Historical references to Tyre:
also see references in the Amarna tablets
also see references in the Bible
(1) In a writing from Niqmadd, King of Ugarit (2nd quarter of 14th century BC) it is written:
They come to the shine of Asherah of Tyre, even that of Ealth of Sidon there (Ke)ret the noble vows: "As Asherah of Tyre exists as Elath of Sidon if Hurriya to my house I take, bring the lass into my court, her double I'll give in silver, and her treble in gold.
(2) Towards the end of the 19th Dynasty (13th century BC) an Egyptian school exercise includes reference to Tyre:
Pray, instruct me about Beirut, about Sidon and Sarepta. Where is the stream of the Litani? What is Uzu like? they say another town is in the sea, named Tyre-the=port. Water is taken it by the boats, and it is richer in fish than sand.
See Tyre Amarna. for reference during Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) - 1379 to 1362 BC.
(3) About 1230 BC during the reign of Pharaoh MernePtah an Egyptian official wrote a memo about persons passing through en route to Syria:
year 3, 1st month of the 3rd season, day 15. the guardsman Baal-roy, son of Zippor, of Gaza went up, who had different dispatches for Syria: The commander of the Garrison Khay, one dispatch; the Prince of Tyre Baal-termeg, one dispatch
(4) During the reign of Rameses III there is a letter believed to be from the King of Tyre to the King of Ugarit that refers to a trading vessel sent to Egypt by the King of Ugarit which was badly damaged during a storm when it was in the vicinity of Tyre. The king of Tyre writes that a certain official (rb tmtt) seized the cargo for himself but that he, the King of Tyre, had it returned to the sailors. He adds that the ship was in Akko, possibly for repairs, and reassures the King of Ugarit about the safety of the ship, '"Let not my brother worry"
(5) During the late bronze age Tyre is mentioned in a Hittites ritual to evoke the Cedar gods requesting them to return back to the land of Hatti to lure the gods away from their enemies.
O gods, if favor turn ye toward the King and Queen! wherever ye may be, O cedar-gods, whether in heaven or on earth, whether on mountains or in rivers, whether in the Mitanni country or in the country of Kinza, the country of Tunip, the country of Ugarit... The country of Kinahhi, the country of Amurru, the Country of Sidon, the country of Tyre ... whether you be in above or in whatever other countries ... come ye now back to Hatti Land
See Tyre Bible. for reference during biblical times +/-1200 BC - +/- 800 BC.
(6) In 877 the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II led an expeditions to Carchemish and Phoenicia
The tribute of the seacoast - from the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Mahallata, Maiza, Kaiza, Amurru and Arvad which is in the sea, gold, silver, tin, copper, copper containers, linen garments with multicolored trimmings, large and small monkeys, ebony, boxwood, ivory from Walrus tusk - a product of the sea - Their tribute I received and they embraced my feet.
(7) Approximately 837 BC Shalmaneser III marched against Hazael
In my twenty-first year, I crossed the Euphrates for the twenty-first time. I marched against the towns of Hazael of Damascus four of his larger urban settlements I conquered. I received tribute from the countries of the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos.
(8) Adad-Nirari III (810 - 783 BC) also led an expedition to Damascus and Palestine:
...as far as the great sea of the rising sun from the banks of the Euphrates, the country of the Hittites, Amurru-country in its full extent, Tyre, Sidon, Israel, Edom, Palestine, as far as the shore of the great sea of the setting sun, I made them submit to my feet, imposing upon them tribute.
(9) Tiglath-Pileser III lists his tribute:
I received tribute from Kushtashpi of Commagene, Rezon of Damascus, Menahem of Samaria, Hiram of Tyre, Sibitti-bi'li of Byblos, Urikki of Qu'e ... gold, silver, tin, iron, elephant-hides, ivory, linen garments with multicolored trimmings, blue-dyed wool, purple dyed wool, ebony-wood, boxwood-wood, whatever was precious royal treasure, also lambs whose stretched hides were dyed purple, wild birds whose spread-out wings were dyed blue, horses, mules, large and small cattle, camels, female camels with their foals.
(10 A vase from Cyprus also mentions Hiram indicating that Tyre controlled Cyprus and Sidon at the time::
... governor of Karth-Hadasht, servant of Hiram King of Sidonians gave this to Ba'al of Lebanon, his lord of choicest bronze ...
