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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Levantine States

 

Gubla / Kebny / Gebal / Byblos (Canaan)

In the mid-third millennium BC, city states began to appear in Syria as people benefited from interaction with Sumer and from improvements in irrigation. Within five hundred years, around 2000 BC, the same process was happening farther south and west, in the Levant, along the Mediterranean coast. Semitic-speaking Canaanite tribes occupied much of the area, creating a patchwork of city states of their own. The Phoenicians (more Canaanites) also occupied parts of this region, eventually founding their own mighty seaborne trading empire.

Originally known as Gubla (third millennium BC Akkadian) or Kebny (Egyptian), and then Gebal (Phoenician and Hebrew), all of which are regional variations of the same word, the city's later name of Byblos comes from the Greeks, from imports of papyrus (or bublos). It is located in modern Lebanon, now as the prosperous city of Jubayl (this name is the modern form of 'Gebal'), about forty-two kilometres to the north of Beroth on the Mediterranean coast. To the Old Testament the people here were the Gebalites, or Giblites (depending upon the translation being used of the Old Testament).

The earliest occupation here dates to a point between about 8800-7000 BC, during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B culture. A permanent settlement was founded by a small Neolithic fishing community around 5000 BC. Since then it has never been abandoned, making it one of the oldest continuous-use cities in the Near East. By the beginning of the Early Bronze Age in 3000 BC it was a prosperous Canaanite city. It later became one of the most important timber trading centres on the coast, with close ties to fourth dynasty Egypt. It was around this time that, according to tradition, some of its people founded the small island city of Beroth, while Gebal itself quickly developed to become one of the main importers of luxury goods, and a key exporter of papyrus to Greece.

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald Redford (Princeton University Press, 1992), from Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations, A H Sayce, from The Amarna Letters, William L Moran, 1992, from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (Gen Ed, 1986), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Hélène Sader (SBL Press, 2019), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

c.2000 - 1800 BC

Egypt maintains a trading presence in the region following links which date back a further millennium. Known to the Egyptians as Kebny, the Canaanite city of Gebal is overrun and burned by Amorites during the period of disturbance which follows the collapse of Sumer. However these incomers quickly settle down, rebuild the city, and resurrect trade. Little information is available on the earliest kings, save their names.

Map of Anatolia and Environs 2000 BC
At the start of the second millennium BC, a series of small city states in Anatolia which had existed for perhaps a millennium now began to emerge from obscurity (click or tap on map to view full sized)

fl c.1800s BC

Abichemou (I)

Subject of the Abichemou obelisk in Egyptian hieroglyphs.

fl c.1790s BC

Yapachemou Abi (I)

Governor of Byblos for Egypt.

fl c.1700s BC

Rib-Hadda

Governor of Byblos for Egypt.

Yakin

Governor of Byblos for Egypt.

c.1800 BC

The 'Second Intermediate Period' in Egypt is best known as the point at which the Hyksos make their appearance there, in advance of gaining control of the kingdom. In the meantime, seventy pharaohs rule in a disrupted Egypt while its external trade and domination quickly fades. Records involving Gebal cease around the same time.

c.1500 BC

With the Hyksos thrown out of Egypt and the country reunited under native rule, the Eighteenth Dynasty makes its presence felt in the Near East. Egyptian armies begin to fight Hittite armies for control of ancient Syria, while re-establishing trading and cultural dominance over Canaan. Gebal re-enters the historical record.

Hittite Lion Gates
The Lion Gates of the Hittite capital were of a style popular throughout the ancient Near East, with an example being found in Mycenae and a later version existing in Jerusalem

fl c.1500s BC

Yantin-Ammu / Yattin / Yantin

Related to Yakin? Named on a cuneiform tablet from Mari.

Abichemou (II)

Governor of Byblos (for Egypt?).

Yapachemou Abi (II)

Governor of Byblos (for Egypt?).

Eglia

Governor of Byblos (for Egypt?).

1453 BC

The Egyptians conquer Canaan and Syria again and establish three provinces in their conquered territories which are named Amurru (in southern Syria), Upe (in northern Canaan), and Canaan (in southern Canaan). Each one is governed by an Egyptian official. Native dynasts are allowed to continue their rule over the small states, but have to provide annual tribute. Records of these dynasts, though, is extremely limited.

