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Ancient Coins of Phoenicia
Phoenicia, from the Greek Phoiníkē meaning either "land of palm trees" or "purple country," was located on the Mediterranean coastline of what is now Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Syria, and southwest Turkey, though some colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean and even the Atlantic Ocean, the most famous being Carthage. The enterprising, sea-based Phoenicians spread across the Mediterranean from 1500 to 300 B.C. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece, perhaps the most notable of which were Tyre, Sidon, Arados, Berytus and Carthage. Each city-state was politically independent and it is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. In terms of archaeology, language, lifestyle, and religion there was little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other Semitic Canaanites. The Phoenician alphabet is an ancestor of all modern alphabets. By their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to Anatolia, North Africa, and Europe, where it was adopted by the Greeks, who in turn transmitted it to the Romans.
|Ancient Arados, surrounded by massive walls on an island about 800 m long by 500 m wide, about 50 km north of Tripolis, was an important trading city with an artificial harbor on the east side toward the mainland. A walled island provides great security, but the lack of water on Arados was a serious challenge. Strabo recounts that Phoenicians collected rainwater and channeled it into cisterns, and that they shipped containers of fresh water from the mainland. Perhaps the most resourceful solution came from the fortuitous discovery—probably by sponge and coral divers—of an undersea freshwater spring, not far from the island in the channel between Arwad and the mainland. This spring, says Strabo, was exploited as a last resort when war or other crises interrupted water supplies from the mainland: "...into this spring the people let down from the water-fetching boat an inverted, wide-mouthed funnel made of lead, the upper part of which contracts into a stem with a moderate-sized hole through it; and round this stem they fasten a leathern tube (unless I should call it bellows), which receives the water that is forced up from the spring through the funnel. Now the first water that is forced up is sea-water, but the boatmen wait for the flow of pure and potable water and catch all that is needed in vessels prepared for the purpose and carry it to the city."|