The origin of the Phoenicians occurred long before 1200 BC, as clearly shown by the archaeological and historical evidence seen here.

Based on the paper presented by Sanford Holst at Queen Mary College in London, England on June 29, 2008

origin of the Phoenicians
Origin of the Phoenicians at Byblos

The question of when, where and how the Phoenicians and their society originated is an intriguing one due to these people’s role as carriers of goods, discoveries and practices which profoundly affected other well-known societies in antiquity. In fact, the early stages of those mercantile and social interactions may have contributed to the rise of Phoenician society.

It is unfortunate that the origin of the Phoenicians has long been overlaid by a considerable amount of confusion and mystery.[i] This situation may have been aggravated by the paucity of data available prior to 1974, which led to a proliferation of assumptions as to what the correct answer to this question might be. In recent years, however, a large quantity of archaeological and historical information has come into view.[ii] This now makes it possible to properly assess those different assumptions, and arrive at well-documented conclusions as to the date, location and manner of their origin.

Given the Phoenicians’ go-between role, and their serious interactions with many societies in the Mediterranean region, their origin date takes on additional significance. It marks the beginning of the Phoenicians’ impact—great or small—on each of those other societies, which included the Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and other lesser-known societies.

Origin Theories

The many opinions offered concerning the origin of the Phoenicians seem to coalesce around four basic theories.

The oldest of these theories was conveyed to us by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who suggested the Phoenicians had come from the Red (Erythraean) Sea.[iii] By this the Greeks meant the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, with the term later being applied to what we know today as the Red Sea beside Egypt.[iv] This legend was repeated from time to time in antiquity, though modern research has cast serious doubt upon that possibility, as we will see. Herodotus documented this legend on the opening page of his Histories:

Originally, these people came to our sea from the Red Sea, as it is known. No sooner had they settled in the land they still inhabit than they turned to overseas travel.

Herodotus 1:1

The second theory to emerge suggested the Phoenicians had arisen out of the wider group of people known as Canaanites, who many years earlier had populated the wide swath of land between Anatolia (modern Turkey) and Egypt. Maurice Dunand, who performed some of the highly revealing archaeological excavations at Byblos, was among the people whose data supported this conclusion.[v]

To digress for a moment. . . .

If you would like to discover more about the Phoenicians than what is covered in this article, the book Phoenicians: Lebanon’s Epic Heritage is recommended. It is deeply researched but also a highly readable exploration.

Going beyond the few traditionally-cited facts, this authoritative work also draws from interviews with leading archaeologists and historians on-site in the lands and islands where the Phoenicians lived and left clues regarding their secretive society.

You can take a look inside the book. See the first pages here.

Another theory asserted that the existing cities at Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, and the towns around them were conquered by the Sea Peoples about 1200 B.C.—and that the merging of Sea Peoples with these local inhabitants created the Phoenicians. Gerhard Herm and others have espoused this view.[vi] The major drawback to this theory is that it was formulated prior to the archaeological excavations at several Phoenician cities. Those excavations have shown there was no destruction or societal change in these cities at that time. Nevertheless, some individuals continue to adhere to variations of this “conquest” view.

The remaining theory, which has become popular in some academic circles, is that Phoenician cities existed prior to 1200 B.C., but did not become differentiated from their neighbors until after the appearance of the Sea Peoples. This theory does not claim the Sea Peoples attacked the Phoenician cities. In fact it notes exactly the opposite. It states the Sea Peoples conquered only the surrounding peoples in the Levant,[vii] causing those people to become different than the Phoenicians. Because of this, the Phoenicians are then said to have emerged as a separate people only after 1200 B.C., and their “origin” is attributed to that date. This view has been proposed by Sabatino Moscati,[viii] Sandro Filippo Bondi[ix] and others.

A history that can rightly be called Phoenician started in the 12th century B.C. Barely touched by the great upheavals caused by the invasion of the “Peoples of the Sea,” Phoenicia…from this period onwards shows a marked differentiation from the neighboring areas….

