This is a panoramic shot of a dig that has been going on for several years in Riad Al Solh square in the heart of downtown Beirut. (Not to be confused with the Martyr’s Square DistrictS site, where I was assaulted a few days ago and which is already gone)
This could be one of the most significant archeological finds in Beirut. I was told by an expert that the wall measured some 30 meters wide and 5 meters tall:
In a previous post I had postulated (through a crack in the wall) that the columns may have supported aqueducts and the lower stones part of a road.
But it turns out that was way off and the ground stones are actually the wide foundation of the gate, and the columns are part of its arched entrance.
Archeologists have likened the structure to an arched Roman gate found in Syria:
Because the location of the Beirut gate signifies the boundaries of ancient Berytus, archeologist feel it should be kept on site. It may be the only marker of the ancient city wall and also too fragile to move.
But according to the Daily Star, Culture Minister Gaby Layoun apparently disagrees with archeologists’ in situ position and is in favor of moving ahead with a giant mall and five star hotel to be built on site.
I wonder what the project designer, esteemed architect Jean Nouvel, has to say about that.
Activists say there is a lot more to be discussed at this site and hundreds of ancient objects that have already been recovered. But judging by the ministry’s past decisions it is unclear if archeologists will be allowed to continue their work.
UPDATE: Following this site’s continued coverage of the Riad Solh dig– including a subsequent post documenting what is believed to be Beirut’s oldest church–the minister of culture has announced the site will be preserved and the hotel project stopped completely. Thanks goes to all those who shared and cared about this story!