donderdag 6 maart 2014

The Valley

The Valley.
Finding the Phoenician town Gi-’ in the Lebanon.
The location of the next town in the list of Esarhaddon is pretty sure and easy to find.
The third city of Esarhaddon is called Gi-’. It must be the present-day al-Giyye between the Ras Nabi Younès and the Ras es Saadiyat. 16.5 km north of Sidon.  In reality it is some km further away. Its site and the nearby Nabe Younus are usually identified with Porphyreon, although the fourth-century Bordeaux Itinerary locates Parp(h)irion at eight Roman miles or 12 km from Sidon. Porphyreon is already mentioned by Ps.Scylax and Polybius, who agree in locating the city between Beirut and Sidon.
Ps.Scylax par.104 (87).
Polybius V.68.6.
The importance of the site in later years appeared when 6th century AD mosaics were discovered on its territory. That is c.1300 years later!
See: Dussaud (1868-1958). In 1895-1901 he made five journeys to the Lebanon and Syria. His findings came in his book Topographie historique de la Syrie, Paris 1927.
See also the article of  E.Honigmann (ZDPV47, 1924).
There can be no doubt about the location of Porphyreon, but the distance given by the Bordeaux Itinerary ought to be corrected from VIII to at least XI miles.
Ps.Scylax does not mention its harbour, but Polybius reports that a fleet was anchored near Porphyreon in 218 BC, what implies the presence of a harbour or anchorage. Besides the distance from Beiroet to al-Giyye in coastal sailing may be estimated at about 35 km, which implies that a stop at Porphyreon would respond to the nautical practice of that time.
The Neo-Assyrian spelling Gi-’ of the city name, compared with the present day name of al-Giyye suggests interpreting this toponym as the West-Semitic noun gy’ : VALLEY.
This ordinary name once again show to us, that the Phoenicians used very common names for geographical sites.
The Greek name would allude to the purple industry based on the molusses Purpura haemastoma and Murex brandaris, found in great quantities in this part of the Phoenician coast and yielding the deep crimson dye.
The Hebrew prophet Jonah was said to have landed on its shores when he was spat out of the giant fish described in the Old Testament, and a temple was built which stands until today. Many invaders passed through Porphyreon such as Tohomtmos the Egyptian who landed his soldiers on its natural seaport in order to fight the North. Alexander the Great relaxed on its shore preparing for the attack on Tyre. St Peter and St Paul also walked through Jieh several times.


The town houses some of Lebanon's finest archaeological ruins, some of them buried under modern buildings, others waiting to be dug up by excavators, and others having already been removed and placed in museums. Mosaics depicting the story of the Prophet Jonah and the giant fish in the Old Testament have been found in churches dug from underground over time[. Examples of these are the grand floor mosaics from the Byzantine Empire period which were so big that trucks were needed to transport them to museums as was the case with the fine collection owned by Walid Jumblatt, a local politician, which are on display at his Beiteddine museum. Jieh has recently been the scene of accidental excavations of a Byzantine era Christian church and surrounding tombs which had been buried underground for centuries. Nothing is being done to protect them at the moment due to political hearings on the matters of the people versus the government - sec. landlords rights to preserve historical artifacts found on said property with vialble direct ancestry value and or documentation. The people versus the government - sec. landlords rights to preserve historical artifacts found on said property which directly pertain to all local populous religious beliefs, practices, and or scriptures or text. All which fall under the world preservation of historical and archaeological acts of 1971.
Ancient Records of Assyria, D.Luckenbill, nr 512, p.205. Prisma B, col. II + Prisma S, col. III. Chicago 1927.
Adjusted excerpt from Itinararia Phoenicia, E.Lipinski, Ola 127, Studia Phoenicia XVIII, Leuven, 2004, p.17+18.

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