Sacred sites in Tyre

The investigations targeted the acropolis of the city, which was occupied from the Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC).

A column of pink granite from the Roman temple in Tyre. PHOTO: U Wicenciak-Núñez – PCMA UW.

Fieldwork in the ancient Phoenician port of Tyre, in Lebanon, has explored the remains a Roman temple and discovered another shrine nearby, in what is thought to have been a sacred area of the city. The investigations, led by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, and the General Directorate of Antiquities of Lebanon, targeted the acropolis of the city, which was occupied from the Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC).The area was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s, but this earlier research was disrupted in 1975 by the beginning of the civil war. Researchers have now studied a Roman structure that had previously been exposed, revealing details about the temple, including its likely two phases of construction in the early Roman (31 BC-AD 193) and late Roman (AD 284-476) periods. Two pink granite columns that flanked the vestibule were found nearby. In the Byzantine period, a basilica was built on top of the temple, which was later destroyed by a tsunami.

A porticoed street led to the temple’s entrance, which was decorated with geometric motifs. At the end of this street was a smaller one, where the team have identified a small shrine with a courtyard and two rooms. One of the rooms was decorated with a relief of the Egyptian goddess Isis and her child, Horus, believed to date from the Persian period (6th-4th century BC), but reused in this late Roman space.

Other finds from the area included Greek and Phoenician inscriptions that point to the religious nature of the site. There is another possible temple that the team hope to explore in the future.