Sarcophagus of King Ahiram with a phoenician inscription, limestone
Byblos, royal tombs, 10 century B.C.
Masterpiece of the National Museum, this sarcophagus is characterized by the reliefs and inscription decorating it. Traces of red paint can still be seen. On the long sides of the coffin, a funerary banquet scene is depicted showing the king seated on his throne receiving offerings from a long procession of people. On the narrow sides, women wailing in sign of mourning are represented.
The inscription starts on the coffin tub and continues on the cover:
Coffin which Itthobaal son of Ahiram, king of Byblos, made for Ahiram his father, when he placed him for eternity. Now, if a king among kings, or a governor among governors or a commander of an army should come up against Byblos and uncover this coffin, may the sceptre of his rule be torn away, may the throne of his kingdom be overturned and may peace flee from Byblos. And as for him, may his inscription be effaced...
It is the oldest text written with the Phoenician alphabet. The Phoenicians spread this alphabetic script all over the Mediterranean which earned them the reputation, among the Greeks, of having invented the alphabet.





Pectoral of King Ip Shemou Abi, gold and semi-precious stones
Byblos, royal tombs, Middle Bronze Age
This pectoral was part of the funerary offerings placed in the tomb of the king of Byblos. Clear Egyptian influence is attested in the representation of the falcon whith spread wings as well as in the use of a cartouche inscribed with the name of the king written with Egyptian hieroglyphs.





Hippopotamus, faience
Byblos, Middle Bronze Age
These hippopotamus figurines were found among the offerings dicovered in the Obelisk Temple. They represent an animal hated by the Egyptians because of its gluttony and the damages he caused to plantations. Only the female hippopotamus was a symbol of fertility.






Fenestrated axe, gold
Byblos, Middle Bronze Age
These fenestrated axes wee discovered together with other ceremonial weapons like daggers and arrows, in the Obelisk Temple of Byblos. These weapons were offerings presented to the warrior city gods, the god Reshef or the goddess Anat.







Goddess Hathor, ivory
Kamed el Loz, Late Bronze Age

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The Bronze Age starts a new era with the development of urban civilization and the emergence of writing.

This period is divided into 3 phases: the Early (3200-2000), Middle (2000-1500) and Late (1500-1200) Bonze Ages
During this period, the first villages in Lebanon became fortified cities which developped commercial and maritime activities. Byblos whose relations with Egypt go back to the 4th. millenium B.C. was the most prominent settlement.

The coastal cities stood at the heart of Eastern Mediterranean trade. Inland sites too, like Tell 'Arqa in the 'Akkar valley and Kamed el Loz in the Beqaa, played an important role in establishing trade relations with Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine.




Statuette, gilded bronze
Byblos, Middle Bronze Age
This figurine belongs to a group of offerings which were found under the Obelisk Temple in Byblos. These are usually male and nude figurines wearing a helmet or a conical headdress which resembles the Egyptian crown. This betrays close relationship between Egypt and Byblos.





Cosmetic box, ivory
Sidon, Late Bronze Age
This duck-shaped make-up box is a luxury item. It was carved in a hippopotamus tusk. It is a rare example of ivory from Lebanon, the majority of these ivory products having been taken as booty by the Assyrian kings.






Musician with a lyre, ivory
Kamed el Loz, Late Bronze Age
The Kamed el Loz ivory figurines attest the craftsmanship of local artisans during the Late Bronze Age. They also attest, together with other finds from the same site, the existence of luxury items.





The history of the Bronze Age cities is documented by both texts and archaeology
The written records of this period consist almost exclusively of Egyptian documents and of the diplomatic correspondence exchanged during the XIVth and XIIIth c. B.C. between the local kings and the Egyptian pharaoh, the so-called Tell el 'Amarna Letters
Archaeological excavations uncovered the fortifications, dwellings, temples and necropoles of these settlements.The rich funerary and religious material which was found in these monuments shed light on the daily life of the people, their religious beliefs and their industry
Whether on the coast or inland, these cities were located at the crossroad of ancient civilisations. Master pieces of jewelry recovered from the tombs of Abi Shemou and Ip Shemou Abi, kings of Byblos, witness high skills in working silver and gold. The ivory make-up boxes found in Sidon and the ivory figurines from Kamed el Loz suggest the production of luxury items.


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