The Tell of
looks like any other attractive village in the Akkar district,
but in fact it possesses a special treasure - a tell or
flat-topped hill. Many such tells are scattered around
Lebanon, and most have ancient settlements buried beneath
them. The tell at Arqa was no exception.
Starting in 1972 a team of French archeologists led by Prof.
E. Will, former Director of the French Institute of the Near
Eastern Archaeology, then by Dr. Jean-Paul Thalmann, has been
at work here. So far they have found over five thousand years
of history on this one spot.
The earliest level dates to the Neolithic period or New Stone
Age (6,000 years ago). After that, people of the Early Bronze
Age settled here. These were Canaanites -- later known as
Phonecians--who developed a prosperous town at the Arqa site.
Arqa, which was known as Irqata in antiquity, was so important
that it was mentioned during the 14th Century B.C. in the
Egyptian Annals, and specially in the Tell al-Amarna Letters,
found in Egypt. It was also mentioned many times in the
Assyrian Annals and in the Bible. All these references
provided clues to the city's history.
During the Hellenistic Period (3rd-1st century B.C.) the
people of Arqa were apparently successful traders and the city
grew crowded and prosperous.
A Roman Emperor Born in
When the Romans
ruled the Mediterranean area short time later, Arqa was called
"Caesarea of Lebanon." Roman Arqa is also the
birthplace of the Emperor Alexander Severus. Ruling from Rome
between 222 and 235 A.D., Serverus turned out to be quite a
Almost all this information came from the tell of Arqa and
surrounding area, where the archaeologists have found a nearly
complete history of his ancient city.
When you visit the site of Arqa remember it is in three
1) The tell itself.
2) The lower town, already in existence in the Phoenician
period, but developed during Roman times.
3) The necropolis, south and southeast of the tell. Hundreds
of rock-out tombs were found here. Some of these are as old as
5 000 years and were probably reused again and again over the