The Phoenicians were instrumental in disseminating their form of writing which became our modern alphabet and in opening up various civilizations and cultures of the Mediterranean basin to each other. Both sciences and pseudosciences spread from Egypt and Mesopotamia to Canaan or Phoenicia and Anatolia. The Phoenicians, in particular, transmitted much of this knowledge to the various lands of the Mediterranean, especially to the Greeks. The direction taken by these influences can be followed from Egypt to Phoenicia, Syria, and Cyprus. The evidence comes thanks to a combination of excavated art forms that prove the direction of movement, as well as to Greek tradition. The latter lays great stress on what the early Greek philosophers learned from Egypt. Mesopotamian influence can be traced especially through the partial borrowing of Babylonian science and divination by the Hittites and later by the transmission of information through Phoenicia. The Egyptians and Mesopotamians wrote no theoretical treatises; information had to be transmitted piecemeal through personal contacts.
what's in a name?
It is not certain what the Phoenicians called themselves in their own language; it appears to have been Kena'ani (Akkadian: Kinahna), "Canaanites." In Hebrew, the word kena'ani has the secondary meaning of "a merchant," a term that well characterizes the Phoenicians.
The Greeks gave the new appellation Phoenicians to those Canaanites who lived on the seacoast and traded with them. Phoenicia is the Greek word for "purple." The most probable reason for giving this name is the famous Tyrian purple cloth which the Phoenicians manufactured and sold to the rich of the ancient world. The Romans gave the new appellation Punic to the Phoenicians of the western Mediterranean.
Origin and Language
Recent DNA studies, on the origin of the Phoenicians, show that they are the Canaanites themselves, and of ancient Mediterranean sub-stratum. Their original homeland is the eastern Mediterranean, as far back as probably 10,000 B.C., and they did not come from any other place, as previously claimed by undocumented or non-archaeologically proven Arab history, geographically-confused Herodotus, and/or any other claims that they emigrated from the then non-existing Arabia or anywhere else. This means that the Canaanite Phoenicians are native, aboriginal of the said area.
They spoke Canaanite Phoenician which is very close to Aramaic, yet much older. Phoenicians had a language and culture like those of other Semitic-speaking peoples, knowing that there never was a Semitic race or tribe.
and Major Cities
Structure and Colonies
city states had a loose alliance and they established colonies
in the far corners of the Mediterranean.
They worshiped fertility gods and goddesses and their belief system was influenced by other religions in the Eastern Mediterranean and had some influence on Greek and Roman mythologies. At the beginning of the Christian era, Phoenicians were the first to accept the new Christian faith after the Jews.
Phoenician cities, at the crossroads of the East, were often invaded and subjugated by foreign conquerors which include Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Macedonians, Persians, and Romans, in addition to others. However, the Phoenicians were basically traders, not warriors; and trade and war do not work well together.
They created a formof the earliest alphabet which evolved and was adopted by the Greeks to become the backbone of modern alphabet.
and Other Achievements
The Phoenicians were sea-faring traders who carried merchandise and goods across the Mediterranean. They circumnavigator Africa and used the Polar Star as a navigational guide.
Visitor to Phoenicia (as opposed to invaders)
Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Saint Peter and other Apostles
Origen, Christian Scholar
Others (more to come)
Important Phoenicians (VIPs)
Antipater of Sidon, Phoenician epigrammatist (150 BC - 127 BC)
of Byblos, Christian martyr (died in 293 A.D.)
Barbara of Baalbeck/Heliopolis, Christian martyr (died in 237
Cadmus, "Teacher of the Phoenician Alphabet"
Christina of Tyre, Christian martyr (died in 300 A.D.)
Dorotheus, Jurist and Professor of Roman Law
Eusebius Bishop of Berytus (Beirut)
Eusebius of Caesarea, Christian Icon
Frumentius, Saint, Apostle of Abyssinia
Hiram the Architect, Solomon's Temple Designer
Jezebel Princess of Sidon and Queen of Israel (wife of King Ahab
John Mark Bishop of Byblos designated Bishop by St. Peter
King Hiram of Tyre
King Abi-Milki of Tyre
King Ethbaal of Sidon (father of Princess Jezebel)
King Ahiram of Byblos
King Rib-Addi of Byblos
King Zimrida of Sidon
King Jabin of Hazor
Matrona of Perge, Saint
Mochus of Sidon wrote on the atomic theory
Perpetua and Felicity, Christian martyrs of Carthage (died in
Philo of Byblos, Writer
Porphyry of Tyre, Writer
Taautos of Byblos, inventor of alphabet
Tertullian, Church Father
Thales of Citium
Thales of Miletus, Astronomer
Theodosia of Tyre, Christian martyr (died 293 A.D.)
Zadok the Priest
Zeno of Citium, Philosopher
Zeno of Sidon, Philosopher
Others (more to come)
Art, Crafts, Music, and Literature
They dyed cloth which was the prized possession of the rich and worked in precious metals and ivory. Most Phoenician literature is unknown or was lost. However, second-hand information and some ecclesiastical Phoenician works survive. Traces of their music may still be found in some church music today.
Logo or Coat of Arms ©
The logo or Coat of Arms is my own creation and it represents Phoenician achievements and mythology. The two creatures or mythological monsters -- part horse, part fish -- called hippocampus come from Phoenician antiquity and represent Phoenician mythology. (The Trade link, under the subtitle Transit Trade, contains an image of a Phoenician silver coin with an impression of the hippocampus monster and a Phoenician ship.) Further, on the top of the logo, a piece of marble with Phoenician script represents Phoenician alphabet. Beneath it, the cloth represents famous Phoenician dyed cloth. At the very bottom, amphorae represent vessels which were used to carry Phoenician merchandise, as they traded about the Mediterranean.
a Web page about Phoenicia?
As a duty to my ancestors, to my national origin, to the young and old who do not know, to the old who wish to ignore the facts or like to hide them and to all those who are interested in history and cultures, I compiled this information.
I dedicate this site in loving memory to my parents, Lucy and George Khalaf, and to the good people of Bmakine, Souk El-Gharb, Ein El-Saiydeh, and Ein El-Rimmeneh -- in the Lebanese mountains -- where ever they may be.
The researcher, editor, compiler of these pages wishes to convey his appreciation and gratitude to the persons
who povided historical information, reference pointers and editorial
comments on the materials contained in these pages.