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選知 not Arab, I知 Phoenician眺 a common phrase, but flawed concept
dailystar.com.lb ^ | 09/02/04 | Peter Speetjens

Posted on 02/19/2004 8:44:57 PM PST by Destro

DS 09/02/04

‘I’m not Arab, I’m Phoenician’ ­ a common phrase, but flawed concept

It isn’t always easy to live in the postmodern era. No absolute truths or morals to hang on to. The world is what you make of it and anything goes seem to be life’s only principles. Consequently, your identity is not something that befalls upon you by birth, but something you are free to choose and construct, which can lead to rather bizarre results.

Let’s take as an example a young man I know. Born and bred in his beloved London, he has a British passport, only speaks English, has a good sense of humor, enjoys watching football, drinking beer, making fun of the French, and yet he insists he is not English or British. He is, he claims, half Irish, half Jewish. Why? His mother was born in Dublin, his father fled Germany during World War II. Now, surely both factors play an important role in his life and shape his identity, but to completely deny at least being partly British is just odd. Especially knowing that according to the Jewish faith he is not a Jew, while on top of that, he is a deeply convinced atheist. The reason for his self-chosen identity cocktail is political, as he does not want to be associated with Britain’s colonial past.

As anyone else, the Lebanese are free to choose and define their identity. Most people will just state their nationality. Others may add religion, political preferences, city of birth or other countries they lived in. In certain Lebanese circles, however you still hear the following variation: “I’m not Arab, I’m Phoenician.”

It’s an interesting concept that came to life in the late 19th century, when (certain) Lebanese, following the European intellectual fashion of the time, descended into the realms of history in search of a common ancestor on which to construct a nation state based on the principle of one people, one land, one country.

Thriving on a bit of history and lot of legend, it triggers images of a glorious past, in which the Phoenicians acted as the undisputed masters of the Mediterranean. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pride of the good old days, especially in times of hardship. However, the statement is often more than but an expression of innocent romanticism.

Confront the person making the remark with a bit of skepticism and be prepared for a heated reaction, in which the emphasis in the sentence will swiftly shift toward the “not being Arab” part. In other words, “I’m Phoenician” not only serves to give oneself a positive self-image, different yet equal to the other, but aims to set oneself apart from the other, who is (but) an Arab.

For that reason it’s important to have a closer look at the statement, “I’m Phoenician,” for it triggers several problems. First of all, it somehow implies the existence of a nation-state called Phoenicia. Fact is, however, that there never was such a thing. The Phoenicians lived in a loosely connected network of city states, which often ­ but not always ­ cooperated and which at times were autonomous, but more often paid tribute to the dominant empires in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Secondly, the word Phoenician is Greek. The term is first found in Homer, who uses it refer to the people living in the Levant from Southern Palestine to Northern Syria, with Lebanon at its core. The word’s root means “red” and was probably a reference to the red-purple dye the Phoenicians made from shellfish. “The Greek used the term Phoenicians for a specific time frame,” said Helen Sadr, professor of archeology at the American University of Beirut, “which is roughly the first millennium BC. It would be scientifically unsound to use the term before or after. A second problem with the word ‘Phoenicians’ is that the people never identified themselves as such. In the written sources we have, they refer to themselves as the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos.”

Putting linguistics aside, the question still remains: Who were the people the term referred to?

For a long time, the common theory was ­ and popular belief still is ­ that nomads from the Saudi peninsula or the Sinai invaded and settled in the Levant. Around 1,200 BC, following the so-called invasion of the Sea People, the two mixed and thus the notion arose that Phoenicians are a kind of noble European Bedouin of the sea.

