Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Tyre
TYRE, the ancient "iv, Greek Tv/aos, the most famous of Phoenician cities, is now represented by the petty town of ur, with about 5000 inhabitants, built round the harbour at the north end of a peninsula, which till the time of Alexander's siege was an island. The mole which he con structed to reach the island city has been widened by de posits of sand, so that the ancient island is now connected with the mainland by a tongue of land a quarter of a mile broad. The greatest length of the former island, from north to south, is about f of a mile and its area about 142 acres, a small surface for so important a town. The re searches of Kenan seem to have completely refuted the once popular idea that a great part of the original island has disappeared by natural convulsions, though he believes that the remains of a line of submerged Avail at the south end indicate that about 15 acres more were once reclaimed from the sea and have been again lost. Confined to this narrow site on which, moreover, place was found for the great temple of Melkarth with its courts and for all the necessities of a vast trade, for docks and warehouses, and for the great purple factories which in the Roman time were the chief source of wealth and made the town an unpleasant place of residence (Strabo, xvi. 2, 23; Pliny, v. 76) Tyre was very closely built; Strabo tells us that the many-storied houses were loftier than those of Rome. In the Roman period the population overflowed its bounds and occupied a strip of the opposite mainland, including the ancient Palsetyrus. Pliny gives to the whole city, con tinental and insular, a compass of 19 Roman miles; but this account must be received with caution. In Strabo's time the island was still the city, and Palaetyrus on the mainland was 30 stadia off, while modern research indicates an extensive line of suburbs rather than one mainland city that can be definitely identified with Palaetyrus. The ancient history of Tyre has been dealt with in the article PHOENICIA; the topography is still obscure owing to the paucity of Phoenician remains. The present harbour is certainly the Sidonian port, though it is not so large as it once was; the other ancient harbour (the Egyptian port) has disappeared, and is supposed by Renan to have lain on the other side of the island, and to be now absorbed in the isthmus. The most important ruins are those of the cathedral, with its magnificent monolith columns of rosecoloured granite, now prostrate. The present building is assigned by De Vogue to the second half of the 12th century, but the columns must be older and may have be longed to the 4th-century church of Paulinas (Euseb., //. E., x. 4). The water supply of ancient Tyre came from the powerful springs of Ras al- Ain on the mainland, one hour south of the city, where there are still remarkable reservoirs, in connexion with which curious revivals of Adonis worship have been observed by Volney and other travellers. Tyre was still an important city and almost impregnable fortress under the Arab empire. From 1124 to 1291 it was a stronghold of the crusaders, and Saladin himself besieged it in vain. After the fall of Acre the Christians deserted the place, which was then destroyed by the Moslems. The present town has arisen since the Metawila occupied the district in 1766.