History Files
 

Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Levantine States

 

Tyre (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.

Founded by Sidon around 2750 BC - according to Herodotus - or perhaps by 2250 BC according to archaeological evidence, Tyre began life as a settlement which was smaller and less influential than its mother city. However, it eventually surpassed all other Phoenician cities in terms of its wealth and influence. Tyre was originally located on a coastal island (with this being known as the 'New City'), with another settlement area on the mainland itself (the 'Old City'), some eighty kilometres to the south of Beroth. Although the two settlements may have fought each other on more than one occasion, normally they were united in the defence of the city.

The Greek king and conqueror, Alexander the Great, had to build a vast rampart to bridge the gap between Tyre and the mainland in 332 BC in order to be able to force the city to open its gates. This causeway served as the foundation for a permanent corridor which still connects the mainland to the island, now a peninsula. Modern Tyre lies in Lebanon, near its southern border, forming the country's fourth-largest city. Unfortunately the details surrounding most pre-Phoenician Canaanite kings (prior to about 1200 BC) were passed down only in Hellenic mythology and are therefore less reliable than details for the other pre-Phoenician cities.

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 Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Iliad, Homer (Translated by E V Rieu, Penguin Books, 1963), from The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Hélène Sader (SBL Press, 2019), from Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas, and International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia Online.)

c.2000 - 1800 BC

Egypt maintains a trading presence in the region following links which date back a further millennium. To the north, 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 there or in Tyre, save a few 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.1500 BC

Agenor

A king of Tyre, according to Herodotus.

c.1500 BC

According to Greek legend, Agenor is the father of five sons, Cadmus, Cilix, Phineas, Phoenix, and Thasus. All depart their Canaanite home in search of their sister, Europa, who has been abducted by Zeus (and who may instead be the daughter of Phoenix rather than his sister, as recorded in earlier accounts of the story, notably The Illiad).

Cadmus travels to Greece where he founds and rules over Thebes before moving to rule over the Enchelei tribe of Illyrians. Phineas gives up his search in eastern Thrace, where he settles on the western shore of the Black Sea and rules a city state of his own.

Phoenix inherits the throne of Tyre to become the eponymous founder of the Phoenicians. Note, though, that Phoenicians only emerge during the dark age period which follows the climate-induced social collapse of about 1200 BC. When Herodotus records this event he states that it takes place either around 1450 BC or 2050 BC. The first date is much more likely given that the earliest Greeks - the Mycenaeans - only establish a flourishing civilisation between about 1900-1650 BC.

Ruins of Tyre
The visible remains of ancient Tyre are largely Greek and Roman, built on the base of the first millennium BC Phoenician city

fl c.1490 BC

Phoenix / Phoinix

Son (or brother in some sources). Inherited throne.

1453 BC

The Egyptians conquer Canaan and Syria following the recent fading of their influence. They 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, notably in Tyre, where only one ruler is known for certain. The rest may be inventions, misattributions, or misdatings.

fl c.1400 BC

Eri-Aku

A semi-legendary model for the later Herakles.

This Eri-Aku has been linked to an Eri-Aku, son of Kudur-mabug, an otherwise unidentified potential king of a nineteenth century BC Elamite state to the north of Susa. Around 1834 BC he manages to install his son, Warad-Sin, on the throne of Larsa. When Warad-Sin dies he may briefly be succeeded by his brother, Eri-Aku, and then by another brother, Rim-Sin (I).

Canaanite bronze figure
This photo shows a bronze figure from Tyre, created between 1400-1200 BC and probably representing the Canaanite god Baal in the role of a warrior

c.1371 - 1358 BC

The Amarna letters between Egypt and the rest of the Near East describe the disruptive activities of the habiru, and of Hazor, which is accused of siding with them to capture several cities belonging to Tyre and Ashtaroth. This diplomatic correspondences often take place between Assur-Uballit I of Assyria, the Kassite rulers of Babylonia, plus Mitanni, the Hittites, Alashiya, Arzawa, and the city states of Syria and Canaan.

fl c.1370s BC

?

Prince of Tyre. Vassal of Egypt.

c.1360s - 1310s BC

Abi-Milki / Abimilku

Son. Prince of Tyre. Vassal of Egypt. Murdered.

