Beirut was built on a rocky promontory, a site also occupied by
prehistoric man. In ancient times it was overshadowed by
powerful neighbors, but when the city- states of Sidon began to
decline in the first millennium B.C, Beirut acquired more
influence. During Romans times, Beirut became a roman colony (15
B.C), and an important port and cultural centre. During the
roman and Byzantine eras it was distinguished for its law
school, whom professors helped draft the famous Justinian code.
Beirut was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 551 A.D. A
century later, it was conquered by the Muslim Arabs and in 1109
it fell to the crusaders. The city remained in crusader hands
until 1291, when it was taken by the Mamluks.