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Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Central Levant States



Founded by Sidon in around 2750 BC, according to Herodotus, or perhaps by 2250 BC according to archaeological evidence, Tyre began life as a settlement which was smaller and less influential than its mother city. However, it eventually surpassed all other Phoenician cities in terms of its wealth and influence. Tyre was originally located on a coastal island some 80km (50 miles) south of Biruta, with another settlement area on the mainland itself. Although the two settlements may have fought each other on more than one occassion, normally they were united in the defence of the city. The Greek king, Alexander the Great, had to build a vast rampart to bridge the gap between Tyre and the mainland in 332 BC to force the city to open its doors, and this causeway served as the foundation for a permanent corridor which still connects the island, now a peninsula, today.

Modern Tyre lies in Lebanon, near its southern border, and forms the country's fourth-largest city. The details surrounding pre-Phoenician Canaanite kings were passed down only in Hellenic mythology.

c.2000 - 1800 BC

Egypt maintains a trading presence in the region.

fl c.1500 BC


A king of Tyre according to Herodotus.

c.1500 BC

According to Greek legend, Agenor is the father of five sons, Cadmus, Cilix, Phineas, Phoenix, and Thasus. All depart their Phoenician home in search of their sister, Europa, who had been abducted by Zeus (and who may instead be the daughter of Phoenix rather than his sister). Phineas gives up his search in eastern Thrace, where he settles on the western shores of the Black Sea and rules a city state of his own. Phoenix inherits the throne of Tyre and becomes the eponymous founder of the Phoenicians.

fl c.1490 BC


Son (or brother in some sources). Inherited throne.

1453 BC

The Egyptians conquer the Levant and Syria and establish three provinces in their conquered territories which are named Amurru (in southern Syria), Upe (in the northern Levant), and Canaan (in the southern Levant). Each one is governed by an Egyptian official. Native dynasts are allowed to continue their rule over the small states, but have to provide annual tribute.

fl c.1400 BC


A semi-legendary model for the later Herakles.

fl c.1370s BC


Prince of Tyre. Vassal of Egypt.

c.1360s - 1310s BC

Abi-Milki / Abimilku

Son. Prince of Tyre. Vassal of Egypt.

c.1371 - 1358 BC

The Amarna letters between Egypt and the city states of Syria and Canaan describe the disruptive activities of the habiru, and of Hazor, which is accused of siding with them to capture several cities belonging to Tyre and Ashtaroth. Abi-Milki is often the subject of speculation by scholars who wonder if he is linked to the frequent mentions of various Philistine rulers named Abimelech. The speculation is not without some basis, as a coincidentally similar Milkilu is king of the Palestinian city of Gezer at the same time.

c.1320 BC

The king of Gebal, Rib-Adda, reports to his Egyptian overlords that his kinsman, the king of Tyre, and his family have been murdered in a coup d'etat.

Canaanite bronze figure
This photo shows a bronze figure from Tyre, created between 1400-1200 BC and probably representing the Canaanite god Baal in the role of a warrior

fl c.1230 BC


fl c.1220 BC


c.1200 BC

There is general collapse in the region as instability grips the Mediterranean coast and the Hittite empire is destroyed by the Sea Peoples and various other groups. Arvad, Gebal, Sidon, and Tyre, all with prominent harbours, manage to survive unscathed, although the wealthy customers disappear for a time. It is possible that there is an influx of elements of the Sea Peoples into southern Canaan, where they contribute towards creating later Phoenicia's great maritime society.

fl c.1193 BC


c.1163 - 1125 BC


Phoenician Tyre

Descended from the Canaanites who formerly inhabited the entire Levant region, these later Canaanites occupied the long coastal strip that forms modern Lebanon. The great Phoenician island city of Tyre was founded by settlers from Sidon, and it quickly grew to rival its neighbour, with each of them claiming to be the mother city of Phoenicia. Like the other Phoenician cities, Tyre founded colonies along the western Mediterranean coastline, and was principally responsible for the creation of Carthage. It also formed the heart of a very large region, as can be inferred by various finds that place the northern limits of the territory at Kherayeb, some ten kilometres to the north of the city, while its southern frontier can be placed at Umm el-Ahmed, twenty kilometres away.

Phoenicians still thought of themselves as Canaanites; it was the Greeks who coined the name Phoenicia. The Phoenician language was very closely related to ancient Hebrew. Unfortunately, one technological advance of the time was the use of parchment and papyrus for record-keeping instead of clay tablets. These are highly perishable, and few have survived.

