woensdag 5 maart 2014


In 676 BC the Assyrian king Esarhaddon mentions sixteen cities of the territory of the kingdom Sidon. The first city mentioned is Bet-s.u-pu-ri. This name must correspond to Phoenician Bt-s.pr, because of the similitude of the place names. Probably this means “Town/house of the Birds” (Bet-S.ippor). The Phoenician word “bird” was most likely pronounced like Hebrew. In the plural form the word is attested (s.prym) on a Neo-Punic ostracon from al-Qusbat in Libya.
Where do we find Bt-s.pr? The site of ’Ayn Sawfar, 21 km southeast of Beirut, is proposed. The list of places by Esarhaddon follows a south to north pattern. That makes the location of ’Ayn Sawfer too far to the north.
Now, Bt-s.pr has rightly located at Tell al-Buraq, 8 km southwest of Sidon, at the sea near Aadoussyé, near the Nahr al-‘Adasšiya. Its alternative localization at ‘Adlun, 18 km north of Tyre is at least less probable, since this area was given by Esarhaddon to the king of Tyre.
Later classical authors (Ps.Skylax, Strabo, Pliny) call the town: Ornithopolis, Ornithon polis or Ornithokome, which fits perfectly with the Phoenician meaning.
See: Ancient Records of Assyria, D.Luckenbill, nr 512, p.205. Prisma B, col. II + Prisma S, col. III. Chicago 1927.
Excerpt from Itinararia Phoenicia, E.Lipinski, Ola 127, Studia Phoenicia XVIII, Leuven, 2004, p.17+18.
The Phoenicians called it probably Bt-s.pr = house of the bird, although Adlun in the south and ’Ayn Sawfar are other possibilities. Al-Buraq is somewhat north of Sarafand located. It had no harbour and no cemetery. It was rather a stronghold and administrative city serving both a defensive and a storage function. We find now an overwhelming number of storage and food processing vessels. The town was surrounded by a so-called pier-and-rubble wall. This same way of building we find in f.i. Huelva, Castro de Dona Blanca, Carthage and Motya.
See: Phönizisches und Punisches Städtewesen, S.Helas + D.Marzoli, Rome 2007.
Beirut and Tell el-Burak, New evidence on Phoenician Town Planning and Architecture in the Homeland, Hélène Sadr.

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