Abi-Milki of Tyre is often the subject of speculation by scholars who wonder if he is linked to the frequent mentions of various pre-Philistine rulers named Abimelech (Gerar has two in succession). The speculation is not without some basis, as a coincidentally similar Milkilu is king of the Palestinian city of Gezer at the same time (the word 'milik' and variations means 'king').

c.1320 BC

At about this date - or a little later - the king of Gebal, Rib-Adda, reports to his Egyptian overlords that his kinsman, the king of Tyre, and his family have been murdered in a coup d'etat.

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

Abi-Milki has already been under attack during his kingship by former allies in the form of Zimredda of Sidon, and Aziru of Amurru, revealing the sometimes fevered and confusing state of affairs in the region as it attempts to cope with counterbalancing Egyptian and Hittite interests. The name of the coup leader who presumably succeeds in Tyre seems to be unknown.

fl c.1230 BC

Aribas?

Mentioned only in Homer's Odyssey. Likely invented.

fl c.1220 BC

Baal-Termeg / Balat-Remeg

Taken from an Egyptian record.

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, all of the Mediterranean harbours undoubtedly lose a good deal of their profitable trade for a time as a short dark age grips the region.

Habu relief at Medinet
Attacks by the Sea Peoples gathered momentum during the last decade of the thirteenth century BC, quickly reaching a peak which lasted about forty years

fl c.1193 BC

Baal

Possibly a misdating of the Balbazer of 847 BC.

fl c.1163 - 1125 BC

Pummay

Seemingly a misdating of the Pummayyonx of 832 BC.

Neither of these names are likely to represent kings of this period. The international system has collapsed. It is no longer the case that the great states communicate with one another whilst also monitoring more regional situations in their mutual tussle for dominance throughout Syria and Canaan.

Instead the Near East enters a short dark age of a couple of centuries during which records-keeping virtually disappears. It is possible that there is an influx of elements of the Sea Peoples into southern Canaan which no doubt creates further disturbance at the beginning of this dark age, although they do contribute towards creating the emerging Phoenicia's great maritime society. Phoenician Tyre itself is a major feature of this rebuilt society.

Phoenician Tyre

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, dominating other small cities along the coastal strip which forms modern Lebanon, while other cities such as Sidon and Tyre remained free of Amorite influence.

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. Their language was very closely related to ancient Hebrew, demonstrating the likelihood that both they and the Israelites largely shared origins.

The great island city of Tyre had reputedly been founded by settlers from Sidon. In the first millennium BC it quickly grew to rival its neighbour, with each of them claiming to be the mother city of Phoenicia. Like the other Phoenician cities, Tyre founded colonies along the western Mediterranean coastline, and was principally responsible for the creation of Carthage. It also formed the heart of a very large region, as can be inferred by various finds which place the northern limits of the territory at Kherayeb, some ten kilometres to the north of the city, while its southern frontier can be placed at Umm el-Ahmed, twenty kilometres away.

Unfortunately, one technological advance of the period was the use of parchment and papyrus for record-keeping instead of clay tablets. The material is highly perishable, and few of these records have survived. Phoenician kings tended not to commemorate their reigns or achievements in art or inscriptions. As for Tyrian chronology, the city's own dates are approximate, contained in a king list from Josephus in Against Apion Book I (pp 117-126). He got it from a now-lost history by Menander of Ephesus. Plus there are also Israelite and Assyrian synchronisms and other evidence which help to pin down Tyrian dates. Usefully, Cross in An Interpretation of the Nora Stone covers the kings from Hiram I to Pummayyonx (Pygmalion).

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from the John De Cleene Archive, 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 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), from Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from An Interpretation of the Nora Stone, F M Cross (Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, CCVIII (1972)), from History of Tyre, H J Katzenstein (Jerusalem, 1973), from The History of Ancient Israel, Michael Grant (Macmillan, 1984), from Hannibal, Ernle Bradford (New York, 1981), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas, 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), and Kingdom of Tyre (Oxford Reference), and Aeneas (Greek Mythology).)

