Al-Arz is the Lebanese translation of the word Cedar. Al-Arz or L’Arz, is also known as Cedrus Libani (Cedar of Lebanon), and is an evergreen of the Pinaceae family. This coniferous plant was first found in Lebanon, on the Mount Lebanon range at Sannine, Barrouk. It was also located on Lebanon’s eastern and western mountain chains. Centuries ago, the Mount Lebanon chain was almost completely covered with cedars. The most famous cedars are referred to as Arz el Rab or Cedars of the Lord or Cedars of Lebanon.
The cedar is one of the most valued construction materials in the antiquity period. Cited approximately 103 times in the Bible, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians were known to have made expeditions to Mount Lebanon in search of the exquisite timber quality of the Cedar, exporting it through the coastal cities of then, Cana-Phoenicia. In addition to its unique and long-lasting fragrance, the Cedar was flexible, resistant, and widely used by Phoenicians in the construction of merchant fleets. It is written in Scriptures, that Solomon requested large supplies of cedar wood and gathered seasoned architects and builders from King Hiram of Tyre (a coastal city of Phoenicia) to see the construction of his Temple known as the Solomon Temple.
Today, approximately 400 cedars of hundreds of years old stand in a sheltered glacial pocket that is situated in the area of Mount Makmel, an elevated region located at altitudes that range between 1900 m and 2050 m on the east side of the northern village of Bcharré. It is in this particular grove that one can truly appreciate the stature and magnificence of these trees. Four majestic cedars have reached a height of 35 meters with their trunks measuring between 12 and 14 meters in perimeter. Their strength carries massive branches that spread their horizontal boughs like fans. Conservation efforts have improved the environmental conditions needed for these monumental trees to survive damage caused by natural and human elements. Some thousand young trees have been planted in recent decades to renew this natural and cultural resource.
The Cedar of Lebanon is the centre piece of the flag of Lebanon. As with its timber attributes, the Cedar has become a symbol of the resilience and adaptability of the Lebanese people.
Lebanon is a relatively small country, with a greatly diverse population of 4.4 million people spread across a geographical area that is 10,400 sq km, an area that can be compared to a city the size of Conneticut (US). It is wrapped by Israel on its south east side and huddled by Syria on the North east side. Lebanon’s entire western coast befriends the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.
Beirut, is the capital city of Lebanon where the first Law school was founded in 450 B.C. in the then city of Berytus, known as one of the city-states of Phoenicia. Destroyed 7 times over the course of its history, today Beirut is both a traditional and progressive cosmopolitain city where freedom of expression, democracy and plurality of faiths, cultures and languages co-exist.
While Arabic has been the official language of Lebanon since its state independence in 1942, the common language (dialect) is Lebanese. However, it is not uncommon to also hear people speaking in French, English and Armenian.
Lebanon’s official name is the Republic of Lebanon and its official currency is the Lebanese lira (LL). Its ancient cities such as Sour (Sour), Sida (Sidon), Beirut and Jbail (Byblos) have served as major outports and seaports in Pheonician and Roman times.
Lebanon’s agricultural centrepointe is the Bekaa Valley, located between the country’s two mountain chains. Thanks to river-fed fields, the Valley supports the large and diversified homebased harvest of wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, grapes, and figs, creating an export haven of products such as wine, arak, dried fruits, pickled and dried goods.
Phoenicia is an ancient civilization which was comprised of many coastal city states stretching along the Mediterranean Sea and included parts of countries known today as Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. The Phoenicians were great traders and vigourous sea people – inhabitants of the land of Canaan (a land referenced in the Hebrew scriptures). The Greeks referred to the Phoenicians as Phoinikes (the Purple People) for their manufacturing of purple dye used in the city of Jbail (Tyre). This unique red-purple dye, called Tyranian Purple, was produced using sea snails and served as a distinctive colour for the robes of Mesopotamian royalty.
Phoenicians were also credited with the creation of the alphabet which was brought to Greece sometime before the 8th century b.c. by the Phoenician Kadmus. Greeks, and then Romans, are known to have borrowed the Phoenician alphabet as the basis to create their own. This legacy of language and the written word may have explained why the Romans accepted, and then promoted Berytus (Beirut) as the site of the earliest law school.
Al-Arz Lebanese Art Group
P.O. Box 7116, Station Vanier