The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centers. Phoenician city-states began to take form c. 3200 BCE and were firmly established by c. 2750 BCE. Phoenicia thrived as a maritime trader and manufacturing center from c. 1500-332 BCE and was highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and an impressive level of skill in the manufacture of luxury and common goods.
The Purple People
The purple dye manufactured and used in Tyre for the robes of Mesopotamian royalty gave Phoenicia the name by which we know it today (from the Greek Phoinikes for Tyrian Purple) and also accounts for the Phoenicians being known as ‘purple people’ by the Greeks (as the Greek historian Herodotus tells us) because the dye would stain the skin of the workers.
Herodotus cites Phoenicia as the birthplace of the alphabet, stating that it was brought to Greece by the Phoenician Kadmus (sometime before the 8th century BCE) and that, prior to that, the Greeks had no alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet is the basis for most western languages written today and their city of Gebal (called by the Greeks ‘Byblos’) gave the Bible its name (from the Greek Ta Biblia, the books) as Gebal was the great exporter of papyrus (bublos to the Greeks) which was the paper used in writing in ancient Egypt and Greece.
It is also thought that many of the gods of ancient Greece were imported from Phoenicia as there are certain indisputable similarities in some stories concerning the Phoenician gods Baal and Yamm and the Greek deities of Zeus and Poseidon. It is also notable that the battle between the Christian God and Satan as related in the biblical Book of Revelation seems a much later version of the same conflict, with many of the same details, one finds in the Phoenician myth of Baal and Yamm.