Lebanon in History from the Earliest Times to the Present

By Philip K. Hitti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: GEOGRAPHIC, HISTORICAL, CULTURAL

AT the mouth of the Dog River -- a few miles north of Beirut -- where the mountain wades in the sea to its ankle, the bare face of the limestone rock bears nineteen inscriptions in eight languages, beginning with Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian, continuing through Greek and Latin and ending with French, English and Arabic. Here, where the advantage that numbers bestow is neutralized if not nullified by the narrow passage, the natives took their stand against foreign invaders and would- be conquerors. First among those who commemorated their military feat by sculpture or script was Ramses II, foe of the Hittites, in the early thirteenth century before Christ. Esarhaddon of Nineveh, conqueror of Lower Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, destroyer of the kingdom of Judah, Sultan Salīm, who added Syria-Egypt to the Ottoman empire, Allenby and Gouraud, all followed the Pharaonic precedent. "The invincible Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" Caracalla of the Syrian dynasty in Rome, and second cousin of Alexander Severus whose father was born in Lebanon, left a Latin inscription in commemoration of work done on the rock by the third Gallic legion. Other world figures, Alexander the Great, for example, and Ṣalāḥ-al-Dīn (Saladin), failed to leave us their cartes de visite. In 1860-61 French troops, sent by Napoleon III to help pacify warring Maronites and Druzes, too lazy to polish off a fresh tablet for recording their occupation of the land, erased an earlier hieroglyphic one. In 1918 British soldiers operating from the south occupied the country and in the following year set up a record of their achievement, later ( 1930) revised to include Australian, New Zealander and Indian cavalry, French spahis and Arab forces of King Ḥusayn. Not to be outdone, the French in 1920 inscribed the name of their regiment, including Algerian and Senegalese, which had that

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