Al mashriq - The Levant

See Lebanon

By Bruce Condè

Revised Second Edition

Harb Bijjani Press, beirut, Lebanon - 1960


Lebanon is full of scenic and historic spots, most of which can be reached in a half-day or less.

Some are in and around Beirut, requiring only an hour or two to visit. Even the extreme ends of the country can be covered in single-day trips by bus, "service taxi" or private car.

This book, which assembles in geographical order, radiating from Beirut, a series of trips to the most interesting places in Lebanon, is based on a number of similar travelogues in Sunday editions of the Beirut "Daily Star" between 1952 and 1956.

Early readers of the "Daily Star", including Colonel and Mrs. William A. Eddy, used to keep files of the travel articles in order to take the trips whenever convenient, but some copies were loaned to friends and others misplaced. Colonel Eddy eventually gave what was left of his file to former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Raymond Hare, who, along with others arriving here after the beginning of the series, had been unable to complete it.

As back numbers gradually became unavailable, would-be-travellers besieged the writer for loan copies or for compilations of , all of the trips.

To meet this demand, 60 of the articles were compiled into: a 'first edition' of this book and released in connection with Homecoming and Tourist Year - 1955. During the balance of 1955 and throughout 1956 more than 80 additional travelogues were published in the "Star". All of these except some 30 in and around Tripoli have been added to the present edition. At the. same time, eight detailed articles on Byblos, which appeared in the first edition, were removed in favor of a single consolidated piece on that site.

The reason for the transfer of detailed data on Byblos and Tripoli to separate booklets is not difficult to guess when one considers the thickness of the present volume and the reduction of its format to more or less pocket size.

"Byways of Byblos", which has gone through two English-language editions (4 printings) and a German translation, now contains over 150 pages and is still growing, as new discoveries and reconstructions occur in Byblos.

"Tripoli of Lebanon -Our Capital of the North", has combined all of the "Daily Star" articles on Tripoli plus additional data and is being released this same year in its first edition.

"See Lebanon", therefore, is in the nature of a general introduction to this fascinating land. The writer has spent nearly seven years trying to see all that is of interest within the confines of the Lebanese Republic and feels that he has only scratched the surface. Most of the major and many of the minor sites are described in these trips but it win take another 20, or 30 articles to properly cover the field. With these additions and certain consolidations the third edition should complete the job.

As most visitors or temporary residents may have only very limited time in which to see the points which they select as of most interest to them, these trips have been arranged roughly in order of distance, to provide for few-hour, or half-day, or full-day journeys, clockwise from the center of Beirut. A map showing the trips arranged in that order has been placed at the end of the book, together with an index of the places described, while the table of contents includes a brief description of the outstanding points of interest in each article. With these aids it is hoped that the book will prove a practical and convenient guide.

"But where do you get the material for these articles?" is the inevitable and legitimate question asked by personal acquaintances of the writer who don't happen-to have a copy of the "Guide Bleu: Syrie, Palestine".

However, the "Guide, BIeu" (Hachette, Paris, 1932 edition and its subsequent modifications and translations), is actually only a preliminary pathfinder and by no means a complete archaeological guide to Lebanon, and its two or three decades old data often needs a lot of bringing up to date, particularly with respect to roads. Actually, there is no substitute for going to the place in question, looking it over, and digging out additional details, then going back to cheek again in the, more serious archaeological and historical, works found in the excellent libraries of A.U.B., the Universite de St. Joseph (Bibliothequs Orientale) and l'Institut Franqais d'Archeologie.

But there are always problems, including new discoveries, on which the standard references are silent. It is then necessary to check with the best experts and authorities in person. In the course of getting opinions and advice in this manner, the writer relied heavily on Dr. Dimitri Baramki, Curator of the A.U.B. museum, particularly for identification of potsherds and for the Iron Age stone carvings discovered at 'Nebi Sheit and 'Ain Ata, on the "Grand Old Man of Byblos", M. Maurice Dunand, for Greco-Roman and earlier data in Jebail, and on the Emirs Maurice and Farid Chehab for Chehab family history and for hitherto unpublished data on the Hasbaya castle and Hadeth palace of that dynasty.

Since the writer has personally visited all of the places described in this volume it was obviously impossible to consult the experts on well over half of the material, so that the opinions expressed throughout are generally those of the writer, an amateur in archaeology, and not necessarily those of the authorities named above. The purpose of this book is to popularize travel to historic sites of Lebanon by giving only the most obvious archaeological data, mixed with tourist attractions and human interest material, leaving it to the serious students of archaeology to pursue the details in more scholarly fashion.

Again, as in the case of the first edition, and for the same reasons, the writer begs his readers' indulgence for a number of still-uncorrected typographical errors. None of the printers who set the type have any knowledge of the English language, and in order to expedite the printing to make the book available for the 1960 "homecoming year" of Lebanese emigrants, "third proof" corrections had to be rushed through without being seen by the writer!

This was an additional hardship on Printer Harb Bijjani and staff, as well as on Publisher Farah G. Farah, who spent many a long hour at the print shop himself. To these and to all my other Lebanese friends who assisted in getting out this new edition in record time, I wish to extend my sincere appreciation.

Finally, without the return of peace and stability to the land, it would not have been possible to get out the new edition at all, and for this new era of security and prosperity we are indebted to the enlightened regime of General the Emir Fuad Chehab, President of the Lebanese Republic. In token of this debt, a specially-bound copy of a limited printing of six numbered copies only on glazed paper, is being presented to His Excellency the President, at Sarba.

'Ain al-Mreisse, Beirut,
July, 1960.




Last modified: Fri Dec 12 18:52:54 2008