vrijdag 26 september 2014

Arwad: the golden centuries.

The Golden Centuries.
 
Tiny Arwad come sailing along his best period as a Phoenician city. Arwad possessed a twin harbour facing eastwards the mainland; its northern and southern bays were separated by a natural jetty some 60 meters in length, which was augmented in antiquity by an ashlar stone construction with blocks of 3-5 meters. As the later massive Roman fortifications suggest, the Phoenician Iron Age city must have been protected by a fortified defence wall that ringed the island. Arwad was densely populated; its city centre, like that of Tyre, was marked by multi-stored houses (Strabo 16,2,13). The high ground now occupied by medieval fortifications undoubtedly marks the ancient city’s acropolis and the site of its main sanctuaries. The main cemeteries were probably located on the mainland opposite – in the region of Tortose. On the island itself a small cremation cemetery may also have been located in the southern periphery.
 
Arwad was heavily dependent upon the mainland for its raw materials and agricultural staples. The water supply was ensured, at least in part, by the emplacement of extramural cisterns cut into the island’s rocky counterscarp. There is even a story by Strabo that the Arvadites traced an underwater source out of which flowed sweet water. In times of thread they put a clock of lead upon that source and they managed to catch the sweet water through a leathern pipe to the surface. Plinius confirms that story, when he is talking about lifting sweet water from the sea, which was done in Arwad, Gades and the Chelidonian isles (2.227).
 
The previous texts are an adapted version of some texts from G.E.Markoe, Phoenicians, Los Angeles, 2000.
 
It looks like that the Phoenician towns made a division of labour. Ezechiel XXVII about Tyre:
The residents of Sidon and Arwad were your oarsmen and your wise men, o Tyre, they were at your ships as sailors. The elder men of Gebal and her artisans were there to repair any damage.
The cooperation was further intensified, because Ezechiel says also:
The sons of Arwad and their army guarded your walls on all sides and contributed to your beauty.”
 
Arwad expands on the mainland its possessions. From the north to the south:
Sigo/Siyannu, Shukshu/T.Sukas, Paltos/Arab al-Mulk, Balanea/Baniyas, Ušnu/T.Daruk, Carnos/Qrn/T.Qarnun, Antaradus/Tortose, Enhydra/T.Gamqa, Marathos/Mrt/Amrit, Mariamme/Maryamin/Bonin and perhaps Simira/Sumur/T.Kazil.
 
In this period Arwad is ruled by a board of tradesmen. We don’t know the name of any king. They will appear in the next period, when the Assyrians came to disrupt the wealth and prosperity of Arwad.
 
 
 

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