Tyre (صور)

Tyre (صور)

Location: South Governorate  Map

Founded: 2750 BC


Tyre is an ancient archaeological site situated in South Governorate in Lebanon. It was originally found in 2750 BC.


Foundation legends
The Phoenician myths (recorded by Philo Biblsky) elevated its foundation to the gods (they are also heroes or demigods in a different sense). According to these myths, Usoos sailed on a log to the island, hoisted two mantras and irrigated them with the blood of sacrificial animals. According to another legend, the island sailed along the waves; on it were two rocks and between them an olive tree on which an eagle sat; he should have stopped when someone sailed to him and sacrificed an eagle. This was done by the first navigator Usoos, and the island was attached to the bottom.

Local priests told Herodotus that their city was founded 23 centuries ago, that is, in the middle of the XXVIII century BC. e. Two ancient historians attributed its foundation to later times - approx. 1200 BC e.: Josephus Flavius, who placed this event 240 years before the Temple of Solomon, and Mark Unian Justin, who claimed that Tyr was built shortly after the destruction of Troy.

First historical sources
The oldest written record of Tire ("Surru") is in the Amarna Archive. In a local diplomatic correspondence, Prince Tira Abimilki is the author of 10 tablets, from the 146th to the 155th. He reports on the situation in the region to his overlord, the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten - he approved him as ruler and calls him the rank of rabisu ("general"). In addition, Abimilki in humiliating terms (among the plates there is the “Anthem to Pharaoh”) asks Egypt for help against Prince Sidon Zimrida and the Amorites (including the hapiru and their leader Asiru); he was locked up on an island, he has neither water nor firewood. In the papyrus Anastasi I (XIII century), Tyr is referred to as a large "city in the sea, to which water is delivered by ship and which is rich in fish more than sand."

The oldest settlement was really on the island; there were only suburbs and cemeteries on the mainland; the name of the mainland Palette ("ancient Tyr") is based on a misunderstanding. There was no water on the island; it was carried from Ras al-Ain to the shore, from where it was delivered by ship to the city (the remains of the water supply still exist between Tell Mashuk and Ras al-Ain); during the siege, rainwater had to be collected in tanks.

The island had two harbors - Sidon in the north and Egypt in the southeast; the latter is now covered in sand, and part of the island is washed out by the sea.

The flourishing of Tire
Tire moved to first place among the Phoenician cities in the 12th century BC. e. after the destruction of Sidon by the Philistines; in trade, he began to play a major role. Almost all the Phoenician colonies in the western half of the Mediterranean Sea (Cadiz, Utica, Carthage and many others) go back to Tire: they recognized his hegemony, considered his god Melkart to be their own and sent an annual tribute to his temple. Utica, who tried to rebel against Tire, was pacified by King Hiram I (969–936 BC), known as the organizer and beautician of the city and a wise politician. Hiram lived 53 years and died after a 34-year reign. In foreign policy, he approved the hegemony of Tire, which passed to him from Sidon, fought with the Kittians (inhabitants of Cyprus) and allied with the kingdom of Israel and Judah, beginning with King David. It was thanks to the friendship of Hiram with King Solomon that the Tyrants helped the Jews build the Temple of Solomon.

After him there were troubles until the usurper Itobaal I, brother of Jezebel, brother-in-law of Ahab of Israel, ascended the throne. During his reign, the Assyrian king Ashshurnatsirapal II came in his campaign west to Nar-el-Kelba (876 BC); Tire paid off his gifts. Ittobaal founded Botris for protection from the Assyrians, entered into an alliance with the king of Israel, Omri, and sent a colony to Libyan Avzu. Under his grandson, Mattan I, Salmanasar II received gifts (842 BC) from Tire, and under the next king, Pygmalion (ancient sources call the founder of Carthage Elissa, or Didon, his sister), there was a campaign of Ramman-Nirari (804 and 801 BC), to whom Tyr also offered gifts. Tiglathpalassar III Tire paid 150 talents; the annals of him mention the kings of Tire Hiram II and Mattan II (738 and 734 BC). After them sat Elulai, or Puy (728–692 BC), subjugating the retreating Kittians and enduring the victorious five-year siege of Salmanasar IV.

Sargon II boasted that he had subjugated Tyr, but Sinakherib did not manage to cope with Elulai, who joined the coalition of the Nubian-Egyptian pharaoh Taharka and the Jewish king Hezekiah. Only during the campaign of Sinaheherib 701 BC. e., when the Assyrians captured the mainland Tyr cities, Elulai fled, was captured and killed. Under Assarhaddon, King of Tire Baal I first obeyed Assyria, helped her capture Sidon, and concluded a treaty of 675 BC. e., depriving him of the right to make important decisions without an Assyrian resident overseer and council of elders. However, then Baal I sided with Egypt, was besieged, but apparently not subjugated, although Assarhaddon depicted him and Taharka on a rope at his feet on a Senjirli bas-relief (Berlin Museum). Already Ashurbanipalu Baal I was forced to obey and give his daughter to the harem, and his son to the hostages.


