1902 Encyclopedia > Tripoli, Syria

Tripoli, Syria

TRIPOLI (Tardbulus), a town of Syria, capital of Liwa, on the river Kadlsha or Abu. 'All, in 31° 26' N. lat. and 35° 50' E. long., is situated in a fertile maritime plain covered with orchards and dominated by a castle over-hanging a gorge of the river, some parts of which are, perhaps, the work of the crusaders. The port (Al-Mina) is about two miles distant, on a small peninsula. The population is estimated at 17,000, with the port at 24,000 or a little more. Nearly half of these are Christians, the Maronites preponderating. There is a considerable export of silk cocoons and a native silk manufacture ; the sponge fishery is a large industry; tobacco is exported; and soap is made from the olive oil of the district. There are eighteen churches, and several monasteries, nunneries, and large khans.
The ancient Phoenician city which we know only by its Greek name of Tripolis was the seat in Persian times of the federal council of Sidon, Tyre, and Aradus, each of which cities had its separate quarter in the "triple town" (see vol. xviii. p. 809). In the second and first centuries B.C. it struck coins, on which it is designated a "holy and autonomous" city. These are succeeded by imperial coins ranging from 32 B.C. to 221 A.D. About 450, and again in 550, it was destroyed by earthquake. The Arabs took it in 638 after a prolonged siege, the inhabitants withdrawing by sea. It appears from Beladhori (p. 127) that at this time the city still consisted of three fortified places. Mo'awiya recruited the population by a colony of Jews and gave it fortifications and a garrison against the naval attacks of the Greeks, who, notwith-standing, retook it for a brief space in the time of Abdalmalik (Beladh., ut sup.). It was again taken by the Greeks in the war of 966-69 and was besieged by Basil II. in 995, after* which date it was held by a garrison in the pay of the Fatimite caliphs of Egypt, who treated the city with favour and maintained in it a trading fleet.. At this time, according to the description of Nasiri Khosrau (ed. Schefer, p. 40 sqq.), who visited it in 1047, it lay on the peninsula of Al-Mina, bathed on three sides by the sea, and had about 20,000 inhabitants and important industries of sugar and paper-making. Of the great sea-walls and towers there are still imposing remains. From this date till it was taken by the crusaders, after a five years' siege, in 1109, the ruling family was that of Ammar, who founded a library of over 100,000 volumes. Under the crusaders Tripoli continued to flourish, exported glass to Venice, and had .4000 looms (Quatremere, Hist, des Sultans Mamlouks, ii. 103). In 1289 it was taken and destroyed by the sultan Kalaiin of Egypt, and a new city was begun on the present site, which rapidly rose to importance (Ibn Batuta, i. 137). Its mediaeval prosperity has obliterated most relics of remoter antiquity.
See Renan, Mission de PMnicie, p. 129 sqq.

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