Sandro Filippo Bondi The Course of History

Given its recent visibility, perhaps it is best to begin by considering this fourth theory. The observation made by Moscati and Bondi, that the Sea Peoples did not attack the Phoenician cities, is a significant one. Archaeological excavations such as the one made at Tyre in 1974 by Patricia Bikai[x] and at Sarepta (modern Sarafand) by James Pritchard[xi] have shown conclusively that there was no widespread destruction circa 1200 B.C. at those locations. Ongoing excavations at other Phoenician cities are less definitive, but are consistent with those findings. This theory accepts those results. It also accepts the findings of other archaeologists who have detected signs of destruction at surrounding cities in the Levant at that time, which showed the impact of the arriving Sea Peoples.[xii] Furthermore, the statement in this theory that Phoenician society was different than the societies of the surrounding people after 1200 B.C. has been well attested, and no argument is found with that statement.

However the proposal in this theory that the Phoenicians were differentiated from the surrounding peoples only after 1200 B.C. carries with it the assertion that the Phoenicians were so identical to the surrounding peoples prior to that time that they could not be differentiated. Let us examine that assertion. While it is true that everyone who lived in the region known as Canaan could be called Canaanite, just as every person who lived in Europe could be called European, we do not know whether they all lived in the same society—or in different societies—until we examine their history, culture and practices.

Around 2200 B.C., the Amorites came into the Levant, where they encountered the well-established city of Byblos.[xiii] Archaeologists working at Byblos have documented several courses of walls around the city which date back to 3000 B.C., attesting to the city’s longevity.[xiv] They also found signs of burning and destruction several times during the period 2200 B.C. to 2000 B.C., which reflected the repeated Amorite attacks. Each time, the public buildings and homes in Byblos had been rebuilt, and the city continued. The newly-arrived, land-oriented, military force of the Amorites clearly had an adversarial relationship with the well-established, sea-oriented and relatively peaceful Phoenicians. The assertion that those two societies were so identical that they could not be differentiated is a proposition which clearly fails.

To further examine data for the time prior to 1200 B.C., let us consider the Hebrew people who came into the Levant between 2000 and 1500 B.C., led by Abraham.[xv] These people were predominantly shepherds, who lived a somewhat nomadic life, and worshiped a single god. The Phoenicians, in their cities, were sea traders who continued to worship and respect many gods. Once again, the assertion that these two societies were so identical that they could not be differentiated is a proposition which clearly fails.

In other words, the Phoenicians were well-differentiated from the peoples around them in the Levant prior to 1200 B.C.  As mentioned earlier, Moscati and Bondi observed that the Phoenicians were clearly differentiated from peoples around them after 1200 B.C.   They and others such as Glenn Markoe further noted that the Phoenician cities and society were unchanged throughout this period.[xvi] When these three elements are brought together, we see strong evidence that the Phoenicians existed before, during and after 1200 B.C.  Therefore they could not have originated at that time.   

Sea Peoples and origin of Phoenicians
The Sea Peoples

The third theory shown above was also related to the Sea Peoples, so let us consider it next. The assertion here was different than the one just discussed, because it stated the Sea Peoples conquered the cities which we have come to know as Phoenician.[xvii] After that event, the intruders were said to have merged with the local people to give rise to the Phoenicians. The obstacle this theory faces is that there is no archaeological or other evidence showing the Phoenician cities were ever conquered by the Sea Peoples. This is not only attested by Moscati and Bondi, but also by Pritchard and Bikai, whose excavations revealed not only lack of destruction, but showed the continuity of Phoenician society during this time. Therefore this proposition also fails.

As a result of these considerations, we see the events surrounding 1200 B.C. do not identify an origin for the Phoenician people. Clearly, these people and their society existed prior to 1200 B.C., and continued after that date. This still leaves two possible “origin” theories in front of us. However before we can determine which one is supported by the available data, it is necessary to extract some relevant facts concerning known events which took place during the early years of Byblos, which we are told was the first Phoenician city. That assertion will also be assessed.

Relevant Facts

Byblos stood, along with Sidon and Tyre, as one of the leading cities of the Phoenician people.[xviii] It has also been often cited as one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world, with some signs of habitation going back to 6000 B.C.[xix] This city still exists today in modern Lebanon, often being shown on maps as Jbail—reflecting its ancient Phoenician name of gbl—rather than the Greek-applied name of Byblos. Since the Greek name is traditionally used by scholars for this city, that practice will be continued here. So let us examine when Byblos emerged as a Phoenician city, then look at the founding dates of the other major Phoenician cities to ascertain the location and date of origin of this society.

Fishhooks and other implements from 6000 through 5000 B.C. have been found at Byblos and now are displayed at the National Museum in Beirut. By 4500 B.C. a small town had grown at Byblos,[xx] and I have seen the lower courses of stones which marked their oval-shaped homes at the archaeological site. But the most significant step in the city‘s early history can best be seen in Egypt, where we now go.   

In 1798 A.D., the French archaeologist Vivant Denon led an expedition far up the Nile to a site which had once been the largest city in the Upper Nile—the city known as Hierakonpolis.[xxi] Eventually J.E. Quibell and F.W. Green found a large temple there, which was dated to the First Dynasty (3100-2890 B.C.). In 1985 another archaeologist, Michael Hoffman unearthed an even older temple in the large city, which was dated to circa 3500 B.C.[xxii] At the older temple he discovered the remains of four huge cedar pillars which had been added circa 3200 B.C. to form an impressive front for the edifice.[xxiii] To understand the full importance of this discovery, it is necessary to note that ancient Egypt had virtually no wood at all.[xxiv] The pulpy interior of palm trees was too soft to be used for construction purposes. The only other local source was the short acacia tree, which could produce boards only about three feet (1 meter) in length.[xxv] The four pillars which formed the front of the temple at Hierakonpolis were roughly three feet in diameter, thirty-six feet in length, and were identified as cedar of Lebanon.[xxvi] Students of Egyptian history will immediately recall how cedar played an important role in the history of Egypt for several thousand years, being used not only to line the burial crypts of its kings and queens, but also in large temples and buildings.[xxvii] Its oil was even used in the embalming of mummies. This was one of the most important trade products obtained from the Phoenicians of Lebanon during those centuries. The presence of massive cedar pillars at Hierakonpolis was therefore part of a longer trend. However these pillars were among the largest, and certainly one of the earliest, uses of this wood in Egypt.

The existence of these pillars immediately begs the question of how such massive pieces of wood could have been delivered to this city in Egypt eight hundred miles from the hills of Lebanon where they had been cut from huge, living trees. The normal transportation of goods in that day was done on the back of a donkey. Given the huge size of each of these pillars, it is unclear how many donkeys would have been required to make the attempt, and how many would have died along the way under such a load. Fortunately, there was an alternative method for transporting cedar logs. This was demonstrated in the Old Testament of the Bible, which described how the Phoenician King of Tyre promised to deliver cedar logs to Solomon for use in building his Temple in Jerusalem.[xxviii]

And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa [Jaffa]; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 2:16

Clearly this dumping of logs into the sea and towing them to the customer was the preferred method of delivery, and it was comparatively easy. The long trip to Hierakonpolis would have had an additional advantage in using this delivery method, for a sea-going boat could simply hand off its load at the mouth of the Nile. At that point, towing the logs upriver would follow a common practice in Egypt, which had used the river as its main highway since the days of pre-history.[xxix] Far upriver, the temple at Hierakonpolis stood close to the Nile, making delivery of the pillars—and their erection into the large post-holes which held them up—a relatively straightforward affair.

Before leaving this we must address another highly relevant matter, and that is whether Egyptian boats went to Byblos to fetch the huge cedar pillars, or whether boats from Byblos delivered them. Each would have had its own—and completely different—consequences.

The Egyptians and the people of Byblos evolved in significantly different environments. In Egypt, the Nile was the main traffic artery, and people began building river boats there at a very early time.[xxx] These boats had flat bottoms to avoid being caught on sand bars or rocks in the river and—given the lack of wood in Egypt—were originally made from bundles of reeds tied together. Eventually, when larger riverboats were needed, they used many short boards from the small acacia tree, which were attached together in a pattern that resembled brickwork.[xxxi] For the calm waters of the river, this patchwork of small boards suited their needs very well.

However, when the Egyptians tried to take these boats out on the Mediterranean Sea, the results were far different. The waves of the sea alternately raised and lowered the bow and stern (front and rear) of the boats, over and over. This caused the many small boards to break apart on the sea, as attested by what happened next—preserved for us by etchings in stone which show these boats in clear detail.[xxxii],[xxxiii] In an attempt to keep the boats from breaking apart on the sea, the Egyptians tied large rope cables around the bow of the boat, then ran these taut cables above the deck to the stern, where they were tied around the rear of the ship. In this way, the tendency of the front and rear of the boat to fall down into the trough of each passing wave was offset by the taut ropes which held the front and rear of the boat high.[xxxiv] These cables, tied around the hull of the boat in two places, must have caused considerable drag in the water, making the boats slow and cumbersome. But at least they did not break apart on the waves. Egyptian records show that the Egyptians tried this method of sea travel twice:  in 2480 B.C.,[xxxv] and again in 1490 B.C.[xxxvi] In both cases, the boats were used for no more than one or two hundred years before being abandoned. During all the rest of their history, the Egyptian records show foreign boats coming to Egypt, bearing crews from the Levantine coast—as shown by their distinctive beards and embroidered robes. The name which the Egyptians gave to these foreign vessels was “Byblos boats.”[xxxvii]

