The History of Beirut

beirut historyIf you ask any historian who knows anything vaguely about Beirut you will find that many believe that Beirut’s history began and ended with a bloody civil war. This historic war that occurred along the Green Line with Muslims to the west and Christians to the east.

In fact, the earliest recollection of Beirut Stretches far and wide to as far as the Stone Age. During this time the city was actually two islands located in the delta of the Beirut River. Eventually, the river, however, became one land mass.

According to philosopher’s the name Beirut is actually derived from the Arabic derivative of the words “well” or “spring”. The first known reference of Beirut dates from as far back as the 14th Century BC during the reign of both Canaanite King of Beirut and Amenhotep IV.

As time progressed, specifically during the Phoenician times, Beirut was often overshadowed by Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos; however, once Alexander the Great’s conquest begins in history we begin to see more and more instances of Beirut being mentioned.

Once the 3rd Century AD, arrived, the city had gained much-needed notoriety through its School of Law because it was one of the top Roman centers of the jurisprudence. During modern days this center was the primary location of the Justinian Code, which according to philosophers was where the legal system drew inspiration from. As time progressed Beirut gained more attention as it continued to grow into a trading hub and primary place of learning.

The Downfall of Beirut

In 551, a devastating earthquake combined with a tidal wave practically destroyed the city. The destruction was so dramatic that many of the city’s citizens were killed on impact. In an attempt to save it’s most prized possession, the city quickly evacuated the School of Law and later relocated to Sidon. This heartbreaking tragedy is ultimately what led to the decline of the country that lasted for several centuries.

Over the last several years Beirut has been plagued with tragedy after tragedy. These tragedies in many ways have ultimately been responsible for Beirut’s constant struggle to not only thrive as a city but to gain relevancy throughout the world.

As of recent years, an even more dark shadow has been cast over the city’s history. IN 2006, The offensive Israel-Hezbollah struck the city. Although, there was not much damage done to Beirut’s center the impact was felt in many of the suburbs and the wealthiest people of Beirut had to be evacuated due to substantial damages. For many people living in Beirut, it is often felt that economic upturn is nearly impossible because any time things seem to be moving progressively another “storm” arrives and knocks the people of Beirut off of their feet. In addition to the physical damage, the economic downturn combined with the numerous killings and attacks that have occurred throughout the city have led many to believe that while Beirut’ past is full of heartbreaking tragedies, the worst may still be yet to come.

3 thoughts on “The History of Beirut

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