Tomb of Hiram I

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The "Tomb of Hiram I" (French: Tombe de Hiram), is a carved limestone burial structure located some 6 kilometres southeast of Tyre, near the village of Hanaouay on the road to Qana. The structure is compesed of lime-stone blockes topped with a colossal limestone sarcophagus. The monolithic monument is known as the Qabr Hiram, also spelled as Kabr Hiram (قبر حيرام) in Arabic, literally meaning the 'the grave of Hiram'.

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Although attributed to the legendary king Hiram, who may have reigned Tyre in the tenth century BCE, the tomb-structure in fact dates to the Persian age (circa 539-332 BCE). There is some typological similarity to the tombs at Pasargadae and Gur-e Dokhtar. There are several Byzantine tombs in the neighborhood.

King Hiram was a Phoenician King who reigned from around 980 to 947 BCE (although this date may vary by 10-years). According to the bible he had a close relationship with David, and aided Solomon [see N1 and N2] in the building of his temple [see N3]. According to Jewish historian Josephus King Hiram I of Tyre is said to have lived to be 53-years of age, but reigned only 34 of them having taken the throne after his father Abibaal passed and was succeeded by his son Baal-Eser. Although there exists some confusion from Biblical text as the timelines don’t quite match up as Solomon and David deal with a “King Hiram” for a time of around 54-years [see N4].

In the late sixth centure CE, circa 580 CE, during the Byzantine era a church/basilica was constructed nearby. The church was dedicated to Saint Christopher who was killed during the reign of either Decius or Maximinus Daia.

Brief History

Phoenician Era
Although today it stands alone, dominating the surrounding landscape, it was part of a large necropolis associated with the Phoenician city of Tyre and its surrounding areas.


The sarcophagus is a monolithic limestone block that rests on a base made of three tiers of large stones. Rectangular in shape, it measures 4 meters long, 3 meters wide and about 2 meters high with a pyramid cover. The overall structure is about 7 meters heigh from the soil to the top of the cover. Although some of the stone-work is gone, the monument of Hiram has remained partially intact merely because the remaining stones were too large to remove.

Excavations carried out at the foot of the tomb uncovered an oblique staircase carved out of the rock which connected with the tomb’s foundations and led into a large irregularly vaulted cavern (check the plan at the end of the article).

The adjacent field was also excavated: it revealed the remnants of a church that housed one of the most important and beautiful mosaics in Lebanon. Other important findings such as pottery and structural foundations were unearthed.


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