Roman temple of Bziza
The Roman temple of Bziza is a well-preserved first century AD building dedicated to Azizos, a personification of the morning star in Canaanite mythology. The temple was converted into a church and underwent architectural modification during two phases of Christianization; in the Early Byzantine period and later in the Middle Ages. The church, colloquially known until modern times as the Lady of the Pillars, fell into disrepair.
About Roman temple of Bziza in brief
The Roman temple of Bziza is a well-preserved first century AD building dedicated to Azizos, a personification of the morning star in the Canaanite mythology. In 64 BC, the Roman general Pompey annexed Phoenicia to the Roman province of Syria after years of disorderly power vacuum caused by the Seleucid dynastic wars. The temple was converted into a church and underwent architectural modification during two phases of Christianization; in the Early Byzantine period and later in the Middle Ages. The church, colloquially known until modern times as the Lady of the Pillars, fell into disrepair. Despite the church’s condition, Christian devotion was still maintained in the nineteenth century in one of the temple’s niches. A policy of repression and persecution of paganism was initiated during the reign of Constantine I when he ordered the pillaging and destruction of Roman temples. In 1838, French orientalist painters Antoine-Alphonse Montfort and François Lehoux visited and painted the temple ruins. In the early twentieth century, German architectural historian Daniel Krencker conducted a survey of the ruins. According to the Nineteenth-century photographs, the chapel remains had been removed and the oak tree that took root inside of the chapel had been cut down for use in a new church. In 1860, French Semitic languages and civilizations expert Ernest Renan visited the temple and attributed it to Beth Azizo, a corruption of the Phoenician word for temple.
Bziz is the name of the town’s main street, which is now a main street of the Lebanese city of Beirut. It is also known as the Temple of Our Lady of The Pillars and is featured on multiple stamps issued by the Lebanese state. It was built during the Julio-Claudian dynasty in the first centuryAD, at a time when Roman hegemony over the region was still being consolidated. The Phoenicians perpetuated the ancient tradition of building high-altitude sanctuaries and sacred precincts. Temples were situated on or overlooking mountain summits that were believed to be sacred dwellings of the gods and giants, guarded by archaic men and wild beasts. Under the influence of suzerain powers, Phoenican temples were Hellenized then Romanized while maintaining balance between foreign elements and Semitic architectural archetypes, among which are tower altars, temenoi and cellas with elevated adytons. The temple ofBziza adheres to this model, which characterized RomanizedPhoenician temples. It is believed that the temple was built to honor the god Ares, who was identified as Ares by Julian the Apostate. It has two doors that connect the pronaos to a square cella. The ancient temple functioned as an aedes, the dwelling place of the deity. It underwent further structural modifications during the twelfth and the thirteenth century and is now called the Church of OurLady of thepillars.