“…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
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.
The Phoenicians regularly sailed across and up the Atlantic to harvest tin from Europe at Cornwall but, to the Greeks, Europe was a dark continent (in the same way that 19th and early 20th century CE Europeans would later view Africa).
The Cippi of Melqart are a pair of ornamental pillars with engravings found by the Knights of St. John on the Island of Malta in the village of Marsaxlloc, they are considered to be from the 2nd century BCE. It is in this village that the Phoenicians reputedly landed in the 9th CE BC and set up trading posts. In the temple of Tas-Silg, the Cippi were unearthed, one cippus being gifted to Louis XVI by the grand master of the knights of St. John in 1782. This cippus now sits in the Louvre and the other in the National museum of archaeology in Valetta.
In Lebanon there is a heritage so rich in history and an influence that pervades through the ancient Mediterranean basin. The mysterious nature of this time makes myth and legend the ancient’s form’s history. The mythological assimilation of ancient Gods and Goddesses creates a weave compounded by time, mystery and interpretation. In this way a beginning can be found in a seed or a stone and the worship of the mythological Astarte, the queen of heaven and her son, Baal.
The charming coastal town of Batroun, nestled by the sea, gathers close the winding roads, the homing trails, and lanes that sleep the whole night long. Cooled by the scent of mountain breeze, it is lulled by the sea wind’s song.
Gebal, Byblos, Jbeil, three names for one place, encapsulating a historical unity, dating from the dawn of time and still evocative. This picturesque town raised above the sea that breaks onto its shores, with its temples shining with the first sunlight like guardians on its slight hill, narrates humbly the story of mankind.
Saida, Arabic for fishing, takes its name from the old Phoenician word sidouna, also meaning fishing. In Genesis Sidon is a son of Canaan, a grandson of Noah. One of the most important, and perhaps the oldest, Phoenician cities dating around 4000 B.C., and perhaps even earlier, in Neolithic times, it was twice destroyed in war between the 7th and 4th centuries B.C., and again during the earthquake in the 6th Century A.D. It was the base from which the Phoenician’s great Mediterranean empire grew. Of all of Lebanon’s cities this is the most mysterious, for its past has been tragically scattered and plundered.
The Phoenician wall is a beautiful historical landmark on the coast of the city of Batroun. Batroun is considered to be one of the most important towns during the Phoenician period. The Wall is thought to be the inspiration for the town’s name by some historians. Batroun is thought to come from the Arabic word “bater” meaning to cut. This is in reference to the wall “cutting” the sea to protect Batroun from potentially destructive tidal waves. Other historians believe that the name of the town is derivative of the Phoenician words, beit truna, which translates to house of the chief.