The AUB Museum has conducted excavations at the following sites in Lebanon and Syria:
The site is located in the University Farm (AREC) in the Bekaa, at 16 km south-west of Baalbek. Eleven archaeological levels ranging from 1800 to 600 BC indicate that Tell el-Ghassil was a rural agrarian site.
, B.A.H-T.146, Beyrouth, Liban.
JOUKOWSKY M. 1972,
, Beirut, Lebanon.
BARAMKI D. 1966, Third Preliminary Report on the Excavation at Tell el Ghassil, BMB vol.19,
The Beirut Central District excavations. The AUB Museum team conducted excavations on three sites under the directorship of Dr. Leila Badre.
1- BEY 003 – The Ancient Tell
One of the first three teams to work on the tell of Beirut from October 1993 to July 1995 was the AUB Museum team.
The choice of site was influenced by the interest of locating the “Biruta” of the Amarna texts and in finding out if ancient Beirut existed in the Phoenician period.
The main outcome of the excavation was the discovery of a continuous fortification system
that began at the start of the second millennium BC and continued to the Hellenistic period
(3rd c. BC).
The major discoveries of the excavation were:
- A small corner of a room that marks the earliest beginnings of urban Beirut in the third mill. BC
- The first city wall is of stone reinforced with a clay glacis or sloping wall; this was a defensive
technique also used in ancient Byblos.
- A single settlement mud brick walls built on stone foundations that belonged to a palace, a
public place or a domestic habitation.
- A monumental gate protected by a chicane system, along with a dromos and a flight of steps
leading up into the city.
- A jar burial was found with the skeleton of a 3 ½ years old girl who was interred with a beautiful
necklace of gold, rock crystal and carnelian beads around her neck (1800 BC)
- A hoard of Egyptian objects of alabaster, faience, basalt, bronze and ivory was found on
bedrock. A comparison of these objects, with parallels from Byblos suggests that they might
belong to a sanctuary.
- The Phoenician glacis, preserved to seven meters high, was found directly underneath the
asphalted road. The glacis is built with large pebble stones and roughly cut limestone. 160m of
the glacis was still preserved. This glacis follows the same curve as the earlier wall and is
parallel to it. Built by the Canaanites in the 13th c. it was still used by the Phoenicians until the
11th c. BC
- A complex of Phoenician casemate wall with storage rooms (8th-7th c. BC). In one of these
rooms 13 jars were found broken in situ, one of which was full of burnt raisin seeds. Another
commodity ready for export was olive oil. Phoenician inscriptions meaning “for olive oil” were found on the sherds of two jars. Another storage room yielded 23 jars, which include 2 imported jars from Greece and Cyprus, suggesting international commerce with these two countries.
- The last occupation of the site is the crusader castle, and like those in Byblos and Sidon, was built with huge embossed blocks and reinforced with re-used Roman columns. The castle was demolished during the first project to enlarge the harbor about 1890.
The Phoenician glacis found during the excavation
Alabaster offerings found
during the excavation
The entrance gate to the Tell of Beirut
|2- BEY 012 – The excavation site of Saint Georges Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox
Excavations were carried out by the AUB Museum team, directed by Dr. Leila Badre and supervised by Nadine Panayot and Rita Kalindgian. Excavations inside the cathedral were completed in September 2001. Eight layers of occupation from the Hellenistic period to the present, including the remains of five, possibly six successive churches were found. The oldest church being represented by the mosaic floor of the Byzantine church Anastasis. Also found was evidence of a 12th-13th century church that was severly damaged by an earthquake in 1759. The last three churches of 1764, 1772 and 1783 had their altars removed in order to locate the apses of the Anastasis Church. In addition to the five churches, four necropolis (Roman, Medieval, Mameluke and Ottoman) were also discovered. The sixth phase of the cathedral was modified in 1910 and was covered all over with frescoes and following Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, it was restored by architect Nabil Azar.
The Saint George Cathedral
during the excavations
The Crypt Museum of the Saint George Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox
In less than a decade, Dr. Leila Badre opened a second museum (after the AUB Museum) in the Crypt of the St. George Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox in downtown Beirut. It was with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Elias Audi, Archbishop of Beirut, that the excavation project, within the Cathedral, was undertaken by the AUB Museum team.
