Byblos (biblical Gebal, modern Jbeil) is the oldest continuously inhabited
city in the world. According to Phoenician tradition it was founded
by the god El who surrounded his city with a wall. The massive Early
Bronze Age city walls (2800 B.C.) on the site reflect this early religious
belief. Thus Byblos was considered, even by the ancient Phoenicans,
to be a city of great antiquity.
Yet Byblos was inhabited even earlier. About 7000 years ago a small
fishing community settled here. Several monocellular huts with crushed
limestone floors can be seen today on the site. Here a stone idol was
brought to light, the first god of Byblos. Man was now aware of a force
that controlled him and his environment.
Today Byblos, on the coast 37 kilometers north of Beirut, is a prosperous
place with glass fronted office buildings and crowded streets. But within
the old town, medieval Arab and Crusader remains are continuous reminders
of the past. Nearby are the extensive excavations that make Byblos one
of the most important archaeological sites in the area.