HOUSE OF THE BIRDS
In 676 BC the Assyrian king Esarhaddon mentions sixteen cities of the territory of the kingdom
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 Sidon . Libya
Where do we find Bt-s.pr? The site of ’Ayn Sawfar, 21 km southeast of
, 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. Beirut
Now, Bt-s.pr has rightly located at Tell al-Buraq, 8 km southwest of
, 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. Sidon
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.
Excerpt from Itinararia
E.Lipinski, Ola 127, Studia Phoenicia XVIII, Leuven,
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.
de Dona Blanca,
and Motya. Carthage
See: Phönizisches und Punisches Städtewesen, S.Helas + D.Marzoli, Rome 2007.