Amorites, Semitic-speaking farmers
Amorites, Semitic-speaking farmers from the south who integrated into Mesopotamia, and then Syria and Canaan

fl c.1340s BC

Rib-Adda / Rib-Addi

'Mayor of Gebal'. Vassal of Egypt. Exiled and killed.

c.1340 BC

Relations with neighbouring Amurru are soured by constant complaints from Rib-Adda to his overlords in Egypt that Aziru, ruler of Amurru, is trying to overthrow him and force others to join the pro-Hittite camp in local politics (including Sumur). The Egyptian pharaoh only gains a temporary respite when Aziru dies, as Rib-Adda quickly renews his feud with Aziru's sons in Amurru. He also complains vociferously about Yapa-Hadda of Beroth, accusing him of always plotting or committing crimes.

c.1320 BC

Rib-Adda reports to his Egyptian overlords that his kinsman, the ruler of Tyre, and his family have been murdered in a coup d'etat. As Rib-Adda had been keeping his own sister and daughters safe there from Amurru's raids, they are presumably also amongst the dead.

To make matters worse, Rib-Adda is forced to flee his city and seek protection with Ammunira of Beroth in the face of raids by the Hittites, as well as devastating attacks by the habiru. His position is taken by his brother, while he is later killed by his enemies.

Tushratta tablet to Amenhotep III
The cuneiform tablet inscribed with a letter from Tushratta, king of Mitanni, to Pharaoh Amenhotep III, covers various subjects such as the killing of the murderers of the Mitanni king's brother and a fight against the Hittites

fl c.1320? BC

Ilirabi / Ili-Rapih

Brother. 'Mayor of Gebal'. Vassal of Egypt. Exiled Rib-Adda.

fl c.1320? BC

Azirou / Aziru

Governor. King of Amurru.

c.1200 BC

The entire Near East is hit by drought and the loss of surviving crops. Food supplies dwindle and the number of raids by habiru and other groups of peoples who have banded together greatly increases until, by about 1200 BC, this flood has turned into a tidal wave.

Already decaying, the Hittite empire is now looted and destroyed by various surrounding peoples, including the Kaskans and the Sea Peoples (and perhaps even selectively by its own populace). Unlike Gebal, Sidon, and Tyre, Arvad is sacked, but recovers. However, Gebal's prominent harbour does lose a good deal of its profitable trade for a time as a short dark age grips the region.

Phoenician Byblos / Gebal

City states began to appear in Syria in the third millennium BC. By the start of the second millennium BC the same was happening in the Levant, along the Mediterranean coast. Semitic-speaking Canaanite tribes created a patchwork of city states of their own, while the later-appearing Phoenicians (more Canaanites) also founded their own mighty seaborne trading empire.

Although concentrated more in Syria and extending down into Mesopotamia, the Amorites also occupied areas of northern Canaan. They founded the island state of Arvad around 2000 BC. They also invaded and gained control of Gebal around the same time. Within less than half a millennium they dominated other small cities in the region, especially along the coastal strip which forms modern Lebanon.

Disaster struck in the form of the social collapse at the end of the thirteenth century BC. Climate-induced drought and famine triggered large-scale population movements in the Near East, along with wholesale looting and raiding, principally by the Sea Peoples. Descended from the Canaanite inhabitants who formerly dominated the entire Levantine region, the post-collapse Phoenicians still thought of themselves as Canaanites, and they still occupied the Levantine coastal strip. According to their tradition the city of Gebal was founded by the god El, and even they considered it to be a city of great antiquity.

By at least 1200 BC, the scribes of Gebal (Byblos to the Greeks) were responsible for developing an alphabetic phonetic script which was the precursor of the modern alphabet in the west. By 800 BC it had travelled to Greece, and through the later Greek empire it found acceptance throughout the civilised world. During the first millennium BC, Gebal continued to benefit from trade in spite of Assyrian and Babylonian encroachments, until it was submerged within the Persian empire in 539 BC.

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald Redford (Princeton University Press, 1992), from Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations, A H Sayce, from The Amarna Letters, William L Moran, 1992, from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (Gen Ed, 1986), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Hélène Sader (SBL Press, 2019), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

fl 1100s BC

Zakar Baal / Zeker-Baal

Independent ruler who imprisoned Egypt's representatives.

c.1050 BC

A weakened Egypt loses its remaining imperial possessions in Canaan, partially at least to the empire-building Assyrians. The country's political fragmentation had begun during the same drought and famine which had destroyed so much in the Near East, and the 'Third Intermediate' would continue that process with a number of dynasties of Libyan origin ruling.

