Lebanon in the Middle East is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Lebanon’s World Heritage Sites: Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God.
The once-majestic cedar forests of Lebanon, growing near the valley of the Qadisha (Kadisha) River, were prized by nearly every civilization in the ancient Near East. Only small remnants of these forests remain today, and they, along with the adjoining valley, are now a World Heritage Site:
“Ouadi Qadisha is one of the most important settlement sites of the first Christian monasteries in the world, and its monasteries, many of which of great age, are set in an extraordinarily rugged landscape. Nearby are the vestiges of the great cedar forest of Lebanon, highly prized in ancient times for the construction of great religious buildings.
“The Qadisha Valley site and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) are located in northern Lebanon. The Qadisha Valley is located North of [the] Mount Lebanon chain, at the foot of Mount al-Makmel and west of the Forest of the Cedars of God. The Holy River Qadisha, celebrated in the Scriptures, runs through the Valley. The Forest of the Cedars of God is located on Mount Makmel, between 1900 and 2050 m altitude and to the east of the village of Bcharré.
“The rocky cliffs of the Qadisha Valley have served over centuries as a place for meditation and refuge. The Valley comprises the largest number of monasteries and hermitages dating back to the very first spread of Christianism. The main monasteries are those of St Anthony of Quzhayya, Our Lady of Hauqqa, Qannubin and Mar Lichaa. This Valley bears unique witness to the very centre of Maronite eremitism. Its natural caves, carved into the hillsides — almost inaccessible — [are] decorated with frescoes testifying to an architecture specifically conceived for the spiritual and vital needs of an austere life. There exist numerous terraces for growing grain by the monks, hermits, and peasants who lived in the region; several of these terraces are still under cultivation today.
“Linked to the Qadisha Valley through historic reference and contiguity, the Forest of the Cedars of God is the last vestige of antique forests and one of the rare sites where the Cedrus libani still grows, one of the most valued construction materials in the antique world and cited 103 times in the Bible.“ (UNESCO World Heritage Centre #850)
The fragrant wood of the cedars of Lebanon was used in the construction of many of the ancient world’s palaces and temples. Although the species (Cedrus libani) has long been grown in cultivation and so is not in danger of extinction, the original Lebanese cedar forests had been reduced to fewer than thirty large trees in the Early Modern period. Today, the original forest is estimated to contain between 300 and 400 old trees.
And once your students known something about the storied cedars of Lebanon, they’ll also understand the symbolism of the modern Lebanese flag.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list online at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites (riverhouses.org/2019-wh-map), available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures have you been exploring in your homeschool this Orion Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia (riverhouses.org/books) for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 745–852; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇱🇧
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌍