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King Hiram of Tyre

This man inherited a tiny little beach town and created from it the most powerful city in the Mediterranean at the time.
Hiram followed his father (Abi Baal) as king of Tyre. He himself was followed by his son (Baal-User), who ruled for 17 years, and his grandson (Abdastratus), who ruled for 9 more till he was murdered in a conspiracy. This was tied for the longest that a single family ruled as kings of Tyre, of course we only know of the 17 kings that ruled from the time of Hiram's father till it came to be ruled by judges.

Originally, Tyre was populated on the mainland, with the island of Tyre just offshore and a much smaller island between the mainland and the larger island. The city was just a minor community and, in fact, had to be founded and re-founded by Sidon. The city which he came to rule included an island population at the time, but there were no records of it anywhere in surviving official documents - only the mention of it on some Sidonian coins. The Assyrian, Tiglatpileser I (1114-1076), received tribute from all the major Phoenician cities, including Sidon, Gubal, and Arvad, but no mention is made of Tyre. In trade-relations with Egypt (1075 - 1060), Byblos was the most important, followed by Sidon. Tyre is relegated to a secondary status. The island population, while small, had to rely on shipments of water from Ushu (Paleotyre, or modern day Tell er-Rachidiyeh) and food from any of the mainland communities.

When Hiram I came to power (969-936), he brought massive changes. He had cisterns and other engineering works built to catch and save rainwater (the first known in history). He joined the two islands together with landfill from the mainland (bringing it to about 40 acres) and used some of the soil to enclose, on three sides, the harbor on the north side of the island (and added mighty shipyards). He not only built the royal palace, but great temples to Melkart and Astarte, which were world famous hundreds of years later, when Herodotus wrote of them, and when Alexander wanted to worship in that of Melkart. The building of the Eurychoros ("Broad Place") is, by tradition, credited to Hiram. This was the main marketplace near the northern harbor. He put a great deal of diplomatic efforts into his relations with Palestine (making his city the main trading partner for Palestine).

Hiram came to power in a little town and created from it the most important port in the Mediterranean. According to H. J. Katzenstein in The History of Tyre (1973), "It was Hiram who laid the foundations for the great Tyrian Sea Empire that knew no equal in ancient history." The ‘Golden Age' of Phoenicia/Tyre began during his reign. He had few ships, a large market of customers for Tyre's trade, and access to land trade routes with Mesopotamia.

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