Friday, August 7, 2009

Oil and The Cedars of Lebanon

"Throughout antiquity the cedars of Lebanon were prized above all other trees. Their fine wood was strong, straight and wonderfully scented. It was always the first choice for any temple or palace, and top value in trade was paid for it. These trees helped give the Phoenicians a high place among other nations, and became the symbol by which they and their descendants were known."

"Ancient demand for cedar was raised to a fever pitch for a very significant reason. The two dominant civilizations at that time -- Egypt and Mesopotamia -- had virtually no wood at all. This was especially true in Egypt, where the pithy core of palm trees made them not very useful, and the only other substantial growth, the acacia tree, produced boards which were only about three feet long (one meter).

The Mesopotamians could float wood down the Tigris and Euphrates from mountains in the north (which would one day be Turkey). But the Egyptians were essentially dependent upon the Phoenicians for their precious cedar. Chapters 2 and 3 of Phoenicians: Lebanon's Epic Heritage uncovers how the highly-desired cedar tree became one of the centerpieces of life in Lebanon and across the Mediteranean."

"It should be mentioned that the mountains of Lebanon, with their snow-capped peaks, provided many other kinds of wood as well, including juniper, pine and oak. But the cedar was always the most treasured."

"Unfortunately, these magnificent stands of trees were heavily harvested in more recent times, with the British Railway virtually finishing them off in the head-long rush to lay track as fast as possible on wooden railroad ties.
Today, only a few stands of these trees-of-kings are left, with the most impressive groves being near Bcharré in the northern Lebanon mountains and the Chouf Reserve in the south. If you are in the neighborhood and feel like having an adventure, they can still be seen."

"The re-forestation projects are coming along, but at a painfully slow pace. Much more needs to be done to restore the stands of these tall, strong symbols of the Lebanese people."

U2: Cedars of Lebanon

Now I’ve got a head like a lit cigarette

Unholy clouds reflecting in a minaret

You’re so high above me, higher than everyone

Where are you in the Cedars of Lebanon?

Choose your enemies carefully ‘cos they will define you

Make them interesting ‘cos in some ways they will mind you

They’re not there in the beginning but when your story ends

Gonna last with you longer than your friends

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