woensdag 5 maart 2014


In the Akkad language this place is for the first time mentioned and called: sik-ku-u. It was one of the places belonging to the kingdom of Sidon, that was annexed by Esarhaddon, the king of Assyria in 676/66 BC. Esarhaddon let us know, that those are cities where there was ‘fodder and water’.
The second city in the list of Esarhaddon is Sikku or šikku, a name that should be related to Hebrew skw/h, a lion’s den. This word is attested in Jer.25:38 = He left like a young lion his den …… and Psalm 10:9 = He lay an ambush in a hidden place, like a lion in his den ….
This interpretation suggests identifying S/šikku with Leontopolis of Ps.Skylax and of Strabo.
Sikku is even more difficult to find in nowadays Libanon. But we know, that it has to be  somewhere around Sidon, because of the order from south to north in the list of Esarhaddon. And we get some help from classical authors. Strabo enumerates the Tamyras River, the holy grave of Asclepius, and Leontopolis. The Tamyras River is the Nahr ad-Damur, while Eshmun’s sanctuary is at Bostan aš-šayḥ, on the Nahr al-Awwali. Leontopolis should thus be located between the Nahr al-Awwali and Sidon. Now, precisely in this area, about 2 km from the old centre of Sidon, at the northern extremity of the suburb of al-Baramiyé or El Bouramieh and near the Nahr al-Giyas. The Han Abu šaka seems to preserve the ancient place name. This (k)han is apparently also called Khan es Sakkiyeh.
However, 6,5 km north of the Nahr al-Awwali, the old road to Beirut crosses the Wadi as-Sekke, where there as a khan with a few houses. I am not certain, if it is the Ouadi de Zeini, or the Ouadi Halaya. Nevertheless this is a good alternative. H.Sadr identifies S/šikku in 1997 at Rmayla (c.8 km north of the center of Sidon). 
There is even a third possibility, because Plinius (V.78) says: Leontos oppiddum lies between Beirut and the Lycus river (Nahr el-Kelb), but this is too far to the north.
One can thus hesitate for the location of S/šikku between al-Baramiyé and a site near the khan at the Wadi as-Sekke. At those places no excavation has been done so far. We will have to wait for that. After that maybe a more decisive conclusion can be drawn.

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