Nice story, yet more fiction than fact. “First of all, there’s no proof of an early invasion from either the Arab peninsula or the Sinai,” Sadr said. “Of course, there has always been a certain interaction and fusion between people in the region, but the whole concept of invasion is but a projection of the 7th-century Arab invasion onto earlier times. One shouldn’t forget that the camel was only domesticated around 1,000 BC.” “Secondly,” she said, “there’s no evidence of an invasion of the Sea People. There were raids, Ugarit was destroyed and some cities were established in Palestine, but no major disruptions occurred in the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos. The little we know for sure about the Phoenicians is that they were Semitic people from the region.”

A kind of Lebanese avant-la-lettre? Not quite. Sabatino Moscati, professor of archeology at the University of Rome and author of a series of books on Phoenicians, emphasizes in the essay, Who Were The Phoenicians: “In the system of city states that characterized the region, there were no major differences between the centers that would become Phoenician (yet already existed) and the ones that would not. The coast did not differ from the hinterland. We’re facing a Syro-Palestinian civilization, rather than a Phoenician one.”

Another term often used is the Canaan culture, which from at least 3,000 BC existed in what is today Western Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Moscati stresses that to understand the Phoenicians it is essential to know this common “pre-history.” On the other hand however, he adds, that “one cannot underestimate the profound changes that took place around 1,200 BC.”

Without going into details, around that time the region went through a deep crisis. Because of external (the raids of the Sea People) and internal (political, economical) factors the empires of Egypt in the south and the Hittites in the north were in decline, which did not cause major invasions, but allowed local Semite people such as the Amorites, Hebrews and Canaanites to take fate into their own hands.

It was in this time that coastal Canaanites increasingly took the route to sea. The reason was probably economic. Because the rise of the Amorites in Syria, their traditional trade routes eastward were cut off, while their other main market, Egypt, was in shambles. By sailing westward the Canaanites found new markets and in the course of the 1st Millennium BC they took their place among the world’s greatest explorers and civilizations as ­ Phoenicians.

As quickly as they rose, so they disappeared some thousand years after, when Alexander the Great took Tyre and the Romans destroyed Carthage. It meant the end of the Phoenicians.

As it is impossible to separate Phoenicians from the region they were born in, so one cannot just create a link with people living today. After the fall of Tyre, the Levant was ruled by Greek, Romans, and Byzantines for about 1,000 years, followed by Arabs, Crusaders, Turks and French. All of them left their traces on and mixed with the “indigenous” population.

More importantly, identity is not just genetically determined. It’s also the culture you live in, the language you speak. As the half Irish, half Jewish atheist mentioned above is at least partly British, so Lebanon’s Phoenicians are at least partly Arabic. To deny that completely, is but a political choice, and a potentially dangerous one. The past has given us ample examples in which historically based mythology, and an emphasis on the difference between people, was but a justification for inequality, hatred and even murder. Cherish the differences, but let’s not forget that we are all first of all and foremost, human beings.

Peter Speetjens is a freelance writer based in Lebanon


TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: archaeology; epigraphyandlanguage; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; phoenicia; phoenicians
Secondly, the word Phoenician is Greek.

Lots of words like Egypt and Pyramids are not native to that culture but the Greek name or nickname for them. For example pyramid was the name of a Greek sweet cake of the same shape. The ancient Egyptians never called those constructions pyramids.

1 posted on 02/19/2004 8:44:57 PM PST by Destro
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To: blam
bump
2 posted on 02/19/2004 8:45:10 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
I've read that the 'red' mentioned related to the color of their hair.

Also, just read this, the incident of red hair in Libya is the same as it is in Ireland. Hmmmm

3 posted on 02/19/2004 9:10:55 PM PST by blam
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To: Destro
BTW, I think the dye they were famous for was purple...wasn't it. Made from some lengthy process from a particular sea shell creature.
4 posted on 02/19/2004 9:12:56 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
The color purple was a redish purple not the Prince rock star purple. Nothing to do with Celts or red hair.
5 posted on 02/19/2004 9:56:12 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: blam
The color of Phoenician royal purple looks like the purple in this mosaic of the Emperor Justinian from San Vitale in Ravenna.


