The Alphabet

During the 2nd millennium BC, the Phoenicians devised a unique technique of writing. Instead of having a different symbol or sign stand for each word, as had the Egyptians, they used the same sign whenever a particular sound occurred. The sequence of letters was named the Alphabet, after the first two letters in the list Alpha and Bet.  The Phoenician Alphabet had 22 letters and was the direct ancestor of later alphabets: Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Armenian. One common misconception about the Phoenician Alphabet is that it contained no vowels. However, the first letter is an Alpha or an A in today's Alphabet. It also contained an I and an O.

The Law School

In the First century, Roman Berytus (Beirut) was already well known for its school of law. Beirut was called "Mother of Laws" and had, along with Rome and Constantinople, one of only three law schools of antiquity. One of the most renowned law teachers, Papinien, professed, 1800 years before the United Nations, that all men are created equal.  Interestingly enough, is the fact that one of the co-authors of the United Nations Human Rights Charter was also Lebanese, Dr. Charles Malik.


Pythagoras, the inventor of the multiplication tables, the founder of the hypothenuse theorem, and discoverer of the magic of numbers, was born and raised in Sidon.

Paper Money

Paper money has found its origin in the Tyrian, a Carthagenian use of inscribed triangular pieces of leather.

Open Seas Naval Vessels

The Phoenicians, in pursuit of commercial outlets and subsequently for the protection of their trade routes, had to develop vessels over 100 feet long, which were capable of traversing the Mediterranean and sailing into the Atlantic, reputedly reaching the Americas more than two millenniums before the Vikings.  A Phoenician fleet circumnavigated the African Continent, proving that it was surrounded by water, about two millenniums before Vasco de Gama managed to duplicate their feat.

Purple Dye

Sidon and Tyre were reputed to produce the finest purple dye for garments. The dye was extracted from the murex, a mollusc found on the Mediterranean shore.  In the 4th century, 12 ounces (325g) of purple dye was selling for the equivalent of  $25,000 US.  This high price made it accessible only to the extremely rich, mostly royalty, which is why it later became known as royal purple.

The Largest Roman Temple

Built in Baalbeck (City of Baal), or Heliopolis (City of the Sun in Greek). The largest Roman temple, the temple of Jupiter has the size of a city block. Its base is made of block stones, each having 60 ft length, weighing 1,400,000 lbs and needing some 40,000 men to move it.

Theory of the Atom

Mochios of Sidon discovered the existence of the Atom, and formulated its theory more than 3000 years ago.

North Star

The properties of the North Star and its viability as a navigational reference were discovered by the Phoenicians. So closely associated with them that it was called the "Phoenician Star" up until the 19th century.

Transparent Glass

The Invention of transparent glass is universally attributed to the Phoenicians of the first century BC.


The princess of Tyre, Europa, gave her name to the Continent. She was the sister of Cadmus, and the daughter of Aginor (King of Tyre).  Myth has it that she was kidnapped by a Greek God named Zeus and taken to Greece.  Cadmus took the Alphabets with him and went searching for his sister, where he found her living happily in Greece.  Together, Cadmus and Europa taught the Greeks the use of the Alphabet. This myth reflects the reality that the Greeks acquired their Alphabet from the Phoenicians.