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The National Museum of Beirut  is the principal museum of archaeology in Lebanon. The collection begun after World War I, and the museum was officially opened in 1942. The museum has collections totaling about 100,000 objects, most of which are antiquities and medieval finds from excavations undertaken by the Directorate General of Antiquities. About 1300 artifacts are exhibited, ranging in date from prehistoric times to the medieval Mamluk period.

During the 1975 Lebanese Civil War, the museum stood on the front line that separated the warring factions. The museum’s Egyptian Revival building and its collection suffered extensive damage in the war, but most of the artifacts were saved by last-minute preemptive measures.

Tyrian purple also known as Tyrian red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple natural dye. It is a secretion produced by several species of predatory sea snails in the family Muricidae, rock snails originally known by the name Murex. In ancient times, extracting this dye involved tens of thousands of snails and substantial labor, and as a result, the dye was highly valued.

Votive gilded bronze statuettes, 19th – 18th century BC, found in the Obelisk temple, Byblos

The National Museum of Beirut currently exhibits 1300 artifacts from its collection of approximately 100,000 objects. The museum displays follow a chronological circuit beginning in Prehistory and ending in the Ottoman era.

The circuit begins on the ground floor where 83 large objects are displayed, these include sarcophagi, mosaics statues and reliefs. The upper floor displays 1243 small and medium-sized artifacts arranged by chronological order and by theme in modern showcases with soft lighting and magnifying glasses that emphasize the aesthetic aspect of the artifacts.

Beirut National museum, Beirut. Phone: 01 426703

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