9.6.16

Alexander Transformed The Island Of Tyre Into A Peninsula

While there’s some debate as to whether the Macedonian conqueror counts as Greek, there’s no denying his central place in later Greco-Roman culture. After conquering Asia Minor, Alexander the Great turned his attention toward the Levant in 332 B.C. At this point, Alexander possessed a fine army, but he lacked naval power. 



Thus, it seemed the important island city of Tyre might be unconquerable for the conquest-minded Alexander.Located just off the coast of what is now Lebanon, Tyre’s defenses extended beyond its island geography. Even if Alexander could somehow cross the kilometer of water separating Tyre from the mainland, his army would still have to contend with the city’s 45-meter (150 ft) walls built on the edge of the sea to prevent landings. And then there were Tyre’s defenders—tens of thousands of them.Undaunted, Alexander had his engineers embark on one of history’s greatest siege works: a 60-meter-wide (200 ft) land bridge connecting Tyre to the coast. Since Alexander’s builders had to work within range of Tyre’s catapults, the Macedonians constructed two mobile 45-meter-tall (150 ft) siege towers to protect the laborers. Despite constant attacks from Tyre’s defenders, the land bridge was completed. Alexander’s capture of another city’s fleet and subsequent use of that armada then ultimately enabled Tyre’s defeat.Alexander’s land bridge, built on a stone foundation, still exists today, connecting Tyre to the coast of Lebanon.

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