The idea of conserving all the archaeological remains in a Crypt Museum was introduced by Dr. Leila Badre and suppported with enthusiasm by H.E. Ghassan Tueini. Its financing was made possible thanks to a generous donation from Jacques and Naila Saade Foundation. Yasmine Makaroun designed its architecture while its museographic concept was created by Dr. Badre and executed by Mrs. Makaroun and her team with the help of the graphic designer Katia Salha. The restoration of the ruins and their conservation in situ were the work of Isabelle Skaff and her team.
Today you can see the Crypt Museum from a glass platform cut in the floor of the cathedral. When you enter the museum you can admire objects from various periods, which are on display in the two showcases. Visitors may then meander along a narrow metal walkway to 12 stops to view church remains: Byzantine mosaic floors, medieval apses and pillars painted with frescoes, tombs and burial chambers. Metropolitan Elias Audi used one of the exhibited medieval benediction crosses, to bless the people during the first mass after the restauration.
The Crypt Museum is open from Tuesday thru Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. A 10 minutes visual presentation on the history of the cathedral is available in English, Arabic and French.
View of the Crypt Museum
below the Saint George Cathedral
of the Greek Orthodox
View of the Cathedral from the Crypt
3- BEY 125 – The archaeological site under an-Nahar Building
The excavations of the AUB Museum team directed by Dr. Leila Badre and supervised by Ms. Nadine Panayot, revealed six distinct levels of occupation down to bedrock. Each layer has been carefully excavated and the material sorted and identified. The finds, dating from the Persian to Byzantine times, indicate that this portion of the city has been continuously inhabited since the fourth century BC.
- A large building from the Persian period (550-330 BC) was found along with four smaller ones. Among the artifacts were fragmented potteries, oil lamps and several fragments of male and female terracotta figurines.
- From the Hellenistic period (330-64 BC) the team found two distinct levels separated by the remains of a fire layer. The fire may be related to the reported destruction of Beirut by Tryphon (ca. 143 BC). Two main paved roads were discovered there. Most of the archaeological material includes several domestic items, oils lamps, figurines, bowls and jars. Bronze coins and bronze arrowheads are evidence of metallurgical standards.
- Remains of the Late Hellenistic period show that rebuilding took place after the destructive fire. The most exciting finds of this period were frescoes from the 2nd and 3rd c. BC, which cover two walls. Geometrical in pattern, the frescoes have alternating red and green panels surrounded by a red frame. A painted plaster floor is associated with the walls.
- The Roman period (64 BC-330 AD) is something of a mystery. Artifacts dating from the first centuries BC and AD were found.
- The early Byzantine period (4th- 5th c. AD) has revealed several buildings and a number of tannours and silos. The paved roads cover a complex water and sewer system.
- Major discoveries from the Late Byzantine period were some mosaics and a well
- The Medieval period (1098-1517 AD) reveals indications of destruction.
Byzantine mosaic found in the site of BEY215
Arial view of the BEY 125 site
Reports related to field work of BEY 003 - BEY 012
Beirut BEY 003
BADRE L. (1997), BEY 003 Preliminary Report Excavations of the American University of Beirut Museum 1993-1996. Report from the excavations in the city center of Beirut under rehabilitation from the early 1990's, BAAL, vol.2, pp.6-94.
Beirut BEY 012
Badre, L. 2016. The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in Beirut, Lebanon. The Archaeological Excavations and Crypt Museum. JEMAHS Vol 4, No. 1: 72-97
TELL KAZEL (South of Tartous - Syria).
The excavation at Tell Kazel has been an ongoing project of the AUB Museum under the directorship of Dr. Leila Badre since July 1985.
Dr Badre and her team have worked on the site every year, uncovering levels from the Mameluk Period down to the Middle Bronze Age. This Tell is very likely the ancient Simyra, a strategic Bronze Age city of the Kingdom of Amurru.
The first soundings at Tell Kazel were carried out in 1956. In 1960-68, excavations by M. Dunand, N. Saliby and A. Bounni uncovered remains from the Middle Bronze to the Hellenistic period.
