Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The City of Batroun, Lebanon

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on January 15, 2020

Batroun (Arabic: البترون‎ al-Batrun; Aramaic: בתרון‎; Syriac script: ܒܬܪܘܢ Bitron) is a coastal city in northern Lebanon lying 50 km north of Beirut and 30 km south of Tripoli. It is the capital city of Batroun District. It has a history of human occupation going back to at least 5,000 years. It was once one of the most important Phoenician cities in the region.

The people of Batroun are mainly Maronite, Melkite, Greek Orthodox Christians and Muslims. Batroun is a Roman Catholic (Latin rite) Titular See. Batroun is a major tourist destination. The town boasts historic Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

Biking along the Batroun coastline is also a major activity namely in late summer days. The town is also a major beach resort with a vibrant nightlife that includes pubs and nightclubs. Citrus groves surround Batroun, and the town has been famous (from the early twentieth century) for its fresh lemonade sold at the cafés and restaurants on its main street.

Batroun is said to have been founded by Ithobaal I (915 – 847 BC), a king of Tyre who founded a new dynasty. During his reign, Tyre expanded its power on the mainland, making all of Phoenicia its territory as far north as Beirut, including Sidon, and even a part of the island of Cyprus. At the same time, Tyre also built new overseas colonies: Botrys (now Batrun) near Byblos, and Auza in Libya.

His daughter Jezabel (897-866 BC.) married Ahab, the seventh king of Israel since Jeroboam I, the son and successor of Omri, and the husband of Jezebel of Sidon, according to the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hebrew Bible presents Ahab as a wicked king, particularly for condoning Jezebel’s influence on religious policies and his principal role behind Naboth’s arbitrary execution.

Jeroboam I was the first king of the northern Kingdom of Israel. The Hebrew Bible describes the reign of Jeroboam to have commenced following a revolt of the ten northern Israelite tribes against Rehoboam that put an end to the United Monarchy.

The name Batroun derives from the Arabic al-Batroun, itself from the Greek, Botrys (also spelled Bothrys), which was later Latinized to Botrus. Historians believe that the Greek name of the town originates from the Phoenician word, bater, which means to cut and it refers to the maritime wall that the Phoenicians built in the sea to protect them from tidal waves.

The ancient Phoenician sea wall was originally a natural structure composed of petrified sand dunes. It was reinforced gradually by the Phoenicians with rocks, and the wall as it stands today took its present shape in the first century BC. The Phoenicians used this wall as protection against sea storms and invaders, while during Roman times it again functioned as a quarry.

The wall is 225 meters long and 1 to 1.5 meters thick. Parts of it have crumbled, but what remains still stands as a bulwark against the sea for the residents of the ancient city, itself a charming destination for a leisurely stroll through the labyrinthian residential alleys.

Batroun is likely the “Batruna” mentioned in the Amarna letters, sometimes referred to as the Amarna correspondence or Amarna tablets, and cited with the abbreviation EA, for “El Amarna”), dating to the 14th century BC.

The Amarna letters are an archive, written on clay tablets, primarily consisting of diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom, between c. 1360-1332 BC.

Batroun was mentioned by the ancient geographers Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, Stephanus Byzantius, and Hierocles. Saint Theophanes the Confessor (758/760 – 817/818), a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler, called the city “Bostrys.” After the Muslim conquests of the region, the name was Arabicized to Batroun.

The Phoenicians founded Batroun on the southern side of the promontory in north Lebanon called by the Greeks Theoprosopon and during the Byzantine Empire, Cape Lithoprosopon. The cape, also known today by the name of Râs ach-Chaq’a’, is situated between the ancient cities of Batroun and Tripoli.

The promontory creates a massive barrier that cuts through the coast of Lebanon, making it impossible for travelers to circumvent. During Antiquity, a road that ran parallel to the sea existed, which made it possible to circumvent Cape Lithoprosopon and to connect Batroun to Tripoli.

Historians report that the earthquake of 551 A.D. caused a landslide, causing the road to sink into the sea permanently, and thus isolating Tripoli from Batroun and Byblos. Today’s modern, coastal highway runs through two tunnels.

The name of the cape changed throughout history. The oldest mention of the promontory appears in the writings of the Greek historian, Polybius who named it “Theou Prosopon” or “Face of God.” The Greek geographers, Ptolemy and Strabon, also mentioned it under the name of Theouprosopon. Pomponius, the Roman geographer, called it “Promontorium Euprosopon” or “Cape of the Good Face.”

The name, Lithoprosopon, did not come to usage until the time of the Byzantine Empire when the area was completely Christianized and the name of the cape was changed from “Face of God”, to Lithoprosopon or “Face of Stone.” Aramaic and Syriac historians translated it to “Parsuph Kipa” and later on Arab historians translated it to “Anf Al-Hajar” and “Wajh Al-Hajar” or “Nose or Face of Stone.”

The historians of the Crusades called it “Pew of the Constable” and “Mount of the General.” At the times of the Mamluks and Ottomans, the cape’s named reverted to its Arabic name of “Wajh Al-Hajar.”

The French historian, Laurent d’Arvieux, wrote in 1660 that the Franks named it Cape Rouge, a corruption of the Lebanese Arabic word wež, which means “face.” Jean de La Roque, in 1688, gave the cape two additional names, Capo Pagro and Cappouge. Cappouge was probably a corruption of “Cap Rouge”.

Cappouge could also come from “Capo poggio” or “Cape of the Hill or of the Monticule”, which matches the current name of the cape, Râs ech-Chaq’a’, which means “Cape of the Stone Monticule.” The stone monticule probably referred to the Greek Orthodox monastery of Our Lady of the Light that was built at that time.

The cape today is home to several seaside resorts. It is also a popular Christian pilgrimage site where believers visit the shrine and monastery of Our Lady of Nourieh, located in the village of Hamat.

The city was under Roman rule to Phoenicia Prima province, and later after the region was Christianized became a suffragan of the Patriarchate of Antioch. In 551, Batroun was destroyed by an earthquake, which also caused mudslides and made the Cape Lithoprosopon crack. It is believed that Batroun’s large natural harbor was formed during the earthquake.

Three Greek Orthodox bishops are known to have come from Batroun: Porphyrius in 451, Elias about 512 and Stephen in 553 (Lequien, II, 827). According to a Greek Notitia episcopatuum, the Greek Orthodox See has existed in Batroun since the tenth century when the city was then called Petrounion.

One of Batroun’s medieval archaeological sites is the Crusader citadel of Mousaylaha which is constructed on an isolated massive rock with steep sides protruding in the middle of a plain surrounded by mountains.

Under Ottoman rule, Batroun was the centre of a caza in the mutessariflik of Lebanon and the seat of a Maronite diocese, suffragan to the Maronite patriarchate. Since 1999 it has been the seat of the Maronite eparchy.

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