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
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
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 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
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
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
-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
-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.
VISITING THE SITE
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
-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)
-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)