Tyre (native Phoenician Ṣur, Latin Tyrus, Akkadian Ṣurru, Tiberian Hebrew צר Ṣōr, Greek Τύρος Týros, Arabic الصور aṣ-Ṣūr) is an ancient Phoenician city in Lebanon on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about 23 miles, in a direct line, north of Acre, and 20 south of Sidon. Sidon was the oldest Phoenician city, but Tyre outlasted its elder sister and had a longer and more illustrious history. The modern city is still named Sur. The name of the city means 'Rock'.
The commerce of the whole world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre. "Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the Aegean Sea, in Greece, on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage and other places, in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus, and even beyond the pillars of Hercules at Gadeira (Cádiz)" (Driver's Isaiah). In the time of David a friendly alliance was entered into between the Hebrews and the Tyrians, who were long ruled over by their native kings.
Tyre consisted of two distinct parts, a rocky fortress on the mainland, called "Old Tyre", and the city, built on a small, rocky island about half-a-mile distant from the shore. It was a place of great strength. It was besieged by Shalmaneser III, who was assisted by the Phoenicians of the mainland, for five years, and by Nebuchadnezzar (586–573 BC) for thirteen years, apparently without success. It afterwards fell under the power of Alexander the Great, after a siege of seven months in which he built a causeway from the mainland to the island, but continued to maintain much of its commercial importance till the Christian era.
Here a church was founded soon after the death of Stephen, and Paul, on his return from his third missionary journey spent a week in conversation with the disciples there.
It was captured after the First Crusade and was one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, although there were also autonomous trading colonies there for the Italian merchant cities. In 1291 it was retaken by the Mameluks.
"It is noticed on monuments as early as 1500 BC, and claiming, according to Herodotus, to have been founded about 2700 BC. It had two ports still existing, and was of commercial importance in all ages, with colonies at Carthage (about 850 BC) and all over the Mediterranean. It was often attacked by Egypt and Assyria, and taken by Alexander the Great after a terrible siege in 332 BC. It is now a town of 3,000 inhabitants, with ancient tombs and a ruined cathedral. A short Phoenician text of the fourth century BC is the only monument yet recovered."
The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare sort of purple dye, known as Tyrian purple. This color was, in many cultures of ancient times, reserved for the use of royalty, or at least nobility.
In nineteenth century Britain, Tyre was several times taken as an examplar of the mortality of great power and status - both by John Ruskin in the opening lines of The Stones of Venice and by Rudyard Kipling's 'Recessional'.
List of kings of Tyre:
Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed - now somewhat updated
Tyre is also a town in Seneca County, New York
In the fictional Dark Sun universe, Tyr features prominently as a city-state that, fantasy elements notwithstanding, shares much in common with its historical counterpart, including a monopoly over purple dye.