1104 - 1101 BC

The traditional date of founding for Gadir is 1104 BC, while Utica is founded in 1101 BC. This puts them both at the very beginnings of the appearance of Phoenician culture in the Near East. No archaeological evidence for occupation at this date can be found for either settlement, but this is probably because these posts are temporary at first, and are not permanently occupied until the ninth century.

Map of Anatolia and Environs 1550 BC
Small cities and minor states which had been founded by the Hittites littered the meeting point between Anatolia and Syria around 1500 BC (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.1050 BC

A weakened Egypt loses its remaining imperial possessions in Canaan, partially at least to the empire-building Assyrians. Tyre begins founding trading colonies or making permanent its existing outposts along the western Mediterranean coast, including that of Utica in North Africa. It may also be responsible for the rebuilding of the city at today's site of Tell Keisan (possibly the Achshaph of the Old Testament).

10th cent - 701 BC

Tyre gains pre-eminence over much of Phoenicia, including being able to control Gebal and Sidon. The chronology for the first dynasty of kings, between Abi-Baal and Pummayyonx, is somewhat uncertain.

Various alternative dates have been given, although generally they range about by no more than about a decade on either side of the dates given here. An example of one of the most dramatic differences is Hiram I, who could be assigned dates of circa 962-929 BC instead. Even the list provided by Josephus is controversial.

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

c.1000 - 980 BC

Abi-Baal / Abibaal

Dynasty founder.

c.980 - 946 BC

Hiram (I)

Son (noted by Grant, but dates are variable).

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

c.975 BC

David of Israel leads his people to subdue the Philistines, regaining Jerusalem from a Jebusite king and making the city his capital. In doing so, David gains the friendship and support of Hiram of Tyre for removing rival Philistines from his southern border. Hiram continues the friendship with David's successor, Solomon, gaining a number of villages in Galilee from him following the Israelite succession struggle.

c.955 BC

The Israelite First Temple of Jerusalem is completed, apparently by craftsmen from Sidon under Hiram's authority. It houses the Ark of the Covenant. Israel's King Solomon also enters into a matrimonial alliance with Sidon.

Ancient Jerusalem
The ambitious Ophel excavation in Shalem (Jerusalem) has produced many finds, but precious little before the tenth century BC, by which time the city was in Israelite hands

946 - 929 BC

Baal-Eser / Ethbaal / Etzel-Baal (I)

Son. His daughter, Jezebel, married Ahab of Samaria.

929 - 920 BC

Abd-Ashtart / Abdastratus / Astartus

Brother. Murdered as part of a conspiracy.

920 - 900 BC

Ashtart / Methusastartus

Son.

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.

900 - 888 BC

Dalay-Ashtart / Deleastartus

Uncle.

888 - 879 BC

Ashtar-rom / Astarymus / Asermymus

Brother. Murdered by Phelles.

c.880s BC

Omri is one of the most powerful kings of the small state of Samaria. He establishes closer ties with Tyre in an attempt to draw away some of the wealth and prosperity of his rival, Damas. Tyre itself undergoes a renaissance, principally under Eshbaal from 878 BC, increasing its international power and trade. However, records concerning subsequent kings are uncertain about the order of succession.

Samaria excavations
This general view of the 1933 excavations of the city of Samaria shows them while looking towards the north

879 - 878 BC

Phelles / Pheles

Brother. Reigned for eight months. Killed by Ittobaal.

878 - 847 BC

Itto-Baal / Ittobaal / Eshbaal (I)

Priest of Astarte. Dates sometimes given as 887-856 BC.

Omri of Samaria renews the old alliance with Tyre which dates back to about 975 BC and the reign of David in Jerusalem. Ittobaal's daughter, Jezebel, is married to Omri's son and heir, Ahab (as recorded by Grant in The History of Ancient Israel).

853 BC

FeatureAhab of Samaria is a member of an alliance of states which also includes Ammon, Arqa, Arvad, Byblos, Damas, Edom, Egypt, Hamath, and Kedar (seemingly despite the recent conflict between Damas 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 (see feature link), and is the first historical mention of the Arabs from the southern deserts.

