Greek name of an ancient Phoenician seacoast town about 20 miles north of Beirut. The Greek name Βύβλος, from which the word BIBLE is derived, comes from the Canaanite (PHOENICIAN) name gublu (mountain, hill), with assimilation of the g to the following b. In the Hebrew Bible the name (with faulty vocalization?) appears as gebal (Ez 27.9; see also Jos 13.5). The modern Lebanese villagers have tenaciously preserved the ancient name in the modern Arabic diminutive form Jubayl (little mount), the name of the pretty town of some 4,000 inhabitants, mostly Maronite Catholics, directly north of the ancient ruins.
Early Period. Excavations begun by the Egyptologist P. Montet (from 1921 to 1924) showed that Byblos, called kbn or kpn by the Egyptians, was a genuine Asiatic enclave of the pharaos from the earliest times. He discovered inscriptions of Nekba-Khasekhemwi of the Second Dynasty and, among the thousands of votive offerings in the Ba’al (or Ba’alat?) temple and attached rooms, scarabs of Cheops (Fourth Dynasty) and earlier pharaos (now in the Beirut Museum). Superstitious veneration of the site was perhaps connected with legends of the "blood of Tammuz-Adonis" at seasons when the fallen leaves turned to red the water that gushed down nearby from the famous ‘Afqa spring in the mountains. In the hieroglyphic inscriptions the "Count [hatya ] of Byblos" was the title of a recognized government official [see P. Newberry, The Journal of Egyptians Archeology (London 1914–) 14 (1928) 109]. In the Sixth Dynasty the traffic in cedars of Lebanon that were shipped from Byblos to Egypt was so flourishing under Snefru that the Egyptian word for a Mediterranean ship was a kbnyt (Byblos) ship. The Admonitions [ed. A. Gardiner (Leipzig 1909) 3.6] from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1660 b.c.) lamented that there were no longer (after the time of Pepi II of the Sixth Dynasty) any convoys to bring back from Byblos cedars for mummy cases.
M. Dunand, who continued the excavations at Byblos from 1925 to 1966, showed that there had been a settlement on the site even from neolithic times. It was characterized by smooth plaster floors like those of neolithic Jericho and by herringbone-incision pottery like that of Sha’ar-ha Golan, as well as by other ceramic and architectural features thought to be chalcolithic.
The temple of Ba’al (or Ba’alat?) suffered a catastrophic conflagration c. 2100 b.c. Above it, after a lethargy of some 400 years, was raised another temple of similar proportions, but this structure had its cult area filled with standing obelisks five to seven feet high. The excavators dismantled the later temple and reconstructed it a short distance away; they thus made it possible for visitors today to see it in its integrity, but also in striking comparison with the ground plan of the temple that had preceded it. According to Dunand a second temple for the consort divinity was built further west, and the immemorial spring of the town was allowed to gush up and form a sacred lake between the two buildings. The research of Soyez is largely in dialogue with Dunand.
Four royal tombs that were discovered by Montet in 1922 to 1923 have been shown by W. F. Albright [The Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 176 (December 1964) 38–46] to date from the beginning to the end of the 18th century b.c.; they reveal the close ties that Byblos had with Egypt (see egypt, 2); inscriptions of Neferhotep c. 1690 are reported on stones near Byblos. From about this time comes a West-Semitic inscription that uses 114 hieroglyphic signs that have not yet been successfully deciphered. Quite different is the alphabetic inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos (now in the Beirut Museum), dated by Albright as c. 1000 b.c. (rather than Dunand's 1300) and newly deciphered by Mendenhall. It represents one of the earliest stages of the Phoenician alphabet, from which all modern alphabets are derived.
Amarna and Biblical Periods. It is strange that Byblos shows no trace of the hyksos, who were Asiatic rulers in Egypt (c. 1660–c. 1570), unless the sloping stone rampart is to be recognized as their handiwork. Among the Amarna Letters, however, there are 60 cuneiform letters from Rib-Addi of Byblos, from which important conclusions can be drawn regarding the habiru (habiri) marauders in Syria and Palestine in the 14th century b.c. These documents are of prime importance also for the modern knowledge of the Canaanite language as then spoken, of which the hebrew language is a later dialect. [See W. Moran, "The Hebrew language in its Northwest Semitic Background," The Bible and the Ancient Near East, G. E. Wright, ed. (Garden City, N.Y. 1961) 63.] The practices of the myth religion of the Canaanites in this period (see canaan and canaanites) were, according to the much later philo of byblos, as brutal as those of nearby ugarit (see ugaritic-canaanite reli gion).
A century after the wide-eyed visit of the Egyptian Wen-Amun to Byblos (c. 1060 b.c.; for the story of his journey, see J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (2d rev ed. Princeton 1955) 25–29) the town furnished cedars and architects for the building of Solomon's temple (if the reading in 1 Kgs5.32 is correct). However, this episode is linked rather with King Hiram of Tyre (see also 1 Kgs 5.15), who was not the same man as Ahiram of Byblos, although they bore the same name in slightly variant forms. Thereafter Byblos was eclipsed by Tyre and Sidon, and according to Ez 27.9 the shipwrights of Byblos were the servants of the Tyrians.
