On The Trail of Ancient Phoenicians: Discovering the Oldest Cities

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Phoenicia may long been wiped out from the modern map, but this classical society will always be part of history. This ancient civilization was flourishing way back the third millennium, stretching within the countries of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. From the 9th to 6th centuries, the Phoenicians ruled over the Mediterranean Sea and spread across many continents, including the Americas, through trade. There were even lots of theories that the Phoenicians were the first human civilization who discovered the Americas as there were traces of the ancient culture even before the discovery of Christopher Columbus.

The Phoenicians dominated the neighboring nations and established colonies that emerged as remarkable forces. They focused on trading products such as precious metals, olive oil and wine. In one of its primeval lands, which is currently the country of Lebanon, timber became its primary source of living. And as a prominent and influential civilization in the past, Phoenicians still leave a mark even after thousands years of ruling. Just in case you do not know, there are still ancient Phoenicians cities that are alive and kicking up to the present time. Here are the cities who have definitely stood the test of time, literally.

Sidon

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One of the largest cities in Lebanon, Sidon or once called as Sydon was named after a Greek word that means fishery, which was also correlated with the grandson of Noah. As early as 4,000 BCE, Sidon was inhabited and eventually became the most powerful settlement during the ancient Phoenicia, which manufactured the first ever purple dye from Tyre. Aside from dye production, glass making that showcased the exceptional skills of Sidonians helped in the city’s progression. And of course, ships and marine resources were visible from the city’s port and were the contributor of the steady economy of Sidon. However, the city was dethrone when Phoenicia was conquered by Alexander the Great during the 332 BCE. It was then ruled by Rome and Arab Muslims. Now, Sidon continues to be part of the modern world and remains to be an attraction to historians and even travellers.

Baalbek

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A town in the foothills of Litani River, Baalbek features a world class prominence through its prehistoric ruins that can be dated from the past 8, 000 to 9, 000 years. The remnants from ancient Phoenicia gave the city of Baalbek a UNESCO World Heritage Site label. Long before the current population of Baalbek, this ancient city was inhabited by few Phoenicians who worshipped the Phoenician god named Baal, together with the Queen of Heaven named Astarte. The prehistoric people significantly worshipped the sky god, creating a pilgrimage for devotion. And even after thousand years, the remains of the early temple is still existent.

Tyre

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Once known as Sur, Tyre is part of Lebanon’s South Governorate with an approximate population of 174,000 inhabitants. The name of the city means ‘rock’ because it was originally built from a rocky terrain. Tyrians were known for their purple dye creations that attracted many conquerors during the primeval times. Notable individuals who were smitten by the purple-dyed textiles were Alexander the Great and King Nebuchadnezzar. The distinction of Tyre was not just limited to trade as even classical poet, William Shakespeare, included the city of Tyre in one of his famous writings. And because of the historical fragments that are still prevalent this time, the place is a popular tourist attraction in the country.

Amioun 

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The town of Amioun is part of the ancient Phoenicia with history that can be outlined back to the period of Paleolithic. Historians noted that the prehistoric people were thought to be living in the region as early as 4, 000 B. C. The name Amioun denotes ‘am Yawan’ the means ‘the place of the Greeks’. The current Amioun lies in Northern Lebanon, where it is strategically located between waters and mountains. The stretch of lands surrounding the city are mostly olive fields and vineyards, which have become the primary sources of income among the locals. Aside from olive oil production, tourism is also another contributor to the economy as many historical sites such as pagan temples and shrines still highlight the beauty of Amioun.

Batroun

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A coastal city in Lebanon, Batroun is one of the world’s oldest cities that dates back to the 14th century. Many primeval geographers like Ptolemy, Strabo, Hierocles, and the like mentioned the existence of Batroun or ‘Bostrys’ in their findings, but it was fairly founded during the Byzantine Empire by the King of Tyre. In the 20th century, the city is undeniably a top tourist destination in the country with several classical churches from different religions like Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholicism. And since the city is an inshore town, it offers sandy beaches coupled with vibrant pubs and nightclubs to travellers. There is also an annual festival called Batroun International Festival that culminates the marine abundance of Batroun.

Anfeh

Lebanon Untravelled

In the Koura District nestles a dreamy and historical town named Anfeh. Anfeh is an ancient Phoenician city that can be traced back 3, 000 years ago. Whilst the city is not that well-known compared to other bigger nations, it still accents hints from the early society like intricate walls, mosaic floors and wine presses. There are only around 6, 000 people on this coastal town that largely depends on salt production and fishing.

Beirut

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Probably the most heard and visited cities in Lebanon, Beirut acts as the capital of the country with more than 300, 000 people in the city and 2.2 million in the metro. Also part of the ancient Phoenicia, it comprises the list of the world’s oldest cities, which was occupied for more than 5,000 years. The modern Beirut features a booming economy that focuses on tourism and publishing, as well as banking. Over the years, the city has become an establish hub for banking and opened various industries, ranging from textile manufacturing to food processing. Now, Beirut is one of the New 7 Wonders Cities in the world.

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