The Phoenician temple of Sector 7
In view of the political situation in Syria and the temporary shutdown of the excavations at Tell Kazel, the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut moved its archaeological activities to southern Lebanon in 2012, where Leila Badre was assigned a new project by the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities. The continued collaboration with the RMAH ensured that the Belgian component of the Archaeological Mission of Tell Kazel (Eric Gubel and Vanessa Boschloos) joined the new excavations, in the city of Tyre. Originally an island, this ancient Phoenician port city was connected to the mainland by a causeway constructed by Alexander the Great during his siege of the city in 332 BCE. The site is known for its Roman ruins, particularly a hippodrome that was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1984.
The aim of the 2012 excavation campaign was to reach the pre-Hellenistic levels in a sector located on the island site of ancient Tyre, Sector 7. The unexpected presence of an already excavated building at the site was due to the loss of all records of a 1970s campaign conducted by Emir Maurice Chehab in this sector. Nevertheless, during the 2012 excavations soundings were carried out inside the structure and in the adjacent units, to gather the little information that could still be recovered. The architecture, the pottery assemblage and an animal bone pit inside the structure point towards a temple, consequently representing one of the oldest cultic structures unearthed in Tyre thus far. It has a surface of at least 160 m² and its northern part consists of a podium on which an altar is erected with a height of 1.60 m. It is topped by a large monolithic bloc of limestone. The level of groundwater in Sector 7 (at 0.75 to 0.95 m above sea level), however, did not allow excavating to bedrock but the results of the soundings, together with an analysis of the pottery finds and the architectural remains, allowed postulating a late Persian-Hellenistic date for this structure.