15 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Phoenicians You Never Knew

The debate about our Phoenician ancestry is still quite active. Phoenicians left a significant mark in history and it was all done while based in modern-day Lebanon.

With more and more DNA results proving a strong Lebanese link to Phoenicia, maybe you should know more about their accomplishments.

#1 People have been living in Byblos, a Phoenician city, for over 7000 years

Making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

#2 Phoenicians invented the alphabet

The Phoenicians invented the original alphabet, which consisted of 22 letters. The Greeks later adopted it and added 4 more, all of which we use today.

#3 Well, the Phoenicians actually invented the numbers

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Canaan was the name of a large and prosperous ancient country (at times independent, at others a tributary to Egypt) located in the Levant region of present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. It was also known as Phoenicia. The origin of the name `Canaan’ for the land comes from various ancient texts (among them the Bible) and there is no scholarly consensus on precisely where the name originated nor what it meant. According to the Bible, the land was named after a man called Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10). Other theories cite `Canaan’ as derived from the Hurrian language for `purple’ and, as the Greeks knew the Canaanites as `Phoenicians’ (Greek for `purple’) and as the Phoenicians worked in purple dye and so were called by the Greeks `purple people’, this explanation is the most probable. The theory has also been advanced that the name comes from the Hebrew root-verb kana which denotes order from chaos, a blending, or synchronous existence. Scholars J. Maxwell Miller and John H. Hayes claim no definitive meaning for the name citing ancient sources which used it simply as a place name: "The name `Canaan’ appears in various ancient texts from Egypt to Mesopotamia. In the Egyptian texts, Canaan seems to have been used as a designation for Egypt’s Asiatic province. In the Bible, Canaan could refer to the whole of Palestine west of Jordan, the ideal inheritance of the Hebrews; but it could also refer to more restricted areas, especially the coastland of Palestine. Correspondingly, the biblical writers occasionally refer to the whole indigenous population of Palestine as `Canaanites’ (thus interchangeably with `Amorites’). On other occasions, they seem to distinguish the Canaanites and Amorites from other groups among the occupants of Palestine." (38) • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • (Article by Joshua J. Mark || Photos belong to their respective owners)

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The Phoenicians invented numbers that look like what we call the “Roman Numerals” today. They created the alphabet and number system for the sole purpose of being able to record information about their trades.

#4 Phoenicians reached the Americas before Christopher Colombus

There is evidence that proves the presence of the Phoenicians in modern-day America – before Christopher Colombus discovered it.

#5 Phoenicians invented the purple color

It was extremely expensive and time-consuming to produce the purple color. Only the very wealthy were able to afford it. That is why the purple color has long been associated with royalty

#6 Phoenicians were the first to accept Christianity

Some studies suggest they became Christians before the Jews even converted. Saint Peter took his first headquarters in the Phoenician city of Byblos, the first unofficial yet factual Vatican, and opened the first discipleship school.

#7 ‘Phoenicianism’ is a form of Lebanese nationalism today

Phoenicianism is the belief that Lebanese are of Phoenician descent and not of Arab descent. Did you know there’s a party/movement called the United Phoenician Party in Lebanon? We just found out.

#8 Pythagoras was Phoenician

Much like most Lebanese today, Pythagoras was born abroad (Samos) to a Phoenician father from Tyre. I know we’re not a big fan of mathematics, but we should still accept him as one of our own.. after all, he was quite the genius.

#9 Phoenicians supplied the Cedar trees for King Solomon’s temple and built it themselves

The famous story in the Bible of King Solomon using our cedar trees to build his temple in Jerusalem. Check it out.

#10 Phoenicia grew into a great civilization without engaging in war

Phoenicia spanned the entire coast of the Mediterranean sea. However, it grew through trading, setting up trading posts, and building coastal cities, and not by conquering.

The Phoenicians very rarely went to war – and when they did, it was to defend one of their city-states, like the historical siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great.

#11 ‘Phoenicians’ was the name given to them by the Greeks

It comes from the Greek word “Phoinikes” for Tyranian Purple – referring to the purple dye manufactured and used in Tyre. We actually don’t know what they called themselves.

#12 The main cities of Phoenicia are located in Lebanon

Sidon, Byblos, and Tyre are ancient Phoenician cities located in Lebanon – where people have been living for thousands of years… Making them among the oldest in the World.

#13 Phoenicians invented glass manufacturing

Phoenician glassworkers invented the glass blowing skills.

#14 Phoenicians developed open-sea navigation

Before, sailors wouldn’t go far out into the sea. Rather, they stayed close to the coast. The Phoenicians revolutionized this by sailing out far into the sea which has lead to the success of their trading.

They used the North Star to help them navigate. It was referred to as the “Phoenician Star” up until the 19th century.

#15 Many Legendary Masters who impacted the world were Phoenicians from today’s Lebanon

Pythagoras, Euclide (the father of geometry), Thales (one of the 7 sages of Greece), Zeno (founder of the stoicism philosophy and who has a moon crater in his name), Cadmus (“Master of the Worl”) and many of the likes were Phoenicians.

Get to know 10 Historical Legends You Didn’t Know Were Actually Phoenicians.

So now that you have some facts about Phoenicia, feel free to use it the next time you argue in favor of the Phoenician ancestry of Lebanon.

There is even more to the Phoenicians than the above. Check out: Everything You Need to Know to Know About the Hidden Truth of Baalbek.