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An Ancient Capital in the Beqaa

    Travelers in Lebanon often notice curious flat-topped hills or tells scattered around the country. These are artificial mounds that slowly grew up over thousands of years as different peoples constructed their settlements in the same place.
    Until 20 years ago such a tell existed just north of Kamid el-Loz village in the southeastern Beqaa. One of the largest and highest tells in the Beqaa, it was excavated and studied by German archaeologists between the mid-1950s and the early 1980s.
    The tell at Kamid al-Loz turned out to be of great importance, because buried at this one site were occupation levels that began 7,000 years ago wi
th Neolithic or Stone Age people and continued through the Persian Period in the 4th century BC.
    Unfortunately this archaeological work was interrupted during the war in Lebanon and later the site was completely ruined by treasure hunters. Nonetheless, archeologists found and recorded many spectacular buildings which are very important to the history of the region. Numerous urban structures such as defense systems, temples, palaces, private dwellings, workshops and cemeteries were uncovered. Archaeologists also found everyday objects such as pottery, as well as jewelry and other luxury items.
    Probably the most important finds were documents written on clay tablets. This writing helped identify the tell of Kamid as the location of "Kumidi", a city named in the Amarna letters written in the 14th century B.C. Kumidi was apparently an important city and the capital of Egyptian colony that has settled in the area at least 3,400 years ago.
    By the time of the Persian period in the 4th century BC, the site of Kumidi seems to have become less desirable. And although historians are not sure why, the people living there decided to move a little further south to the place where the modern village now stands. So it is  likely that today the village of Kamid el-Loz lies on top of settlements built  in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods. South of the village we find a necropolis or burial place that also dates to this era.

    Nearby is a stone quarry that was used by the stonemasons who constructed Anjar, an important city built on the orders of Omayyad Caliph Al-Walid I in the early 8th century. Today the quarries of Kamid el-Loz still bear traces of writing left during this construction.
    The treasures the archaeologists found in Kamid-Kumindi were kept safe in Germany during the war and are now back in the custody of the National Museum of Beirut. In the meantime German archaeologists have once again begun excavations on the tell of Kamid el-Loz starting in July 1997.

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