Despite 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. Tyre's role in the battle is unknown, although it is likely that the city provides supplies at the very least.

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)

847 - 841 BC

Baal-Eser (II) / Balbazer

Son. Also shown as Baalmazzar (849-830 BC).

841 - 832 BC

Mattan / Metten/ Mutto / Methres (I)

Son. Father of 'Pygmalion' and 'Dido'.

833 BC

This is the date given by Menander the Ephesian for the founding of Carthage, although a more widely accepted date is 814 BC, below.

832 - 785 BC

Pummayyonx / Pumayyaton

Son. 'Pygmalion'. Ascended aged eleven.

814 BC

Pumayyaton is more readily remembered as Pygmalion. In the seventh year of his reign his sister, Elissa (Dido), flees Tyre after the king murders her husband, Sychaeus (see Bradford's Hannibal, above). She founds a colony on the North African coast by the name of Carthage. Although the story itself may be apocryphal, the founding point for Carthage falls between about 843-813 BC, showing that there is a historical truth behind the tale.

Also during Pumayyaton's reign, the heart of Tyre's trading empire appears to shift away from the Near East and towards the Mediterranean, concentrating more on building up new colonies such as Carthage, and Kition on Cyprus.

Ruins of Carthage
The city of Carthage existed in its original glory for at least four hundred and twenty-eight years before it was destroyed by the Romans - and possibly another two centuries before that as a developing colony which was founded by Phoenicians

The main reason is almost certainly the rise of Assyria to the east. In this century it has already completed its conquest of much of Syria, and areas of Philistia and Urartu, with Carchemish paying tribute in 882 BC and apparently becoming a vassal in 870 BC.

785 - 750 BC

There is an unexplained gap in the 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.

c.750 - 740 BC

Itto-Baal / Ittobaal / Eshbaal (II)

c.740 BC

Tubaal

Possibly the same as Ittobaal.

c.740 - 730 BC

Hiram (II)

Alternative dates of c.736-729 BC.

738 - 734 BC

All of the Phoenician states become vassals of Assyria, including Sidon and Tyre, 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.

Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria
Tiglath-Pileser III dominated the Levantine city states during the later years of the eighth century BC, terminating the kingdom of Samaria and, shown here, with his foot on the shoulder of Hanunu of the Philistine city of Gaza, a gesture of dominance in the face of Hanunu's crouched submission

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. This is thanks to a general exodus of Phoenicians away from Assyrian domination.

730 - 729 BC

Mattan (II)

Prince of Tyre. Assyrian vassal.

729 - 701 BC

Eluli / Elulaios / Luli

Prince of Tyre. Assyrian vassal.

709 BC

Elulaios petitions Sargon 'the Great', claiming that the kings of Cyprus are not paying the tribute which he feels he is owed. As a result, it seems that the Assyrian empire conquers the island for this reason alone, albeit with its fleet being provided by Tyre.

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. Tyre and Sidon fall without a fight, and the cities in their orbit surrender.

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

701 - 660 BC

Baal / Ba'alu (I)

Prince of Tyre. Assyrian vassal. Rebelled successfully.

694? - 680 BC

Abd Melqart / Abd Melkarth

Prince of Tyre. Assyrian vassal. Co-ruler?

fl 660s BC

Abdimilkutte

Possibly the same as the Abd Melkarth, above.

663 BC

A further rebellion by Baal (I) ends when Tyre surrenders to Ashurbanipal of Assyria as the empire again conquers all of Phoenicia. This time control of Tyre seems to be direct. No doubt this is through a regional governor, but nothing is known of this arrangement.

The site of Tell Keisan (possibly the Achshaph of the Old Testament) is re-inhabited during this century, but is caught up in the fall of the empire at the end of the century and is again destroyed.

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.

591 - 573 BC

Itto-Baal / Eshbaal / Ethbaal (III)

Fought against Babylonian domination. Killed?

c.587 - 574 BC

Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia annexes many previously independent or semi-independent states in the west in his quest for complete dominance of Syria and Canaan. The siege of Tyre lasts for thirteen years, and with its conclusion the colony of Carthage declares its independence from its subjugated mother city.

