Ruins cleared near port of Beirut

Ruins cleared near port of Beirut

Following our last post about the vast ruins site uncovered near the “Beirut Digital District” construction site, a reader got in touch and sent these pictures of ruins discovered near the Port of Beirut.

Just across the highway from the port area (see shipping trucks parked above), we can see what looks like a paved stone floor:

From the ground level, the floor seems quite wide and at least 2-3 meters below the surface:

 

Below the stone floor or road, we can see a worker who appears to be digging closer to the highway:

The reader also got some close up views of this section of the site, which appears to be clearly manmade:

We can a straight lines and rectangular shapes. Is it a series of chambers and walls?

There also appears to be some circular holes beyond this:

Looking back toward the the paved road area, we can see that the part of the site with structures is deeper. Did it belong to an older era?

In this shot we can clearly see the precision in laying this road in a straight line:

And it is clearly wide enough to accommodate today’s vehicles:

Was this part of an ancient road leading to Roman city of Berytus? Or did it belong to different structure or era?

I went to check out the site after receiving the pictures. The site is located near the Audi dealership on the Charles Helou coastal highway, across from the port. It is the thin patch of asphalt in between the two grassy lots:

If we zoom out, this piece of land would have been quite close to the original shore line, which was destroyed during the building of the port and its hangars:

So perhaps this site had some relevance to the sea shore. If it was a road, it’s interesting that it is very close to the current road, ┬áthe path of which I imagine has been in use for a least a century or more. Could it be an example of how antiquity informs our current urban planning?

The reader had been monitoring the site for some time and said some structures or relics had already been removed, including a “circular structure near the yellow bulldozer” and workers were “chipping away at the walls.” The reader added “today I look out and I find bulldozers completely ripping the ruins apart and a bunch of men in suits overlooking the work.”

I decided to go down and investigate. I managed to get a quick shot in between the fences. I could see the rock floor was still there, but could not get a look at the state of the lower section, close to the highway:

That was 10 days ago. I went again today to check and sadly, it seems the paved floor or road is now being pulled out:

From the highway side, we can also see gaping holes where the rectangular structures once existed:

And puddles of water in the holes.

When I first received the pictures, I alerted the archeologist who contacted me after the last batch of pictures were published (see update below the last post). He was not sure but said he believed the site was being handled by the government antiquities department. Clearly the stone road had been excavated gently, although unlike other digs, there were no signs of white tents or tarps archeologists use when spending long days at a site. I didn’t see any of the typical black crates used to store discoveries of artifacts, either.

Was this dig handled quicker than others? Were the discoveries deemed unimportant, or not important enough to warrant saving them on site? How was the decision made to dismantle the ruins in favor of the real estate development that will likely be built here? Will the ruins be moved carefully and placed elsewhere? Or will we not hear of them again?

Two neighborhood residents told me a number of ruins have been uncovered in the area while excavating for the two new towers that went up nearby, including the pyramid-like “Skyline” by famous Lebanese luxury architect Bernard Khoury. The residents said big structures had been unearthed during these constructions but heard nothing about their fate since.

Much of the ancient Roman Berytus ruins (and the Phoenician or prehistoric ones thousands of years earlier) have been found in and around central Beirut, but do these excavations indicate wider settlement areas on the outskirts of the city?

I hope to get some answers to these questions as part of a wider crowd-funded reporting project, but in the meantime, if anyone has more info on this site, do leave a comment below and I would be happy to update the post.

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