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Jabal Moussa Inscription

· Keserwan

Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve features several Latin inscriptions that date back to the Roman period, from which one of them will be described in this article.

Historical Background 

Between the 1st and the 2nd century AD, a massive deforestation of the Lebanese mountains took place for commercial and construction purposes. This event threatened the industry of ship-building, putting at risk the maritime military and commercial power of Rome over the Mediterranean Sea.

Consequently, Emperor Hadrian (76 AD - 138 AD) prohibited cutting down four main species of tree necessary for naval construction – The Cedars, the Cilician Fir, the Cypress Leaf Juniper and the Oak tree.

This ban was reflected through hundreds of rock engravings between the Metn and the Akkar districts.

These inscriptions are known today as the Hadrian Inscriptions.


The rock bears a three lines' inscription:

First line 

IMP HAD AVG DFS which stands for IMPerator HADrianus AVGustus DFinitio Silvarum.

Second line (Most of the letters are unclear - we tried to reconstruct the line based on the visible remaining letters)

XII P PR Q Vet Ruf, which stands for XII P (marker no. 12) PRocuratorem Quintum Vetium Ruf[u]m. 

Third line 

AGIV CP which stands for Arborum Genera IV (no. four) Cetera Priuata.


Boundary [marker] no. 12 of the forests of the Emperor Hadrian Augustus, by the procurator Quintus Vetius Rufus: Four Species of trees reserved under the imperial privilege.


The Hadrian inscriptions can only be found in Mount Lebanon, making it a unique heritage in the world.

This act by Emperor Hadrian is considered by many scholars as one of the first initiatives to protect the rich forests of Mount Lebanon. A similar act was executed about 700 years earlier by the Assyrians who ruled over Lebanon when, at one point, the forests belonged to the Assyrian empire, thus prohibiting the cut down of trees and limiting this act to the governors only.

The excat location of this inscription can be found of the map and website of the Biosphere, along with the remaining inscriptions featured in the forest. 

*Scroll down to enjoy the pictures and to locate the site on the map.

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Karim Sokhn

Tour Operator & Tour Guide




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