In 1985, after a break of 17 years, the AUB Museum decided to reactivate the Tell Kazel excavations because the site was important for building up the early history of the region.
Between the years of 1985 to 2009 work was carried out in four areas of the Tell. The major finds were:
- different areas of settlement from the Middle Bronze age to the Hellenistic period
- a Late Bronze age temple and an Iron age temple
- rooms with floors paved with sea shells
- the city’s fortification wall
- storage rooms full of pithoi or other types of local and imported potteries
- a water cistern
In the 2004 season in Tell Kazel, the team organized the display of four cases of excavated objects from Tell Kazel at Tartous Museum. Visitors to the museum can now view artifacts organized according to their location on site, like local and imported potteries from houses or tombs, temple offerings, Barbarian ware and luxury items (faience vessels, necklaces of glass bead, cylinder seals…)
The Late Bronze Age excavated in Tell Kazel
Reports related to field work of Tell Kazel
Badre, L. Capet, E. and Vitale B. 2018. Tell Kazel au Bronze Récent. Etudes céramiques, BAH 211
, Beyrouth, Liban.
Badre, L. 2009. The Religious Architecture in the Bronze Age: Middle Bronze Beirut and Late Bronze Tell Kazel. in Interconnections in the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Proceedings of the International Symposium, Beirut 2008. Hors-Série BAAL, Vol. VI, 2009,
Badre, L. and Capet, E. 2007. Les fouilles de Tell Kazel (Sumur?) in La Méditerranée des Phéniciens: special issue of Les Dossiers d’Archéologie HS-no.13: 46-49.Gubel, E. 2007. Lecture in International Convention : “Urbanistica Fenicia E Punica”, Roma. February 21 – 23, 2007. Eric Gubel (Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire
de Bruxelles) Phoenician towns and harbours in the North: The case of Early Iron Age Amurru.Capet, E. 2006-2007. “Les Peuples des Céramiques "Barbares" À Tell Kazel (Syrie). Scripta Mediterranea, Vol. XXVII-XXVIII, 2006-2007, pp. 187-207.
Badre, L. 2006 Tell Kazel-Simyra: A Contribution to a Relative Chronological History in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age. Bulletin of American School of Oriental Research (BASOR
) 343, 45-75.Jung R. 2006. “Die Mykenische Keramik von Tell Kazel (Syrien)”. Damaszener Mitteilungen Bd 15 Mainz. pp 147 – 218.Capet, E. 2003. Tell Kazel (Syrie), Rapport préliminaire sur les 9è-17è campagnes de fouilles (1993-2001) du Musée de l’Université Américaine de Beyrouth. Chantier II. Berytus 47: 63-121.Badre, L. et al. 1999-2000.
Tell Kazel, Syria. Excavations of the AUB Museum, 1993-1998. Third Preliminary Report. Berytus
44: 123-203 and CD ROM supplement.Badre, L. et al. 1994. Tell Kazel (Syrie), Rapport préliminaire sur les 4è-8è campagnes de fouilles (1988-1992). Syria 71: 259-346.
Badre, L. et al.
1990. Tell Kazel, Syria. AUB Museum Excavations 1985-1987. Preliminary Report. Berytus 38: 10-124.
Tyre (South of Beirut)
1- A Phoenician Sanctuary in Tyre
The site is located on the Island of Phoenician Tyre, in its South- Eastern part, the area known today as the “maritime city". It was excavated between year 2012 and 2016 by an international team under the scientific directorship of Dr. Leila Badre.
The main objective of the new excavation in Tyre was to reach its Phoenician levels and to discover the Phoenician Temple mentioned in the ancient texts.
From the first two weeks of excavation, it was clear that the structure discovered was a Temple due to the presence of a massive construction: a Podium. It is built with very large blocks, (1.82 x 0.60 x 0.70m), some of which may be compared with the huge ones of the Eshmoun Temple. An altar made of a very large monolithic slab (3m2) is placed on top of the Podium.
The temple has a rectangular shape: (21m long and 6.50m). Its western wall consists of five preserved courses, with an external façade beautifully decorated with a long horizontal frieze of Egyptian gorges, similar to the friezes of the Phoenician temples in Eshmoun and Amrit.