Book of the Dead for the Chantress of Amun Nauny
The papyrus 'Book of the Dead' formed part of the burial for Nauny, a chantress of Amun, around 1050 BC, who died in her seventies as Egypt was suffering a low point due to the recent onslaught of droughts and attacks

Whether Zakar Baal rules before this point or is the first to assume power in the city after the Egyptian withdrawal is unknown. His successor, Ahiram, is eventually laid to rest in a sarcophagus which carries what is so far the oldest-known inscription in the Phoenician alphabet.

fl 1000s BC

Ahiram / Ahirom

Governor? Known only from the Ahiram sarcophagus.

It is during the reign of Hiram of Tyre that his city grows, surpassing its mother city, Sidon, to become the most important Phoenician city. Ahiram, a probable governor of Gebal, also lives around this time. He has been linked by some modern scholars with Hiram as being one and the same person.

fl c.1000 BC

Zakar Baal (II?) / Zeker-Baal

Probably nothing known except mention on an inscription.

fl c.980 BC

Ithobaal

Son of Ahiram. Earliest-mentioned king of Gebal.

fl c.940 BC

Yahimilik

King. Known only from the Abiba'l inscription?

The Abiba'l inscription from Gebal names Abi-Baal as king, and confirms his devotion to the god Baalat. It also seemingly names Yahimilik as his father, although perhaps this section of the surviving script is slightly less certain in terms of its meaning. Yahimilik is presumed to rule Gebal before Abi-Ball, but nothing else about him seems to be known (the word 'milik' means king, making him 'King Yah or Yahi'). His relationship to Elibaal, however, certainly can be confirmed.

Gebal's Ahiram sarcophagus (Byblos)
Ahirom is not attested in any other ancient source, becoming famous to modern scholars only through his Phoenician-inscribed sarcophagus which was discovered in 1923 by the French excavator, Pierre Montet, in Tomb V of the royal necropolis of Byblos

fl c.930 BC

Abi-Baal

Son? King. Mentioned on the Abiba'l inscription.

fl c.920 BC

Elibaal

Brother. Mentioned on the Eliba'l inscription.

The Eliba'l inscription (otherwise known as the Osorkon bust) contains Egyptian hieroglyphs on one face and Phoenician letters on another. The Egyptian side carries the throne name of Pharaoh Osorkon I (922-887 BC) of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, while the Phoenician side carries a dedication to Elibaal of Gebal. Egyptian influence in Canaan is still extant, it seems, especially following the full-scale invasion of Judah and Samaria by Osorkon's father, Sheshonk, around 925 BC.

fl c.900 BC

Sibiti Baal / Sibittibaal / Shipitbaal (I)

Son. Mentioned on the Safatba'al inscription.

c.900? BC

Tyre gains control over Gebal and Sidon. That city has already been growing at a swift rate to become the chief Phoenician city during the reign of Hiram I in the early part of the tenth century BC while Egypt's troubled internal politics continues to diminish its influence in the Levant.

It would seem to be during or following the reign of Sibiti Baal in Gebal that Tyre secures control of the city. There are no further (known) kings, which certainly seems to back up any claim of a loss of kingship.

853 BC

Troops from Gebal are members of an alliance of states which also includes Ammon, Arqa, Arvad, Damas, Edom, Egypt, Hamath, Kedar, and Samaria. Together they fight Shalmaneser III of Assyria at the Battle of Qarqar which consists of the largest known number of combatants in a single battle to date, and is the first historical mention of the Arabs from the southern deserts.

Map of Canaan and Syria c.850 BC
When the Neo-Assyrian empire threatened the various city states of southern Syria and Canaan around 853 BC, they united to protect their joint territory - successfully it seems, at least for a time (click or tap on map to view full sized)

FeatureDespite claims to the contrary, the Assyrians are defeated, since they do not press on to their nearest target, Hamath, and do not resume their attacks on Hamath and Damas for about six years (see feature link).

785 - 750 BC

There is an unexplained gap in Tyre's succession following the rule of Pumayyaton. This seems to be due to the name of the ruling king having been lost from the inscription which carries the king list. By the time of the next king in this sequence something has changed. Tyre's subject city of Gebal now has its own vassal king in place.

fl c.750 - 738 BC

Sibiti Baal / Sibittibaal / Shipitbaal (II)

Vassal of Tyre. Removed, died, or killed by Assyria?

