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  • The castle of Doubiyeh (Lebanon)

The archaeological mission of Qal'at Doubiyeh is a French mission organised by the Institut français du Proche-Orient, supported by the excavation committee of the Ministère des Affaires de l’Europe étrangères. Directed by Cyril Yovitchitch, the mission began in 2011 and ended in 2016.

The castle of Doubiyeh, in southern Lebanon, is part of the commune of Chaqra. As the castle is located in a turbulent region away from the main tourist routes, no archaeological mission had visited the site since the end of the 19th century. At that time, the British archaeologists Conder and Kitchener had carried out archaeological surveys and drew up an archaeological inventory of Western Palestine.

The mission conducted topographical and architectural surveys, and targeted excavations to better understand the chronology and the defensive and residential aspects of the constructions. They produced a 3D model of the entire castle based on a photogrammetric survey of the whole site.

The castle was constructed in two stages.

Medieval occupation

This period is represented by a turris dating from the 12th century of which there are many examples in the region. This tower, which must have been part of the Lordship of Toron, probably housed a knight and his household. A watch tower on the road linking Damascus and Tyre, it also acted as a physical reminder of lordly authority.

Ceramic artefacts provide evidence of Mamluk occupation, which could not be linked to a construction phase.

Between archaism and modernity

The castle’s appearance was radically altered in the first half of the 17th century. It was refortified following strong tensions in the region between Shia lords and the Ottoman authorities. Beneath the veneer of a Mamluk fortress, Qal’at Doubiyah incorporates Early Modern features rarely seen in the Near East. Service areas, reception rooms and living rooms are equipped with fire places. Paradoxically, no provision had been made for firearms such as gun-loops, which gives some indication of 17th and 18th century military practices in the region.