The people of Byblos emerged under completely different circumstances. They were fishermen on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Surrounded by forests of cedar and fir, they used these large trees to allow them to fish in the sea. As shown by Lionel Casson and others, the normal development of boatbuilding in such an environment was to begin by hollowing out part of a large tree trunk and using it as a dugout boat.[xxxviii] To make the boat larger, boards were added to the sides. As the boats became much larger, they retained the large piece of wood at the bottom of the boat’s hull—and called that piece the keel. This large, solid piece of wood prevented the flexing of the boat on the waves. The slightly rounded “V” shape formed by the long boards on each side of the hull also meant the keel was far below the water. This gave the vessel great stability to stay on course in the open sea, regardless of wind or waves coming from the side. This deep-draft design would have been a problem on rivers, but the people of Byblos were not river travelers. They had evolved upon the sea as early as 4500 B.C., and their craft were ideal for sea travel.

So which boats made the trip from the Lebanon Mountains to Hierakonpolis hauling these massive cedar pillars for the temple? Was it the flat-bottomed Egyptian river boats, or the deep-hulled Byblos boats? After analysis of the given facts, including the fact that the first cable-tied Egyptian riverboat was not reported as going to sea until 2480 B.C., it is reasonably concluded that in 3200 B.C. the Byblos boats brought these huge wood pillars to the mouth of the Nile. The Egyptian riverboats then would have transported these pillars up the Nile. This enabled Egyptians to receive the cedar wood they needed. It also had significant consequences for the Phoenicians, who subsequently built their whole existence around providing sea-trade.

Ship and origin of Phoenicians
Phoenician ship at Byblos

In terms of our current study, the most important factor of those events in Egypt was the impact they had on Byblos. As previously mentioned, Byblos was a town of small houses in 4500 B.C.  In 3200 B.C., however, the town began to grow quickly.[xxxix] The homes became larger and were surrounded by enclosures as a manner of protection. Civic buildings were constructed, such as the temple dedicated to Baalat Gebal—Our Lady of Byblos—which replaced the previous rustic structure. By 3000 B.C., Byblos was a bustling city which had surrounded itself with a massive city wall.[xl] Many of the homes had become large and luxurious, and civic areas had been set aside for the ever more impressive temple to Our Lady, as well as a lavish temple dedicated to various male deities. Objects found within the city reflected widespread trade to the north, south, east and west, with objects from Egypt predominating. The Phoenicians had become fully established, in a form which would still be recognizable in the time of Classical Greece, when Herodotus came to Tyre in 450 B.C.[xli]

But what of the cities of Tyre and Sidon, which would also become leading cites among the Phoenician people? Did one of them rise prior to Byblos? For this we have several sources of information. Legend tells us Sidon and Tyre were formed by settlers from Byblos, with the founder of Tyre being named Agenor.[xlii] Legends, of course, must be taken with a grain of salt, but sometimes can reflect an element of truth. Herodotus added to our body of knowledge when he questioned priests at the temple of Hercules in Tyre, and was told the temple had existed since the founding of the city 2300 years earlier.[xliii] That was somewhat better than legend, because he was told this at the source, and his record of the information was factual and clear. Given that Herodotus arrived in Tyre around 450 B.C., that would indicate a founding date of 2750 B.C. for the city. A third element came in the form of archaeological evidence at Tyre, where Patricia Bikai excavated down to bedrock. She found identifiable pieces of pottery which enabled her to date the founding of the city to the first part of the third millennium B.C.[xliv] Remarkably enough, her results confirmed the date given to us by Herodotus.

Although excavations at the neighboring city of Sidon are incomplete, they suggest a similar timeline to that of Tyre, with scattered early occupations of the site and the beginnings of a city around 2750 B.C.[xlv] Excavations at other known Phoenician cities such as Sarepta have not yielded any evidence to show they were founded prior to 3200 B.C.[xlvi]


Since the founding of Sidon, Tyre and these other cities did not predate the founding of Byblos, it must be concluded that Byblos was the first of the Phoenician cities, and that the origin of Phoenician society occurred there around 3200 B.C.

This leaves us with only one final issue to resolve: which of the two remaining origin theories is correct? Did the Phoenicians arrive from the Erythraean Sea (Persian Gulf) area? Or did they emerge from the Canaanites in the Levant?

In the preceding analyses, we did not encounter an “arrival” of Phoenicians to merge with local people in Byblos and give rise to this society. No disruption occurred between 3200 B.C. and 1200 B.C. to cause Phoenician society in the Levant to switch from a sea-going to a land-based existence, nor to change from their Semitic language to some other, nor to change from being relatively peaceful to becoming militaristic, nor any other fundamental change. Each of these characteristics of their society, and others, have been discussed in my book on the Phoenicians.[xlvii] For now, let it suffice that careful examination has shown the Phoenician society which existed after 3200 B.C. had many fundamental similarities to the society found in Phoenician cities in 1200 B.C.

Having said that, those points do not rule out the possibility that such an arrival of outsiders might have occurred prior to 3200 B.C.  To address this point, we are fortunate to have the results of a DNA study performed in Lebanon and other parts of the Mediterranean, which was designed to specifically track the course of the Phoenician people over time. This study, performed by Spencer Wells and Pierre Zalloua in 2004, identified the relevant Phoenician Y-chromosome groups as M89 and M172.[xlviii] These specific groups were shown as being native to the Levant, going back at least 12,000 years. In other words, the people who became the Phoenicians had lived in the area for 12,000 years or more. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the Phoenicians did not arrive from some other place and take up residence in the Levant at any time near or after 3200 B.C.

Therefore, based upon all available evidence from historical, archaeological and DNA sources, it can be concluded that the Phoenicians and their society emerged from the local Canaanite people of the Levant. They did this at the city of Byblos. This event occurred around the year 3200 B.C. And the means through with it occurred was the opening of significant trade with Egypt at that time. This was the origin of the Phoenicians and their society.

Epilogue: Significant Subsequent Interactions

History and archaeology show us Phoenician interactions with other societies had a significant impact on the ancient Mediterranean region after the time of their origin. This is not a surprise, given their role in transporting goods—with accompanying discoveries and practices—on their ubiquitous sea-trade voyages. The only element of surprise might be in how long the Phoenicians had been having some impact. Yet once we are aware of their origin and existence, we begin to see clear effects of their contact with each of those other lands. There are far too many examples of this contact during all those centuries to present here, but let us note a few to illustrate the Phoenicians’ presence and effect.

Buried beside the Great Pyramid in Egypt were two cedar ships, which have been dated to circa 2550 B.C.[xlix] They represent a continuation of the Phoenician cedar trade which began approximately 650 years earlier at Hierakonpolis. Throughout Egypt’s long history, its periods of prosperity were marked by the strong evidence of foreign trade, some of which came to its shores borne on Byblos boats.

Around 2000 B.C., the beautiful Minoan civilization arose on Crete, accompanied by many indications of “Eastern influence.”[l] By that time the Phoenicians had long been established as major sea traders on the Mediterranean.[li] That the Minoans received influences from them and others in the form of specific pottery, architectural practices, social practices, legends and language are very much in evidence.[lii]

Just after 1000 B.C., the King of Tyre provided master craftsmen and goods from his city, as well as from Sidon and Byblos, to help King Solomon build his Temple in Jerusalem.[liii] The existence of Solomon’s Temple, and subsequent joint trade ventures with the Phoenicians,[liv] had a significant impact upon Hebraic society.