In the Greco-Roman period Byblos again came into prominence as an import-export center of papyri (see papyrology) so that papyrus was called ή βύβλος or βίβλος (i.e., Byblos material) in Greek. In the Roman epoch the city was one of renewed splendor, from which a theater and a colonnade survive. The north wall of the ancient city was used by the Crusaders as the castlecrowned axis of their settlement (called Gibellet) to the north. Their cathedral of St. John is a chief surviving masterpiece, which is now used for Maronite and Latin Catholic worship.
Bibliography: l. hennequin, Dictionnaire de la Bible, suppl ed. l. pirot et al. (Paris 1928–) 3:451–68. r. north, "Gebal (1)," Anchor Bible Dictionary 2 (1992) 922–23 Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963), from a. van den born, Bijbels Woordenboek 292–93. "Byblos and Jericho Neolithic Floors," Fifth Congress of Jewish Studies 1969 (Jerusalem 1972) 1:35–49. p. montet, Byblos et l'Égypte (Paris 1928). m. dunand, Fouilles de Byblos (Paris 1937–); Byblia grammata (Beirut 1945); Revue biblique 57 (1950) 583–603; 59 (1952) 82–90; Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth 9 (1950) 53–74; 12 (1955) 7–23; 13 (1956) 73–86. r. soyez, Byblo et la fête des Adonies: Etudes préliminaire des religions orientale et romaine 60 (1977). a. acquaro, ed., Biblo simposio 1990 (1994). g. mendenhall, The Syllabic Inscriptions from Byblos (Beirut 1985). w. f. albright, "Some Oriental Glosses on the Homeric Problem," American Journal of Archaeology Concord, N.H. 54 (1950) 162–76, esp. 165; Ensiqlopediya Miqra’it, v.2 (Jerusalem 1954) 404–11, in Heb.
Italian fashion house
Founded: in 1973 as a division of Genny SpA. Company History: Independent company formed, circa 1983; designers have included Versace and Guy Paulin; principal designers, since 1981, Alan Cleaver and Keith Varty; collections include Byblos Uomo, 1983, Byblos USA, and Options Donna, 1985, Vis á Vis Byblos, 1986, and Options Uomo, 1988; Cleaver and Varty dismissed, 1996; Richard Tyler debuts first collection for Byblos, 1997; Tyler and Byblos end relationship, Richard Barlett takes over as creative director, 1998; Barlett leaves Byblos, 2000; Martine Sitbon hired as women's creative director and Sandy Dalal as men's creative director, 2001. Company Address: Via Maggini 126, 60127 Ancona, Italy.
Buckley, Richard, "Byblos: The Boys' Own Story," in DNR: The Magazine (New York), January 1985.
Haynes, Kevin, "Leave It to Byblos," in Women's Wear Daily, 5 June 1985.
Elms, Robert, "Italian Fashion: The British Connection," in the Sunday Express Magazine (London), 9 February 1986.
Frey, Nadine, "Varty and Cleaver: Revitalizing Byblos," in Women's Wear Daily, 28 April 1987.
Harris, Lara, "La Sera di Byblos," in Donna (Milan), October 1987.
Phillips, Kathy, "Men of the Cloth," in You, magazine of the Mail on Sunday (London), 8 November 1987.
Lomas, Jane, "Byblos Brits," in the Observer (London), 24 April 1988.
Cook, Cathy, "Boys Just Wanna Have Fun," in Taxi (New York), March 1989.
Racht, Tione, "Der Byblos Stil," in Vogue (Munich), March 1989.
Lobrano, Alexander, "Both Sides of Byblos," in DNR, 19 June 1989.
Ozzard, Janet, "Byblos Boys Out After 15 Years, as Milan Firm Appoints Richard Tyler," in Women's Wear Daily, 12 November 1996.
Conti, Samantha, "Behind the Purge at Byblos," in DNR, 4 December 1996.
Forden, Sara Gay, "Cleaver and Varty Seeking Compensation From Byblos," in Women's Wear Daily, 31 July 1997.
Conti, Samantha, and Miles Socha, "Bartlett Already Sketching for Byblos," in Women's Wear Daily, 9 April 1998.
Ilari, Alessandra, "Bartlett Paring Down His Steamy Side for Byblos Collection," in DNR, 26 June 1998.
Ozzard, Janet, "Bartlett, Byblos Part Company," in Women's Wear Daily, 21 March 2000.
Dodd, Annmarie, et al., "Bartlett to Take Front Row Seat at Byblos," in DNR, 26 June 2000.
"Byblos Appoints Martine Sitbon as Women's Creative Director," inWomen's Wear Daily, 19 March 2001.
