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ФИНИКИЙЦЫAncient state Phoenicia was initially located in the Northern and Central parts of the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea, on a strip of land between sea and mountains width up to several tens of kilometers with a favorable field for agriculture and horticulture climate. The Semitic people, which the Greeks were later called by the Phoenicians, appeared on the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean for more than 5,000 years ago. Whence came these people are and where they lived before, remains for historians a mystery until now.

Already in the first half of the III Millennium BC aliens built on the reclaimed the territory of one of the oldest cities in the world. The Assyrians and Babylonians called his GUAM, Israelis and Jews - Gebal, and builders - Jbeil. The city grew rapidly, its inhabitants were brisk trade in timber, wine and olive oil, built houses and strengthening, as well as excellent vehicles. Bronze axes they cut the trees growing on the slopes of the hills behind the city walls, the famous Lebanese cedars, the main wealth of the local land. Trunks cedars were building material for ships, palaces, and temples, they were exported to the neighboring countries - Egypt and Mesopotamia. There is a record of the Egyptian scribes that in 2650 B.C. to the capital of Egypt Memphis from Byblos profit 40 Phoenician ships with the forest to Pharaoh Sneferu. In addition to wood, from Byblos to Egypt from the III Millennium BC were exported wine and olive oil.

And in Jbeil the same court brought gold from Nubia and ingots of copper from Cyprus, and land caravans from East - grain, precious stones, wool, skins of animals, spices and incense. During excavations Byblos found the sarcophagus, which was not less than 30 centuries. On it an inscription: "Ahiram, king Byblos... His abode is the hereafter".

By the end of III - beginning of the II Millennium BC the Phoenician settlements occur throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Coastal settlements - Sidon, tyre, Bierut, Arad and others in the II Millennium BC turn into a small but thriving city-state, which contributed to the early development of trade in Phoenicia. In cities flourished crafts: all around the Mediterranean was famous Phoenician glass, only here knew the secret of dyeing in Magenta.

Sidon, which emerged later Byblos and South, made famous by the legendary ancient Greek poet Homer. In the Iliad he calls the Sidonians; them "masters, skilled in manual work". The poet says, in particular, that they have made a silver jug is "one of the most beautiful on earth."

The king is a city of Phoenicia tyre, the coeval of Sidon, was the most southern of the three great Phoenician cities, city-States. He and another southern city, Arad, was located on the coastal Islands to protect against external enemies. (Tyr was first occupied only in the IV century BC, when the troops of Alexander the great was built bulk shaft from the shore to the island.) In the Bible all the 27th Chapter of the Book of the prophet Ezekiel is devoted to the description of tyre as it was in the end of VI century B.C. From tyre its ruler, king Hiram sent his friend and ally, Israel's king David, and later his son, the famous king of the Jews Solomon, timber, carpenters, and masons to build palaces and chief of the Jerusalem temple (the prototype of it was the Church in the Phoenician God Baal in Dash).

"Behold, I am about to build a temple in the name of our Almighty God", - has declared about 950 years before't E. king Solomon. But his people - the recent nomads had no experience in the construction of monumental buildings, so he turned for help to his ally, the outstanding Builder, king Hiram of tyre. In the next seven years in Jerusalem, a Church was built in the Phoenician style. It was built thousands of workers using a great number of artificially processed stone, Phoenician cedar and other valuable breeds of wood, decorative and upholstery fabrics, painted in purple colour. The celebrated master of tyre was cast two high bronze columns that are installed on both sides of the main entrance to the temple.

Solomon paid off the "foreman" Hiram olive oil and wheat, 20 towns in Galilee and 120 talents of gold. These expenses seriously undermined the country's economy, which led to the weakening of the whole Kingdom, which soon fell apart. Four centuries later the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple of Solomon. Until our days in Jerusalem has remained the Wailing Wall is a remnant of a new, Second Temple, built on the same spot by king Herod in the first century A.D.

"Father of history" Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century BC, claimed that before entering the temple indeed there were two pillars, but one was not bronze, and gold, the other is covered with emerald"

It is noteworthy that on the Western tip of Sicily still preserved ruins of one of the Phoenician colonies. They are included in the exhibition there " Museum under the open sky. Two Ministers of the Museum, local residents say that the ancient Phoenician cemetery often haunted by the ghosts of - bearded men in strange clothes. "I no not afraid of ghosts and generally do not believe in them, " says one of the Ministers, " but our Asses them terribly frightened and scurried away at a gallop, and then we have time to hunt them up".