1104 - 1101 BC

The traditional date of founding for Gadir is 1104 BC, while Utica is founded in 1101 BC. This puts them both at the very beginning of the appearance of Phoenician culture in the Middle East. No archaeological evidence for occupation at this date can be found for either settlement, but, this is probably because these posts are temporary at first, and are not permanently occupied until the ninth century.

c.1050 BC

A weakened Egypt loses its remaining imperial possessions in Canaan. Tyre begins founding trading colonies or making permanent its existing outposts along the western Mediterranean coast, including that of Utica in North Africa.

10th cent - 701 BC

Tyre gains pre-eminence over much of Phoenicia, including being able to control Byblos and Sidon.

990 - 969 BC


969 - 940 BC

Hiram I


It is during Hiram's reign that Tyre grows, surpassing its mother city, Sidon, to become the most important Phoenician city. Hiram also puts down a rebellion in Utica.

c.955 BC

The Israelite First Temple of Jerusalem is completed, apparently by craftsmen from Sidon under Hiram's authority.

940 - 927 BC

Ethbaal / Etzel-Baal / Baal-Eser I

His daughter, Jezebel, married King Ahab of Samaria.

927 - 918 BC

Abdastratus / Astartus

918 - 906 BC


906 - 897 BC

Astarymus / Asermymus

Brother of Abdastratus. Murdered by Phelles.

897 - 896 BC

Phelles / Pheles

Brother. Reigned for eight months.

896 - 863 BC

Eshbaal I

Priest of Astarte. Dates sometimes given as 887-856 BC.

c.880s BC

Omri is one of the most powerful kings of the small state of Samaria. He establishes closer ties with Tyre in an attempt to draw away some of the wealth and prosperity of his rival, Damas. Tyre itself undergoes a renaissance under Eshbaal, increasing its international power and trade. However, records concerning subsequent kings are uncertain about the order of succession.

Map of Canaan and Syria c.850 BC
When the Neo-Assyrian empire threatened the various city states of southern Syria and Canaan around 853 BC, they united to protect their joint territory - successfully it seems, at least for a time (click or tap on image to view full sized)

863 - 829 BC

Baal-Eser II / Balbazer

Sometimes shown as Baalmazzar (849-830 BC).

833 BC

This is the date given for the founding of Carthage by Menander the Ephesian, although a more widely accepted date is 814 BC, below.

829 - 820 BC

Mattan I

820 - 774 BC

Pumayyaton / Pygmalion

Son. Ascended throne at the age of eleven.

814 BC

In the seventh year of Pumayyaton's reign his sister, Elissa, flees Tyre and founds a colony on the north African coast by the name of Carthage. Although the story itself may be apocryphal, the founding point for Carthage falls between about 843-813 BC, showing that there is a historical truth behind the tale. During Pumayyaton's reign, the heart of Tyre's trading empire appears to shift away from the Middle East and towards the Mediterranean, concentrating more on building up new colonies such as Carthage, and Kition on Cyprus.

774 - 750 BC

There is an unexplained gap in the succession following the rule of Pumayyaton, although this may simply be due to the name of the ruling king having been lost.

750 - 739 BC

Eshbaal II

c.740 BC


739 - 730 BC

Hiram II

738 BC

All of the Phoenician states become vassals of Assyria, but local arrangements for governance are left in place. This is the century for which the first archaeological evidence for Utica's existence can be dated, showing that the colony becomes a permanent settlement by a date of 700 BC at the very latest.

730 - 729 BC

Mattan II

729 - 694 BC

Elulaios / Luli

Luli is probably the same as Eluaios.

709 BC

Elulaios petitions Sargon the Great, claiming that the kings of Cyprus are not paying the tribute that he feels he is owed. As a result, it seems that the Assyrian empire conquers the island for this reason alone, albeit with his fleet being provided by Tyre.

704 - 701 BC

With the death of Sargon II of Assyria, many of the former subject states rebel. It takes the Assyrians until 701 BC to get around to quelling the Phoenician states. Tyre and Sidon fall without a fight, and the cities in their orbit surrender.

694 - 680 BC

Abd Melqart / Abd Melkarth

Vassal to Assyria.

680 - 660 BC

Baal I

663 BC

Tyre surrenders to Ashurbanipal of Assyria as the empire conquers all of Phoenicia, drawing it directly into the empire.

fl 660s BC


May be the same as Abd Melkarth (694-680 BC).

c.612 BC

Tyre restores its control of Byblos, but apparently loses control of Sidon.

591 - 573 BC

Eshbaal III

c.587 - 574 BC

Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia annexes many previously independent states in the west in his quest for complete dominance of Syria-Palestine. The siege of Tyre lasts for thirteen years, and with its conclusion the colony of Carthage declares its independence from its subjugated mother city.

573 - 564 BC

Baal II

Vassal of Babylonia.

