Byblos (Βύβλος) is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal (earlier Gubla). It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jbeil (جبيل Ǧubayl) and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades. It is believed to have been founded around 5000 BC, and according to fragments attributed to the semi-legendary pre-Trojan war Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, it was built by Cronus as the first city in Phoenicia. Today it is believed by many to be the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world.
Byblos (Greek) or Gebal (Phoenician) is located on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Lebanon, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of Beirut. It is attractive to archaeologists because of the successive layers of debris resulting from centuries of human habitation.
The site first appears to have been settled during the Neolithic period, approximately 5000 BC. Neothlithic remains of some buildings can be observed at the site. According to the writer Philo of Byblos (quoting Sanchuniathon, and quoted in Eusebius), Byblos had the reputation of being the oldest city in the world, founded by Cronus, and was also where Thoth invented writing, but there has not been concrete proof that it is the oldest city in the world. During the 3rd millennium BC, the first signs of a town can be observed, with the remains of well-built houses of uniform size. This was the period when the Phoenician civilization began to develop, and archaeologists have recovered Egyptian-made artifacts dated as early as the Fourth dynasty of Egypt.
The growing city was evidently a wealthy one, and seems to have been an ally of Egypt for many centuries. The Amarna tablets include 60 letters from Rib-Hadda and his successor Ili-Rapih, rulers of Byblos circa 1350 BC, to the Egyptian government. These deal with the conquest of neighboring city-states by the Hapiru. Objects have been found at Byblos naming the 13th dynasty Egyptian king Neferhotep I, and the rulers of Byblos maintained close relationships with the New Kingdom pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.
Archaeological evidence at Byblos, dating back to around 1200 BC, shows existence of a Phoenician alphabetic script of twenty-two characters; an important example of this script is the sarcophagus of king Ahiram. The use of the alphabet was spread by Phoenician merchants through their maritime trade into parts of North Africa and Europe. One of the most important monuments of this period is the temple of Resheph, a Canaanite war god, but this had fallen into ruins by the time of Alexander.
In the Assyrian period, Sibittibaal of Byblos became tributary to Tiglath-pileser III in 738 BC, and in 701 BC, when Sennacherib conquered all Phoenicia, the king of Byblos was Urumilki. Byblos was also subject to Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (r.681-669 BCE) and Ashurbanipal (r.668-627 BCE), under its own kings Milkiasaph and Yehawmelek.
During the Greco-Roman period, the temple of Resheph was elaborately rebuilt, and the city, though smaller than its neighbours such as Tyre and Sidon, was a center for the cult of Adonis. In the 3rd century, a small but impressive theater was constructed. With the rise of Christianity, a bishop's seat was established in Byblos, and the town grew rapidly. Although a Persian colony is known to have been established in the region following the Moslem conquest of 636, there is little archaeological evidence for it. Trade with Europe effectively dried up, and it was not until the coming of the Crusaders in 1098 that prosperity returned to Byblos, known then as Giblet.
Byblos, under the name of Gibelet or Giblet, was an important military base in the 11th century, and the remains of its Crusader castle are among the most impressive architectural structures now visible at its center. The town was taken by Saladin in 1187, re-taken by the Crusaders, and eventually conquered by Baibars in 1266. Its fortifications were subsequently restored. From 1516 until 1918, the town and the whole region were part of the Ottoman Empire. Byblos and all of Lebanon was placed under French Mandate from 1920 until 1943 when Lebanon achieved independence.
In the archaeological site of Byblos there are the remains of the Great Temple (also known as L-Shaped temple) built in 2700 BC, Temple of Baalat Gebal built in 2700 BC and Temple of the Obelisks built around 1600 BC.
Byblos Castle was built by the crusaders in the 12th century. It is located in the archaeological site near the port.
The old medieval part of Byblos is surrounded by walls running about 270m from east to west and 200m from north to south
This museum displays wax statues of characters from Phoenician times to current days
Work on the church started during the crusades in 1150. It was damaged during an earthquake in the 12th century and also during several conflicts.
Byblos Fossil Museum has a collection of fossilized fish, sharks, eel, flying fish, and other marine life, some millions of years old.
In the southeast section of the historic city, near the entrance of the archaeological site, is an old market where tourists can shop for souvenirs and antiques, or simply stroll along the old cobblestone streets and enjoy the architecture.
This summer music festival is an annual event that takes place in the historic quarter.
Today, Byblos (Jbeil) is a modern city. It remains one of Lebanon's biggest tourist attractions, mainly because of its rich history and scenic mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. Most of the people of Byblos are Maronite Catholics. There are also some Shi'a Moslems, whose ancestors escaped expulsion by the Seljuk Turks in the Middle Ages. (The city of Bint Jbeil ("daughter of Jbeil") in southern Lebanon was founded by those displaced Shi'a. Byblos has three representatives in the Parliament of Lebanon: two Maronites and one Shi'a.