Transliterated Name Source Name
Tyre Arabic صور
Tyrus Latin
Tyros Greek Τύρος
Sur Phoenician
Ṣurru Akkadian
Tzór Hebrew צוֹר

Tyre started out as an island known as Sur which was eventually joined to the mainland. It has been occupied since the Bronze Age ( Marriner et al, 2005). Marriner et al (2005) provides the following background
Mother of Carthage and one of the greatest Phoenician city-states, Tyre’s golden age spanned between the 9th to 6th centuries BC, during which period it enjoyed an extensive zone of influence incorporating large areas of the Mediterranean basin. Although Tyre lost its hegemony after 572/3 BC, when it fell under Persian influence, the city continued to prosper through the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods as attest the many impressive archaeological remains today visible in the city.
William A. Ward in Meyers et al (1997) relates the following
Classical tradition states that King Hiram (969-936 BCE) joined the two reefs with landfill, enlarging the city to about 40 acres. In succeeding reigns, further enlargement allowed the creation of ports on the northern and southern sides of tire island. This island stronghold was joined to tire mainland by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, who constructed a causeway from the mainland in order to subjugate the city. By Roman times sand from sea currents quickly built up against this causeway, forming the present isthmus. Tyre was essentially an administrative and religious center dependent on food and water supplies from its "sister town," Ushu, on the coast, which stood amid rich and well-watered agricultural land. Ushu is known only from literary references as it lies beneath the modern city.
Maps and Plans Core Data Chronology
Tsunamis in the 1st millennium BCE

Marriner et al (2005) undertook a litho and biostratigraphical study of four core sequences from the landward edge of the current harbor. AMS radiocarbon dating was performed on dateable material found in the cores. They attributed missing 1st millennium BCE strata to dredging activity undertaken in the Roman and Byzantine periods.

551 CE tsunami

Marriner et al (2005) undertook a litho and biostratigraphical study of four core sequences from the landward edge of the current harbor. AMS radiocarbon dating was performed on dateable material found in the cores. The cores appeared to capture harbor sediments and showed a clear break in sedimentaion at the end of the Byzantine era noting the following :

4.6. Unit A - Exposed beach environment (post-Byzantine)

The transition to unit A is dated to between the 6th to 10th centuries AD. The unit comprises a grey, shelly sand unit with textures of between: 3% to 31% for the gravels, 58% to 83% for the sands and 9% to 18% for the silts and clays.

Cerithium vulgatum and Pirenella conica dominatethe macrofauna suite, with numerous secondary species from diverse biocenoses (Ringicula auriculata, Nassarius pygmaeus, Gibberula miliaria ), consequence of an environmental opening. The increase in coastal ostracod taxa such as Urocythereis sp. and Aurila woodwardii, is to the detriment of the formerly abundant lagoonal taxa of unit B. This translates a re-exposure of the environment to the influence of the marine swell and currents. For the foraminifera, the dominant taxa are Ammonia convexa, Peneroplis planatus and Cellanthus craticulatum. The tests of many of these individuals have been broken by waveaction, confirming a rise in energy dynamics, due to the collapse of harbour maintenance. This is linked to the demise of Tyre as a Mediterranean commercial centre.
Core profiles were presented and tsunamites were not found in the parts of the cores dated to the 6th - 10th centuries CE but a loss of harbor maintenance (e.g. continuous dredging operations) was evident.

Morhange et al (2006:90) noted that
In Tyre, port opening may have been amplified by approx. 3 m collapse of the island after the 6th century AD (Marriner et al. 2005). Its northern Persian (?) mole is currently 2.5 m below present sea level (Descamps, pers. commun.), translating a subsidence of approx. 3-3.5 m. On the southern shore, drowned quarries at -2.5 m below MSL have also been discovered, and similar subsidence is translated in the city's coastal chronostratigraphy.

Notes and Further Reading

Marriner, N., et al. (2005). "Geoarchaeology of Tyre's Ancient Northern Harbour, Phoenicia." Journal of Archaeological Science 32: 1302-1327.

Bibliography from Meyers et al (1997)

Bikai, Patricia M. The Pottery of Tyre. Warminster, 1978. Archaeological report on the only excavation undertaken at Tyre to examine the pre-Hellenistic city.

Chehab, Maurice. Fouilles de Tyr: Ija Necropole. Bulletin du Musee de Beyrouth, vols. 33-36. Paris, 1983-1986. Final reports on excavations by die Lebanese Department of Antiquities in the Roman and Byzantine cemeteries. A summary and critical analysis is given by Hassan Salame-Sarkis, "La Necropole de Tyr: A propos de publications recentes," Beiyius Archaeological Studies 34 (1986): 193-205.

Jidejian, Nina. Tyre through the Ages. Beirut, 1969. Especially valuable for the Persian and Hellenistic periods, with extensive photographic documentation and bibliographies of bodi ancient and modern sources.

Joukowsky, Martha Sharp, ed. The Heritage of Tyre: Essays on the History, Archaeology, and Preservation of Tyre. Dubuque, Iowa, 1992. Up-to-date examination, widi a complete bibliography and copious illustrations.

Katzenstein, H. Jacob. The Plistory of Tyre: From the Beginning of the Second Millennium B. CE. until the Fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in $38 B.C.E. Jerusalem, 1973. Depends perhaps too much on classical and biblical sources.

Katzenstein, H. Jacob, and Douglas Edwards. "Tyre." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 6, pp. 686-692. New York, 1992. Basically an updated, shorter version of Katzenstein (1973).

Sader, Helene. "Phoenician Stelae from Tyre." Berytus Archaeological Studies 39 (1991): 101-126 . Initial publication of some of the new funerary stelae from Tyre. See also Sader (1992).

Sader, Helene. "Phoenician Stelae from Tyre (Continued)." StudiEpigrafici e Linguistici 9 (1992): 53-79.

Seeden, Helga. "A tophet in Tyre?" Berytus Archaeological Studies 39 (1991); 39-82. Analysis of the cemetery material discovered by illegal digging in a hitherto unknown Iron Age cemetery.