TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Readers will soon be able to take an interactive tour of the Qannoubine Valley in north Lebanon, thanks to author George Arab’s soon-to-be released book which offers a detailed description of the history, caves and hermitages that can be found on location.
The book, entitled “The Caverns of the Sacred Valley,” is the first volume in a series of three and includes a comprehensive cultural survey, which was compiled by Arab and his team. The book will be published in Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and distributed for free under the patronage of President Michel Sleiman and Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who received a golden edition of the book Friday.
Arab walks the reader through the rough terrain, which is full of wild plants and dead ends, making the path a difficult journey for visitors in search of deserted caves and hermitages.
“We have finished the excavation of nearly all the caves. The first volume of three will be published soon, and work is under way to rehabilitate a road for pedestrians to reach these caves,” said the author, who plans to organize tours for visitors of Qannoubine Valley after the roads have been rehabilitated.
Arab said that he and his team members gathered the names of all the hermitages with the help of the elderly who live in nearby villages and are familiar with the valley.
The first volume includes details of 34 locations that were visited by Arab and his team. There is a detailed guide for each excavation site that includes a map, the findings and the meanings of their names, as well as colored photos.
Arab added that he and his team have uncovered 104 locations in total that will be used for the entire series, including caves and hermitages which still contain the remains of their inhabitants.
The team also discovered pottery, iron tools and windmills which shed light on the agricultural trade that drove the region’s economy in past centuries. The manufacturing of limestone and silk have played important parts in this history. The inhabitants of the valley were able to become proficient in manufacturing both items through primitive structures that were found by Arab and his team.
Arab said the Culture Ministry will work with experts to conduct an archaeological survey to determine the historical significance of the items and sites that were discovered in the valley.