Valuable Discoveries in downtown Beirut Archaeological Excavations

Notice

Please note that this article is just informative; the information stated below was collected at the beginning of the project execution and many of its components were modified, canceled, or outdated…

The target of this post is to highlight this big project that took place in my city Beirut and still hasn't reached its end yet.
  • Since its inauguration around the year 1994, this project has kept on attracting many people with fascination, and other critiques from other people.
  • This study is divided into four parts; it is advised to read it in its sequel order to avoid any misunderstanding of the ideas contained within the articles.

Where is downtown Beirut Archaeological Excavations located?

We will be exploring two of those principal archaeological excavations. We will refer to them by section. In the previous post of our discussion, we did locate and specified the best theoretical site to be the Conservative Area to preserve the discoveries and the multiple finds that require a high standard of preservation techniques not yet utilized in the country.

archaeological excavations,downtown beirut
Map showing the location of the open archaeological sites (Image Source: www.beirutreport.com- 2016)

And yet, we also had a glance at the historical monuments surrounding the selected site. So today it is time to have a closer look at the discoveries themselves found there, which refers to several traces of various civilizations such as mainly and by historical sorting, from the oldest to the recent: The Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Mamluk, and Ottoman.

Let’s also have a general view of the site (for those who didn't visit the place yet) by having a look at the above informative map, showing a graphical presentation of the site and its neighboring areas, including the other similar sites for preserving the finds.

Good to note that the other similar sites discovered and preserved in their own places are no less important than this one; but regarding the big significance of those excavations sites, even a few of them contain no signs or information detailing the discoveries to give the public a chance to appreciate them.

As you can see on the map, it shows three other preservative Archaeological sites, similar to the chosen one, but lesser in size and area. In this section today, we will be focusing on two of those smaller sites which contain a lot of precious archaeological discoveries.

Section 1- Particularly, this is the Conservation Area on the site of the fortified medieval town and adjoining Ottoman Serail hill. Built-in the 1890s as the seat of the Ottoman government and military hospital, the two buildings and the clock tower have already undergone a full restoration (...)

Solidere took the lead in the restoration process and affirmed that heritage buildings will survive and create value provided that they are adapted to the needs of contemporary life and business.

In addition, the Ottoman hospital now houses the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR).

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Section 1: The Grand Serail, the official residence of the Lebanese Prime Minister - (Images Source: SOLIDERE Website)

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The cascading landscape, or Section One, in which various and essential treasures from the past still reside as a witness of time (Images Source: SOLIDERE Website)

A cascading open space landscaped with new and old trees preserves city memory by integrating a basin with several fountains and an existing wall framing an ancient frieze. (See the pictures above)


Section 2- This is about the Riad El Solh, shown in the top-right area of the given layout.
At the bottom of the street is the historic Amir Munzer mosque with a landscaped garden area. The street has distinctive architecture dating back to the fifties and sixties, Behind its western façade, the Roman Baths' aromatic garden forms part of an open space developed around the restored ancient baths.

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The famous Roman Baths (Source: Brochure SOLIDERE, Paths of History)

In addition to the above, we should not forget the fabulous Roman Baths, which were undergoing clearance and landscaping (they should be open by now to the public)

From Roman times to the present, baths have served as important public and social meeting places (excavations of the Directorate General of Antiquities).

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(Fig.1)

This area was known before as the "Souks" or "Assouak" in Arabic but in the newly developed Master Plan, it was stretched from Weygand street to the sea, divided by the main thoroughfare of souk "Tawileh".

archaeological excavations
View of the preserved area from the walkways inside the souks, Photo: https://www.beirutsouks.com.lb/

Also, both the late Roman House (Domus) with the dining room, internal garden (peristyle) paced with mosaics, and an elaborate water and drainage system. Detail of the dining room mosaic floor covering. (Fig.1)

archaeological excavations
(Fig.2)

And the Byzantine with a wide public portico (colonnaded street) paved with mosaic runs east-west along Weghand Street. Shops with mosaic floors opened onto the portico. (Fig.2)

Restored Mamluk dishes in typical colors and patterns represent the wide variety of glazed and unglazed domestic wares in use at the time. Pottery Kilns were also found in the Souks area. (Fig.3)

archaeological excavations
(Fig.3)

Much evidence of glass manufacture has been found in the Beirut Central District (IFAPO excavations in Martyrs' Square) including glass debris for recycling by the glassmaker and perfumed oil and pharmacists' bottles from Roman to Ottoman times (AUB Souks excavations).

BEIRUT'S LAST MAMLUK MONUMENT

Built-in 1517 by the respected Islamic religious authority Muhamed Ibn 'Iraq al-Dimashqi, the building was initially an Islamic law school and continued as the Zawiya of Ibn 'Iraq until late Ottoman times It will be restored as part of the future Souks area. (Fig.4)

archaeological excavations
(Fig.4)

A deposit of 28 Persian period storage jars for cereals, olives, and olive oil was found during the Lebanese University excavations in the Souks area.

OTTOMAN SILK WORKSHOP

archaeological excavations
(Fig.5)

Discovered in the souks area in 1994 (AUB-British excavations). Surviving oriental materials and costumes of intricate design and rich colors enchant the eye and inspire craft production to this day (traditional ikat silks). (Fig.5)

So, to conclude the section concerning the Old Souks Area, it was a very fascinating discovery right here in my own country; we can see (and the proof was just revealed), that various ages of civilizations were mixed in a very small area.

Do you love History and want to help uncover the past? If so, then a career in archaeology might be right for you! Archaeologists use a variety of tools and techniques to excavate sites and uncover artifacts that can tell us about the people who lived in a certain area long ago.

If you're interested in becoming an archaeologist, there are a few things you need to know. First, you'll need to get a degree in archaeology or a related field. Then, you'll need to gain some experience by working on archaeological excavations. And finally, you'll need to be familiar with the different methods and techniques used in archaeology.

archaeological excavations,downtown beirut
Indicative Master Plan showing different ages and locations of the finds, Source: Brochure SOLIDERE- Paths of History

That's what makes Lebanon the eye candy for many archaeologists that find in our country a rich territory that hide a lot of treasures that lot of which are still in the deep of our national land invaded before by intruders, in all periods of time and ages.

References and Images credited to:

- Solidere Brochure "The Paths of History" issued in collaboration with The Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, in addition to the General Directorate of Antiquities- 1995 

Nadim Maani

Blogging about Architecture and Designs AutoCAD, Photoshop, 3DS Max, and other software Tips and Tutorials, Lebanese Traditional Style, Real Estate, Home Improvement, Travel, and Places to Visit.

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