738 - 734 BC

All of the Phoenician states become vassals of Assyria, including Sidon, but local arrangements for governance are left in place. In 734 BC the cities of Sumur, Arqa, and Gebal are all seized, while Tyre is forced to pay tribute and suffer partial deportation. Akko is assaulted before being reduced to ashes, while the territory of Naphtali is annexed. The Philistines are next.

This is the century for which the first archaeological evidence for Utica's existence can be dated, showing that the colony becomes a permanent settlement by a date of 700 BC at the very latest.

fl c.710 BC

Urumilki / Urumiku

Vassal of Assyria.

704 - 701 BC

With the death of Sargon II of Assyria, many of the former subject states rebel. It takes the Assyrians until 701 BC to get around to quelling the Phoenician states. In Gebal, subject kings are allowed to remain in power, at least during the later stages of Assyrian rule, but surviving records concerning them are highly patchy.

Sargon II of Assyria
Sargon II usurped the Assyrian throne, seizing it from the last of the Ashur-Rabi monarchs, but he brought with him Assyrian resurgence and a drive to expand the empire

669 BC

Upon the death of Esarhaddon, the Assyrian empire goes to his son, Ashurbanipal. His other son, Shamash-shumi-ukin, rules Babylon as a semi-independent kingdom for his lifetime.

fl c.670 BC

Milkyasap / Milkiashapa / Milkiasaph

Vassal of Assyria.

fl c.650 BC

Yehawmelek

Vassal of Assyria.

649 BC

After his brother rebels in 652 BC, Assyria's Ashurbanipal besieges Babylon, bringing it back into the empire. Rebellions in support of Babylon by the Kedarites and Nabatu are also put down, possibly prior to Babylon's recapture.

c.612? - 539 BC

The Assyrian empire collapses with the fall of Kalakh and Ninevah to Media and Babylonia, supported by Egypt and groups such as the Scythians, who divide the spoils between them. With the seeming loss of imperial control over Phoenicia, Tyre appears to restore its own control of Gebal but not Sidon. However, in 573 BC Babylonia quickly establishes its own imperial control over Phoenicia.

Oxus Treasure chariot
The Oxus Treasure contains this Persian model of a Median war chariot, although it is only pulled by two horses rather than the customary four.

539 BC

Gebal - and all of Phoenicia - is submerged within the Persian empire. The new masters of the region appoint governors to control the Phoenician cities as Vassal Kings.

Persian Vassal Kings of Byblos / Gebal (Phoenicia)

Under Persian control, Semitic-speaking Phoenicia formed part of a large satrapy which was commanded from Babirush (Babylon). This was the senior great satrapy in the region. The main satrapy of Athura (former Assyria) also fell within Babylonia's administrative umbrella and was subservient to it. It was Strabo who reported (accurately) that Athura consisted of (old) Assyria along with Khilakku, Ebir-nāri, and Phoenicia. Therefore the Persian Satrap Megabyzus and other holders of his office were also satraps of all of these, even if they had their own, lesser satraps.

By at least 1200 BC, the scribes of Gebal (the Greek Byblos, today's city of Jubayl) had been responsible for developing an alphabetic phonetic script which was the precursor of the modern alphabet in the west. During the first millennium BC, Byblos continued to benefit from trade in spite of Assyrian and Babylonian encroachments, until it was submerged within the Persian empire in 539 BC. Byblos became the fourth of four Phoenician vassal 'kingdoms' to be established (the others being Arvad, Sidon, and Tyre), ostensibly controlled by native sub-kings in the name of the Persian king.

The remains of a fortress outside the Early Bronze Age city walls from this period show that Byblos was a strategic part of the Persian defence system in the eastern Mediterranean. The city itself was somewhat isolated in comparison with Sidon and Tyre, and seems to have developed some distinctive cultural elements of its own as a result. As examples, its fleet does not seem to have participated in the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, unlike the fleets of the other Phoenician cities, and it did not export its coins abroad.

A major difficulty in establishing a chronology for the kings of Byblos is that none of their inscriptions (whether monumental or monetary) are dated by their years of reign. One of the last-known kings before the Achaemenid period was Milkyasap, who is mentioned in the Annals of Esarhaddon. The first known king after 539 BC was Shipitbaal III, but the chronology for Byblos for this period is extremely vague.

