The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia (with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centers) and the purple dye manufactured and used in Tyre for the Mesopotamian royalty gave Phoenicia the name by which we know it today (from the Greek 'phoinix’ for Tyranian Purple) and also accounts for the Phoenicians being known as 'purple people’ by the Greeks (as Herodotus tells us) as the dye would stain the skin of the workers. In its time Phoenicia was known as Canaan and is the land referenced in the Hebrew Scriptures to which Moses lead the Israelites from Egypt and which Joshua then conquered (Books of Exodus and Joshua). The city of Sidon (modern Sidonia) was the birthplace of the princess Jezebel who married the King of Israel, Ahab, as chronicled in I and II Kings.
Herodotus cites Phoenica as the birthplace of the alphabet, stating that it was brought to Greece by the Phoenician Kadmus (sometime before the 8th century BCE) and that, prior to that, the Greeks had no alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet is the basis for most languages written and spoken today and their city of Gebal (called by the Greeks 'Byblos’) gave the Bible its name (from the Greek 'Ta Biblia’, the books) as Gebal was the great exporter of papyrus ('bublos’ to the Greeks) in ancient times. It is also thought that many of the gods of ancient Greece were imported from Phoenicia as there are certain indisputable similarities in some stories concerning the Phoenician Baal and Yamm and the Greek Zeus and Poseidon.
In 334 BCE Alexander the Great conquered Baalbek (re-naming it Heliopolis) and marched on to brilliantly and brutally subdue the city of Tyre in 332 by building a land bridge from the mainland to the island which, today, still exists and is the reason why Tyre is no longer an island. After the fall of Tyre, Sidon was was overthrown and the other city-states followed suit, thus ending the Phoenician Civilization and ushering in the Hellenistic Age of Alexander. By 15 CE the disassembled parts of Phoenicia were colonies of the Roman Empire with Heliopolis remaining an important pilgrimage site which boasted the grandest religious building (the Temple of Jupiter Baal) in all of the Empire, the ruins of which remain well preserved to this day.
Donate and help us!
We're a non-profit organisation and we need your help! This website costs money and research material isn't cheap either. We are supported only by our donors. Please consider donating; even small amounts help. Thank you!
Are you qualified to peer review ancient history information? Apply now and help provide quality ancient history information on the web!
You might also find the following pages interesting...
Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /var/sites/a/ancient.eu.com/public_html/include/template.php on line 432
Anchor (17 January 2012)Price: $18.33
Cambridge University Press (31 May 1991)Currently unavailable
Anchor Bible (20 February 2001)Currently unavailable
Echo Library (12 April 2007)Price: $10.90
Kessinger Publishing, LLC (20 May 2003)Price: $21.24