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Byblos altar inscription

The Byblos altar inscription, found in 1923 by Pierre Montet

The Byblos altar inscription is a Phoenician inscription on a broken altar discovered around 1923 during the excavations of Pierre Montet in the area of the Byblos temples.[1][2] It was discovered outside the temples and tombs, a few meters from the hypocausts, in a modern wall.[3]

A four-line Phoenician inscription is engraved on one side. The inscription has been translated as follows:[4]

𐤄𐤇𐤍𐤅𐤈𐤌 𐤀𐤋 𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤕 hḥnṭm ʾl pʿlt These ḥnṭm made
𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤀𐤔𐤌𐤍 𐤁𐤍𐤄 ʾnk ʿbdʾšmn bnh I, Abdeshmun the builder
𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤎𐤏𐤀 𐤋𐤀𐤃𐤍𐤍 𐤅𐤋𐤎𐤌𐤋 bn ʾsʿʾ lʾdnn wlsml son of ʾsʿʾ, for our lord and for the statue
𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤉𐤁𐤓𐤊 𐤅𐤉𐤇𐤅𐤅 bʿl ybrk wyḥww of Baʿal, May he bless [him] and bring him to life.

The form of a number of the letters, particularly the he and the let was different from any that had been found the Lebanon previously, closer to neopunic, so it was originally dated to the Roman era. It was later redated to 200-100 BCE by Brian Peckham.[2] As such it is considered to be of great importance as a "limiting case" of Phoenician inscriptions from Byblos.[5]

The altar is 36cm in height, and has the inscription on only one of its faces.

It was first published in 1924-25 by René Dussaud, and is held in the National Museum of Beirut.[6]

It is known as KAI 12, and is one of thirteen significant inscriptions discovered in Byblos.[7]



  1. ^ Lidzbarski, Mark. "Zu den phönizischen Inschriften von Byblos" Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, vol. 30, 1927, pp. 454-458. and
  3. ^ Montet, Pierre, BAH 11 - Byblos et l'Egypte Quatre Campagnes de Fouilles à Gebeil 1921-1922-1923-1924(1928), p.258, item: 1020: OBJETS TROUVÉS HORS DU TEMPLE ET DES TOMBEAUX: 1020. — Un autel de pierre portant une inscription phénicienne (pl. CLV). — Hauteur actuelle : 0 m 36. — Trouvé à quelques mètres des hypocaustes, dans un mur moderne. Une inscription phénicienne de quatre lignes est gravée sur une face.
  4. ^ Montet, Pierre, BAH 11 - Byblos et l'Egypte Quatre Campagnes de Fouilles à Gebeil 1921-1922-1923-1924(1928), p.258, item: 1020
  5. ^ Peckham, B. (2019). The Development of the Late Phoenican Scripts. Harvard Semitic Studies. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-38578-8. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  6. ^ René Dussaud, Un texte phénicien de Byblos datant du Ier siècle de notre ère, Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1924, 68-4, p. 251 DOI :
  7. ^ Dussaud, René. “Inscription Phénicienne de Byblos d’époque Romaine.” Syria 6, no. 3 (1925): 269–73.
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Byblos altar inscription
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