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Nahr al-Kalb


Nahr al-Kalb. Photo Jona Lendering.
Nahr al-Kalb
Lykos (Λκος; "wolf") or Nahr al-Kalb ("dog river"): river, northeast of modern Beyrut, best known for a large series of rock inscriptions, both ancient and modern.

In the thirteenth century BCE, the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II left three reliefs on the south bank of the Nahr al-Kalb, north of Berytus, which commemorated the northern campaigns that culminated in the battle of Kadesh (1274). Several centuries later, the Assyrian king Esarhaddon, having forced cities like Tyre into submission, conquered Egypt, and chose to put a memorial opposite the relief of Ramesses. Ever since, armies have left inscription at the Nahr al-Kalb, a custom known to Herodotus (more).

All in all, there are twenty-two inscriptions and two monuments, with texts in seven languages (Egyptian, Akkadian, Greek, Latin, Arabic, French, and English). The making of stelas in this area is mentioned in several Assyrian texts (example).

In chronological sequence

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Nahr al-Kalb. Reliefs of Ramesses II (left) and Esarhaddon (right). Photo Jona Lendering.
Reliefs of Ramesses II (left) and Esarhaddon (right).
14
1275
The god Ra gives the sword of victory to Ramesses II after his First Syrian Campaign; "year four" is still legible
16
1269
In front of the god Amun, Ramesses II is about to strike at an enemy, after his Sixth Syrian Campaign; "year ten" is still legible
8
Unknown
Ramesses II slaying an enemy in front of the god Ptah; probably, the relief mentioned by Herodotus (more)
17
671
Esarhaddon, after conquering Egypt
6
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
7
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
13
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
15
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
1
605-562
The Babylonian king Nebuchadznezzar
12
Third century BCE
Unidentified Hellenistic king, perhaps Antiochus III the Great after his victory in the Fifth Syrian War
3
215 CE
The Roman emperor Caracalla, travelling from Antioch to Alexandria (CIL 3.206)
11
382-383
Inscription by governor Proculus of Phoenicia, who built a road and sacrificed in Baalbek
2
1382-1399
Inscription to commemorate the building of a bridge by the Mamluq sultan Barquq
5
1861
Inscription of Napoleon III to commemorate a French intervention in the conflict between Druzes and Maronites
18
1901
Text on an Ottoman bridge
9
1918
Collapse of the Ottoman Empire: Capture of Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo by Arabian and Allied troops
10
1918
Collapse of the Ottoman Empire: Capture of Beyrut by French and British troops
4
1920
French intervention in Arabian Syria: general Gouraud's inscription to commemorate general Goybet's victory at Maysalun, and the entry of French troops into Damascus
-
1927
Monument for the French garrison of Beyrut (originally from Beyrut, moved to this place after the Mandate of the League of Nations had ended)
19
1941
The Free French liberate Damascus from Vichy troops
20
1942
Text on railroad bridge
21
1946
Evacuation of the foreign forces from Lebanon; beginning of the independence
22
2000
Evacuation of the Israeli forces from southern Lebanon

Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Ramesses II. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Ramesses II. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Esarhaddon. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of an unidentified Assyrian king. Photo Jona Lendering.
14. Ramesses II
16. Ramesses II 17. Esarhaddon
6. Unidentified Assyrian king
Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of an unidentified Assyrian king. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of an unidentified Assyrian king. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of an unidentified Assyrian king. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Nebuchadnezzar. Photo Jona Lendering.
7. Unidentified Assyrian king 13. Unidentified Assyrian king 15. Unidentified Assyrian king 1. Nebuchadnezzar
Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of an unidentified Hellenistic king. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Caracalla. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of an unidentified Assyrian king. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Sultan Barquq. Photo Jona Lendering.
12. Unidentified Hellenistic king
3. Caracalla
11. Proculus
2. Barquq
Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of Napoleon III. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Capture of Damascus. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Occupation of Beyrut. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of General Gouraud. Photo Jona Lendering.
5. Napoleon III 9. Capture of Damascus 10. Occupation of Beyrut 4. Entry in Damascus
Nahr al-Kalb. Monument of the French garrison in Beyrut. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Capture of Damascus. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of the end of the Mandate. Photo Jona Lendering. Nahr al-Kalb. Relief of the end of the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Photo Jona Lendering.
Monument of the French garrison of Beyrut 19. Liberation of Damascus 21. Evacuation of foreign forces 22. Evacuation of Israeli Forces

Nahr al-Kalb. Pedestal of a statue. Photo Jona Lendering.
Pedestal of a statue

From East to West

If you want to visit the place and arrive from Beyrut, you must turn right immediately after the tunnel (cf. the satellite photo here). Continue for some 400 meters; there's a Medieval bridge. Here, you can park your car, and here is inscription #2. Walking back, you will pass along several other monuments. There's a passage over the tunnel, after which the path winds itself up the hill. Inscription #15 is on the summit, and you will see the interesting #16 and #17 if you continue and go down again.

In the valley, between the Medieval bridge and the tunnel
2
1382-1399
Barquq (Mamluq sultan)
3
215
Caracalla
-
 
Monument French garrison of Beyrut
18
1901
Inscription on Ottoman bridge
19
1941
Liberation of Damascus
4
1920
General Gouraud
22
2000
Evacuation of the Israeli Forces
21
1946
Evacuation of foreign forces
5=8
1861
Napoleon III (replaced inscr. Rameses II)
6
Unknown
Unidentified Assyrian king
9
1918
Capture of Damascus
7
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
10
1918
Occupation of Beyrut
Beginning of the passage over the main road
11
382/383
Proculus
End of the passage; the inscriptions below are on the rock itself
20
1942
Railroad inscription
12
Third century BCE Unidentified Hellenistic king
Pedestal of a statue
13
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
14
1275
Ramesses II
15
Unknown Unidentified Assyrian king
16
1269
Ramesses II
17
677/676 Esarhaddon
1
605-562 Nebuchadnezzar (across the river)
Jona Lendering for Livius.Org, 2012
Revision: 11 Aug. 2012
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