6 posted on 02/19/2004 10:27:53 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
The ancient Egyptians never called those constructions pyramids.

The Egyptian word for pyramid was pimar, from which the Greek is most probably derived.

7 posted on 02/20/2004 12:13:05 AM PST by John Locke
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To: Destro
"The color purple was a redish purple not the Prince rock star purple. Nothing to do with Celts or red hair."

Okay. Didn't know that about the color purple.

8 posted on 02/20/2004 5:45:59 AM PST by blam
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To: John Locke; blam
You are mistaken.

What does the word 'pyramid' mean?

The word 'pyramid' actually comes from the Greek word 'pyramis' which means 'wheat cake'. The word 'pyramis' was used to describe the ancient Egyptian buildings because they reminded the Greeks of pointy-topped wheat cakes.

The ancient Egyptian word for the pyramids was 'Mer'.

9 posted on 02/20/2004 9:32:34 AM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
"The word 'pyramid' actually comes from the Greek word 'pyramis' which means 'wheat cake'. The word 'pyramis' was used to describe the ancient Egyptian buildings because they reminded the Greeks of pointy-topped wheat cakes. "

Maybe the wheat-cake was styled after the pyramid. Didn't the pyramids come first?

10 posted on 02/20/2004 11:32:58 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
The shape is a coincidence only. It would be as of we came upon Stonehedge and dubbed them "Twinkies".
11 posted on 02/20/2004 3:24:35 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
"The shape is a coincidence only. It would be as of we came upon Stonehedge and dubbed them "Twinkies"."

It would be as if we had named Twinkies, 'Stonehenges.' Stonehenges came first.

I feel like we've been talking on this thread for days...and yet, it has only 11 posts, lol.

12 posted on 02/20/2004 3:50:10 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
No it would not-my point explains why the Greeks gave the world the name pyramid to those sttructures. That the pyramids were around before the Greeks named them is besides the point, My twinkie example stands.
13 posted on 02/20/2004 3:54:15 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
‘I’m not Arab, I’m Phoenician’

I'm not Arab,
I'm Phoenician,
Arab left you, long ago.

I'm not Arab,
I'm a Persian,
That's Iranian, don't you know?
14 posted on 02/21/2004 3:55:22 PM PST by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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To: Destro
The word "Phoenician" is a Hellenization of the tribal name. Canaanite/Northwester Semitic languages did not use vowels, only consonents. The Phoenecians were reffered to with the Phoenecian/Ancient Hebrew letter "Pay, Nun, Kapf". In english these would be "PNC"
The Israelites, Greeks, and Romans all reffer to them with words using these consonents.
The Syriac and Chaldean Christians of Lebanaon are of Phoenecian descent. http://phoenicia.org/index.shtml
They are not Arabs. The author is a Pan-Arab propogandist.
15 posted on 02/22/2004 2:58:13 PM PST by rmlew (Peaceniks and isolationists are objectively pro-Terrorist)
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To: rmlew
I get your point but the author did not say Phoenecians are Arabs only that the modern Lebonese people are Arabs more so then they are Phoenecians. No?
16 posted on 02/22/2004 3:06:10 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
They are not ethnically Arab and have seperate religious and linguistic histories. They have a seperate culture. They are not Arabs. Arabs are their oppressors.
17 posted on 02/22/2004 3:16:24 PM PST by rmlew (Peaceniks and isolationists are objectively pro-Terrorist)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 2Jedismom; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
The October National Geographic has a good-sized article about trying to trace the genes of the ancient Phoenicians.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

18 posted on 10/12/2004 10:28:00 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: Destro

Here's a newer one, just started.

Phoenicians: Ancient Mariners
National Geographic ^ | October 2004 | Rick Gore
Posted on 10/12/2004 10:45:45 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/bloggers/1243460/posts


19 posted on 10/12/2004 10:46:55 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: SunkenCiv

Interesting.


