Summary: Introduction
Phoenician Encyclopedia
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Did you know?

  • Western/Latin and other alphabets come from the Phoenician alphabet?
  • Beritus or Berytus (modern Beirut, Lebanon) had a very important School of Law in the Roman Empire?
  • The Bible is called thus because it refers to the Phoenician city of Byblos ("marketplace of papyrus or byblinos" in Greek?
  • Despite the fact that the Romans destroyed Punic Carthage in about 150 B.C., in 193 A.D. the Punic Septimius Severus became Emperor of Rome and one third the Roman Senate was made of Punic people.
  • King Solomon's great Temple was built in the style of Tyre's Melqart Temple by Phoenician artisans using the Cedars of Lebanon?
  • The Egyptian Pharoahs employed Phoenician cedar for their wood needs?
  • King Solomon, in his old age, became a worshipper of the Phoenician goddess Ashtarte?
  • Melchizedek, the King of Salem (King of Jerusalem) and Priest of the Most High God (El Elion), who offered bread and wine to Abraham, was Phoenician?
  • The Pentateuch (Moses' first five books, if not more, of the the Old Testament Bible, the Torah) was/were written down (transliterated) in Phoenician script?
  • Jesus Christ visited Phoenicia and among the first to believe in him was a Phoenician woman?
  • The bishops of all Phoenician cities were consecrated as bishops by the Apostles or their immediate successors?
  • Tyre, Sidon and other Phoenician Christian cities and towns provided rest-stops and shelters for the Apostles on their way to convert the world?
  • St. Jerome referred to Tyre as the place where St. Paul once knelt; and called Zarephath, Elijah's town?
  • Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa?
  • Phoenicians were the first to use the Pole Star for navigation?
  • Phoenicians were able traders throughout the Mediterranean?
  • Phoenicians colonized the far corners of the Mediterranean from the Island of Cyprus in the East to Spain and Gibraltar including the outer Atlantic coast and North Africa in the West?
  • Britain was the Phoenicians' secret treasure of tin where the name "Britain" may be coming from Barr (land) of Tannic (Tin)? Hence Britannia did not come from Prutani, the name applied to the Celts by the Romans, and some claim that the Celts were Phoenicians.
  • The Phoenicians reached North America BC and Punic inscriptions in Massachusetts and Iowa confirm this fact?
  • In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer mentions Phoenicia, Phoenicians and Phoenician cities.
  • The Phoenician possessed the science or art of dentistry as evident by the fine braces on a lower jaw of a scull?
  • The Phoenician language is still spoken today in Malta (or Maltese is a mixture of Phoenician/Punic and other Mediterranean languages) ?
  • To beef up their naval powers, conquerors employed the Phoenicians in building warship-fleets?
  • The Phoenicians raised elephants on farms?
  • The first parliament ever to convene in the Middle East met in the Phoenician confederate city of Tripoli?
  • Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (193 - 211 AD) descended from early Phoenician settlers and spoke with a Phoenician accent?
  • Pythagoras was Phoenician and was initiated into the 'Ancient Mysteries' of the Phoenicians c. 548 B.C. and studied for about 3 years in the temples of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos and that his father was a Phoenician merchant from Tyre?
  • Archimedes c.287 B.C.-212 B.C., Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor, died during the Roman assault on Syracuse while designing a catapult and the Carthaginians fought on his side to defend the city.
  • Thales of Miletus (who was half Phoenician), one of the first great scientists, is said to have forecast the solar eclipse of the year 585 BC.
  • Zeno of Citium was a glowing star in the pre-Socratic age but was ridiculed in Athens for his Phoenician appearance.
  • Popes Anicetus (155 - 166 AD), John V (685-686 AD), Sergius I (687-701 AD) and Gregory III (741-752 AD) and Constantius were Phoenicians?
  • Aristotle held up the constitution of Carthage as a model.
  • Hasdrubal-Clitomachus added to Arcesilas a critical interpretation of certitude which makes him a forerunner of modern thought.
  • St. Augustine was Phoenician. He wrote "...there was a great deal of virtue and wisdom in the Punic books".
  • St. Jerome believed Punic erotic poetry to be pernicious and described it as "lewd".
  • Many parts of the Old Testament were plagiarized from Phoenician literature, poetry, and religion, similar to plagiarizing of the Book of Job (for example ) from Babylonian tales?
  • Phoenician sacrifice of children to the gods was copied/practiced by many Semites such as Abraham's attempt to sacrifice his son?
  • The Phoenicians had a rough knowledge about pi (3.1416) at the time of Hiram and the building of Solomon's Temple?
  • St. Frumentius, Phoenician from Tyre, converted Ethiopia to Christianity?
  • Mochus, a Sidonian, wrote a work on the atomic theory.

