Metn 2021 - Ongoing

Georges el Haibe, Nicolas Carayon, and Lucy Semaan

Project Summary

The Metn project is a multi-disciplinary strategy that assesses the remaining Maritime Cultural Heritage in a heavily urbanised region. The project runs under the scientific direction of Dr Georges el Haibe (INRAP, IFPO) in collaboration with Dr Lucy Semaan (HFF Lebanon) and Dr Nicolas Carayon (Ipso Facto). The area constitutes an important locality considering its proximity to Beirut:  Located on the main antique road linking the ancient city-ports of Byblos and Beirut, some five km north-east from the capital, the region of al Metn played a pivotal role since prehistoric times (El Haibe 2020). The maritime aspect project is divided into two portions, tackling land and sea.

Due to the saturation of the two nearby landfills of Bourj Hammoud and Jdeideh, and the lack of a sustainable waste management plan, a coastal development project named “Linord” is expected to be relaunched following a decision by the Council of Ministers in September 2019. This project, which was abandoned in the late 1990s, is an old land reclamation project of Beirut’s northern coastline. It aims to extend over nearly 200 hectares on the coast between the Beirut River and Antelias by landfilling the sea. Consequently, the rescue project took place to assess the archaeological assets of the area that might be threatened by construction works.

2021 Season

The team visited key locations in Metn with the objective of understanding the development of the landscape and identifying potential locations where cores can be sampled. The area consists of a narrow plane that extends from the Mont-Lebanon Mountain range in the east to the sea in the west and is delimitated by the rivers of Nahr el Mot in the south and Nahr el Kalb in the north. A pedestrian survey was undertaken along the rivers of Nahr el Mot, Nahr Antelias, and Nahr el Kalb, as well as the mouths of these rivers on the coast. The team also surveyed the coastal stretch from the boat, to identify possible remains of the original coastline and investigate the river mouths from a sea perspective. Since the area is heavily urbanised, the team could only locate one or two potential locations to collect core samples at Nahr El Mot and at Nahr Antelias.

2023 Season

In summer 2023, the HFF-Lebanon team undertook a marine geophysical survey of the targeted area with the use of a WASSP Multi Beam Echo Sounder, F3 Series 160kHz, and a Starfish Side Scan Sonar (SSS). The aim was to rapidly assess the underwater cultural heritage and obtain additional bathymetric data for a comprehensive understanding of the seabed topography. The project also served as a training and teaching platform for students of the Marine Sciences and Culture program at the American University of Beirut. The survey is ongoing and will resume at the end of the year 2023. Subsequent to the processing of the data, a ground-truthing survey is envisaged to verify potential points of interest.

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