maandag 17 maart 2014


Bi-tu-ri-me is the 9th place which Esarhaddon mentions when he describes the kingdom of Sidon in 676 BC.
Despite the spelling Bi-ti-ru-me, this toponym may only refer to Batrun, 15 km north of Byblos. The change n > m at the end of a name does not create a particular problem: ‘m’ appears also in the spelling Botrum or Botrium at the time of the Crusaders and the alternative m/n at the end of proper names is quite a common phenomenon. Also the use of the ‘i’ vowel in Bi-ti- may reflect a real pronunciation of the place name, since it is attested in Mediaeval sources that mention an episcopus Biterensis.
At any rate, the Assyrian spelling might just show that the scribe of the original report has “reinterpreted” the place name. The comparison with the Sidonian suburb Baramiyé should thus be discarded.
Some later forms of the Batrun name even show a complete disappearance of the final ‘m/n’, like Botrys in Greek and Bruttos in Bordeaux Itinerary.
In earlier forms the city is often mentioned in the Amarna correspondence, but it never became a royal residence. In this 14th century the city was called: Beruna.
Menander is cited by Flavius Josephus (A.J.VIII 324) when he states that Ittobaal I of Tyre founded (or refounded) Botrys in the 9th century BC.
The name Bi-tu-ri-me can have a Phoenician equivalent like ‘bt rm’, meaning house of the heaven, or the high house (See: Krahmalkov, blz 444). Compare this with a district in Sidon: šmm rmm – high heavens (in the inscription of Bodaštarte).
The order followed in Esarhaddon’s list clearly indicates that the territory of the kingdom of Byblos now is omitted. Not only Byblos does not appear in the list, but also smaller cities mentioned with Byblos by Assurnasirpal II in the 9th century BC, namely Ma-hal-la-ta-a-a, Ka-i-s.a-a-a and Ma-i-za-a-a, are not named. However, there are also scholars, who think, that those three places are forming the later Tripolis!
Another explanation for the name Batrun.
Is there a relation with Teros, that is mentioned by Ps.Scylax in his Periplus? He states that there is a city and a harbour. Teros seems to transcribe the noun ‘’, attested in post-biblical Hebrew and related to biblical Hebrew ‘ṭira’ and Syriac ‘ṭyara’ (=enclosure). Since no such harbour is attested on the Phoenician coast by other sources, this may be a abridged form, eventually supported by popular etymology, of the name of Batrun, pronounced Btera- or the like, with an initial ‘Bte/i-‘ reduced to ‘te/i’. Such a pronunciation is probably based on a form similar to B(i)tiru(me) -> Btiru, as attested in the 7th century BC by Esarhaddon. In this hypothesis, Teros is no scribal error of a copist, but the written expression of a phonetic phenomenon that can affect consonantal clusters.
The identification of (B)teros with Batrun is confirmed by nautical considerations. The travel from Al-Mina to Beirut corresponds to two days of coastal sailing if the ship does not follow the lesser indentions of the coastline. The distance from Al-Mina to Batrun amounts then to about 35 km and there are some 45 km from Batrun to Beirut. No other harbour on this 80 km track, except approximately in the middle of the route in question.
See:Itineraria Phoenicia. E.Lipinski. OLA 127. St.Phoen.XVIII. Leuven 2004. p. 27+28+288.
See:Les Ports Phéniciens et Puniques, Carayon, Strassbourg 2008.

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