Tyre {tyr}

Tyre was a great trading port of ancient PHOENICIA, located on the Mediterranean Sea about 40 km (25 mi) south of Sidon. The city gave its name to the dye known as Tyrian purple. Today Tyre survives as the small southern Lebanese town of Sur (1974 est. pop., 14,000).

Founded on an island, perhaps as a colony of Sidon, Tyre possessed one of the best harbors on the coast. Until the 4th century BC the city was almost impregnable against siege, but Alexander the Great reduced Tyre in 332 BC by building a causeway that joined the island to the mainland.

Already long established, Tyre entered history as a vassal of the 18th dynasty of Egypt (1570-1320 BC). Following the disruption of Egypt and other Near Eastern powers in the age of the Sea Peoples, the city not only had attained an independent position but seems to have dominated Sidon. During the 10th century BC, Tyre supplied cedars, carpenters, masons, and bronzesmiths for King David (r. c.1000-c.960 BC) and King Solomon (r. c.960-c.921 BC ), and Tyrian sailors were available for Solomon's Red Sea fleet.

Subject to Assyria during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Tyre was dominated by the Persians from 538 to 332 BC. After its capture by Alexander the Great, Tyre was ruled by the Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, and Muslim Arabs (AD 638-1124). It was part of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th and 13th centuries but fell to the Mamelukes and was destroyed in 1291.

Louis L. Orlin

Bibliography: Harden, Donald, The Phoenicians, 2d ed. (1963).