Wednesday 21 November 2012


The city of Gebal was, according to myth, founded by El himself.  The city is extremely old, and this will be its history.

Long ago, a small fishing village consisting of a few small huts was founded along the coast by the ancestors of the Canaanites.  It soon developed into a town and then a city, and by the time of the Canaanites it was named Gebal.  Before long, Gebal had developed into an important trading city, shipping timber and cedar wood to Egypt.  It was not long, however, before the Amorites emerged from the deserts in the east and attacked the cities of Canaan, burning Gebal to the ground.  The Amorites then settled in the land, and the city was rebuilt.

Gebal once again became wealthy through trade with the Egyptians.  Large temples were built for Resheph and for Baalat Gebal.  Gebal at this time was heavily influenced by the Egyptians, and the Egyptians held quite a lot of power over it and the Canaanites living there.  King Rib-Hadda of Gebal began writing letters to King Akhenaten of Egypt asking for military assistance against the conquering Habiru, and the Habiru rebels began sweeping across the land.  Also around this time, the Sea People began their invasion of Canaan, Egypt, and Anatolia.  An obelisk from Gebal mentions the Lukka, and one of them called Kukunnis.  The Lukka were one group of Sea People who were attacking the Egyptians along with the Alashiyaites from Kittim (Cyprus), before finally settling in Anatolia.  The scribes of Gebal began developing the first alphabet, which soon spread far and wide.

It was after this time that Egyptian influence in Gebal began to decline and wane.  The Egyptians began to become more interested in Sidon and Tyre, and began trading with them instead.  Gebal did continue to benefit from trade, however, and this continued for many years to come.

By the time of the Assyrians, King Sibittibaal of Gebal began offering tribute to Tiglath-Pileshar III of Ashur.  During the reign of King Urumilki, the Assyrians under Sinherib began conquering all of Canaan, and Gebal fell into their hands.  Under the Gebalite kings Milkiasaph and Yehawmilk, Gebal was under the control of the Assyrian kings Ashurhaddon and Ashurbanipal.  Despite the rule of the Assyrians, Gebal was still able to trade in the west and across the seas.

The conquests of the Babylonians under King Nebukadrezzar II left Gebal under Babylonian control.  The city had been besieged for 13 years under King Ethbaal, and the Babylonians took the city for themselves, still allowing trade with the west at Gebal.  Gebal still continued to grow prosperous under the Babylonians until Babylon was conquered by the Persians and their empire destroyed.

The Persian ruler Kurash II conquered most of northern Canaan, and allowed several Canaanite kingdoms to continue as vassal kingdoms under his rule.  These four were Arvad, Sidon, Tyre, and Gebal.  Athar was the dwelling of the kshatrapavan of the region.  Persian rule was free and tolerant, and a fortress was constructed outside of Gebal, as the city would be an important area for garrison.

King Alaksandar (Alexandros) III of Macedon swept eastward with an army of Greeks and defeated the Persians.  Gebal then fell under Greek control, with the Greek language becoming popular among the educated.  The temple of Resheph was rebuilt by the Greeks at this time, since it had fallen into ruin during an earlier period.  The Greeks called the city Byblos, and like in earlier times (when the scribes had produced the alphabet) writing and literature continued to be important to the people.  Following the Greeks, the Romans conquered Gebal, building temples and public baths.  The city was famed for its books and scribe schools.  Many texts were written in papyrus and stored in the city libraries.

By the time of the Byzantines, many buildings were made of poor quality stone.  Polytheism declined as Christianity replaced it, and a Bishop of Gebal was soon appointed.


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