Lebanon Early History

In the earliest time

The history of Lebanon goes back many millennia. Findings made by scientists testify to this. One of these sites is in Ksar Akil, only a few kilometers from today’s capital Beirut. The finds go back to 40,000 BC. BC and suggest that people were already living in this area at that time.

Around the 3rd millennium BC, the Phoenicians settled in what is now Lebanon. Around the 15th century BC They founded cities that still exist today, such as Beirut, Sidon or Tire. The Phoenicians were very skilled seafarers and traded with many regions of the Mediterranean. There they also established trading establishments such as the well-known Carthage orMalta. As seafarers, they ruled large parts of the Mediterranean.

Many ruled over “Lebanon”

The Phoenicians were replaced by the Assyrians. These practiced from the 7th century BC. In the region of today’s Lebanon. They were followed by the Babylonians and the Persians. This happened around the 6th century BC. However, the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great and he conquered the great Persian Empire. But after his untimely death, the great empire of Alexander fell apart and was divided among his successors, the Diadochi.

Lebanon came under the rule of the Seleucids and was thereby shaped by Hellenism. Then came the Romans, who also established a great empire and Lebanon became a Roman province called “Syria”. After the Roman Empire was also divided in 395 AD, Lebanon came under the rule of East Current. At that time the administrative seat was Byzantium.

Islam is spreading

Islam spread to the region in the middle of the 7th century. Chālid ibn al-Walīd was one of the most important figures in the early Islamic conquests. Only as an opponent of Muhammad, later as the leader of the armies, did he gain great fame. So the Byzantine Empire was also conquered, and this time by the Arabs. Even then there were conflicts between the various religious orientations of the Muslims and the various religious groups in the succession of Muhammad. Sub-groups of Shiites found a home in Lebanon, including the Druze, but also Christian groups such as the Maronites.

The crusaders and how it went on

From the end of the 11th century, Christian crusaders came to the so-called Holy Land in order to liberate it and to establish a Christian rule here. The Muslims were viewed as infidels and many were cruelly killed. Jerusalem too fell into the hands of the Crusaders in 1099. At that time, the south of what is now Lebanon, which today borders Israel, was part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The north, however, was part of the County of Tripoli.

While the Crusaders were driven out of Jerusalem in 1187, Tripoli was able to hold out before all Christian rulers were finally driven out by the Mamluk. They ruled until 1516, when they had to hand over their rule to the Ottomans.

If you want to know more about the time of the crusaders, then take a look at the children’s time machine.

The Europeans in Lebanon

In the 19th century, the Europeans wanted to exert further influence on the Middle East. Contacts were also established with Lebanon. The conflicts between the religious groups broke out violently, especially in the middle of the 19th century. This led to the intervention of France and other nations, each supporting different religious groups and representing their own power interests. The actual political conflict thus became a religious one.

Little Lebanon

In 1861 the “Little Lebanon” came into being under the influence of the Europeans. In this way, Lebanon became an independent province within the Ottoman Empire. It mainly comprised the Lebanon Mountains and areas on the coast. Mainly Christians and less Shiites, Sunnis or Druze settled here.

This area developed very positively until the outbreak of the First World War. However, southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Plain were excluded from the positive development; the Shiites in particular lived here.

France enforced against the then Sultan of the Ottoman Empire that all religions had to be represented in a joint council and that the chairmanship of the council should be in the hands of a Christian administrator. Only a few coastal cities were excluded here.

League of Nations mandate of France

During the First World War, the Ottomans were on the side of the German Empire and emerged from this war as losers. As a result, they also had to cede areas. Lebanon was now separated from Syria (Sykes Picot Agreement) and placed under French administration.

Above all, the French knew how to prevent an independent Lebanon. In 1920, France received the League of Nations mandate over Lebanon, but also over Syria and parts of southern Turkey. A few years later, Lebanon was finally separated from Syria, but the French continued to administer the country. Due to the Second World War, plans to give Lebanon independence sooner were postponed.

Lebanon Early History