The scientific research project “Byblos & the Sea”, under the co-direction of Martine Francis-Allouche & Nicolas Grimal, is launching its mission VI in Byblos in February 2016. On the bases of preliminary results of the underwater bathymetry campaign conducted in June 2014 in maritime Byblos, in collaboration with George Papatheodorou and his team (Marine Geology Department, Patras University), a sampling survey of underwater sediments is scheduled for February 2016 in the maritime zone of Jouret Osman, at the foot of the archaeological site of Byblos as well as in the area of the Dahret Martine anchorage, at 2.5km at large (Figure 1).
First results of the bathymetric and paleobathymetric survey conducted southwards of Byblos, in the Bay Jouret Osman, have proved to be quite outstanding since they match the inland auger coring results: when diving today, the seabed of that Bay appears to be extremely shallow and “rocky” and the actual shoreline looks to be practically linked to the Island of Yasmine, almost forming a headland. However, the underwater bathymetric survey proved the seabed of that Bay to lay much deeper under its actual appearance; it is covered by a thick layer of concretions (of 4 to 6m of depth), – an accumulation of loose sediments on the original deeper seabed (Figure 2).
The depth of this original seabed matches with the inclined silted-in harbor basin floor, found in the Armenian Orphanage lot. Auger Cores reached the shallow end of the basin at -1.5m (of the actual Mean Sea Level) and its deeper end at -4m (of the actual Mean Sea Level) below the present-day shore line (Figure 3). This means that the entire profile of the Qassouba Valley, from the hinterland of the Armenian Orphanage lot extending into the sea, must have been a deeper inland golf with an adequate mooring water depth to accommodate a fleet of commercial boats as described in the 12th century B.C. Wenamon story.
The scope of mission VI is the: a) Sampling of sediments at sea to be sent to the Laboratory of Patras University in Greece for analysis and dating; b) Fine-tuning results by comparing the dating of sea sediments with C14 dating of extracted auger core samples (on the Armenian Orphanage land, Jan 2014 /sent to Poznan Laboratory in Poland for dating).
The objective of this mission is to be able to date the silted-in harbor basin which extends from more than a 100 meters inland, to about a 100 meters outwards at sea, under the actual seabed.