Persians & Medes

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Alexander the Great, Krzysztof Nawotka (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from The Social History of Achaemenid Phoenicia: Being a Phoenician, Negotiating Empires, Vadim S Jigoulov (Routledge, 2016), from The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Hélène Sader (SBL Press, 2019), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BC), Josette Elayi (Trans 32, 2007, available in English at DigitOrient).)

539 BC

All of Phoenicia is submerged within the Persian empire. Many Phoenicians emigrate to the colonies, especially Carthage, which quickly rises to become a major power. The many other colonies in the western Mediterranean also become more important. On Sardinia, for instance, Phoenicians mount a defence against a native Sardi uprising which secures them control of much of the island.

Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great freed the Indo-Iranian Parsua people from Median domination to establish a nation which is recognisable to this day, and often, to the west, his empire retained local rulers and dynasties like that of Byblos

c.500 BC

Rulers of Gebal only become known to the historical record with vague certainty from around the middle of the fifth century BC. The oldest Persian-period inscriptions from the city date to around 500 BC. Both funerary inscriptions, while they may refer to two important figures (one a king), those references may be to the same person.

Sibiti Baal cannot presently be confirmed as a king, although his son certainly is, as the inscription features some uncharacteristic presentation elements, some of which are also on two other inscriptions which are thought dubious (see Elayi's Updated Chronology (p16) for details).

c.500 BC

Sibiti Baal / Sibittibaal / Shipitbaal (III)

Persian vassal. Ruled? Died c.500 BC.

c.500 BC

?

Unnamed king (possibly Sibiti Baal).

The Yehawmilk inscription from Gebal is the longest and most significant to be found by archaeologists. Created perhaps around 450 BC (or up to forty years earlier) for the king of that name, it also mentions his father and grandfather, the latter of whom (Urimilk) is also labelled as king. The stele upon which the inscription is made now resides in the Musée de Louvre in Paris.

Yehawmilk stele of Byblos
The Yehawmilk stele was discovered by Ernest Renan during his second examination of the site in 1869 - and then by chance - with the missing lower right-hand corner being discovered a further sixty years later

fl c.475 BC

Urimilk (II)

Relationship unknown. Vassal king of Byblos.

c.470s BC

The fact that Urimilk's son, the bearer of the undeciphered name of YHRB'L (which may mean Yeharbaal), does not appear to have a royal title suggests that the kingship jumps a generation. Possible reasons are many, such as his predeceasing his father or Persian dissatisfaction at the possibility of his acceding, but no details are known.

fl 470s? BC

YHRB'L (Yeharbaal?)

Son. Full name undeciphered. Ruled?

fl c.450 BC

Yehawmilk / Yehaumilk / Jahavmelik

Son. King of Gebal.

c.450 BC

Gebal begins minting its own coins shortly before 450 BC, slightly ahead of its major rivals in the form of Sidon and Tyre. Yehawmilk is likely to be about the first king to be responsible for this. The inscriptions can be hard to read and interpret, though. The proposal of a King Germilk is based on a mistaken interpretation.

c.450 - 420 BC

While Sidon and Tyre - both participants at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC - have 'dark' periods in their available records until around 450 BC, a similar period for which records are unavailable occurs in Gebal between about 450 BC and 420 BC when the other two cities are recovering. At present there is no information available regarding this apparent mismatch.

Coins issued by Evagoras
Shown here are the two sides of a silver coin which was issued by the Cyprian Greek King Evagoras during his Athenian-supported rebellious reign of Salamis

fl c.420 - 400 BC

Elpaal / Elipaol

Known from numismatic evidence.

fl 400 BC

Paltibaal

Priest (and a possibly priest-king).

Although Paltibaal (male) and his 'successor', Batnoam (female), are both placed in rough lists of the rulers of Gebal, he is in fact a priest of 'The Mistress of Byblos' (using the Greek name, and the city's main goddess, possibly to be equated with the Persian-influenced Astarte of Sidon). She is his wife, and both are parents to Ozbaal, the next confirmed king of Gebal.

