YEAR 2002

Important historical facts were elucidated from the previous excavations at Sidon and the 2002 fourth season is no exception. Further new and important additions have emerged about the history of Sidon and the archaeology of the Lebanon

The Early Bronze Age (3rd Millennium BC)

A previously discovered Early Bronze Age building complex was extended and finds from here included pottery with cylinder seal impressions and pottery with applied ram’s heads.

The Middle Bronze Age (2nd Millennium BC)

Immediately above the Early Bronze Age deposits was a substantial layer of sterile sand. This sand varied in depth from 90 cm to 140 cm. It was extremely fine and had been brought on site from the nearby coast as established by the sediment analysis. Mixed with it were broken shells, foraminifera and fragments of sea urchins. A comparable sand layer also appears at the end of the 3rd Millennium in Tyre as uncovered by Patricia Maynor Bikai in 1974. Three graves of a later period then the ones found at Sidon were dug at Tyre into this sand. The existence of this sand level at the same period at the two different sites hints at a correlation between the two city-states and could be indicative of a common chronological relationship.

The density at every level of the Middle Bronze Age burials from Sidon testifies to an already lengthy use of the site by an early stage of MBIIA. This year, in Sidon, six Middle Bronze Age burials were discovered in the same sand. The first was a carefully built grave of a warrior, who had been buried with a bronze “duck-bill” axe. Even the wooden handle of his axe was unusually preserved. Adjacent to the grave of this warrior was an animal bone deposit with pottery. One exceptionally fine polychrome cup with one handle of the so-called Kamares type was found in this deposit. The second burial was of an infant in a jar accompanied by a pottery jug and a little painted bowl. Three further Middle Bronze Age burials just above the sand layer, consisted of children in jars, two of them with Egyptian scarabs. One burial was dug directly into the sand. These newly found burials are a welcome addition to the nineteen discovered last year. Also associated with the Middle Bronze Age, and above the sand layer are a plaster and a cobbled floor.

Late Bronze and Iron Ages (End of the 2nd and 1st Millennium BC)

Above the Middle Bronze Age level are structures belonging to the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age. From the Latter period comes two pieces of pottery with Phoenician inscriptions. This is the first time that a Phoenician inscription has been found in the centre of Sidon.

Middle Bronze Age - Constructed grave
Second Millennium BC. Cobbled floor
Middle Bronze Age. Jar burial of a child
Middle Bronze Age - Jar Burial with a secondary inhumation
Middle Bronze Age. Cobbed floor
Persian Period. Basement room

The Sunken Room at Sidon

This extraordinary room, with internal dimensions of 4. 60 m x 5. 70 m, was apparently dug down at least from the present ground surface which is as much as 3. 70 m above the floor of the room. It has walls that are lined with dressed rectangular blocks of slightly irregular size.When this building was constructed, it was dug down from the then surface right into the Early Bronze Age levels, whilst removing the sand layer, Middle Bronze, Late Bronze and Early Iron Age deposits. The floor consists of large paving-slabs. The building was destroyed by a fierce fire. Immediately above the floor debris pieces of well-levigated dark brown clay were found. This may derive from a collapsed roof. There are other fragments of burnt material and remnants pieces of charcoal. Above this layer pieces of carbonised beams were discovered.

For dating, the presence of the burnt wood in the destruction level will be crucial. This will allow the possibility both of carbon 14 dating and of dendrochronological analysis, both of which should indicate when the timbers were cut. The use of dovetail clamps to hold the blocks together is interesting, and this is often regarded as a hallmark of the Persian period.

From later levels showing that Sidon continued to be occupied in medieval and modern times, comes a Byzantine grave marker with an engraved cross.

Persian Period. Carbonised beams
Persian Period. The basement room at Sidon