These common decorative elements, along with other indications, help dating the Tyrian Temple, on basis of architectural relative chronology, to the Phenico-Persian period ( 7th – 6th c. BC).
A Massive Structure/Tower is built opposite the podium. It may have had a niche in which the deity of the Temple would have been placed facing the Podium.
At a later stage, a kiln is built against the eastern façade of the Podium. A very large bone deposit mixed with ashes was found opposite the kiln, producing 17 buckets of small animal bones. The animals which were sacrificed on top of the altar, were probably thrown directly in the cremation kiln.
A preliminary assessment of the pottery may hint to a continuous use of this Temple, retaining its sacral character, from the Achemenid to the Hellenistic period. As it stands and with all the above results, we may conclude that our newly discovered temple is the First Phoenician Temple in Tyre, and the First complete Phoenician Temple in Lebanon.
with a frieze of Egyptian gorges
2- A Hellenistic Sanctuary in Tyre
In 2017 another site located on the Phoenician Island South-Western of the first Phoenician Temple was excavated under the directorship of Dr. Leila Badre.
Two walls delimit a rectangular surface with a square platform and a limestone altar 0.62mx 0.32x0.32 m at the base whose upper and lower parts are carved with horizontal moldings.
Traces of ashes were noted on the platform and around the altar.
The excavations did not deliver any remains of bone sacrifice.
About twenty coins, oil lamps, including six intact, as well as several clay plates, jars were also unearthed. A painted oil lamp from the Hellenistic period (ca. 2nd century BC) represents a scene of offering in which a priest and a woman appear advancing towards a sacred table for the deposit of offerings. This table is identical to the altar which was discovered there.
The altar, in its dimensions, its stones and its construction techniques, is similar to that of the temple of Sarepta, a fortified Phoenician city, located to the north of Sarafand.
The sanctuary of Tyre, with its 15m long by 6m wide, appears twice as large as that of Sarepta (6m40 x 2m60).
The foundations of one of the walls of the sanctuary rest on the remains of a building, linked to an older phase. This confirms that this place of worship has been rebuilt several times. Therefore, the tradition of preserving places of worship over several centuries is confirmed.
Aerial view of the site of Tyre
The Hellenistic sanctuary of Tyre
The decorated oil lamp sherd
representing an offering scene
Reports related to field work of Tyre
Badre, L. 2016. A Phoenician Sanctuary in Tyre, Berytus LVI (150th Anniversary Volume): 15-28.
Badre, L. 2015. A Phoenician Sanctuary in Tyre, Baal Hors-Série X: 59-82.
KAFTOUN - Restoration of the wall paintings in the church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos in Kaftoun
The Monastery of the Greek Orthodox in Kaftoun is situated in the deep valley created by Nahr al-Jawz, in the Koura region, below the village of Kaftoun. Built around the second half of the 13th century, it was abandoned during a certain period of time then revitalized since 1977. But the small church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos stayed abandoned and neglected.
The discovery of the wall paintings in the church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos in Kaftoun happened during a phase of regeneration of the church, proposed in 2003 by Mr. Saba Sabbagha.
Dr. Leila Badre took the initiative of contacting a team of conservators and archaeologists from the Academy of Fine arts in Warsaw and the University of Warsaw.
The project of restoration was supported by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw and the Department of Art Conservation and Restauration of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. The project included Krzysztof Chmielewski (project director and restorer, Academy of Fine Arts) and Thomasz Waliszewski (co-director and archaeologist, Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw) and a team of polish archaeologists, restorers and students. With the help of Lebanese archaeologists, the DGA, the nuns from the Theotokos Monastery in Kaftun.
The project was generously financed by the Fondation Nationale du Patrimoine.
The church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos in Kaftoun
during restoration in 2003
The first wall painting discovered
Reports related to the project of restoration of the frescoes of
the Church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos in Kaftoun
Hélou, N. 2009. “Les fresques de Kaftoun au Liban : la cohabitation des deux traditions byzantine et orientale”. Chronos, No.20, 2009, pp. 7-32.
Chmielewski, K. and Waliszewski, T. 2007. “The Church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos in Kaftûn and its Wall Paintings. Report 2003-2007”. BAAL, Vol. XI, 2007, pp. 279-325.