Tyre, city, cisterns

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


Until Alexander's dam and the aqueduct had been built, sweet water was rare on the island of Tyre. There was only one well. As a consequence, cisterns were extremely important. Water was caught during the winter, while during the rest of the year, fresh water was brought to the island by boat. Even later, when there was a decent water supply, the water reservoirs remained in use.

Much later, in the 1180s, the Andalusian Muslim pilgrim Ibn Jubayr visited Tyre, and marveled greatly at the city's water reservoirs. They must have remained in use for another century, until in 1291 the Mamluk sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil captured and destroyed the city.