Themselves Phoenicians called themselves by the name of those cities where it came: "the Sidonians, they of tyre, Carthaginians". Phoenicians dubbed the Greeks, under the name extracted from marine snails juicy dark red paint, which they painted their garments. Later the Romans, based on the Greek word became known as the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians "Puni" or "unity", and the war that followed them, - Punic.

Herodotus tells how the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians were trading with the Libyans. Once moored near settlements, merchants were unloaded from ships its products and laid out on the Bank. Then they were back on the ship, and lit a smoke alarm.

Libyans came to spread out the goods, examined them. And then piled near as much gold as they considered it appropriate to pay for the goods, and departed from the place of trade, by some distance.

The Carthaginians went ashore and evaluated the proposal of the Libyans. If, in their opinion, gold was enough they took away and had set sail from the coast, and if not returned to the ship and waited. Then Libyans were added gold as long as the sellers refused to accept it. "None of the parties, stresses Herodotus - was not protovale. The Carthaginians did not touch the gold until such time as the amount does not reached sufficient size and Libyans did not touch the goods until the Phoenicians were not taken the gold."

With the rise of Sidon and tyre at the same time, the invention by the Phoenicians alphabet and the rapid spread-based writing. To use the first in the history of mankind letters to record the spoken sound was much easier than a huge number of icons - Egyptian hieroglyphs or icons Mesopotamian cuneiform.

It is generally accepted that the most important cultural achievements of the Phoenicians is the creation of a whole new alphabet which later formed the basis of almost all ancient and modern alphabetic writing systems. In Phoenicia in the second half of the II Millennium BC was established abbreviated type syllabic letters, digits which was originally about 30, and from the thirteenth century B.C. was reduced to 22. Very Phoenician letter, close alphabetical, not yet passed adequately all the phonemes of a language: as in most of the Semitic languages, the Phoenician alphabet was missing symbols for vowels. Vowels were the first to regularly identify in the VIII century BC borrowed a Phoenician writing system Greeks and the Phrygians.

The lack of Phoenicians symbols for vowels created Some inconveniences, but the system worked, was successfully used in commercial matters, it was adopted by other Nations. This ancient alphabet became the prototype of the alphabets of all European languages. This was the greatest gift this talented people of the East all the peoples of the West.

Their records Phoenicians made on papyrus, at least - on four clay pots. The papyrus they bought the Egyptians, and brought it back mainly in Jbeil. The notion of the ancient Greeks Jbeil and papyrus were so closely related that when they decided to translate into your language of the narrative of the Hebrew prophets, this giant work received the name the city of Byblos - the Bible.

Unfortunately, none of the literary monument of the Phoenicians to find so far failed. In the wet, saturated with sea salt air papyrus quickly destroyed. So died the literature of the people who taught writing all of us. The way of life and way of life of the Phoenicians, we know from the records of the Egyptian priests, and sculptures, bas-reliefs and paintings Assyrian artists.

One of the few surviving monuments of the Phoenician alphabet is a Golden plate V century BC with the inscription Phoenician letters - predecessors of the letters of our alphabet. The inscription informs about the construction of the temple in honor of the goddess Astarte. The record found in 1964 in Italy, North of Rome, this discovery proves that the Phoenicians traded with Etruscans even before the emergence of the Roman Empire.

The Phoenicians were for their time people extraordinary. Unlike their neighbors, they have not sought to conquer other Nations and capture owned land. Phoenician cities and colonies have never quarreled among themselves. The people did not like to fight. His ruleif, being skillful diplomats, all conflicts with neighbors sought to settle peacefully. But when the Phoenicians still had to take up arms, they were skilled warriors. Their troops fought against the Greeks on the side of the Persian king Xerxes, and during the Second Punic war, the Carthaginian Hannibal and his army destroyed by the Romans in their own territory.

A major role of merchants in the life of urban communities slowed development in Phoenicia the monarchy. Phoenician city were never United into a single centralized state, what were in that era, for example, Egypt and Babylonia. Almost every city had its kings, but overall management of them wore oligarchic character.

The main direction of the foreign policy of the Phoenician rulers always remained the development of trade, the opening up and development of new lands. Building on these lands port city-colonies, the Phoenicians used them as outposts for future marine expeditions. Phoenician mariners on the oars and sail plied the Aegean sea, sailed along the coast of North Africa, feel free to go beyond the borders of the Mediterranean sea, pioneered new ways both to the West and the East. Their most perfect for those times ships with length up to 35 m had a high load capacity and seaworthiness, and besides, each was a talisman, sculptures or bas-relief of the God-protector guarding sailors from storms, insidious coastal currents and attacks of hostile ships. One of these talismans statuette of the XIII century B.C. found in Sicily, says that in that distant time the Phoenicians were trading business, far to the West from their mother countries.

