November 22, 2009

Independence Day in Lebanon

On this date in 1943, France accepted the independence of Lebanon; before that, Lebanon had been under the control of France for about 20 years, and the Ottoman Empire about 400 years before that. Even earlier, the region had been taken over by a number of other forces and empires, including the Crusaders; the Arab, Roman and Persian empires; even Alexander the Great. Unfortunately, since 1943 the country of Lebanon has continued to experience periods of war, including civil war, between outbreaks of peace.

A long, long time ago, the ancestors of the Lebanese were powerful because of their sailing knowledge and experience. These people, known as the Phoenicians, established a trading empire and colonies all around the Mediterranean Sea.

One thing that the Phoenicians spread around the area was their alphabet, which evolved into the Arabic, Hebrew, Brahmi (used in parts of India and elsewhere), and Greek alphabets and eventually to the Roman (Latin) alphabet that much of the world uses today.
Like the Arabic, Hebrew, and Brahmi alphabets, the Phoenician alphabet had no vowels; Greek and Roman alphabets do.

This comp
arison chart shows some of the alphabets that came from the Phoenician system. They are (left to right) Roman (or Latin), Greek, Pheonician, Hebrew, and Arabic.

You can see this chart in a larger size here. Maybe you can use the Pheonician alphabet as a secret code!

Did you know...?
  • The word alphabet comes from the first two letters in the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. Those letters, in turn, come from the first two letters in the Phoenician alphabet, aleph and beth.
  • A map and pictures of ancient Phoenicia can be found here.

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