564 BC


Vassal of Babylonia.

564 BC

Still under Babylonian domination, the monarchy of Tyre is overthrown. The city is governed by an oligarchy which is headed by judges ('shoftim').

Shoftim of Tyre

When the monarchy of Tyre was overthrown in the 560s BC, an oligarchy formed a new governmental body which was headed by judges, or shoftim (the singular term is 'shofet'). The shoftim were both executive power and judicial leaders, but they usually held no military power. In Carthage, which operated a similar system, it appears that each shofet was elected by the citizens, and held office for a one year term. Quite possibly there were two of them at a time, mirroring the system of consulship later used by Rome, but the exact details of Tyre's short-lived system are less clear.

564 - 563 BC


563 - 562 BC


562 - 556 BC

Mattan III

562 - 556 BC

Ger Ashthari

556 - 555 BC

Baal-Eser III

555 BC

The monarchy is restored.

Kings of Tyre Restored & Dominated

Small Nav - Persian & Greek Empires

Babylonian Tyre restored its kingship between 555-551 BC, although the details of the regime change are extremely sketchy due to the lack of surviving records. Unfortunately for Tyre, the restoration of the monarchy came shortly before the Persian conquest of Phoenicia in 539 BC. Tyre was quickly made a vassal state of yet another empire.

551 - 532 BC

Hiram III

539 BC

Tyre and all of Phoenicia is submerged within the Persian empire. Tyre is one of four 'kingdoms' created by the Persians in Phoenicia, and is ruled by governors in the name of the king. Many Phoenicians emigrate to the colonies, especially Carthage, which quickly rises to become a major power.

Mattan III



c.420 - 411 BC

Abdemon / Avdimon

King of Salamis & Tyre, and of Phoenician origin.

411 -374 BC

Following the deposing of Abdemon in the Cypriot city state of Salamis, and the throwing off of Persian dominance in the latter, the island's independence is re-established under the Greek ruler, Evagoras, with Tyre remaining under his control, even after the Persians manage to reassert themselves and take back Tyre and Salamis by 381 BC. There appears to follow a gap in the local rule of Tyre during which it is perhaps administered under direct Persian control.

411 - 374 BC

Evagoras / Eugoras

King of Salamis & Tyre. Murdered.

374 - c.347 BC

Following the murder of Evagoras, there appears to follow a gap in the local rule of Tyre during which it is perhaps administered under direct Persian control.

c.347 - 332 BC


King. Removed by Alexander.

333 - 332 BC

Index of Greek SatrapsIn 334 BC Alexander of Macedon launches his campaign into the Persian empire by crossing the Dardanelles. Much of Anatolia falls by 333 BC and Alexander proceeds into Syria during 333-332 BC to receive the submission of Ebir-nāri, which also gains him Harran, Judah, and Phoenicia (principally Byblos and Sidon, with Tyre holding out until it can be taken by force). Athura, Gaza, and Egypt also capitulate (not without a struggle in Gaza's case).

Azemilcus reckons that his island fortress is impregnable so he forces Alexander to capture it under arms. It actually takes seven months, with Alexander being distracted by other problems, but the job is done and Tyre becomes part of the new Greek empire. Azemilcus is removed from power and Abdalonymus, a poverty-stricken gardener of royal descent, is placed on the throne in his place.

Stone carving of Phoenician ship
This first century AD stone carving reflects Phoenician ship design from an earlier age, although by the time it was created the Phoenicians had long since been subsumed within later states

332 - 329? BC


Satrap of Sidon and Tyre under the Greek empire.

329? BC

Tyre is incorporated into the satrapy of Syria within the Greek empire. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC Tyre is largely dominated by Ptolemaic Egypt until 219-217 BC, when the Fourth Syrian War sees Seleucid ruler Antiochus III fighting Ptolemy IV for control of their mutual border. Antiochus recaptures Seleucia Pieria, Tyre, and other important Phoenician cities and their Mediterranean ports, but is fought to a draw at Raphia on Syria's southernmost edge. The subsequent peace treaty sees all the gains other than Seleucia Pieria relinquished. Seleucid control is probably reconfirmed more permanently in 195 BC and remains in place until the mid-first century BC.

c.42 BC

After Tyre is conquered by Rome in 64 BC, the civil war between the supporters of Julius Caesar and his murderers leads to a tyrant gaining power in Tyre. Marion, 'tyrant of Tyre' is a supporter of Cassius, but he is quickly deposed by Anthony and flees to the Parthian king of whom he is a supporter.

c.42 - 41 BC


Tyrant of Tyre.

AD 1291

Continuing to be an important coastal city, Tyre serves as the capital of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem until it falls to the Mamelukes.