According to Herodotus, the Phoenicians around 600 B.C. sailed around Africa. Considering that Libya (then called Africa), it is only a relatively small island, surrounded by the River, the Ocean, the Egyptian Pharaoh of the XXVI dynasty Necho II hired the very best Phoenician sailors and sent them South on the Red sea. "The Phoenicians... floated on the South sea, " wrote Herodotus. - When the autumn came, they were moored to the shore and planted a field... Then, removing the harvest, was again put out to sea. So two years have passed, and on the third they, past the pillars of Melkart, that is passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, sailed to Egypt. They are the Phoenicians also said - and he believes in it, who wants, I don't believe that, sailing along the coast of Libya, that is, Africa had the sun on the right side".

But exactly what did not believe the wise Greek, just proves the truth of this story. At the time of Herodotus nobody got so far to the South, beyond the line of the equator. And there the sun really moves across the sky in the Northern part of the sky, that is, from the right side of the vessel, if it is moving around Africa in the Western direction.

According to the testimony of the Roman historian Festa Avenues, Phoenician finder sea adventures, Gomilko sailed North along the coast of Iberia (Iberian Peninsula) and reached rich in tin banks of Albion (England).

There is reason to assume that the Phoenicians visited and on the American continent. The ancient Greek historian Diodorus Sicilian in the I century BC, wrote: "Far from Libya lies an island of considerable size, flowered, with lots of mountains, between which flow broad, navigable rivers. The Phoenicians were accidentally discovered the island, once established colonies along the coast of Libya and decided to go for Geeklove posts to the West, in the sea, which people call the Ocean". But the only land with mountains and navigable rivers of West Africa is South America and the Antilles.

Other ancient authors - Greek and Roman - also lead descriptions of the rich lands, lying far to the West. Some modern archaeologists and historians are confident that ancient mariners (probably the Phoenicians or Egyptians) reached these lands.

There are generally recognized facts that still excite the minds of both specialists and Amateurs of history.

Maya Indians and their Legendary predecessors, mysterious Olmecs, built ploskoverhi pyramids like Mesopotamian the pyramids-the ziggurats. Bas-reliefs and sculptures of the Indians represent priests and kings, very similar to the Mediterranean - nosed, bushy-bearded, with a conical hats, shoes with pointed, turned-up toes - as on the Phoenician figurines and Assyrian bas-reliefs.

When in fishing villages on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon dark haired guys pull out of the water network with the catch, they, like beating the rhythm, chanting to the beat of their efforts: "uh...Fri...SSA! Uh...Fri...SSA!" When they ask what that means, they would just shrug. They only know that such a cry always helped themselves to the hard work of their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers... But guys do not know that the custom is not one thousand years, and that they are shouting the name of the Phoenician Princess Elissa (Dido), sung by the classic Roman poetry Vergil's poem "Eneida".

Legend has it that more than 3000 years ago the king of the Phoenician city-States of ancient Thira, brother Alessi, killed her husband, the high priest. Princess escaping the tyranny brother, secretly fled the city with a group of supporters of the first to Cyprus, and then in North Africa. Here, the refugees settled on the Bank of the Gulf of Tunis, on the hill of Beers, which means "bull's skin". According to legend, the locals agreed to cede the Eliss as much land as you can to cover the skin of the bull. Then the Princess cut the skin in thin strips, bound them to each other and girded resulting rope whole top of the hill.

In the beginning of VIII century BC was founded Carthage, one of the most powerful and unassailable cities-colonies of the Phoenicians on the southern shores of the Mediterranean sea.

Historians believe that the first trade agreement between Carthage and Rome was signed in 509 BC Agreements trading section of spheres of influence were resumed in 348, 305 and 281 years B.C. however Carthage for centuries fought the Greeks and later the Romans for domination not only in Sicily, South-Western part of which has been the traditional sphere of influence of UNICEF, but, basically, and on all lands of the South-West coast of Mediterranean sea.

The first Punic war between Rome and Carthage began in 264 BC landing Roman troops, headed by the Consul Appium Claudius in Sicily. The fighting on land and sea, with varying success continued until 242 B.C. In the end, the Romans won, and this forced the Carthaginians to make bad for them the world that they completely refused from Sicily and adjacent Islands. Further internal discord in the Carthaginian power caused by the rebellion of mercenaries, permanently excluded Carthaginians from the struggle for supremacy in the Western Mediterranean, making the Romans captured and Sardinia.

The direct cause of the Second Punic war was active expansion of Carthage in Spain. With 237 B.C. commanders hamilkar, then Gasdrubal and finally Hannibal gradually conquered various tribes of Spain. When Hannibal after a long siege captured allied Romans the city Sagunto, they in 218 BC declared war to Carthage.