(11) Related to the reign of Sargon (( (721 - 705 BC) Josephus worked at the archives of Tyre writes in "Antiquities".
And the king of Assyria came with an army and invaded all Syria and Phoenicia. Now the name of this king is recorded in the Tyrian archives, for he marched upon Tyre in the reign of Elulaeus. this is also attested by Menander, the author of a book of Annals and translator of the Tyrian archives into the Greek language, who has given the following account: "And Elulaeus, to whom they gave the name of Pylas, reigned thirty-six years. This king, upon the revolt of the Cypriotes put out to sea and reduced them to submission. During his reign Selampsas, the king of Assyria, came with an army and invaded all Phoenicia and, after making a treaty of peace with all withdrew from the land. and Sidon and Arke and Old Tyre and many other cities also revolted from Tyre and surrendered to the king of Assyria. But, as the Tyrians for that reason would not submit to him, the king turned back again and attacked them after the Phoenicians had furnished him with sixty ships and eight hundred oarsman. Against these the Tyrians sailed with twelve ships and, after dispersing the ships of their adversaries, took five hundred of their men prisoners. On that account, in fact, the price of everything went up in Tyre. But the king of Assyria, on retiring, placed guards at the river and the aqueducts to prevent the Tyrians from drawing water, and this they endured for five years, and drank from wells which they had dug.
(12) An inscription tells of Sennacherib's (704 - 681 BC) against Tyre, he clearly takes Ushu (the mainland city of Tyre, but makes no mention i.e., hides the fact that he was unable to take the actual city of "Tyre".
In my third campaign I march against Hatti, Luli, King of Sidon, whom the terror-inspiring clamor of my lordship had overwhelmed, fled far overseas and perished. The awe-inspiring splendor of the "weapon" of Ashur, my lord, overwhelmed his strong cities Great Sidon, Little Sidon, Bit-zitti, Zaribtu, Mahalliba, Ushu, Akzib, Akko, his fortress cities, walled, provided with feed and water for his garrisons, and they bowed in submission to my feet, I installed EthBa'al (Tuba'lu) upon the throne to be their king and imposed upon him tribute to me overlord annually without interruption.
(13) Esarhaddon (680 - 669 BC) after putting down a rebellion with Sidon in return for services rendered signed a treaty with king Ba'lu of Tyre ceding much of the coast, however it appears that Ba'lu did not hold to the bargain and made a deal with Taharqa Pharaoh of Egypt, so Esarhaddon takes action:
I conquered Tyre, which is amidst the sea, I took away all the towns and the possessions of Ba'lu, its king, who had put trust on Tirhakan, King of Nubia, ... threw off my yoke ... bowed down and implored me, as his lord ... heavy tribute his daughters with dowries, all the tributes which he had omitted , he kissed my feet, I took away from him those of his owns on the mainland turning it over to Assyria.
(14) Ashurbainpal's (668 - 633 BC) third campaign is against Tyre:
In my third campaign I marched against Ba'lu, king of Tyre, who lives amidst the sea, because he did not heed my royal order, did not listen to my personal commands. I surrounded him with redoubts, seized his communications, on sea and land. I intercepted and made scarce their food supply and forced them to submit to my yoke. He brought his own daughter and daughters of his brothers before me to do menial services, at the same time, he brought his son Iahimilki who had not crossed the sea to greet me as slave. I received from him his daughter and the daughters of his brothers with their great dowries. I had mercy upon him and returned to him the son, the offspring of his loins.
Later Ashurbanipal becomes less merciful:
On my return march, I conquered the town Ushu the emplacement of which is on the seacoast. I killed those inhabitants of Ushu who did not obey their governors by refusing to deliver the tribute which they had to pay annually. I took to task those among them who were not submissive their images and the people I led as booty to Assyria.
See Tyre Bible. for reference the time of Nebuchadnezzar 6th century BC.
(15) Herodotus 4.42 writes of the claim of the Phoenicians that they circumnavigated Africa he doesn't believe it because they claim the sun was to theNorth which Herodotus can not accept, however this is exactly what one would expect:
The Phoenicians sailed from the Arabian gulf into the southern ocean, and every autumn put in at some convenient spot on the Libyan (African) coast, sowed a patch of ground, and waited for next year's harvest. Then, having got in their grain, they put to sea again, and after two full years rounded the Pillars of Hercules in the course of the third, and returned to Egypt. These men made a statement which I do not myself believe, though others may, to the effect that as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya, they had the sun on their right - to northward of them.
