Byblos is introduced in the Brave New World expansion pack.
Musical Theme Inspiration: ?
Architecture: Middle Eastern
Archeological excavations show that the site of Byblos on the Mediterranean coast was first inhabited in the Neolithic Age; by the fourth millennium BC a large settlement there supported itself through fishing and inland agriculture. Over the next thousand years an extensive export in cedar - its wood indispensable in the building of boats and docks, its oil used for the mummification of bodies - to Egypt evolved. The Amorites burned the city during their invasion c. 2150 BC; the site lay barren for almost two centuries before the Phoenicians rebuilt the harbor, naming the town Gebal. The town made its most important contribution to human civilization with the development of a 22-character phonetic alphabet, replacing the complex cuneiform previously used in the region.
A commercial center, Gebal grew ever richer under successive occupiers: Assyria, Babylon, Achaemenid and Persia. Following conquest by Alexander, Byblos prospered as a Hellenized city, its citizens adopting Greek dress, language and religion. Along with cedar, grain and fruit, the town became famous for the production and export of papyrus, from which it took its Greek name Byblos. During the Roman era the city lost its commercial preeminence, but its religious role increased as hordes passed through it on pilgrimages to various holy sites.
In 395 AD Byblos became part of the Byzantine Empire, albeit a backwater port in its realm, until Muslim invaders overran it in 637. Under Muslim rule the city, now known as Jbail, declined even further in wealth and influence, eventually abandoned completely. Byblos disappeared into obscurity until excavations by the French historian Ernest Renan in the 1860s. Although Byblos will never again be a maritime power, it is re-emerging as an upscale tourist hub, with vacationers drawn to its sandy beaches, mild climate, and extensive ruins from the Roman, Muslim and Crusader eras.