Herodotus on the temple of Melqart

Tyre (Phoenician רצ, ṣūr, "rock"; Greek Τúρος; Latin Tyrus): port in Phoenicia and one of the main cities in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus visited Tyre in the mid-fifth century BCE. In Histories 2.44, he offers a description of the sanctuary of Melqart, whom he calls Heracles, because the Greeks believed these two deities were identical.


Herodotus on the temple of Melqart

[2.44] Because I wanted to know more about it, I made a voyage to Tyre in Phoenicia, because I had been told that in that place there was a holy temple of Heracles. The sanctuary was richly furnished, there were many votive offerings, and I noticed two pillars: one of pure gold and one of an emerald stone of such size as to shine by night.

I interviewed the priests of the god, and asked them how long ago their temple had been built, and I discovered that they were at variance with the Greeks, because they said that the temple had been built when Tyre had beend founded, and that this happened 2,300 years ago.