The Land of Fruits and Vegetables

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The light dusting of snow on the roofs and on the leaves of confused budding plants lightly fall through sepia skies. The otherworldly glow of the final throes of a dying sunlight lights up this sleepy town. In summer the air is crisp and nature revels in its expected garden state while in winter thick snow covers the hills with a hand of white as skiers fill its ski slopes gliding from where the air is icy and brittle and serenity flows calmly unnoticed to where mechanical lifts are busy getting people from one place to another, two separate worlds a couple of minutes apart.

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From Pagan to Modern Times: Afqa

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“…the miserable village which still bears the name of Afqa at the head of the wild, romantic, wooded gorge of the Adonis. The hamlet stands among groves of noble walnut-trees on the brink of the lyn. A little way off the river rushes from a cavern at the foot of a mighty amphitheatre of towering cliffs to plunge in a series of cascades into the awful depths of the glen. The deeper it descends, the ranker and denser grows the vegetation, which, sprouting from the crannies and fissures of the rocks, spreads a green veil over the roaring or murmuring stream in the tremendous chasm below. There is something delicious, almost intoxicating, in the freshness of these tumbling waters, in the sweetness and purity of the mountain air, in the vivid green of the vegetation.”

Sir James Frazer describing the village at Afqa in his 1922 book, The Golden Bough

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The Lady of Gubla

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The city of Gubla is said to be the first city in the world in Greek legend. Founded as a settlement at some point around 5000 BC, Byblos was originally home to a small Neolithic fishing community. The first signs of a town appeared in the third millennium BC. By the beginning of the Early Bronze Age in 3000 BC, it was a prosperous Canaanite city with one of the most important export, the cedar trees of Lebanon to Egypt in exchange for papyrus, ivory, ebony and gold, making it one of the most important trading centers on the coast with close ties to the fourth dynasty Egypt. Egyptian influence can be seen in its art and its religion. Trade goods from as early as Egypt’s 2nd dynasty have been found there.

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The Sarcophagus of King Ahiram

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Funeral rites were one of the major types of religious cultic activity among the Phoenicians. It appears that burial of an intact body was the preferred method for dealing with the dead, though some examples of cremation have also been found. The wealthiest Phoenicians and members of royal families received elaborately decorated stone sarcophagi, which were placed in tombs cut directly out of rock. The bodies were typically given objects from their lives to accompany them: coins, food, cosmetics, toiletries, figurines, and so forth. The inclusion of both ritual and practical objects is often cited as evidence of belief in some sort of afterlife, possibly one in which the deceased could make use of these objects. This may be a case where the funeral rites of Egypt influenced the religious beliefs of the Phoenicians as for a long time.

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