573 - 564 BC

Baal (II)

Son? Vassal of Babylonia. Overthrown by internal rebellion.

564 BC

Still under Babylonian domination, and suffering from the reduced circumstances which are the result of the long siege, the monarchy of Tyre is overthrown. For the next decade or so the city is governed by an oligarchy which is headed by judges (shoftim) who are voted in by the citizens.

Shoftim of Tyre (Phoenicia)

Like the other Semitic-speaking Phoenician cities of the first millennium BC, at its height Tyre had founded colonies along the western Mediterranean coastline, especially in North Africa and Iberia from the tenth century BC onwards. Tyre was originally located on a coastal island, some eighty kilometres to the south of Beroth, with another settlement area on the mainland itself. Independence ended in 738 BC when Assyria invaded and conquered the Levant.

Local arrangements for governance were generally allowed to continue however, setting a pattern for subsequent domination by Babylonia and rebellion against it. It was the long siege by Babylonia's Nebuchadnezzar II between 586-573 BC which really damaged the city. Its trade was ruined, its biggest colony, Carthage, declared its independence in order to avoid Babylonian oversight, and the city sank into an economic depression.

When the monarchy of Tyre was overthrown internally in the 560s BC, an oligarchy formed a new governmental body which was headed by judges, or shoftim (the singular term is shofet). The shoftim were both executive power and judicial leaders, but they usually held no military power (unlike the earlier judges of the Israelites). In Carthage, which operated a similar system, it appears that each shofet was elected by the citizens, and held office for a one year term. Quite possibly there were two of them at a time, mirroring the system of consulship later used by Rome, but the exact details of Tyre's short-lived system are less clear. The names and dates largely come from Josephus in Against Apion Book I (pp 117-126). He got the details from a now-lost history by Menander of Ephesus.

Persians & Medes

(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), from Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from History of Tyre, H J Katzenstein (Jerusalem, 1973), from The History of Tyre, Wallace B Fleming (Columbia University Oriental Studies Vol X, Columbia University Press, 1915), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

564 BC

Yakinbaal / Ecnibaal

Son of Baslach. First shoftim of Tyre (for 2 months). Died.

564 - 563 BC

Chelbes

Son of Abdeus. Ruled 10 months.

563 - 562 BC

Abbar

High priest. Ruled 3 months, then recalled to duties.

562 - 556 BC

Mattan (III) / Matgen

Shoftim, but the same numering applied to a later king.

562 BC

Mattan III is (apparently) restored in the 490s BC, but as a king rather than a shoftim (judge). It is highly unlikely that he is the same Mattan III though, as this would make him at least ninety years of age. Instead, Josephus claims this first Mattan III as a son of one Abdelem. Some modern records show the latter Mattan (of the 490s BC) as Mattan IV instead.

Nebuchadnezzar II of Neo-Babylonia
Nabûkudurrius.ur, better known as Nebuchadnezzar II of Neo-Babylonia, gradually built up an empire which was based on seizing former Assyrian subject territories

562 - 556 BC

Ger Ashthari / Gerastart

Brother (both sons of Abdelem). Co-ruler of Tyre.

556 - 555 BC

Baal-Eser (III) / Belator

The last shoftim ruler. Died. Royal faction gained control.

555 - 551 BC

Mahar-Baal / Merbalos

King (probably). Brother of Hiram III of the Restored Kings.

555 - 551 BC

Babylonian Tyre restores its kingship between 555-551 BC, although the details of the regime change are extremely sketchy due to the lack of surviving records. In 551 BC Hiram III is noted as king, seemingly having been recalled from semi-captivity in Babylon to succeed Mahar-Bal.

The king list inscription contains Bal-Eser III, seemingly confirming him as a king rather than a shoftim, although Josephus argues the opposite, while Mahar-Bal (Merbalos in Greek) is another king, and brother to Hiram III no less, who certainly does claim the title of (restored) king of Tyre.

Kings of Tyre Restored & Dominated (Babylonia, Persia, & Greeks) (Phoenicia)

The city of Tyre had started off as a colony of Sidon, one which was smaller and less influential than its mother city but which eventually surpassed it and all other Phoenician cities in terms of its wealth and influence. Descended from the Semitic-speaking Canaanites who formerly inhabited the entire Levant region, Phoenicians still thought of themselves as Canaanites even after their greatest days were behind them, and their language was very closely related to ancient Hebrew.

