How Alexander Turned The Island of Tyre Right into a Peninsula

How Alexander Turned The Island of Tyre Into a Peninsula

Town of Tyre in southern Lebanon is without doubt one of the oldest cities on the planet. Initially based by settlers from the close by metropolis of Sidon within the third millennium BCE, Tyre grew to become politically impartial when Egyptian affect in Phoenicia declined, and later it surpassed even Sidon to change into a very powerful Phoenician commerce heart and seaport having business ties with all elements of the Mediterranean world.

Town is located on a small bulbous peninsula that juts out from the Lebanese coast for practically two kilometers. Nevertheless it wasn’t all the time like this. Tyre was initially an island with half a kilometer of open water separating it from the mainland. The island was formidably defended with excessive partitions surrounded on all sides that was 45 meters tall at locations. Tyre was thought of impregnable, having withstood a number of sieges prior to now, together with a 13-year siege by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

Satellite tv for pc view of town of Tyre.

In January 332 BCE, Alexander arrived in Phoenicia, having defeated Darius III on the battle of Issus in November 333 BCE. All Phoenician cities, apart from the island of Tyre, surrendered to Alexander’s military with no battle. Alexander was conscious of Tyre’s supposed impregnability, and he knew that metropolis can be laborious to overcome with no naval fleet, which he didn’t have. However subjugating Tyre was essential for Alexander, as a result of it was the Persian’s final harbor within the area. 

Alexander determined to make use of trickery to achieve entry. He informed the Tyrians that he wished to make a sacrifice on the historical temple of the Tyrian god Melqart, whom the Greeks recognized with their very own god Heracles. However the Tyrians had been no fools they usually refused to confess Alexander, suggesting that the Macedonian make his sacrifice to Heracles within the temple on the mainland. Alexander then tried to barter however the Tyrians executed his messengers and threw their our bodies into the ocean.

Alexander flew right into a rage and have become decided to seize Tyre. He ordered the development of a giant causeway (or mole), throughout the slender channel in the direction of Tyre, utilizing rubble from demolished buildings on the mainland. The water was shallow, about two meters deep, and work progressed quickly. However because the mole approached the island, the water grew to become deeper and the seas heavy, and the Tyrians continually harassed the builders by firing projectiles from the ramparts of the citadel.

The Siege of Tyre. Illustration by Duncan B. Campbell

The Siege of Tyre. Illustration by Duncan B. Campbell

To defend the mole, Alexander constructed two siege towers, 50 meters excessive, from timber and lined them with rawhides to guard in opposition to enemy hearth arrows. Like most of Alexander’s siege towers, these had been transferring artillery platforms, with catapults on the highest. He positioned the towers on the finish of the causeway, and from the highest Alexander’s military had been capable of return hearth. The Tyrians responded by constructing a fireship. They took an previous vessel, loaded it up with pitch, sulphur, and varied different combustibles, hung cauldrons of oil from the mast, and set it on hearth. Then they ran the burning ship aground the mole, engulfing the 2 siege towers in flames. Different Tyrian vessels fired missiles at Macedonian builders driving off anybody who tried to place out the fires.

The destruction of the siege towers and elements of the causeway was an enormous setback for Alexander, however the younger king was decided to rebuild the causeway. He began directly on a second, wider mole that might maintain extra towers, however on the again of his thoughts he knew that the siege might solely succeed when attacked with a fleet.

The Siege of Tyre. Illustration by Frank Martini

The Siege of Tyre. Illustration by Frank Martini

So Alexander set off for Sidon to fetch his personal ships. He raided up and down the coast gathering Phoenician vessels and crews which have beforehand served with the Persians. Two Phoenician kings, Gerostratus of Aradus and Enylus of Byblos, willfully joined Alexander, maybe guessing which means the fortunes of struggle would go. As well as, the Kings of Cyprus despatched one other 120 vessels to hitch him. Quickly Alexander had a formidable fleet numbering over 250 vessels.

When Alexander arrived along with his superior fleet, the Tyrians blocked their ports and barricaded themselves inside. With the ships retaining guard, Alexander resumed constructing the mole. The Tyrians tried to stop Alexander’s fleet from approaching too near town partitions by creating obstacles within the sea with giant variety of stones hurled over town partitions. Alexander ordered the rocks hoisted out of the water with ropes so {that a} path might be cleared. The Tyrians then despatched divers to chop the anchor ropes of the besieging ships. Alexander responded by changing ropes with iron chains.

The Siege of Tyre.

Finally, the mole was prolonged all the way in which to town permitting Alexander to carry his siege engines and battering rams to pound the partitions with. A weak spot within the wall was discovered within the southern finish the place Alexander’s military managed to crack open a gap. As soon as his troops pressured their means into town, they simply overtook the garrison, and shortly captured town. The Macedonian military massacred Tyre’s inhabitants, and solely those that took shelter within the temple of Melqart had been pardoned. Some 6,000 males had been killed in motion and one other 2,000 Tyrians had been crucified on the seaside. The remainder of the inhabitants, some 30,000 folks, consisting largely of civilians had been offered to slavery. Alexander’s males themselves suffered little casualties, with solely about 400 killed.

The development of the mole utterly modified the geography of the coast. For hundreds of years after the siege, the mole grew to become an impediment to sea currents inflicting sediments to deposit on both aspect of the mole, and an isthmus started to take form. By the point Tyre grew to become a part of the Byzantium Empire within the late 4th century, town was now not an island, however properly related to the mainland by a large peninsula. In the present day, this sandy peninsula is about half a kilometer extensive and is closely urbanized with tons of of house blocks. Tyre’s southern harbor progressively crammed with silt and has lengthy since disappeared however the northern harbor remains to be used and is crammed with fishing boats and pleasure craft.

present view of tyre

tyre lebanon

Aerial view of Tyre. Photographer unknown.

# Marc G. De Santis, Alexander the Nice and the Siege of Tyre,
Warfare History Network
# Grant, Alexander’s Siege of Tyre, 332 BCE, Ancient History Encyclopedia
# Yaacov Nir, Town of Tyre, Lebanon and its semi‐synthetic tombolo, 3.0.CO;2-4″>3.0.CO;2-4″>3.0.CO;2-4″>Wiley Online Library
# Wikipedia

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