Geoarchaeological evidence for dredging in Tyre's ancient harbour, Levant

Nick Marriner, Christophe Morhange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chrono-stratigraphic data from Tyre's ancient northern harbour delineate extensive dredging practices during the Greco-Roman and Byzantine periods. Radiocarbon dates from four cores consistently cluster between ca. 500 B.C. and 1000 A.D. and indicate rapid rates of sedimentation in the basin, namely ∼ 10 mm/yr during the Greco-Roman and Byzantine periods, compared to 0.5-1 mm/yr for the period 6000-4000 B.C. Absence of strata between 4000 B.C. and 500 B.C. is not consistent with a natural base-level sediment sink and cannot be interpreted as a depositional hiatus in the high-stand systems tract. Ancient dredging is further corroborated by persistent age-depth inversions within the fine-grained harbour facies. These data support removal of Middle Bronze Age to Persian period sediment strata, with deliberate overdeepening of the harbour bottom by Greco-Roman and Byzantine societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Direction Générale des Antiquités (DGA), CEDRE, UNESCO World Heritage, the British Museum, the Lebanese British Friends of the National Museum (LBFNM) and the Association Internationale pour la Sauvegarde de Tyr (AIST), notably M. Chalabi, for financial support. N. Marriner has benefited from a Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship (SAS/2005/4/0032). We thank Prof. George Rapp and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


  • Ancient harbour
  • Coastal geomorphology
  • Dredging
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Geochronology
  • Mediterranean
  • Phoenicia
  • Stratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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