One of the oldest cities in the world dates back to at least 7,000 years. The rise and fall of nearly two-dozen successive levels of human culture on this site makes it one of the richest archeological areas in the country. Under the domination of the Egyptian pharaohs in the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C, Byblos was the commercial and religious capital of the Phoenician coast. It was in Byblos where the first linear alphabet, ancestor of all modern alphabet – through Greek and Latin – was invented. The sarcophagus of Byblos’ king Ahiram, now resting in the National Museum, bears the oldest known Phoenician inscription. Byblos was also the center of the Adonis cult, the god of vegetation who dies in winter and renews every spring. Like its sister cities, Byblos was destroyed in the earthquake of 551 A.D. It regained importance in Crusader times when it fell under the county of Tripoli. A modest town under the Mamluks and Ottomans, Byblos grew rapidly during the recent war in Lebanon when commercial activities moved from Beirut to regional capitals.