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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > Jbeil-Byblos > Village Yenouh

The village of Yenouh

Lebanon above Jébeil is of great historical and archaeological importance ... and this region of Lebanon plays the role of a real Holy Land to which people come from far and wide as pilgrims... In this region at every step traces are revealed of one of the most curious religious monuments of human history. – E. Renan

Yannouh is situated at Joubbat El Mneitra, 5 km east of Kartaba, on the right bank of the upper valley of the Adonis river. It is 40 km east of Jbeil (Byblos) and 80 km from the capital city Beirut, and was one of the religious and cultural centers of the high Adonis valley, on the ancient Byblos-Heliopolis (Baalbek) road, considered to be one of the oldest routes in the world.

It should also be noted that Yannouh is one of the finest inhabited points of Joubbat El Mneitra. It is remarkable for the verdure of its landscapes, the abundance of its sources of water and the mildness of its climate, and so was like a cradle in the Lebanese mountainsides. From here we understand the signification of the term Yannouh, which is of Semitic origin and indicates rest and relaxation. A tour to Yannouh can be made to fit in with a visit to Byblos, although the village really deserves a day to itself.

This Phoenician center of Yannouh is halfway between Byblos and Heliopolis. Its temple, dating back to the Phoenicians, had connections with the same cult as that of Alphaca and was dedicated to Diana, the Romans’ goddess of the hunt, and daughter of their god Jupiter. In 750 A.D., at the time of the fourth Maronite patriarch, John Maroun II, then installed in Yannouh, the temple was transformed into a church dedicated to Saint George “the Blue”. Twenty-three successors of St. John Maroun resided there between 750 and 1277, during which time they built the cathedral of Sancta Maria of Ianosh. The period named after Saint Maria of Ianosh was that of the Crusades, by which time the number of inhabitants had risen to 3,500, while the churches numbered more than thirty-five.

Yanouh possessed one of the religious monuments of the region known there as the Sanctuary of Yanouh or as Mar Gerios El Azrak, St. George the Blue. The sanctuary of Yannouh was brought to light and was made known to the public by the German mission of D. Krenker and W. Zschietschmann through their work published in 1938 about the temples of the region. During the 1960s the German Mission confided excavations on the site to Engineer H. Katayan. Digging, clearing and restoration allowed remains to be exposed much more important than those brought to the surface by the Germans.

The 1995-2005 Lebano-French Yannouh archaeological mission aimed at making a population study and at finding ways of making the best use of the Lebanese mountains. This mission has contributed much to our knowledge of the history of Yannouh with its various phases of occupation.

1. Bronze Age, 3rd millennium before Christ
Tell El Khorayeb (Hill of Ruins), close by the Roman temple, is the most important site belonging to the Bronze Age, and embraces a town of about 150 meters diameter surrounded by a rampart and a lower urban quarter extending more particularly towards the south. Surrounding the hill are a number of rectangular underground tombs cut out under the slabs with walls built of carefully hewn parallelepiped blocks.

2. Iron Age, 12th – 4th centuries B.C.
Agricultural or domestic equipment of this period has been found.

3. Hellenic Period, 333 – 64 B.C.
A building was constructed in sandstone in the second half of the second century B.C.. There is also an Aramaic inscription belonging to this time, the earliest known to exist on Lebanese soil. It gives a date corresponding to 109 – 110 B.C. and makes mention of a “House of God”.

4. Roman Period, 64 B.C. – 395 A.D.
This period is marked by the construction of a great temple with its annex and of a smaller temple. Everywhere there are signs of the imperial power.

5. Proto-Byantine Period, 4th to 7th centuries A.D.
The Mar Gerios site underwent important changes.
-The portico of the Great Temple was pulled down.
-A Christian basilica with columns was built towards the end of the 5th century A.D..
-During the first half of the 7th century a fire destroyed much of the buildings.
-Reconstruction and rearrangement followed immediately after the fire and the basilica with columns was replaced by one with pillars.
-The whole site was transformed into a monastery and even during the Umayyad rule the Christians of Yannouh seem to have enjoyed a quiet and prosperous life.

6. 8th and 9th centuries A.D.
The site appears to have been totally abandoned, no doubt due to the harsh Abbasid domination extending over the mountains.

7. Crusader Period, 10th – 13th centuries A.D.
-There was much transformation of buildings.
-A chapel was built to the north of the temple.
-The Great Temple was made into a church.
-The basilica was reshaped with access from the south side.
-Some thirty-five chapels were added to the monastery.
-Land was cleared for agriculture.
-Village dwellings appeared on the tell.
-The whole site became a monastery named The Virgin of Ianosh and with Patriarch Yuhanna, 938 A.D., was the patriarchal seat until the mid-thirteenth century. Between 1215 and 1246, two papal bulls indicate the seat of the patriarchs as being the Church of the Virgin of Ianosh.

8. Mameluke Period
-In 1276 the Maronite Patriarchate finally moved from Yannouh to Saint Ilige, Mayfouq.- -In the 15th century Yannouh and its region were occupied by Shiites.
-In 1534 war was waged between Kaisites and Yamanites in Joubbat El Mneitra and a great many inhabitants left. The monastery and village of Yannouh were abandoned and later Patriarch Doueihy, the historian, described the place as a desert.

The most impressive remains are the following:
-The two Roman temples (1 and 2).
-The Christian basilica with columns (3), 5th century A.D.. It had three aisles with a central apse. During the 7th century A.D. the collaterals of the basilica were prolonged eastwards and the columns replaced by pillars.
-The medieval chapel (4) put up at the approach of the 12th century A.D., with a whole series of chapels extending around it over a radius of 500m.
-Portico of the Great Temple. (5)
-Remains of the oil-press. (6)
-Extension. (8)
-The Yannouh tombs, there being twenty of this type dating from the Bronze Age.

- The village of Yenouh: >> View Movie << (2000-12-01)
- The Roman Temple: >> View Movie << (2007-11-01)



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