Brown, Wendell, "Byblos Names Sandy Dalal Creative Director," in DNR, 21 March 2001.***
Byblos takes its name from a hotel in St. Tropez, France. Since its inception in 1973, it has been a kind of international grand hotel of design, starting with a group of stylists, then engaging the Milanese Gianni Versace as designer from 1975 to 1976, then Frenchman Guy Paulin, and finally Keith Varty from the Royal College of Art in London via a period in Paris at Dorothée Bis with Alan Cleaver. Varty and Cleaver became the personification of Byblos objectives: a young line, international, with panache, and a carefree, optimistic nonchalance. In the 1980s, the market-acute colorful palettes and relaxed resort-influenced informality of Cleaver and Varty for Byblos became a young lingua franca in fashion for the twentysomething and thirtysomething generations.
What Varty and Cleaver lacked was any sense of the sinister or cynical: they were intent upon making clothes that were fun and exuberant. Varty described their design challenge to Women's Wear Daily in 1987: "Our product has to be salable, in the right fabrics with this young image and it's got to be fresh every season." The crux of the Cleaver-Varty achievement was color—they brought Matisse colors to clothing, captured aubergines and gingers with a grocer's discrimination and knew the earth colors of every part of the globe with a geologist's imagination. The Daily News Record (11 January 1989) rightly described the menswear: "Gold at the end of the rainbow. If anyone can make color successfully commercial, it's Keith Varty and Alan Cleaver for Byblos." They were to contemporary fashion what David Hockney is to contemporary art: British travel, observation, effervescence, and childlike delight in the world's bright colors.
Travel and exoticism was an important theme in Cleaver and Varty's work, reflecting their vacationing in Marrakech, Hawaii, and the South Pacific; a recurring spirit of the American West (especially in their menswear); old-Havana machismo; and their love of tropical colors and refreshing prints inspired by Southeast Asia and South America. In 1987 resort collections, the voyage was specific, with big skirts featuring postcards from the Bahamas and maps of islands. Fiesta brights were almost invariably featured in the spring and resort collections, with options for khaki, chocolates, mud, and tobacco brown. If the spring 1987 collections seemed like the British in India, their colonialism was mellowed by supple shapes, fluid lines, and khaki silk poplin. In 1988, the trek was to Russia in a savagely romantic display of fake fur, folkloric embroidery and motifs, and grand silhouettes that Women's Wear Daily (29 February 1988) called "Anna Karenina comes to Milan."
It seemed unlikely that the sun would ever set on these two brilliant adventurers who had done so much to establish the Byblos style. Yet Byblos experienced turmoil and turnover beginning in the mid-1990s and in 1996 Varty and Cleaver were dismissed after 15 years with the company. Sales had been in decline, and the two were accused of a lack of innovation; while the remainder of the fashion industry was moving on to more sophisticated, elegant creations, they continued with the fun, colorful fashions they had been known for since the early 1980s.
Varty and Cleaver's replacement was Richard Tyler, who debuted his first Byblos collection in Milan for fall 1997. Tyler's emphasis on simplicity in his designs, along with his popularity in the U.S., where Byblos generated 10 percent of its sales at the time were two of the factors that encouraged Byblos' parent company, Genny, to hire him. Tyler, who continued to design his own label concurrently with his work for Byblos, lasted only a year and a half with the house, being replaced by John Bartlett in 1998.
Bartlett, whose first collection was for spring/summer 1999, recognized the need to stay true what he characterized as the Byblos tradition of "young, light, colorful, and thematic" clothing (Women's Wear Daily, 9 April 1998), while moving forward to embrace current design trends. Color was something the brand had gotten away from under Tyler's oversight, when minimal and monochromatic were the rule of the day. Bartlett set out "to reinvigorate and revitalize the Byblos brand without completely changing it beyond recognition," as he told Women's Wear Daily. At the same time, Bartlett had to tone down the sexiness typical of his own line, in a bow to Byblos' commercial direction.
Bartlett's short reign lasted just over a year, when he stepped down after completing the fall 2000 collections. (Byblos and Barlett simultaneously discontinued a licensing deal that had allowed Byblos to manufacture and distribute Bartlett's signature line.) Bartlett stayed on as a consultant on fashion trends for two seasons but did no hands-on designing at Byblos. An in-house design team took over, garnering lukewarm reviews for the homogeneity of their early collections. As Women's Wear Daily pointed out in October 2000, Bartlett had creative highs and lows during his tenure, but his signature style always showed through. The subsequent line, on the other hand, "lacked the singular focus that would distinguish it from a sea of others."
In March 2001, Byblos announced two new creative directors, Martine Sitbon for women and Sandy Dalal for men. Paris-based Sitbon was recognized for her use of graphic prints and according to Women's Wear Daily, "a style that blends rock 'n' roll with romance." The 24-year-old Milan-based Dalal, who planned to continue his own signature collection in addition to his work for Byblos, told DNR (21 March 2001) that he looked forward "to reinterpreting the essence of the roots from which Byblos began: playful, sexy, colorful clothes." Debut collections were expected from the designers for spring 2002.
updated by KarenRaugust