Since June 1994, archaeological excavations under the auspices of Michel Edde, Minister of Culture and Higher Education, and the Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanon have gradually revealed the story of the Souks area of Beirut. Unesco has provided technical assistance.

The work has uncovered a continuous sequence of crafts and commerce moving back in time from the pre-war souks through Ottoman silk-makers, Mamluk glass-blowers |andpotters and Roman merchants and herbalists.

In December of 1994, the urban origins of the area were identified: a regular Hellenistic street plan dating back to the second Gentury BC, founded directly on bedrock.

Sound and established methods of urban archaeology have been used to discover and interpret the history of this area. Future study of the materialfrom the excavations will provide a fuller picture of ancient souk life.

The layers of the past removed by the archaeologists reveal a vision of ancient, medieval and Ottoman Beirut which can be incorporated into the urban design of thefuture.

The urban archaeology excavations of Beirut will undoubtedly make history of their own.

Camille Asmar
Director General of Antiquities

Roman lamp handle (3.5 cm high) with Cupid, son of Venus, playing the lyre. Souk excavations 1994.


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