Constant sieges and wars weakened the city. At some time, perhaps in the IX century BC. e., the slaves took advantage of this and made a riot, the victim of which fell to know. According to the meager information about this uprising, preserved in the ancient tradition (Justin), the uprising of the slaves ended in the complete destruction of the male representatives of the ruling class, and women and children were distributed among the rebels; Abdastart (Greek: Straton) was chosen king.

Siege of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander
Under Nebuchadnezzar, Tire was on the side of Egypt and Judea. The Babylonian king unsuccessfully besieged him for 13 years (from 587 BC) under King Itobaale II. Fleeing from the Babylonian troops, Tire was transferred to a rocky island (as a result, the cemetery and ruins of the old city remained on the mainland, and the new Tire was surrounded by a high wall around the entire perimeter of the island). However, in the end, the exhausted citizens decided to make peace. The king moved to Babylon; Baal II was seated in his place (until 564 BC), after which there was again a revolution in Tire: the tsarist government was replaced by “judges” (suffet). Soon, however, the opposing party asked Tsar Hiram III (552-532 BC) from Babylon, in which Babylonian dominion was replaced by Persian.

Tire carried this dominion calmly and supplied the kings with a large fleet. The refusal to let Alexander the Great into the city to sacrifice Melkart, although initially Tyr promised to conclude an alliance with the Macedonian conqueror and not help the Persians, entailed a seven-month siege with a mound of isthmus from coast to island. The Tyrants defended themselves fiercely and not without success; the dam would hardly have helped Alexander much if he had not managed to form a large fleet of Phoenician cities hostile to Thira. 8,000 citizens died. Few men survived; King Azimilk and the nobles who survived in the temple were spared. According to Arrian, 30,000 captured inhabitants of Tire were sold into slavery, Diodorus writes about 13,000 prisoners. Alexander ordered to set fire to all the buildings of the city. Alexander populated Tyr with the population from the surrounding places and appointed them a new king. However, finds of Tyr coins show that Azimilk reigned in Tire until 309/308 BC. e., that is, remained king even after the assault of Tire.

Antique and medieval shooting gallery
Obviously, the city was quickly rebuilt, so that already 17 years later it held on for 15 months against Antigonus, being under the rule of the Ptolemies. In 126 BC e. the city gained independence from the Seleucid Empire, preserving it until submission to the Romans in 64 BC. e. During Hellenism, Tyr was one of the centers of education (historians Menander, Diy, Neoplatonic philosopher Porfiry). In the Jewish war he was against the Jews. In 43 BC e. known tyrant Marius, a protege of the Romans. Christianity appeared in Tire early; the Apostle Paul lived here for a week (Acts XXI, 3); the city soon became a bishopric (St. Dorotheus and others). During the period of persecution, some of the Tyr Christians suffered a martyrdom; under Diocletian alone, 156 martyrs were injured here. In Tire, Origen died; his tomb was shown in the VI century.

The preaching of Christianity was brought to Abyssinia by tyrants, among whom was Frumentius of Aksum. The first remarkable temple under Constantine the Great was built by the Tyr bishop Pavlin and solemnly consecrated in 314, Eusebius of Caesarea describes in detail another Tyr temple, in the south-east of the city, consecrated by him in 335, and in the same year a council was held in Tire on the case of the Archbishop of Alexandria .

In the Middle Ages, Tire was one of the main cities of the East and played a large role, being considered impregnable. Only thanks to strife among Muslims did Baldwin II manage to subdue him with the assistance of the Venetian fleet (1124); the Frankish diocese was founded (Wilhelm, archbishop of Tire, historian). The city was rich and industrial (glass products).

The two-month siege of the city by Saladin in 1187 was unsuccessful - Conrad de Monferrat defended Tire from the Ayyubid troops.

In 1190, Frederick Barbarossa was buried here. In 1291, Tire was recaptured from the Crusaders by the Mameluke Muslims, and at the beginning of the 16th century the city was included in the Ottoman Empire.

New time
Later, standing on the site of Tira Sur, a town located in the north of the former island, connected to the coast, did not have much economic significance, as trade passed to Beirut. Through Sur, tobacco, cotton paper and millstones were exported from Khauran. It was the residence of kaimakama. There were schools and mission institutions of various monastic orders and Protestant churches. In 1837, Tyr was badly damaged by the earthquake.

According to 2017 estimates, 125,000 people live in the city.