The Romans expected invasion of UNICEF from the sea, but Hannibal outwitted them. With a large army and fighting elephants he swiftly crossed the Pyrenees, Gaul and almost inaccessible Alps, descending into the valley of the po river (North of Italy) only with the third part of the troops. The rapidity and the surprise invasion of Italy brought him a series of brilliant victories. When in 216 BC at the battle of cannae he broke and almost completely destroyed 80-thousand army of Romans, it caused a real panic in Rome. The way to the capital was opened. However, Hannibal failed to reap the victory.

In 214 BC when the city of Nola Romans inflicted the first defeat of unicam. In 212 BC fell to the Union Carthaginians the Sicilian city of Syracuse. The campaign Hannibal at Rome in 211 BC failed because he did not dare to besiege the city, having a strong opponent. In 210 B.C. the Romans captured the most important for UNICEF in Spain, the city of New Carthage, and in 207 B.C. on the river Metavr was completely crushed Gasdrubal that went with 56-thousand army in connection with Hannibal.

Conquered Spain, Romans trafficked his army in Africa. This forces the Carthaginians to withdraw never defeated Hannibal from Italy. However, on its own territory, he was defeated at the battle of Zama in 202 BC, the Carthaginians were forced to make peace on terms of complete renunciation of possessions in Spain, payments Romans 10 thousand talents of gold, issuing only Navy, elephants and the Hannibal. Hannibal fled from Carthage.

The third Punic war was started by the Romans in fear of the revival of Carthage. Senator Cato the Elder in the Roman Senate demanded the complete destruction of Carthage. In 149 BC, using the contentions of UNICEF with Numidian king Masinis, Romans declare war precipitated Carthage. Citizens defended himself desperately doomed, and only after three years of siege in 146 B.C. the Romans captured the city, destroyed it to the ground, and the survivors of the Carthaginians were sold into slavery. Carthage ceased to exist.

From the period between 12 and 9th centuries BC it did not get through almost any information about Phoenicia. Probably it was at this time hegemony on Phoenician site has moved to Sidon, who was forced to fight for the championship with other major Phoenician center - tyre. During this period, the Phoenicians (the Canaanites) are often mentioned in the Bible. Hiram, king of tyre, helps to Solomon to build its famous Shrine, and a century later the daughter of Ethbaal from tyre, Jezebel married Ahab, king of Israel, and their daughter, in its turn, the wife of the king of Judah. The Bible with negodovalreceiving tells that at this time in Israel and Judea erected temples and altars Phoenician gods. About religion Phoenicians we know little, though there was the ruin of many temples. The main God was, apparently, El, an important role was played by the cult of Astarte. Baal, or Baal, often mentioned in the Bible, meant the name of God in General. The Phoenicians practiced human sacrifice.

In 332 BC Phoenicia was conquered by Alexander the great, tyre was destroyed, and since then Phoenician culture was quickly allinterfaces. During this period, the Phoenician language almost fell into disuse and was replaced by Aramaic and Latin, later Greek.

The mystery remains

Now, more than 3000 years ago in the Mediterranean prevailed amazing people, which the Greeks called by the Phoenicians. They achieved this rule is not military victories, and the ability to conduct profitable and fair trade, the ability to build the most advanced ships and boldly to embark on them in distant sea voyages, art resolve any conflicts through negotiations and compromises. The Phoenicians had taught the Jews to build palaces and temples, Greeks - to write letters invented alphabet, and the Romans - lead and win the sea battle.

Outstanding British orientalist XIX century Henry Rawlinson called the Phoenicians "the great pioneers of civilization"that "his fearlessness, daring courage and skill paved the way for us... They dared to go there, where before they had never been nobody... Active, energetic, persistent and resourceful, not very scrupulous, they possessed those qualities, which for centuries has provided the nation's wealth and prosperity..."

But why this nation that came out of nowhere one of the most favourable climatic zones of the continent, first thought to symbolize not words and situations and sounds, which allowed with written transmission of speech to use only two dozen letters of the alphabet, not hundreds or thousands of characters and icons?

Why the rulers of this people a few thousand years ago realised that the basis of prosperity - not military superiority and the ability to capture foreign territory and wealth, and free, fair and equitable trade, search and development of new markets? And what to trade profitably is possible only in the presence of high-quality products and reliable means of delivery of these goods to where there is demand?

That helped them to have thought of all this? Or WHO helped?..

Answers to these and other questions, connected with the fate of the Phoenicians, one of the most mysterious peoples in ancient human history, scientists still do not know. But they continue to try to get them, and if it happens, it will be revealed one of the largest and most important secrets of our past.
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