinema, 2019 HamraCinema TyreSour RomanDeckert09082019.jpg
Al Hamra Cinema, 2019

The first cinema in Tyre opened in the late 1930s when a cafe owner established makeshift film screenings. [142] In 1939 the Roxy opened, followed in 1942 by the "Empire". [143]

"By the mid-1950s there were four cinemas in Tyre, and four more soon opened in nearby Nabatieh. Many also hosted live performances by famous actors and musicians, serving as community spaces where people from different backgrounds came together." [142]

The ruins of the building that used to house the Roxy, 2019 RoxyCinemaRuins TyreSour RomanDeckert16082019.jpg
The ruins of the building that used to house the Roxy, 2019

In 1959, the “Cinema Rivoli of Tyre” opened and quickly became one of the prime movie theatres of the country. According to UNIFIL, it was visited "by celebrity who’s whos of the time, including Jean Marais, Brigitte Bardot, Rushdi Abaza and Omar Hariri." [144] The likewise prestigeous "Al Hamra Cinema", which opened in 1966 [143] , was a venue for some of the Arab world's most famous performers, like Mahmoud Darwish, Sheikh Imam, Ahmed Fouad Negm, Wadih el-Safi, and Marcel Khalife. [142]

Halim el Roumi Halim el Roumi.jpg
Halim el Roumi

Some cinemas were damaged by Israeli bombardment in 1982 and all of them eventually closed down by the end of the Lebanese Civil War, the last ones in 1989: [142] the Hamra and the AK2000. [143]

The Tyrean artist Ghazi Kahwaji (1945-2017) was Lebanon's first scenographer and for three decades the artistic general director for the Rahbani brothers and Fairuz. He used this prominent position to promote "against confessionalism and fundamentalism ". Between 2008 and 2010 he published the sarcastic three-volume book series "Kahwajiyat" about social injustice in the Arab world. [145]

Since 1996, the annual "Festivals de Tyr" have taken place in the ancient site of the Roman hippodrome, featuring celebrated artists like singers Wadie El Safi, Demis Roussos, Kadim Al-Saher, Melhem Barakat, Majida El Roumi, and Julia Boutros. [70]

El Roumi's father Halim el-Roumi was from the “Al Baradhy” family in Tyre and born there. For some time, he worked as a teacher at the Jafariya High School. As a radio chief, he discovered the singer Fairuz and composed music for he in a close collaboration. He later became director of the Lebanese Radio.

CLAC, 2018 Centre-de-Lecture-et-d-Animation-Culturelle-Tyr RomanDeckert09112018.jpg
CLAC, 2018

In 2006, the "Centre de Lecture et d’Animation Culturelle" (C.L.A.C.) was opened by Tyre's municipality as the first public library of the city, with support from the Lebanese Ministry of Culture and the French Embassy in Beirut. It is located in the historical building of the "Beit Daoud" next to the "Beit El Medina" in the old town. [146]

Istanbouli during the Palestinian Culture Festival 2019 at the Rivoli KassemIstanbouli CinemaRivoli TyreSour-RomanDeckert30092019.jpg
Istanbouli during the Palestinian Culture Festival 2019 at the Rivoli

In 2014, the NGO Tiro Association for Arts rehabilitated the defunct cinema Al Hamra to establish the Lebanese National Theater under the leadership of "Palestinian-Lebanese street theater performer, actor, comedian, and theater director" [147] Kassem Istanbouli (*1986). It launched the Lebanese International Theater Festival, the Lebanese International Short Film Festival, and the Tyre International Music Festival. In 2018, the Istanbouli Theatre troupe rehabilitated and moved to the Rivoli Cinema [148] , which had been closed since 1988. [149] It also runs the "Mobile Peace Bus”, which is decorated with graffiti of Lebanese cultural icons, to promote arts in the villages of the neighbouring countryside. [150] Istanbouli:

In Tyre, we have 400 shops for shisha, one library, and one theatre. But if there are places, people will come. [151]

In 2019, the film "Manara" (Arabic for lighthouse) by Lebanese director Zayn Alexander, who shot the movie at the Al Fanar resort in Tyre, won the Laguna Sud Award for Best Short Film at the Venice Days strand festival. [152]


The Islamic University of Lebanon (IUL) on the seafront, 2009 Islamic university building in Tyre.jpg
The Islamic University of Lebanon (IUL) on the seafront, 2009

Jafariya High School was the first intermediate and secondary school in South Lebanon.[ citation needed ]

Collège Élite, a French international school, is in Tyre.

