An ancient Phoenician city on the coast at the foot of the Lebanon mountains. It did not become important until the end of the
Hellenistic period. It was made a Roman colony about
14 B.C. Herod the Great, Agrippa I and II, and Queen
Berenice built exedras, porticos, temples, a forum, a
theater, amphitheater, and baths here. In the 3d c. A.D.
the city became the seat of a famous school of law and
continued to flourish until the earthquake of A.D. 551
ravaged the city.
The Hellenistic town lay S of the port. Its streets, laid
out on a grid plan, are spaced at roughly the same intervals as those of Beroea, Damascus, and Laodicea. The
new Roman city spread farther S and W, with its forum
near the Place de l'Etoile. On its N side was a civic
basilica 99 m long with a Corinthian portico of polychrome materials (now in front of the Beirut Museum),
dating from the 1st c. A.D. Some large baths have been
uncovered on the E slope of the Colline du Sérail, and
the hippodrome lay on the NW side of the same hill.
Some villas in a S suburb facing the sea had mosaic floors
(now in the Beirut Museum).
Some 12 km upstream on the Beirut river are the
ruined arches of an aqueduct. The rocky spur of Deir
el-Qalaa was Berytus' high place; the podium of a large
temple can still be seen.
R. Mouterde, “L'emplacement du forum
de Béryte,” MélStJ
25 (1942-43); id., “Regards sur Beyrouth,” ibid. 40 (1966)I
; J. Lauffray, “Forums et monuments de Béryte,” BMBeyrouth
7 (1944-45); 8 (1946-48)PI
; id., Beyrouth, ville romaine