Beirut (Arabic: بيروت Bayrūt, Greek: Βηρυττός, Latin: Berytus, French: Beyrouth) is the capital and largest city of Lebanon.
Beirut's history goes back more than 5000 years. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, its antiquity is indicated by its name, derived from the Canaanite be'erot ("wells"), referring to the underground water table that is still tapped by the local inhabitants for general use. Excavations in the downtown area have unearthed layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman remains. The first historical reference to Beirut dates from the 14th century BC, when it is mentioned in the cuneiform tablets of the Amarna letters, three letters that Ammunira of Biruta (Beirut) sent to the pharaoh of Egypt. Biruta is also referenced in the letters from Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos. The oldest settlement was on an island in the river that progressively silted up. The city was known in antiquity as Berytus. This name was taken in 1934 for the archaeological journal published by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Beirut.
Archaeology and Prehistory
Several prehistoric archaeological sites were discovered within the urban area of Beirut, revealing flint tools of sequential periods dating from the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic, and through the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.