Carved in Stone
When Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II marched through Lebanon over
3,000 years ago, he left three inscriptions in the rock above
what is now Nahr-el-Kalb (Dog River).
Over the centuries other foreign expeditions followed his
example, marking their passage through this difficult place by
carving their exploits in stone. Today 17 such inscriptions or
steles can be visited, all on the south bank except for one on
the north bank. Each inscription is numbered, and a stairway
leads to those located higher up on the cliff.
single stele on the opposite side of the river was the work of
the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC).
Nebuchadnezzar aslo left two copies of the same inscription at
Wadi Brissa near Hermel.
Five steles mark expeditions made by Assyrian kings, one of
whom was Assarhaddon (680-627 BC). In Roman times the third
Gallic Legion under Emperor Caracalla (211-217 AD) left a
stele marking road work carried out here.
There are two inscriptions in Greek. One is illegible but the
other commemorated more roads and engineering work. This was
accomplished in 382 by Proclus, Byzantine governor of
Phoenicia under Theodose the Great (379-395). Another stele
commemorates the expedition that Napoleon II sent to Lebanon
The pointed Arab bridge nearby
is also the subject of an inscription advising us that Mamluke
Sultan Barqouq (1382-1399) either built or rebuilt it, This
bridge, destroyed and repaired many times during its history,
was last renovated by Emir Bechir II in 1809.
The 20th century also has its share of inscriptions. One
records that French troops under General Gouraud took in
Damascus in 1920.
Two others dating 1919 and 1930
mark one event. The first stele noted that the British Desert
Corps took Damascus, Homs and Aleppo in October 1918. The
other relates the same story, but names Australian, New
Zealand, Indian, and French contingents, as well as the
"Arab troops of King Hussein", Shereef of Mecca.
The British and French occupation of Beirut and Tripoli in
October 1918 is recorded in another inscritption. Besides the
19 stele before Lebanon's independence, we have one marking
the evacuation of foreign armies from Lebanon on December 31,
1946, and a monument to the French war dead.
Finally, the bridge with three arches not far from the old
Arab bridge was built by Wassa Pasha, mutassarrif of Mount
Lebanon between 1883 and 1892.