Finding the Phoenician town Gi-’ in the
The location of the next town in the list of Esarhaddon is pretty sure and easy to find.
The third city of
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 Esarhaddon .
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 Sidon Beirut and . Sidon
Ps.Scylax par.104 (87).
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 . His findings came in his
book Topographie historique de la Syrie, Syria
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
St Peter and Tyre
also walked through Jieh several times. St Paul
Ancient Records of Assyria, D.Luckenbill, nr 512, p.205. Prisma B, col. II + Prisma S, col. III.
Adjusted excerpt from Itinararia
E.Lipinski, Ola 127, Studia Phoenicia XVIII, Leuven,