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History, Prehistory and Ancient History

Phoenician trade, Mediterranean Sea trade, Bekaa Valley, Old Stone Age, New Stone Age

Early peoples occupied the coastal plain and the Bekaa Valley during the Old Stone Age, or Paleolithic. Much later, numerous villages thrived in both areas during the New Stone Age, or Neolithic, roughly 7,000 to 9,000 years ago. Still later, several waves of people, mostly Semites, surged into the region from the interior, likely the Arabian Peninsula. Ancient records show that by 2800 bc, cedar timber from Byblos was being traded for metals and ivory from Egypt. About 2200 bc, Semitic Amorites arrived from Arabia and Syria, and from the western Amorites the Canaanites evolved along the full length of the Levant, the region along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. During succeeding centuries the Canaanites developed the most favored coastal villages into celebrated city-states: Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre. By about 1100 bc the northern Canaanites became known as Phoenicians (from the Greek word phoinos, meaning “red,” a reference to the unique purple dye the Phoenicians produced from murex seashells). The Phoenicians developed the first alphabet and mastered the art of navigation, and they dominated the Mediterranean Sea trade for 400 to 450 years. Phoenicians adjusted easily to successive conquerors: Assyrians in 867 bc; Babylonians in the 590s bc; Persians in 538 bc; and Greeks under Alexander the Great in 333 bc. However, Phoenician trade declined with Greek competition after the 5th century bc.

Article key phrases:

Phoenician trade, Mediterranean Sea trade, Bekaa Valley, Old Stone Age, New Stone Age, Sidon, Phoenicians, Semites, Assyrians, Arabian Peninsula, Paleolithic, cedar timber, Persians, Levant, Neolithic, eastern shore, Tripoli, Greeks, century bc, Beirut, Alexander, alphabet, Tyre, ivory, Egypt, metals, interior, reference, region, areas, length, years, Babylonians, Byblos


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