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Babylonian Assault on Tyre, Lebanon

Phoenician City of Tyre was a Tempting Target for Foreign Armies

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Foreign Attacks on Tyre, Lebanon: Phoenician City of Tyre was a Tempting Target for Foreign Armies

Foreign Attacks on Tyre, Lebanon: Phoenician City of Tyre was a Tempting Target for Foreign Armies

Source: Jupiter Images

Named Sur today ("rock"), Tyre was home of a massive fortress that was attacked by every invader who came long - often without success. In 585 BCE, just two years after besieging and destroying Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Tyre to capture its trading resources. His siege would last thirteen years and would prove unsuccessful - although it was probably around this time that residents of Tyre began to abandon the mainland part of the city in favor of the island city where the walls were said to be 150 feet high. Some believe that Nebuchadnezzar was primarily interested in containing rather than destroying Tyre, but what it clear is that Tyre came through largely unscathed and with significant autonomy - a much better fate than what Jerusalem experienced.

Alexander's successful siege was the most famous attack on Tyre. By this point in time, 322 BCE, Tyre was actually located on a small island just off the coast, a fact which made it very powerful. Alexander got around this by building a causeway right up to the city gates using rubble from the destruction of all the buildings on the mainland. This undated drawing depicts Tyre from the mainland, showing the artificial isthmus connecting the two.

According to some account, as many as 6,000 defenders were summarily executed and another 2,000 crucified. Most of the rest of the city's population, more than 30,000 men, women, and children, were sold into slavery. Alexander would destroy the city walls completely, but it didn't take long for new residents to raise them again and restore most of the city's defenses. Under later Greek rulers Tyre would commercially and regain some measure of autonomy, but it was locked into a course of extensive Hellenization. Before long most of its customs and culture would be replaced by the Greeks, a process which occurred all along the Phoenician coast and bringing to an end the distinctiveness of Phoenician culture.

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