In August 2019, the 17-year-old Ismail Ajjawi - a Palestinian resident of Tyre and graduate of the UNRWA Deir Yassin High School in the El Bass refugee camp [153] - made global headlines when he scored top-results to earn a scholarship to study at Harvard, but was deported upon arrival in Boston despite valid visa. [154] He was readmitted ten days later to start his studies in time. [155]


Jal Al Bahar "gathering" of Palestinian refugees (left) JalAlBahr MahmoudAbbas-TyreHotel 20092019RomanDeckert.jpg
Jal Al Bahar "gathering" of Palestinian refugees (left)
Religious coexistence: Sharafeddine Mosque (Shia, left), Old Mosque (Sunna, right), with Franciscan Church (left) and Maronite Cathedral in the background Shia-Sunna-Mosques-Churches-TyreSourLebanon RomanDeckert07112019.jpg
Religious coexistence: Sharafeddine Mosque (Shia, left), Old Mosque (Sunna, right), with Franciscan Church (left) and Maronite Cathedral in the background

An accurate statistical accounting is not possible, since the government of Lebanon has released only rough estimates of population numbers since 1932. [156] However, a 2016 calculation by UN HABITAT estimated a figure of 201,208 inhabitants, many of them refugees: [4]

The city of Tyre has also become home to more than 60,000 Palestinian refugees who are mainly Sunni Muslim. As of June 2018, there were 12,281 registered persons in the Al Buss camp [86] , 24,929 in Burj Al Shimali [93] and 34,584 in Rashidie. [85] In the ramshackle "gathering" of Jal Al Bahar next to the coastal highway, the number of residents was estimated to be around 2,500 in 2015. [94]

In all camps, the number of refugees from Syria and Palestinian refugees from Syria increased in recent years. [85] Tensions developed since these new arrivals would often accept work in the citrus and banana groves "for half the daily wage" that local Palestinian refugees used to earn. [157]

Avenue Du Senegal AvenueDuSenegalSign TyreSourLebanon RomanDeckert11112018.jpg
Avenue Du Senegal

In early 2019, some 1.500 Syrian refugees were evicted from their informal settlements around the Litani river for allegedly polluting the waters which are already heavily contaminated. [158]

The Lebanese nationality population of Tyre is a predominantly Shia Muslim with a small but noticeable Christian community. In 2010, it was estimated that Christians accounted for 15% of Tyre's population. [159] In 2017, the Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Tyre counted about 42,500 members. Most of them live in the mountains of Southern Lebanon, while there are just some 500 Maronites in Tyre itself. The Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Tyre - which not only covers the District of Tyre in the South Governorate but also neighbouring areas in the Nabatieh Governorate - registered 2,857 members in that year. [160]

Many families in Tyre have relatives in the Western Africa diaspora, especially in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivoy Coast and Nigeria. In Senegal, they are "primarily second-, third-, and fourth-generation migrants, many of whom have never been to Lebanon." [80]

The 2016 UN HABITAT profile found that

"Approximate calculations suggest that 43% of Lebanese in Tyre urban area are living in poverty." [4]


A Ferrari 458 with a number plate from Lagos, Nigeria, on the Southern promenade of Tyre TyreSourLebanon FerrariLagosNigeria 24092019RomanDeckert.jpg
A Ferrari 458 with a number plate from Lagos, Nigeria, on the Southern promenade of Tyre
A car carrier at Tyre harbour, 2019 TyreHarbour AbouMerhiGroupCarCarrier 19112019RomanDeckert.jpg
A car carrier at Tyre harbour, 2019

The economy of urban Tyre mostly depends on tourism, contracting services, the construction sector, and remittances from Tyrians in the diaspora, especially in West Africa. [4]

As of 2016, Olive trees were reported to comprise 38% of Tyre’s agricultural land, but producers lacked a collective marketing strategy. While Citrus reportedly comprised 25% of the agricultural land, 20% of its harvest ended up wasted. [96]

Tyre houses one of the nation's major ports, though its cargo traffic is limited to the periodical import of used cars.

