02/28/2015 11:22 am ET Updated Apr 30, 2015

Preserving the Phoenician Heritage of Tyre Against the Latest Threats in the Middle East

Co-authored with Charles Sneiderman

At a press conference at the National Press Club on February 27, 2015, representatives of the American Committee for Tyre appealed for urgent protection of the archeological sites, historical treasures, and works of art in this city, a UNESCO World Heritage site in modern day Lebanon.

The conference was organized by Jan DuPlain of the International Correspondents Committee, National Press Club. The speakers included Ambassador David Killion, former US ambassador to UNESCO, Dr. Maha El-Khalil Chalabi, Founder of the Tyre Foundation and Secretary General of the American Committee for Tyre, and Dr. Mary-Jane Deeb, Chief of the African and Middle East Division of the Library of Congress. The speakers reviewed the importance of this "ancient Phoenician Metropolis" to both Western and Middle Eastern culture. The presentation was particularly significant one day after an Islamic State attack on a museum of priceless antiquities in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

The committee members said Tyre was one of the great pillars of civilization. UNESCO says it was founded in 2750 BC as part of the ancient Phoenician civilization. Some great inventions in Tyre included an early alphabet, the royal color purple (made from shellfish), glassblowing, navigation tools, an early form of democracy, and other innovations.

An all-day symposium, exhibition, and reception on Tyre will be held on June 3, 2015 at the Library of Congress.