The suggestion is of a new house being founded, or at least of a cadet branch of the existing royal family succeeding to the throne - not, though, as part of the mid-fourth century BC Sidon-led revolt against Persian rule.

fl 400 BC

Bantam / Batnoam

Female. Not named as ruler.

fl c.390s - 350 BC

Ozbaal / Azbaal (Zakur)

Son. Known from coins with his name.

fl 340s? BC

Urimilk (III) / Addirmilk

Known from coins.

346 BC

In tandem with Satrap Mazaeus of Khilakku, Bēlsunu of Ebir-nāri leads fresh contingents of Greek mercenaries to put down the revolt in the Levant. Phoenicia is attacked first (principally involving Sidon), but both satraps are repulsed. The Persian king himself is forced to follow up with a more direct intervention.

Byblos coin c.365-350 BC
Two sides of a shekel which was issued during the reign in Byblos (or Gebal) of Azbaal, which means that his parents can also be dated approximately to the early years of the fourth century BC

fl later 300s BC

Malcander

A Greek form of a Phoenician name - possibly not even a king.

c.340s? - 332 BC

Aynel / Enylus

Last Persian vassal king of Gebal.

333 - 332 BC

In 334 BC Alexander of Macedon launches his campaign into the Persian empire by crossing the Dardanelles. Much of Anatolia falls by 333 BC and Alexander proceeds into Syria during 333-332 BC to receive the submission of Ebir-nāri, which also gains him Harran, Judah, and Phoenicia (principally Gebal and Sidon, with Tyre holding out until it can be taken by force). Athura, 'Gaza' (probably Gezer), and Egypt also capitulate (not without a struggle in Gaza's case). Byblos becomes part of the new Greek empire and is quickly Hellenised.

Argead Byblos / Gebal (Phoenicia)

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, Syria and Semitic-speaking Phoenicia were left in the hands of the Seleucid empire from 301 BC.

The scribes of Byblos (or Gebal, today's city of Jubayl) had been responsible for developing an alphabetic phonetic script which was the precursor of the modern alphabet in the west. The city was one of the great trading centres of the first millennium BC, even despite Assyrian and Babylonian encroachments. Being submerged within the Persian empire in 539 BC meant that it became the fourth of four Phoenician vassal 'kingdoms' to be established, with oversight being provided by a regional satrap in Ebir-nāri (Syria).

Once captured by Alexander the Great, Byblos was not formed into a semi-independent governorship of its own as had been the case under the Persians. Instead the region was united under a single governorship which was based in Tyre. Even this quickly proved to be too small a region for any senior level of governance. In 329 BC Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre were incorporated into the satrapy of Syria, and the Phoenician cities would not regain any meaningful level of independence.

Alexander the Great

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Alexander the Great, Krzysztof Nawotka (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

332 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

332 - 329? BC

Abdalonymus

Satrap of Byblos, Sidon, & Tyre under the Greek empire.

329? - c.89 BC

The cities of Arados, Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre are incorporated into the satrapy of Syria within the Greek empire. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the latter three are largely dominated by Ptolemaic Egypt until 219-217 BC, when the Fourth Syrian War sees Seleucid ruler Antiochus III fighting Ptolemy IV for control of their mutual border.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
The route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns are shown in this map, with them leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across the vastness of eastern Iran as far as the Pamir mountain range (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Antiochus recaptures Seleucia Pieria, Tyre, and other important Phoenician cities and their Mediterranean ports, but is fought to a draw at Raphia on Syria's southernmost edge. The subsequent peace treaty sees all the gains other than Seleucia Pieria relinquished. Seleucid control is probably reconfirmed more permanently in 195 BC and remains in place until the mid-first century BC when a briefly powerful Armenia muscles its way in.

89 - 69 BC

Arsacid ruler, Mithradates the Great, launches an attack against the Seleucid empire with Aziz the Arab as his ally. The target is Antiochus X who is killed during the fighting. The weakened and distracted Seleucids also lose Harran to Armenia as Tigranes the Great conquers much of Syria between this point and 69 BC (which seemingly includes the city of Byblos).

? - 68 BC

Cinyrus

Greek ruler, little known. Vassal to Tigranes?

68 BC

The imperialistic ambitions of Armenian King Tigranes lead to war with Rome, and a defeated Armenia becomes tributary to the republic following the campaigns of generals Lucullus (69 BC) and Pompey (67 BC). Former Seleucid Syria is lost and, in the following year (68 BC), so is Byblos. Rome now controls much of the region. Events for Byblos now follow the general sequence of events for Phoenicia.

 
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