As the Classical Greeks emerged from their Dark Age, they felt the effect of Phoenician sea trade in the Aegean—soon to be joined by burgeoning Greek sea trade—which helped their nascent city-states emerge into the light. Phoenician trading vessels were so common in those waters that Homer, composing his works circa 800 B.C., casually told in the Odyssey of Phoenician ships headed west from Crete toward Pylos, and east toward Sidon.[lv] This observation was supported by Thucydides, who noted that the first Greek settlers arriving at Sicily in 734 B.C. found Phoenician trading posts already established around the island.[lvi]

When the early Romans freed themselves from their Etruscan king in 509 B.C., one of their first acts was to declare themselves a Republic.[lvii] Another immediate action, taken that same year, was to sign a trade treaty with the Phoenicians—to gain a piece of the lucrative commerce which would enable them to grow.[lviii] For any who might wonder how much the Phoenicians of Tyre remained involved with the affairs of Carthage—which Tyrian settlers had created around 814 B.C.—Polybius told us that this treaty with Rome was signed by Carthage, and also by its patron city of Tyre.[lix] The far-ranging sea trade conducted by Tyre and other Phoenician cities was one of their identifying calling cards throughout their long existence.

Other interactions and impacts on societies in the Mediterranean would include not only the array of goods and materials brought from one land to another, but also joint ventures, wars, inventions, skills, and social practices, among many others.

Yet perhaps the most visible and long-lasting of these impacts remains the Phoenician alphabet. As Herodotus told us, and virtually all linguists have confirmed, Classical Greeks experienced the Phoenician alphabet in the early days of their existence.[lx] The Greeks improved it considerably by adding vowels, and thus created their own alphabet. This not only allowed the recording of history through the ages—from Herodotus to Gibbons to the history books used in classrooms today—but also allowed the recording of science, plays, philosophy, literature and other knowledge contributed by the world’s societies. Other alphabets based upon the Phoenician one include the Roman, Persian, Hebraic, Arabic, Brahimi (Indian and Southeast Asian) and Cyrillic (Russian).[lxi]

Without this contribution of an alphabet, world history would have still happened. However it would have been quite different, and much less of it would have come down to us today.


[i]  Markoe, Glenn  Peoples of the Past: Phoenicians  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), pp. 10-11.

[ii]  Moscati, Sabatino  The Phoenicians  (New York: Rizzoli International, 1999), p. 8.

[iii]  Herodotus  The Histories  Robin Waterfield trans. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 1:1.  The actual quote is shown at the end of the paragraph.

[iv]  Lagassé, Paul ed.  The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition  (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 925.

[v]  Dunand, Maurice  Byblos  H. Tabet trans. (Paris: Librairie Adrien-maisonnueve, 1973), pp. 1-103.

[vi]  Herm, Gerhard  The Phoenicians: The Purple Empire of the Ancient World  (New York: William Morrow, 1975), pp. 54-55.

[vii]   “Levant” refers to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and includes the lands known today as Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan.

[viii]  Moscati, Sabatino  “Who Were the Phoenicians?”  The Phoenicians  (New York: Rizzoli International, 1999), pp. 18-19.

[ix]  Bondi, Sandro Filippo  “The Course of History” The Phoenicians  (New York: Rizzoli International, 1999), pp. 23-30.

[x]  Bikai, Patricia  The Pottery of Tyre (Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips, 1978), pp. 73-74.

[xi] Pritchard, James Bennett  Recovering Sarepta, a Phoenician City: Excavations at Sarafand, Lebanon, 1969-1974, by the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania  (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978), pp. 1-162.

[xii] Grant, Michael  The Ancient Mediterranean  (New York: Meridian, 1969), p. 79.

[xiii] Jidejian, Nina  Byblos Through the Ages  (Beirut: Dar el-Machreq, 1968), p. 21.

[xiv] Dunand  Byblos  pp. 20-21.

[xv] Lagassé  The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition  p. 7.

[xvi] Markoe  Peoples of the Past: Phoenicians  pp. 12, 24.

[xvii] Herm  The Phoenicians: The Purple Empire of the Ancient World  pp. 54-55.

[xviii] Moscati, Sabatino  “Territory and Settlements”  The Phoenicians  (New York: Rizzoli International, 1999), p. 20.

[xix] Meyers, Eric ed.  Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), Vol. 1, p. 391.

[xx] Dunand  Byblos  p. 15.

[xxi] Findings by Denon, Quibell and Green are reviewed at Hierakonpolis Online. Retrieved on May 28, 2008, from

[xxii] Friedman, Renee  “The Ceremonial Centre at Hierakonpolis, Locality HK29A” Aspects of Early Egypt  A.J. Spencer, ed. (London: British Museum Press, 1996), pp. 16-35.

[xxiii] Davies, Vivian and Renee Friedman  Egypt Uncovered (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1998), p. 27-28.

[xxiv] Casson, Lionel  Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 11.