(16) Herodotus book 7 89 - 95 with reference to Xerxes preparations prior to the battle of Salamis 480 BC.
When he was come and sat enthroned here appeared before him at his summons the despots of their cities and the leaders of companies from the ships, and they sat according to the honorable rank which the king had granted them severally, first in place the King of Sidon, and next he of Tyre, and then the rest.
(17) Diodorus (1st century BC) 16.41. 1-2 describes the Phoenician council of Tripolis:
In Phoenicia there is an important city called Tripolis, whose name is appropriate to its nature, for there are in it three cities, at a distance of a stade from one another, and the names by which these are called are the city of the Aradians, of the Sidonians and of the Tyrians. This city enjoys the highest repute amongst the cities of Phoenicia for there, as it happens, the Phoenicians held their common council and deliberated on matters of supreme importance.
(18) Strabo 16.2:
Tyre is wholly an island, being built up nearly in the same way as Aradus; and it is connected with the mainland by a mole, which was constructed by Alexander when he was besieging it; and it has two harbors one that can be closed and the other; called "Aegyptian" harbor open. The houses here, it is said, have many stories even more than the houses at Rome, and on this account when an earthquake took place, it lacked but little of utterly wiping out the city. The city was also unfortunate when it was taken by siege by Alexander; but it overcame such misfortunes and restored itself both by means of their dye houses for purple for the Tyrian purple has proved itself by far the most beautiful of all; and the shell-fish are caught near the coast; and the other things requisite for dye-works makes the city unpleasant to live in, yet it makes the city rich through the superior skill of its inhabitants. The Tyrians were adjudged autonomous, not only by the kings, but also, at small expense to them, by the Romans, when the Romans confirmed the decrees of the kings Hercules is paid extravagant honors by them. The number and size of their colonial cities is an evidence of their power in maritime affairs. Such, then are the Tyrians.
(19) Pliny in "Natural History" 5.17.78 also describes Phoenicia
While on the coast, below Mt. Lebanon, are the river Magoras, the colony of Berytus, called Julia Felix, Lion's town, the river Lycus, Palaebyblos, the river Adonis, the towns of Byblos, Botrys, Gigarta, Trieres, Calamos, Tripolis inhabited by people from Tyre, Sidon and Aradus.
(20) Maximian (284 - 305 AD) Decree posted in Tyre in answer to their petitions with reference to the Christians.
Behold therefore, your city put away all thought for its own private advantage and neglected former requests for its own affairs, when once again it perceived that the followers of the accursed folly were beginning to spread, as a neglected and smoldering pyre which, when its fires are rekindled into flame, forms once more a mighty conflagration..., Accordingly it was he, the most exalted and mighty Zeus, he who presides over our far-famed city, he who protects your ancestral gods, and woman and children and hearth and home from all destruction, who inspired your hearts with this saving purpose, it was he who plainly showed how excellent and splendid and saving a thing it is to draw nigh to the worship and sacred rites of the immortal gods with due reverence... But if they persist in their folly, let them be separated and driven far away from your city and neighborhood, even as you requested; that so, in accordance with your praise worthy zeal in this respect, your city may be separated from all pollution and impiety...
(21) Achilles Tatius (1st half 4th century AD) was a novelist in one of his stories he describes Tyre at this time:
The oracle replied...
There is an island city; they who dwell therein are named from trees. It makes as well an isthmus on the sea, a bay on the shore, where to Hephaestus' joy, for evermore consorts with him Athene, grey-eyed maid. There let your rites to Hercules be paid....It is time to sent to Tyre and sacrifice to Hercules the particulars of the oracle all agree with that spot. The god called it "named from trees" because it is an island belonging to the Phoenicians, and the phoenix-palm is a tree. It is a subject of contention to both land and sea, the sea striving for it in one direction, the land in the other; but it partakes of both, for it is founded in the sea and is yet not disconnected with the shore; there is a narrow strip of land which joins it to the mainland forming a kind of neck to the island. Nor is it rooted to the bottom of the sea, but the water flows beneath it, and also beneath the isthmus, so that it presents the curious spectacle of a city in the sea and an island on land...All the bridal ornaments had been bought for the maiden, she had a necklace of various precious stones and a dress of which the whole ground was purple; where, an ordinary dresses there would be braidings of purple, on this they were of gold....As for the dress, the purple with which it was dyed was no casual tint but that kind which (according to the story the Tyrians tell) was discovered by the shepherd's dog, which they dye Aphrodite's robe to this day.
