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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Beirut Down Town (3) | The Archeological Discovery at a Glance


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below was collected at the beginning of the project execution and many of its components were modified, canceled, or outdated…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 keeps on attracting me with fascination...
  • 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.

Part Three | The Archeological Discovery at a Glance

In the previous part-section of our discussion, we did locate and select the best theoretical place to be the conservative site to preserve our discoveries and the multiple finds that require a high standard of preservation techniques not yet used in our country.
(Image Source: www.beirutreport.com- 2016)

And yet, we had a glance at the historical monuments surrounding the selected site.

So today it is time to have a closer look at the discoveries itself found in the selected previous same site, which refers to several traces of various civilizations: the Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Mamluk, and Ottoman.

Let’s also have a general view over the site (for those who don’t visit the place yet) by having a look at the aside instructive 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 at 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 Archeological sites, similar to the first one, but lesser in size and volume.

In this section today, we will be focusing on two of those smaller sites which contain a lot of precious discoveries.

Section One- Particularly, 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 can survive and create value provided that they are adapted to the needs of contemporary life and business.

The Ottoman hospital now houses the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR).
The Grand Serail, the official residence of the Lebanese Prime Minister - (Images Source: SOLIDERE Website)

The cascading landscape, in which various and important 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 Two- Secondary, the Riad El Solh.
At the bottom of the street is the historic Amir Munzer mosque with a landscaped garden area. The street has a 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.

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 (it 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).

This area was known before as the Souks Sites. It was stretched from Weygand street to the sea, divided by the main thoroughfare of souk Tawileh.

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)

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)

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).


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)

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.

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

That's what makes Lebanon the eye-candy for many invaders and other foreign enemies, in all periods of time and age.
Indicative Master Plan showing different ages and locations of the finds, Source: Brochure SOLIDERE- Paths of History


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 

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