Lebanon Archaeology and Literature

Reliable data on the Lebanese population were difficult to find even before the civil war (which caused about one hundred thousand deaths between 1975 and 1982): the 1932 census was, in fact, never repeated to prevent political equilibrium from being questioned. from the possible observation of a changed numerical ratio between Christians and Muslims, then ascertained to the extent of 6 to 5. This ratio has actually changed in the following half century to the detriment of Christians, characterized by a greater propensity to emigrate and by a lower birth rate than Muslims, who are believed to make up (1990) 60% of the population. A 1970 estimate, based on statistical sampling, gave a total population of 2,126,000 residents (excluding 187,529 Palestinian refugees, now 302. 000 in 1990). Other estimates suggest the figure of 3.1 million in 1974, of which 1.95 Muslims (Sunnis and Shiites) and 1.15 Christians (Maronites and Greek Orthodox), while the United Nations (1990) valuations record about 2,701. 000 residents.

According to Ezinesports, agriculture has been hit hard by growing Syrian competition, the civil war and the Israeli invasion of 1982, which resulted in a depopulation of the countryside despite attempts to revive the sector after 1973, with funding provided by FAO and the ‘ Saudi Arabia. The harvests, except for grapes (2.1 million q per year), are subject to strong fluctuations (wheat 300,000 q in 1984, 520,000 in 1990; apples 900,000 q in 1978, 1,990,000 q in 1990). The deterioration of public order has instead favored an enormous spread of Cannabis sativa, which is transformed into hashish and – to a lesser extent – of the opium poppy destined for the production of heroin.

It is estimated that the hostilities destroyed about 50% of the capital invested in the industry; the banking sector, on the other hand, did not suffer too much, even if the traditional function of Lebanon as a financial and commercial center of the Near East has gradually disappeared, also due to competition from other markets.

Foreign trade marks a growing deficit, which was traditionally covered by remittances from emigrants, which has been declining since the early 1980s due to the ongoing economic recession in oil-producing countries. It is very difficult to estimate per capita income: the World Bank, for 1991, estimated it to fluctuate between 1,500 and 3,500 dollars.

Archaeology. – The political events of recent years have profoundly affected Lebanese archeology. On the one hand, in fact, the lack of data on the central phase of the city-states remains (1200-555 BC), on the other hand the activity of illegal immigrants and an omnipresent antiques market have caused a continuous haemorrhage, which often drives researchers to find useful data in sales auction catalogs. It is thanks to this last attention that it is possible to retrieve information not only on finds, but also on locations and contexts of finds. Localities such as H̱alada and Bīblūs (Byblos) continue to interest archeology with reports of various handicrafts, while series of votive pottery found on the coast of southern Phenicia become part of public and private collections. Discomforting,

In this situation, the excavations carried out in smaller or geographically peripheral centers, such as in Sarepta, a few kilometers south of Sidon, are of considerable importance. The coastal site, located near the modern village of Ṣarafand, documents the first occupation at the end of the Middle Bronze Age with the oldest urban layout around 1600 BC. entire area with one of the most significant roles in the southern sector of Phenicia. Industrial workshops and housing structures characterize the settlement: among the first there are establishments for purple, as well as those for metalworking and for the treatment of olives. Significant are, for the 14th and 13th centuries BC, the similarities with the metallurgical production of Cyprus and the presence of Mycenaean imports, while for the following centuries Saribtā (Sarepta) hosted a qualified activity of potters, aimed in particular at the production of large transport containers for foodstuffs.

Literature. – The contribution of Lebanese writers and poets to the formation of a modern Arabic literature is remarkable, despite the fact that many of them have operated far from Lebanon. In fact, emigration is the recurring theme, reflecting the personal experience of writers and poets who emigrated to Egypt and America. Representatives of the Egyptian vein are G. Zaydān, a prolific writer of historical novels, and K. Muṭrān. Among the major exponents of the literary school formed in America, which took the name of mahgiar “of emigration”, are A. ar-Rīḥānī, M. Nu‛ayma and above all K. Giubrā´n ; in 1920 they founded the ar-Rābiṭa al-Qalamiyya literary circle in New York. At the end of the 19th century. The first periodicals and literary magazines appeared in Beirut and in 1939 the first Lebanese novel ar-Raghīf (“The loaf”) by TY ‛Awwād, author of various collections of short stories, including Qamīṣ aṣ-ṣūf (” The shirt of lana “, 1937), and, later, of the novel Ṭawāḥīn Bayrūt (” The mills of Beirut “, 1972). In 1953 S. Idrīs, author of the novel al-Ḥayy al-lātīnī (“The Latin Quarter”), founded the literary magazine al-Ādāb. Among others we remember the writers A. Naṣr Allāh with Tilka adh-dhikrayāt (“Those memories”, 1980), and Ḥ. ash-Shaykh with the collection of short stories Ward aṣ-Ṣaḥrā ‘ (“The Desert Rose”, 1982) and the novelMusk agh-Ghazal (1989; trans. It. Women in the desert, 1994), and again, the writer I. Khurī. For poetry stands out Adonis, a Syrian naturalized Lebanese, founder of the literary magazine Mawāqif (1969). Among the French-speaking Lebanese authors we remember the writer and journalist A. Maalouf with various works, including the novels Le rocher de Tanios (1993) and Le périple de Baldassare (2000), and the essays Les croisades vues par les Arabes (1983) and Origines (2004).

Lebanon Archaeology