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(sī`dən), ancient city, one of the great seaports of the Phoenicians, on site of present-day Sidon or Saida (1988 est. pop. 38,000), SW Lebanon, on the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the oldest Phoenician cities and is mentioned in the Tell el AmarnaTell el Amarna
or Tel el Amarna
, ancient locality, Egypt, near the Nile and c.60 mi (100 km) N of Asyut. Ikhnaton's capital, Akhetaton, was in Tell el Amarna. About 400 tablets with inscriptions in Akkadian cuneiform were found there in 1887.
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 letters c.1400 B.C. After the 2d millennium B.C., all Phoenicians were called Sidonians. Sidon was always an important center for trade, particularly in a later period when it was known for its purple dyes and for glassware (glass blowing is said to have begun at Sidon). Sidon has been excavated, and the sarcophagus of Eshmunzar that was found preserves an inscription of 22 lines mentioning various deities such as Baal and Ashtoreth.

Although eclipsed by its own colony, TyreTyre
, ancient city of Phoenicia, S of Sidon. It is the present-day Sur in Lebanon, a small town on a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean from the mainland of Syria S of Beirut.
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, Sidon continued to be a port of prominence under the Persians, in the Hellenistic world, and in the later Roman Empire. It is often mentioned in the Bible. During the 1982 Israeli invasion of S Lebanon, the modern city was captured from the Palestine Liberation Organization by Israeli forces after heavy fighting.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Say da, Saida), a city in western Lebanon. Population, 35,600 (1964).

A port on the Mediterranean, Sidon had a freight turnover of 19.4 million tons in 1973. It is a shipping point for petroleum coming from Saudi Arabia by way of the Abqaiq-Sidon pipeline. There is an oil refinery near the city, with an annual capacity of 700,000 tons. The city serves as a trade center for the surrounding agricultural region, where citrus fruits, bananas, wheat, and barley are grown. Fishing and food processing also contribute to Sidon’s economy.

In antiquity, a Phoenician city-state existed on the site of the modern city. Its founding apparently dates from the fourth millennium B.C. During the second millennium B.C., Sidon was a major center for international trade and waged a persistent struggle with Tyre for hegemony within Phoenicia. In the late second and early first millennia B.C., Sidon took part in the colonization of the western Mediterranean. At the beginning of the first millennium B.C., it fell under the rule of Tyre. Subdued by Assyria in 701 B.C., Sidon on several occasions was the center of anti-Assyrian outbreaks. From the end of the seventh to the mid-sixth century B.C., it came under Babylonian rule; in the second half of the sixth century B.C., it was conquered by the Achaemenids. Around 342 B.C., after an anti-Persian uprising, Sidon was destroyed by Artaxerxes III. Later, the city was rebuilt. From the fourth century B.C. to about A.D. 630, Sidon was successively ruled by Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, Rome, and Byzantium. In A.D. 637 it was conquered by the Arabs.

During the Crusades, Sidon was contested by the Crusaders and Muslims and on several occasions endured sieges and destruction. From the 13th century to the beginning of the 16th, the city was under the rule of the Egyptian Mamelukes. In 1517 it was conquered by the Turkish sultan Selim I and until 1918 was part of the Ottoman Empire. During this period, the city was called Sayda. The emir Fakhr al-Din’s rule saw a certain revival in the city’s fortunes. From 1660 to 1775, Sidon was the center of a vilayet (province), but later, in connection with the development of Acre and Beirut, it fell into decline. In 1840, during the intervention by European powers, the city was subjected to bombardment by a combined Anglo-Austrian fleet. Its subsequent history has been linked with that of Lebanon, of which it became a part in 1920.

On an island linked to Sidon by a causeway is the Crusader Castle (13th century, restored 17th and 18th centuries), which was built on the site of Melkarth, a Phoenician temple. Other architectural monuments include the ruins of a castle built by King Louis IX (Sea Castle, 12th century) and the Grand Mosque, rebuilt from a Christian church of the 13th century. Sidon also has an archaeological museum. In the environs of the city are the ruins of the Phoenician temple of Eshmun (tenth-fifth centuries B.C.) and a necropolis.


Poidebard, A., and J. Lauffray. Siden: Aménagements antiques du port de Saida. Beirut, 1951.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the chief city of ancient Phoenicia: founded in the third millennium bc; wealthy through trade and the making of glass and purple dyes; now the Lebanese city of Saïda
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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