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: the ancient city of Tyre.
Tyre was one of the great commercial cities of the ancient world, famous especially for the manufacture of the purple dye that we still today remember as Tyrian:
Located on the southern coast of Lebanon, 83 km south of Beirut, the antique town of Tyre was the great Phoenician city that reigned over the seas and founded prosperous colonies such as Cadiz and Carthage and according to legend, was the place of the discovery of purple pigment.
From the 5th century B.C., when Herodotus of Halicarnassus visited Tyre, it was built for the most part on an island reportedly impregnable, considered one of the oldest metropolises of the world, and according to tradition founded in 2750 B.C. Tyre succumbed to the attack of Alexander of Macedonia who had blocked the straits by a dike. First a Greek city, and then a Roman city were constructed on this site, which is now a promontory.
Tyre was directly associated with several stages in the history of humanity, including the production of purple pigment reserved for royalty and nobility; the construction in Jerusalem of the Temple of Solomon, thanks to the material and architect sent by the King Hiram of Tyre; and the exploration of the seas by hardy navigators who founded prosperous trading centres as far away as the western Mediterranean that ultimately assured a quasi-monopoly of the important maritime commerce for the Phoenician city. The historic role of Tyre declined at the end of the period of the Crusades.
In the modern town of Soûr, the [World Heritage] property consists of two distinct sites: the one of the town, on the headland, and the one of the Necropolis of El Bass, on the continent. The site of the town comprises important archaeological vestiges, a great part of which is submerged. The most noteworthy structures are the vestiges of the Roman baths, the two palaestrae, the arena, the Roman colonnaded road, the residential quarter, as well as the remains of the cathedral built in 1127 by the Venetians and some of the walls of the ancient Crusader castle. The sector of Tyre El Bass, constituting the principal entrance of the town in antique times, comprises the remains of the necropolis, on either side of a wide monumental causeway dominated by a Roman triumphal arch dating from the 2nd century A.D. Among the other vestiges are an aqueduct and the hippodrome of the 2nd century, one of the largest of the Roman world. (World Heritage Centre #299)
According to legend, Tyre’s famous purple dye was discovered by the demigod Heracles, or rather by his dog, who bit into a snail that turned his mouth purple.
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the ancient city of Tyre on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected by their home countries and recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been designated 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 of World Heritage Sites online at the 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, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures have you explored in your homeschool this Orion Term? 😊
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring cultural and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌎 🌍 🌏
❡ This is a printable lesson: Down at the bottom of this post you’ll find a custom “Print” button and icon, along with several social-media share buttons. The Print button will let you create a neat and easy-to-read copy of this little lesson, and it will even let you resize or delete elements that you may not want or need (such as images or footnotes). Give it a try today! 🖨
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; 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. 🇱🇧
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