20 posted on 10/12/2004 10:50:54 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (A Proud member of Free Republic ~~The New Face of the Fourth Estate since 1996.)
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To: blam; Destro

I think a royal purple, the color reserved for kings, was made from some variety of cave-dwelling snails.


21 posted on 10/13/2004 3:51:53 AM PDT by elli1
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To: rmlew

One of the major conflicts within Islam itself is between Arabs and non-Arabs. The latter are usually despised by the former and sometimes treated little better than non-Muslims in places where the Arabs are in power. So I think there are internal reasons for the Lebanese wishing to disassociate themselves from the Arabs. This is especially true now that almost all Christians have been driven out and Lebanon is mostly Muslim.


22 posted on 10/13/2004 4:00:50 AM PDT by livius
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To: Destro
For that reason it’s important to have a closer look at the statement, “I’m Phoenician,” for it triggers several problems. First of all, it somehow implies the existence of a nation-state called Phoenicia. Fact is, however, that there never was such a thing. The Phoenicians lived in a loosely connected network of city states, which often ­ but not always ­ cooperated and which at times were autonomous, but more often paid tribute to the dominant empires in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Using this argument you wouldn't be able to call the Athenians and Spartans of classical times Greek for the same reasons.

23 posted on 10/13/2004 10:33:25 AM PDT by curmudgeonII (If you listen you can hear the sound of the train that Kerry missed.)
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To: curmudgeonII

It just indicates a split personality among nationalists that want to idenfify themselves as "Arabs" over those semetic peoples that don't like belonging or be identified to the culture. Sort of like Bulgarian Slavs calling themselves "Macedonian" or Albanians calling themselves "Illyrians".


24 posted on 10/13/2004 12:59:59 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting johnathangaltfilms.com and jihadwatch.org)
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To: blam
And the Greeks called it a wine-dark sea, too. Were they color-blind? :)

I've heard they called them "red" for their sunburns, not for their dye. Probably in fact it was neither.

25 posted on 10/13/2004 2:07:46 PM PDT by Graymatter (Reload Bush/Cheney 2004)
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To: Destro

"More importantly, identity is not just genetically
determined. It’s also the culture you live in, the language
you speak...
The past has given us ample examples in which historically based mythology, and an emphasis on the difference between people, was but a justification for inequality, hatred and even murder. "

So should Americans call themselves Brits because they speak English, or should Argentinians say "we're Spanish"
because they speak Spanish. This idea is totally flawed and
passe. It is even extremely reckless because it brings us
back to times long gone when some mustachioed guy used to
annex countries to Germany only because some people in those countries used to speak German language.

1)Arabic language was imposed under Islamic rule in Lebanon.
2)Most Lebanese Christians are not arabs. Their sects are Greek Orthodox , Maronites , Greek Catholics, Chaldeans,etc.Their physical features and culture are different than the arabs in the surrounding countries.
3) It's true that Christians are leaving the country.But the percentage of Christians in the country is still around 30 to 40 percent.


26 posted on 10/31/2004 1:44:12 AM PST by phoenixis (history is an incentive for civilization and not discrimination)
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Was Hannibal Black?
RichardPoe.com | August 23, 2002 | Richard Poe
Posted on 08/24/2002 12:50:03 PM PDT by Richard Poe
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/738715/posts

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/738715/posts
http://web.archive.org/web/20021021115118/http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/738715/posts
http://web.archive.org/web/20021220140802/http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/738715/posts
http://web.archive.org/web/20030304140118/http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/738715/posts
http://web.archive.org/web/20040630043504/http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/738715/posts

http://www.newsmax.com/commentarchive.shtml?a=2002/8/24/134540

http://www.richardpoe.com/column.cgi?story=112


27 posted on 06/05/2005 9:13:40 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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28 posted on 09/02/2010 7:34:10 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Democratic Underground... matters are worse, as their latest fund drive has come up short...)
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