When Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II marched through Lebanon over 3,000 years ago, he left three inscriptions on the rock above what is now Nahr el-Kalb (Dog River). Over the centuries other foreign expeditions followed his example. Marking their passage through this difficult place by carving their exploits in stone. Today 17 such inscriptions or steles can be visited, all on the south bank except for one on the north bank. Each inscription is numbered, and a stairway leads to those located higher up on the cliff.
The single stele on the opposite side of the river was the work of the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC). Nebuchadnezzar also left two copies of the same inscription at Wadi Brisa near Hermel.
Five steles mark expedition’s maze by Assyrian kings, one of whom was Assarhaddon (680-627 BC). In roman times the third Gallic Legion under Emperor Caracalla (211-217 AD) left a stele marking road work carried out here.
There are two inscriptions in Greek. One is illegible but the other commemorates more road and engineering work. This was a accomplished I 382 by Proclus.
Byzantine governor of Phoenician under Theodose the Great (379-395). Another stele commemorates the expedition that Napoleon III sent top Lebanon in 1860-1861.
The pointed Arab bridge nearby is also the subject of an inscription advising us that Mamluke Sultan Barqouq (1382-1399) either built it. This bridge, destroyed and repaired many times during its history, was last renovated by Emir Bechir II in 1809.
The 20th century also has its share of inscriptions. One record that French troops under General Gouraud took Damascus in 1920.
Two other dating 1919 and 1930 mark one event. The first stele notes that the British Desert Corps took Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo in October 1918. the other relates the same story, but names Australian, new Zealand , Indian and French contingents as well as the “Arab troops of King Hussein”.
The British and French occupation of Beirut and Tripoli in October 1918 is recorded in another inscription.
Besides the 17 steles before Lebanon’s independence, we have one marking the evacuation of foreign armies from Lebanon on December 31, 1946, and a monument to the French war dead.
Finally, the bridge with three arches not far form the old Arab bridge was built by Wassa Pasha, Mutassarrif of Mount Lebanon between 1883-1892.