tell located at the southeastern edge of the Lebanese Biqa῾ (Bekaa) Valley, north of the modern road that branches off the north–south road from Qabb Ilyas to Mashgara, leading eastward via Jubb Jannin and joining the southbound road from Masna to Rashaya. Kamid el-Loz is strategically located at the place where two ancient main roads cross: the old road going from the Upper Jordan Valley through Wadi-at Taym, crossing the Biqa῾ into Syria, and another one from the Phoenician coast. Tell Kamid el-Loz is one of the largest (300 × 240 m) and highest (26 m) settlement hills in the Biqa῾. Two springs are in close proximity to the tell: one to the north, the other at its western edge.

As early as 1897, A. Guthe suggested that the modern name of Kamid el-Loz implied that of ancient Kumidi. Egyptian sources of the second half of the second millennium BCE mention a location KMT (Ku'-m'-t), or Kumidi, several times, most probably an administrative center, that of a rabu (ruler) of an Egyptian province in Asia. This identification was confirmed in 1969 by the discovery of four clay tablets (followed by more between 1972 and 1978, letters written by the Egyptian pharaoh to the rabu, in which it is clear that Kumidi is a city in the southern Biqa῾ and that it is located at a cultural crossroad. This applies perfectly to Kamid el-Loz, the only tell in the southern Biqa῾ that meets all the requirements established for Kumidi.

In 1954, Arnulf Kuschke identified the site of Kamid el-Loz and began excavating it in 1963. Fieldwork between 1963 and 1965 was carried out by joint expeditions from the Universities of Johana Gutenberg of Mainz and the University of Saarbrucken, directed by Kuschke and Rolf Hachmann, respectively. Between 1964 and 1981, the University of Saarbrucken alone assumed the work. The excavation continued for six years into the Lebanese civil war (with the exception of the years 1975 and 1976) and closed prematurely in 1981. Since then, treasure hunters with bulldozers have destroyed the fragile architectural evidence and stratification of the second- and third-millennium town. Prior to 1981, excavation had cleared an area of 5,700 sq m.

The earliest archaeological remains cover the bedrock at the northern edge of the tell. They revealed an Early Neolithic settlement yielding plain Neolithic pottery, a few clay idols, and numerous lithic tools. The Chalcolithic level has not yet been found. All that is known about the existence of an Early Bronze Age town are some pottery sherds found out of context in later strata. The Middle Bronze Age was excavated over an area of 2,400 sq m. A number of urban settlements were uncovered whose size, building materials, and building techniques were superior to those of later periods. This probably indicates a politically more important settlement than any of the later Late Bronze Age towns. A fortified city wall was cleared on the tell's northern and eastern slopes. The location of the MB palace and temples is known; they lie, unexcavated, underneath the LB palace and temple.

The excavations concentrated mainly on the Late Bronze Age city, which was cleared for 3,800 sq m. A city wall surrounded the LB city. The temple was located in the northwestern part of the tell, separated from the palace by an esplanade that opened onto a street leading outside the city. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt four times. The distinctiveness of this temple is its double court. The western court was paved with mud-brick blocks and had three rectangular basins lined with plaster, probably used for sacrifices. Four temple models were found in the court. An annex to the temple consisted of two rooms where large number of clay vases and bronze figurines were found. The LB palace was located south of the temple. Like the temple, the palace was destroyed and rebuilt five times. The mud-brick walls of the entrance hall were preserved to a height of more than 3 m.

Only one building was excavated to the east of the oldest palace. Tombs of three people with rich funerary material, were found beneath it; it was probably the site's royal cemetery. [See Grave Goods.]

To this same period belong beautiful ivory objects and six Amarna tablets. [See Amarna Tablets.] Following this period, the city remained uninhabited for a time. An area of 4,400 sq m was excavated from the Iron Age I period. It yielded eight superposed levels of nonfortified villages consisting of small, irregular houses of one to two rooms, built out of wood. Poor residential materials were found inside. No Phoenician remains from the Iron II period were found. The excavator indicates that period could be present in the southern, unexcavated part of the tell. In the Persian period the deserted northwest sector of the tell was used as a cemetary. Modern occupation of the site covers part of the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman cemeteries.

[See also Phoenicians.]

Bibliography

  • Hachmann, Rolf, ed. Kamid el-Loz, 1977–1981. Bonn, 1986. See pages 205–211 for a complete bibliography.
  • Hachmann, Rolf, ed. Kamid el-Loz, 1963–1981: German Excavations in Lebanon (Part I). Berytus, vol. 37. Beirut, 1989.

Leila Badre