In the harbour area the Barbour family of shipmakers continues the tradition of building wooden boats. [44]

Lebanon's General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre (GDLRC) recorded for Tyre a 4.4 percent growth rate for land transcations between 2014 and 2018, the highest rate in the country during that period. [161] This increase in real estate prices has been largely attributed to the inflow of remittances from diaspora Tyrians. [4]

Twin towns – sister cities

Tyre is twinned with:

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

Sidon City in South Governorate, Lebanon

Sidon, known locally as Sayda or Saida, is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate, of which it is the capital, on the Mediterranean coast. Tyre to the south and Lebanese capital Beirut to the north are both about 40 kilometres away. Sidon has a population of about 80,000 within city limits, while its metropolitan area has more than a quarter-million inhabitants.

Melqart Deity

Melqart was the tutelary god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Melqart was often titled the "Lord of Tyre" and was considered to be the progenitor of the Tyrian royal family. As Tyrian trade and colonization expanded, Melqart became venerated in Phoenician and Punic cultures from Lebanon to Spain.

1982 Lebanon War 1982 war between Israel and forces in Lebanon

The 1982 Lebanon War, dubbed Operation Peace for Galilee by the Israeli government, later known in Israel as the Lebanon War or the First Lebanon War, and known in Lebanon as "the invasion", began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invaded southern Lebanon, after repeated attacks and counter-attacks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) operating in southern Lebanon and the IDF that had caused civilian casualties on both sides of the border. The military operation was launched after gunmen from Abu Nidal's organization attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin blamed Abu Nidal's enemy, the PLO, for the incident, and treated the incident as a casus belli for the invasion.

Lebanese Civil War Civil war

The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon, lasting from 1975 to 1990 and resulting in an estimated 120,000 fatalities. As of 2012, approximately 76,000 people remain displaced within Lebanon. There was also an exodus of almost one million people from Lebanon as a result of the war.

South Governorate Place in Lebanon

South Governorate is one of the governorates of Lebanon. South Lebanon has a population of 500,000 inhabitants and an area of 929.6 km². The capital is Sidon. The lowest elevation is sea-level; the highest is 1,000 meters. The local population is religiously diverse and includes Shia and Sunni Muslims, Orthodox, Maronite, Protestant, and Greek Catholic Christians. Temperatures can drop to 4 °C during winter with a lot of rain and snow on the higher ground. In the humid summer, temperatures can rise to 30 °C in the coastal areas. The governorate has several rivers: the Litani, Zahrani, Naqura, Awali, Qasmiye, and Hasbani. The area is famous for its citrus and banana farms. Its main cities are Sidon, Tyre and Jezzine.

The War of the Camps was a subconflict within the 1984–1990 phase of the Lebanese Civil War, in which the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut were besieged by the Shi'ite Amal militia.

Jabal Amel or Jabal 'Amil is a mountainous region of Southern Lebanon. According to local legend, the Shia community in Jabal Amil is one of the oldest in history, second only to the Shia community of Medina, and were converted to Islam by Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and an early supporter of Ali. Although there is frequent occurrence of this account in many religious sources, it is largely dismissed in academia, and historical sources suggest Shiism developed in Jabal Amel around the 3rd century A.H.

The history of ancient Lebanon traces the course of events in what is now known as Lebanon from the beginning of history to the beginning of Arab rule.

Israeli–Lebanese conflict war between Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, and other forces in Lebanon since 1948

The Israeli–Lebanese conflict, or the South Lebanon conflict, refers to a series of military clashes involving Israel, Lebanon and Syria, the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as various militias acting from within Lebanon.

Assyrians in Lebanon

Assyrians in Lebanon are Lebanese citizens of Assyrian descent. Most of the Assyrians in Lebanon came as refugees from northern Iraq and northeast Syria, two of the four locations of the Assyrian homeland. There are an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 Iraqi Assyrian refugees in Lebanon. The vast majority of them are undocumented, with a large number having been deported or put in prison.

Tourism in Lebanon

The tourism industry in Lebanon has been historically important to the local economy and remains to this day to be a major source of revenue for Lebanon. Before the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut was widely regarded as "The Paris of the Middle East" or also "The Pearl of the Middle East" often cited as a financial and business hub where visitors could experience the Levantine Mediterranean culture, cuisine, history, archaeology, and architecture of Lebanon.

Azemilcus ('zmlk\) was the King of Tyre during its siege by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. Alexander had already peacefully taken Byblos and Sidon, and Tyre sent envoys to Alexander agreeing to do his bidding. His response was to declare that he wished to enter the city to sacrifice to Melqart, known to Alexander as the Tyrian Herakles. Azemilcus was with the Persian fleet at the time, and the Tyrians, unsure who would win the war, responded by saying that they would obey any other command but that neither Persians nor Macedonians could enter the city. When Alexander finally captured the city, Azemilcus and various other notables, including envoys from Carthage, had taken refuge in the temple of Melqart, and Alexander spared their lives.

