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Phoenicia was an ancient civilization centered in the north of ancient Canaan, with its heartland along the coastal regions of modern day Lebanon, Syria, Palestinian territories, and Israel. Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean between the period of 8-5 Though ancient boundaries of such city-centered cultures fluctuated, the city of Tyre seems to have been the southernmost. Sarepta (modern day Sarafand) between Sidon and Tyre, is the most thoroughly excavated city of the Phoenician homeland. The Phoenicians often traded by means of a galley, a man-powered sailing vessel and are credited with the invention of the bireme.[1]

It is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single ethnicity. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to ancient Greece. Each city-state was an independent unit politically, although they could come into conflict, be dominated by another city-state, or collaborate in leagues or alliances. Tyre and Sidon were the most powerful of the Phoenician states in the Levant, but were not as powerful as the North African ones. reference required

The Phoenicians were also the first state-level society to make extensive use of the alphabet, and the Canaanite-Phoenician alphabet is generally believed to be the ancestor of all modern alphabets. Phoenicians spoke the Phoenician language, which belongs to the group of Canaanite languages in the Semitic language family. Through their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to North Africa and Europe where it was adopted by the Greeks, who later passed it on to the Romans and Etruscans.[2] In addition to their many inscriptions, the Phoenicians wrote many books, which have not survived. Evangelical Preparation by Eusebius of Caesarea quotes extensively from Philo of Byblos and Sanchuniathon.

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.


  1. Casson, Lionel (December 1 1995). Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 57-58. ISBN 978-0801851308. 
  2. Edward Clodd, Story of the Alphabet (Kessinger) 2003:192ff
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