Missionaries of Civilization

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 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.

Phoenician, 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 "merchant," a term that well characterizes the Phoenicians.

The name 'Phoenicians,' was not what the Phoenicians called themselves but what the Greeks called them; the word means dark red in Greek and refers to the royal Tyrian purple dye that Phoenicians extracted from murex shells to dye cloth with and sold to the rich of the ancient world. The name appears in Psalm 45:14, in the phrase bat melek Ponnima (daughter of the king of the Phoenicians), which parallels bat Sor (daughter of Tyre) of verse 13. The same term, Ponnim (meaning the Phoenician language), appears in a comedy called Poenulus, by the Roman playwright T. Maccius Plautus (died 184 B.C.). The Latin poenus (noun) and punicus (adjective), as well as Greek phoinikos, refer to the term Phoenician.

Ethnic Origin and Language

The Phoenicians probably were the original inhabitants of the eastern Meditrranean. DNA studies prove that the Phoenicians come from an ancient Mediterranean substratum. The cliams that they despite the claims that come from elsewhere are unfounded, in the light of modern genetic studieis.

Geography and Major Cities

Baalbeck
Berytus
Byblos
Caesarea
Carthage
Sidon
Tyre
Zarephta

Political Structure and Colonies

Their city states had a loose alliance and they established colonies in the far corners of the Mediterranean.

Religion and Mythology

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 faith after the Jews.

Troubled History

Phoenician cities, at the cross-roads 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.

Creators of Alphabet

They created a form of alphabet which evolved and was adapted by the Greeks to become the backbone of modern alphabet.

Commerce 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.

Important Visitor to Phoenicia (as opposed to invaders)

Herodotus, historian
Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Saint Paul
Saint Peter and other Apostles
Origen, Christian scholar
Pythagoras, mathematician and philosopher
Others (more to come)

Very Important Phoenicians (VIPs)

Antipater of Sidon, Phoenician epigrammatist (150 BC - 127 BC)  
Aquilina of Byblos, Christian martyr (died in 293 A.D.)
Barbara of Baalbeck/Heliopolis, Christian martyr (died in 237 A.D.)
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
Hanno, Circumnavigator of Africa
Himilco, Voyager
Hiram the Architect, Solomon's Temple Designer
Jezebel Princess of Sidon and Queen of Israel (wife of King Ahab of Israel)
John Mark Bishop of Byblos designated Bishop by St. Peter
Pamphilus, Saint
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
Papinian, Jurist
Perpetua and Felicity, Christian martyrs of Carthage (died in 203 A.D.)
Philo of Byblos, Writer
Porphyry of Tyre, Writer
Pythagoras
Phoenician Popes
Sanchuniathon, Writer
Thales of Citium
Thales of Miletus, Astronomer
Theodosia of Tyre, Christian martyr (died 293 A.D.)
Ulpian, Jurist
Zadok the Priest
Zeno of Citium, Philosopher
Zeno of Sidon, Philosopher
Others (more to come)

Phoenician 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.

The 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.

Why 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.

Dedication

I dedicate this site in loving memory to my parents, Lucy and George, 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.

Acknowledgment

The researcher, editor, complier of these pages wishes to convery his appreciation and gratitude to the persons who povided historical information, reference pointers and editorial comments on the materials contained in these pages.

References and Sources
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Salim is from Shalim, Phoenician god of dusk, whose place was Urushalim/Jerusalem
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