It was the Greeks who coined the name 'Phoenicia' ('phoinikes', meaning 'purple people', from the famed purple dye they produced from the shells of the Murex shellfish). Unfortunately, one technological advance during the city's greatest independent period was the use of parchment and papyrus instead of clay tablets for record-keeping. These are highly perishable, and few have survived.

Like the other Phoenician cities, at its height Tyre had founded colonies along the western Mediterranean coastline, and was principally responsible for the creation of Carthage. It also formed the heart of a very large region, as can be inferred by various finds which place the northern limits of the territory at Kherayeb, some ten kilometres to the north of the city, while its southern frontier can be placed at Umm el-Ahmed, twenty kilometres away. Independence ended in 738 BC when Assyria invaded and conquered the Levant.

Local governance was allowed to continue, however, setting a pattern for subsequent domination by Babylonia, Persia, and the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. One of the main reasons for this, especially under the Persians, was that it was the Phoenicians who made up much of the empire's naval forces, both building and manning the ships.

Babylonian Tyre restored its kingship between 555-551 BC, replacing the shoftim (judges), although the details of the regime change are extremely sketchy due to the lack of surviving records. Unfortunately for Tyre, the restoration of the monarchy came shortly before the Persian empire took ownership of the region in 539 BC. Achaemenid-era Phoenicia formed part of a large satrapy which was commanded from Babirush (Babylon) and which included Ebir-nāri (Syria). Later Achaemenid Syria and Phoenicia seem to have been established as a single satrapy in their own right, away from oversight by Babylon. Ebir-nāri dominated this arrangement, with a capital which was probably at Damascus or Achaemenid-era Sidon.

During the Persian period Tyre dominated the smaller city of Ashqelon (Ashkelon, previously part of Philistia). When Greek domination of the region arrived in 332 BC in the form of Alexander the Great, his forces had to build a vast rampart to bridge the gap between Tyre on its coastal island and the mainland. This causeway served as the foundation for a permanent corridor which still connects the island today, now a peninsula. Today's Tyre lies in Lebanon, near its southern border, and forms the country's fourth-largest city.

Persians & Medes

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information 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 Alexander the Great, Krzysztof Nawotka (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), from Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and the Nabonidus Chronicle, contained within Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, A K Grayson (Translation, 1975 & 2000, and now available via Livius in an improved version), and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Ancient History Encyclopaedia, and The Role of the Phoenician Kings at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC), Josette Elayi (Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol 126, No 3 (Jul-Sep 2006), pp 411-418, available via JSTOR), 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).)

551 - 532 BC

Hiram / Eiromos (III)

Headed a restored kingship, replacing the Shoftim.

539 BC

Tyre and all of Phoenicia is submerged within the Persian empire. Tyre is one of four 'kingdoms' created by the Persians in Phoenicia, and is ruled by governors (in the form of a retained native monarchy that is lead by Hiram III - Eiromos in Greek) in the name of the Persian king. Despite Tyrian rule being maintained within the city state's territories, many Phoenicians emigrate to the colonies, especially Carthage, which quickly rises to become a major power.

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 an empire which provided the basis for the vast territories which were later ruled by Alexander the Great

532 - c.490s BC

Given the rough dates assigned to Mattan III (IV), below, and the date for the end of the reign of Hiram III, there is a noticeable gap - of at least thirty years. No records appear to be available to shed light on this gap (in fact this entire period is very poorly recorded), so perhaps it could be assumed that Persian governors are placed in charge until Mattan III is (apparently) restored.

There is the possibility that one Ithobaal, mentioned in an inscription which only surfaces through archaeology in the early twenty-first century, could be the father of Mattan, and therefore - probably - the son of Hiram. In fact the inscription seems to confirm the latter theory, although more study is needed to confirm this.

