Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic civilization that originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the west of the Fertile Crescent. Scholars generally agree that it included the coastal areas of today’s Lebanon, northern Israel and southern Syria reaching as far north as Arwad (there is some dispute as to how far south it went). Its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean (most notably Carthage) and even the Atlantic Ocean. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.

Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece, perhaps the most notable of which were TyreSidon, Arwad, Berytus, Byblos and Carthage. Each city-state was a politically independent unit, and it is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing of Phoenician. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures.