Geoarchaeology of Beirut's ancient harbour, Phoenicia

Nick Marriner, Christophe Morhange, Muntaha Saghieh-Beydoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents geoarchaeological results from the ancient harbour of Beirut (Lebanon). As at Sidon, knowledge of Beirut's ancient tell has advanced significantly over the past decade, thanks namely to redevelopment of the city centre and excavations centred on the modern port. In spite of this research, understanding of the city's coastal palaeoenvironments during antiquity is poor. Buried Iron Age harbourworks presently 300 m from the sea attest to pronounced coastal changes during the past 3000 years. These processes have been significantly accentuated during the last two centuries by redevelopment of the port, which remains in use some 5000 years after its foundation. Here we elucidate the coastal stratigraphy east and west of the Bronze Age tell to yield new insights into the evolution of the Beirut seaboard, in addition to the complex history of human-environment interactions. These chronostratigraphic data are subsequently used to (1) precisely locate the main anchorage haven during antiquity; and (2) propose a chronology for its evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2495-2516
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities, UNESCO CPM, the Franco-Lebanese program Cèdre, ECLIPSE/CNRS and the Leverhulme Trust for technical and financial support. This research is a contribution to the project Archeomed: patrimoine culturel de la Méditerranée (InterReg IIIB MEDOCC). We are grateful to Hans Curvers and two anonymous referees for their comments in helping to improve an earlier version of this paper.


  • Ancient harbour
  • Beirut
  • Coastal geomorphology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Holocene
  • Mediterranean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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