Lebanon in Ancient Times
Each of the coastal cities was an independent kingdom noted for the special activities of its inhabitants. Tyre and Sidon were important maritime and trade centers; Gubla (later known as Byblos and now as Jubayl) and Berytus (present-day Beirut) were trade and religious centers. Gubla was the first Phoenician city to trade actively with Egypt and the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 B.C.), exporting cedar, olive oil, and wine, while importing gold and other products from the Nile Valley.
Before the end of the seventeenth century B.C., Lebanese - Egyptian relations were interrupted when the Hyksos, a nomadic Semitic people, conquered Egypt. After about three decades of Hyksos rule (1600-1570 B.C.), Ahmose I (1570-45 B.C.), a Theban prince, launched the Egyptian liberation war. Opposition to the Hyksos increased, reaching a peak during the reign of the pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-36 B.C.), who invaded Syria, put an end to Hyksos domination, and incorporated Lebanon into the Egyptian Empire.
Toward the end of the fourteenth century B.C., the Egyptian Empire weakened, and Lebanon was able to regain its independence by the beginning of the twelfth century B.C. The subsequent three centuries were a period of prosperity and freedom from foreign control during which the earlier Phoenician invention of the alphabet facilitated communications and trade. The Phoenicians also excelled not only in producing textiles but also in carving ivory, in working with metal, and above all in making glass. Masters of the art of navigation, they founded colonies wherever they went in the Mediterranean Sea (specifically in Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, and Carthage) and established trade routes to Europe and western Asia (see fig. 2). Furthermore, their ships circumnavigated Africa a thousand years before those of the Portuguese. These colonies and trade routes flourished until the invasion of the coastal areas by the Assyrians.
Data as of December 1987
Source: Library of Congress Country Studies
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Lebanon - The Phoenicians
This feature is © 2003 N.S. Gill.