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Tyre

Tyre (tĪr) [key], ancient city of Phoenicia, S of Sidon. It is the present-day Sur in Lebanon, a small town on a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean from the mainland of Syria S of Beirut. It was built on an island just off the mainland, but the accumulation of sand around a mole built by Alexander the Great to facilitate his siege of the city (333–332 B.C.) has formed a causeway more than .5 mi (.8 km) wide. The date of the founding of the city is extremely uncertain, but by 1400 B.C. it was a flourishing city. The maritime supremacy of Tyre was established by 1100 B.C., and by that date its seamen seem to have sailed around the Mediterranean and to have founded colonies in Spain, S Italy, and N Africa. Tyrians founded the city of Carthage in the 9th cent. B.C. Tyre was famous for its industries, such as textile manufactures, and particularly for the purple Tyrian dye. Throughout its long history Tyre frequently came under foreign rule. It was besieged by the Assyrians and the Chaldaeans and fell to the Persians. The city was sacked by Alexander the Great but recovered quickly. In 64 B.C. it became a part of the Roman Empire. In spite of competition offered by newer cities such as Alexandria, it prospered and was able to retain varying degrees of autonomy. Christianity was introduced early into Tyre, and a splendid cathedral, of which there are remains, was built in the 4th cent. After the rise of Islam, Tyre came under Muslim rule and later under that of the Crusaders. It was destroyed by the Muslims in 1291 and never recovered its former greatness. The principal ruins of the city today are those of buildings erected by the Crusaders. There are some Greco-Roman remains, but any left by the Phoenicians lie underneath the present town. Tyre is mentioned frequently in the Bible.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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