(22) Description of Tyre by Nasir-i-Khusrau a Persian traveler in 1047 AD:
Five leagues from Sidon we came to Tyre (Sur) a town that rises on the shore of the sea. They have built the city on a rock (that is in the sea) after such a manner that the town hall for one hundred yards only, is upon the dry land, and the remainder rises up from the very water. The walls are built of hewn stone, their joints being set in bitumen in order to keep the water out. I estimated the area of the town to be a thousand arsh square, and its caravanserais are built of five and six stories, set one above the other. There are numerous fountains of water, bazaars are very clean; also great is the quantity of wealth exposed. This city of Tyre is, in fact, renowned for wealth and power among all the maritime cities of Syria. The population for the most part are of the Shi'ah sect but the Kadi (or judge) of the place is a Sunni. He is known as the son of Abu'Akil, and is a good man, also very wealthy. They have erected a Mash-had (a shrine or place of martyrdom) at the city gate, where one may see great quantities of carpets and hangings and lamps and lanterns of gold and silver. The town itself stands on an eminence. Water is brought thereto from the mountain: and leading up to the town gate they have built arches (for the aqueduct) along which the water come into the city.
(23) On February 16, 1124 the crusaders and Venetians laid siege to Tyre. William of Tyre writes:
There were in Tyre many noble citizens of great wealth. Through their constant trading voyages to most of the provinces along the Mediterranean sea, these merchants had brought back vast riches and a great amount of foreign merchandise to swell the resources of the city. Moreover, rich and distinguished citizens from Caesarea, Acre, Sidon, Jubail, Tripoli and other coastal cities which had now fallen under our power, had fled to Tyre to seek the protection of its fortifications. These people had bought homes for themselves in the city at a high price. For it seemed inconceivable that a city so strongly fortified could, under any circumstances, fall into the hands of the Christians. Then, as now, it was regarded as a matchless bulwark, an incomparable tower of strength without an equal in the entire region.
Later after Tyre surrenders William of Tyre writes:
They admired the fortifications of the city, the strength of the buildings, the massive walls and lofty towers, the noble harbor so difficult to access. They had only praise for the resolute perseverance of the citizens who, despite the pressure of terrible hunger and the scarcity of supplies, had been able to ward off surrender for so long. For when our forces took possession of the place they found only five measures of wheat in the city.
(24) In 1154 the Arab geographer "Idrisis" visited Tyre and wrote:
Sur is a fine city upon the sea-shore, where there is a harbor for vessels to moor in, and to sail from. It is a fortified place, and of ancient date. The sea surrounds it on three sides, and there is a large suburb. They make here long-necked vases of glass and pottery. Also a sort of white clothes-stuff which is exported thence to all parts, being extremely fine, and well woven beyond compare. The price also is very high; and in but few of the neighboring countries do they make as good a stuff.
(25) In 1185, the Spanish Arab "Valencia" wrote:
Tyre is a town that is like a fortress and it belongs to the Franks. Its streets and roads are cleaner than those in Akka. Many Moslems live here and they are unmolested by the Infidels. The town is smaller than Akka. The fortress is wonderfully built and impregnable. It has two gates only; one on the land side, one on the sea. The sea surrounds it on all sides save one. On the land side there are at the entrance of the city three gates, or maybe four (one behind the other), each surrounded by a high outer wall. The sea gate is entered between two high towers, and then you come to the port, there is none more wonderful among all the seacoast cities. Surrounding it on three sides lie the city walls, and on the fourth side it is closed in by a wall with an archway built of mortared masonry, and the ships come in under this archway, and anchor inside. Between the two towers, mentioned above, they stretch a mighty chain which prevents aught going in or out, and the ships can only pass when it is lowered. At this gate are guards who keep watch and ward on all who enter and depart. This port of Tyre is most famous and beautiful. "Akka" has a port like it, but which does not afford anchorage to such large ships, and the port of Tyre is far the larger.
(26) In 1322 Ibn Batutah visited Tyre and found a mass of ruins, he writes:
It was formerly proverbial for its strength, being washed on three sides by the sea. Of the ancient walls and port traces remain, and of old there was a chain across the mouth of the port.