[xxv] Herodotus  The Histories  2:96.

[xxvi] Davies and Friedman  Egypt Uncovered  p. 27-28.

[xxvii] Meyers  Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East  Vol. 1, p. 391.

[xxviii] The Holy Bible, King James Version  (1987).  2 Chronicles 2:16.

[xxix] Casson  Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World  p. 11.

[xxx] Casson  Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World  p. 12.

[xxxi] Herodotus  The Histories  2:96.

[xxxii] This occurred during the reign of King Sahure, and an image of these boats was carved into his temple at Abusir.

[xxxiii] Cable-tied boats were used again during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut, and an image of her boats was carved into her temple at Deir El Bahari.

[xxxiv] Casson  Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World  p. 20.

[xxxv] During the reign of King Sahure circa 2487 – 2475 B.C.

[xxxvi] During the reign of Queen Hatshepsut circa 1498 – 1483 B.C.

[xxxvii] Casson, Lionel  The Ancient Mariners, Second Edition  (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991), p. 6.

[xxxviii] Casson  Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World  pp. 7-8

[xxxix] Dunand  Byblos  pp. 18-20.

[xl] Dunand  Byblos  pp. 20-21.

[xli] Holst, Sanford  Phoenicians: Lebanon’s Epic Heritage  (Los Angeles: Cambridge and Boston Press, 2005), pp. 26-300.

[xlii] Virgil  The Aeneid  Harlan Hoge Ballard trans. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), 1.335-1.368,  refers to these legends.

[xliii] Herodotus  The Histories  2:44.

[xliv] Bikai  The Pottery of Tyre  p. 72.

[xlv] British Museum excavation at Sidon is currently ongoing and summaries are shown online at Sidon Excavation. Retrieved on May 28, 2008, from

[xlvi] Pritchard  Recovering Sarepta, a Phoenician City: Excavations at Sarafand, Lebanon, 1969-1974, by the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania  p. 77.

[xlvii] Holst  Phoenicians: Lebanon’s Epic Heritage  pp. 32-197.

[xlviii] Gore, Rick  “Who Were the Phoenicians?”  National Geographic. Vol.206:4 (October, 2004), pp. 26-49.

[xlix] Verner, Miroslav  The Pyramids  Steven Rendall, trans. (New York: Grove Press, 2001), pp. 208-209.

[l] Branigan, Keith  The Foundations of Palatial Crete (London: Duckworth, 1970),  p. 199-203.

[li] Bentley, Jerry and Herbert Ziegler Traditions & Encounters (New York: McGraw Hill, 2000), p. 51.

[lii] Holst, Sanford  “Minoans and Phoenicians: Indigenous Development versus Eastern Influence,” a paper presented at California State University, Long Beach, on June 24, 2006, pp. 1-12. Retrieved on May 28, 2008, from

[liii] 1 Kings 5:1-12, and 1 Kings 7:13-17.

[liv] 1 Kings 9:26-28.

[lv] Homer  The Odyssey  Robert Fitzgerald trans. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998), Book XIII.

[lvi] Thucydides  History of the Peloponnesian War  Rex Warner trans. (New York: Penguin, 1972), 6:2.

[lvii] Walbank, F.W. ed.  Cambridge Ancient History  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), Vol. VII, Part 2, pp. 172-175.

[lviii] Polybius  Polybius on Roman Imperialism: The Histories of Polybius  Evelyn S. Shuckburgh trans., Alvin H. Bernstein ed.  (South Bend, Indiana: Regnery/Gateway, 1980) 3:22-26.

[lix] Polybius  Polybius on Roman Imperialism: The Histories of Polybius  3:22-26.

[lx] Herodotus  The Histories  5:58.

[lxi] Sacks, David  Language Visible  (New York: Broadway Books, 2003), pp. xiii-xv.

CLOUD: Origin of the Phoenicians, Byblos, Lebanon, Phoenicians origin, Phoenician history

Further information

If you would like to experience more of the Phoenician world than you found in this article, the book Phoenicians: Lebanon’s Epic Heritage is recommended. It is deeply researched but also a highly readable exploration. With 104 illustrations.

Going beyond the few traditionally-cited facts, this authoritative work also draws from interviews with leading archaeologists and historians on-site in the lands and islands where the Phoenicians lived and left clues regarding their secretive society.


You can take a look inside this book. See the first pages here.