The Persian Empire, including modern Lebanon, eventually fell to Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia. He attacked Asia Minor, defeated the Persian troops in 333 BC, and advanced toward the Lebanese coast. Initially the Phoenician cities made no attempt to resist, and they recognized his suzerainty. However, when Alexander tried to offer a sacrifice to Melqart, Tyre's god, the city resisted. Alexander besieged Tyre in retaliation in early 332 BC. After seven months of resistance, the city fell, and its people were sold into slavery. Despite his early death in 323 BC, Alexander's conquest of the eastern Mediterranean Basin left a Greek imprint on the area. The Phoenicians, being a cosmopolitan people amenable to outside influences, adopted aspects of Greek civilization with ease.

Tyrian shekel

Tyrian shekels, tetradrachms, or tetradrachmas were coins of Tyre, which in the Roman Empire took on an unusual role as the medium of payment for the Temple tax in Jerusalem, and subsequently gained notoriety as a likely mode of payment for Judas Iscariot.

Temple of Eshmun Ancient temple to the Phoenician god of healing in Lebanon

The Temple of Eshmun is an ancient place of worship dedicated to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing. It is located near the Awali river, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) northeast of Sidon in southwestern Lebanon. The site was occupied from the 7th century BC to the 8th century AD, suggesting an integrated relationship with the nearby city of Sidon. Although originally constructed by Sidonian king Eshmunazar II in the Achaemenid era to celebrate the city's recovered wealth and stature, the temple complex was greatly expanded by Bodashtart, Yatan-milk and later monarchs. Because the continued expansion spanned many centuries of alternating independence and foreign hegemony, the sanctuary features a wealth of different architectural and decorative styles and influences.

Burj el-Shemali

Burj el-Shemali - also transliterated into the spellings of "Borj" and/or "Shimali", "Chemali" etc. - is a Lebanese village located 3 km east of the city of Tyre in the Southern Governorate of Lebanon.

Phoenicia Ancient Semitic civilization

Phoenicia was a thalassocratic, ancient Semitic-speaking Mediterranean civilization that originated in the Levant, specifically Lebanon, in the west of the Fertile Crescent. Scholars generally agree that it was centered on the coastal areas of modern day Lebanon and included parts of what are now northern Israel and southern Syria reaching as far north as Arwad, but there is some dispute as to how far south it went, the furthest suggested area being Ashkelon. Its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean, such as Carthage in North Africa, and even the Atlantic Ocean, such as Cádiz in Spain. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.

Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon

The Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon was a conflict initiated by Palestinian militants based in South Lebanon upon Israel since 1968 and upon Christian Lebanese factions since mid-1970s, which evolved into the wider Lebanese Civil War in 1975 and lasted until the expulsion of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon in the 1982 Lebanon War. Though the PFLP-GC and some other Palestinian factions continued a low-level military activities on Lebanese soil, after 1982 the conflict is considered to have faded in favor of local inter-Lebanese Mountain War and the Israel–Hezbollah conflict. The South Lebanon Palestinian insurgency, which peaked through the 1970s, claimed thousands of Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian military and civilian lives, and is considered among the key elements to start the Lebanese Civil War.

Lebanese Resistance Regiments

The Lebanese Resistance Regiments, also designated Lebanese Resistance Battalions, Lebanese Resistance Detachments, Lebanese Resistance Legions and Battalions de la Resistance Libanaise (BRL) or Légions de la Resistance Libanaise (LRL) in French, but simply known by its Arabic acronym أَمَل ʾAmal which means "Hope", were the military wing of the Movement of the Dispossessed or Movement of the Deprived, a political organization representing the Muslim Shia community of Lebanon. The movement's political wing was officially founded in February 1973 from a previous organization bearing the same name and its military wing was formed in January 1975. The Amal militia was a major player in the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1991. The militia has now been disarmed, though the movement itself, now known as the Amal Movement, is a notable Shia political party in Lebanon.

Emir Maurice Hafez Chehab was a Lebanese archaeologist and museum curator. He was the head of the Antiquities Service in Lebanon and curator of the National Museum of Beirut from 1942 to 1982. He was recognised as the "father of modern Lebanese archaeology"


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Further reading

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Easton, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.