532 - ? BC

Ithobaal / Eshbaal / Ethbaal (IV)

Probable son. Possible father of Mattan IV.

c.490s BC

According to some king lists, Mattan III is (apparently) restored to the throne. It is highly unlikely that he is the same Mattan III as the former shoftim of Tyre of 562-556 BC as this would make him at least ninety years of age. Some modern records show this later Mattan as Mattan IV instead.

Darius the Great of Persia
The central relief of the North Stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis, now in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran, shows Darius I (the Great) on his royal throne (External Link: Creative Commons Licence 4.0 International)

It is likely that this one is the son of Ithobaal IV, although Herodotus names him as the son of Eiromos (the Greek version of Hiram). It seems unlikely that this could be Hiram III, dead since about 532 BC. Any son of his would have to be at least fifty by the time of the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, so a Hiram IV has been theorised for the period immediately preceding Salamis.

fl c.490s? BC

Hiram / Eiromos (IV)

Son? Theorised through Herodotus.

fl c.490s - 480s BC

Mattan (III (IV))

Son? Not the same Mattan as 562 BC.

480 BC

FeatureInvading Greece in 480 BC, the Persians subdue the Macedonians and the Thracian tribes (except for the Satrai, precursors to the Bessoi). Then the vast army of Xerxes makes its way southwards and is swiftly engaged by Athens and Sparta in the Vale of Tempe. The Persian army is held up long enough for the Athenians to prepare their navy for a seaborne engagement with the Persian fleet.

Athens, as the leader of the coalition of city states known as the Delian League, fights the Persian navy at the battles of Artemisium and Salamis, the latter being a resounding Greek victory. Tetramnestus, son of Anysos of Sidon, is present - along with Anysos himself, and other leading Phoenicians such as Mattan of Tyre and Merbalos of Arvad - but the battle leaves much of the Persian navy destroyed and Xerxes is forced to retreat to Asia, leaving his army in Greece under Mardonius.

Battle of Thermopylae
The Spartan stand at Thermopylae in 480 BC, along with some Greek allies, stopped the Persian advance in its tracks and provided a rallying call for the rest of the free Greek cities to oppose the Persians

480 - c.450 BC

There is an important gap here in knowledge regarding the kings of this period (a very similar gap exists in Sidon's chronology, while Byblos doesn't begin its own 'dark' period until it ends in the other two). Tyre's kings start initialling their coins from not too long after 400 BC. Prior to that they do not inscribe them at all, making it virtually impossible to determine any names.

A new king appears roughly at the end of this period - 450 BC - in the form of 'Boulemenus' - certainly a mangled Greek or other interpretation of a Phoenician name. This could potentially be the same Ba'al Sillem (or Baalshillem) who rules in Sidon.

fl c.450s BC

Boulomenus

No details available. Ba'al Sillem I of Sidon?

c.420 - 411 BC

Abdemon / Avdimon

King of Salamis (c.415 BC), Sidon & Tyre. Phoenician. Deposed.

c.415 BC

The Phoenician ruler of Salamis is killed by Abdemon, who subsequently rules both Salamis and Tyre. Evagoras, who is a Cyprian Greek, is forced to leave the island at the same time, heading into exile on Soloi. Abdemon is also a king in Sidon, and would appear to originate there, with his father and son both ruling there.

Sidon coin of the mid-fifth century BC
Shown here are two sides of a coin which was minted in the mid-fifth century BC, which would make it one of the first such mints, under the reign of Ba'al Sillem I, first king of a new Sidonian dynasty following a period of interregnum

411 BC

Following the deposing of Abdemon in Salamis, and the throwing-off of Persian dominance there, the island's independence is re-established under the ruler of the former Greek exile from the island, Evagoras. Tyre remains under his control, even after the Persians manage to reassert themselves and take back both it and Salamis by 381 BC.

411 - 374 BC

Evagoras / Eugoras (I)

King of Salamis & Tyre. Murdered.

381 - 380 BC

Still apparently not entirely subjugated, Evagoras miscalculates his advantage in a naval battle against the Persians, and the commander, Glos, wins a great victory. Persia effectively regains control of much of Cyprus in 381 BC after ten years of effort, and Salamis is besieged.

Evagoras sues for peace (probably in 380 BC) and manages to negotiate a continuation of his position as (client) king of Salamis, apparently also continuing to rule the entire island. He is murdered in 374 BC by a eunuch who is seeking revenge for personal reasons.

374 - 349 BC

Following the murder of Evagoras there appears to be another major gap in knowledge regarding the kings of Tyre in this period Unlike Sidon's kings, those of Tyre are initialling their coins with a single letter to represent their name, instead of the two of Sidon.

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

Without any inscriptions or other written sources to make it possible to decipher those single initial letters it is impossible to construct a meaningful king list here. There could be between five and nine kings in this period, with the available initials as follows, in very approximate order (plus potential full names where possible).

fl before c.365 BC

B-

Coin inscription. Possibly also a seal. Pre-365 BC.

fl before c.365 BC

T-

Coin inscription. Pre-365 BC.

fl bef c.365? BC

Z-

Coin inscription. Pre-365 BC, possibly.

fl c.370s - 350 BC

☾- / Abdashtart?

Coin inscription. Pre-365 BC, but into 350s too.

fl c.370s - 350 BC

M (MLK?)

Coin inscription. Pre-365 BC, but into 350s too.

fl c.365 - 350 BC

☽-

Coin inscription.

fl c.365 - 350 BC

Ṣ- / ṢR-

Coin inscription. Abdashtart of Sidon?

349 BC

This second 'dark' period in terms of understanding the names of the city's kings and the order in which they rule comes to an end with the accession of Ozmilk (Azemilcus in Greek). The last of the 'dark' kings, Ṣ- / ṢR-, would seem to read Abdashtart, making it likely that he is Abdashtart I of Sidon (365-352 BC).

Archers of the Royal Guard of Darious
These archers of Darius' Royal Guard were on display in the Hall of Artaxerxes II, whose continued efforts to break a long-running rebellion against him involved attempts to re-invade Egypt

349 - 332 BC

Ozmilk / Azemilcus / Azemilk

Related to Abdashtart. Removed by Alexander.

346 BC

Satraps Mazaeus of Khilakku and Bēlsunu of Ebir-nāri lead fresh contingents of Greek mercenaries to put down a 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.

334 - 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 Byblos and Sidon, with Tyre holding out). Athura, Gaza, and Egypt also capitulate (not without a struggle in Gaza's case).

Azemilcus of Tyre reckons that his island fortress is impregnable, so he forces Alexander to capture it under arms. It actually takes seven months, with Alexander being distracted by other problems. Supplied in part by Arvad, his forces build a vast rampart to bridge the gap between Tyre on its coastal island and the mainland (this causeway serves as the foundation for a permanent corridor which still connects the island today), and the city is captured.

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)

Tyre becomes part of the new Greek empire. Azemilcus is removed from power and Abdalonymus, a poverty-stricken gardener of royal descent, is placed on the throne in his place.

332 - 329? BC

Abdalonymus / Abd-olunim

King of Sidon & Tyre under the Greek empire.

329? BC

Tyre is incorporated into the satrapy of Syria within the Greek empire. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC Tyre is 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.

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. Nothing further is known of the kingship of Tyre, but it is probably terminated around 329 BC.

Stone carving of Phoenician ship
This first century AD stone carving reflects Phoenician ship design from an earlier age, although by the time it was created the Phoenicians had long since been subsumed within later states

c.42 BC

Tyre had become a possession of Rome in 64 BC, following the final extermination of the Seleucids. Now the civil war between the supporters of Julius Caesar and his murderers leads to a tyrant gaining power in Tyre. Marion, 'tyrant of Tyre' is a supporter of Cassius, but he is quickly deposed by Anthony and flees to the Parthian king of whom he is a supporter.

c.42 - 41 BC

Marion

Tyrant of Tyre. Deposed and fled.

41 BC

Tyre is reincorporated into the Roman republic and its subsequent empire. At the partition of the empire it passes to the Eastern Roman empire. In AD 638-640 Phoenicia is conquered by Islam, and becomes part of the empire. In 1291, continuing to be an important coastal city, Tyre serves as the capital of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem until it falls to the Mamelukes. The city later becomes part of the modern state of Lebanon.

 
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