History of Phoenicia
by George Rawlinson
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by George Rawlinson, M.A.

First Published 1889 by Longmans, Green, and Co.

Camden Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford

Canon of Canterbury

Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of Turin



Of The


This Work

His Last as Occupant of a Professorial Chair

Is Dedicated

As a Token of Respect and Gratitude

By The




The original text contains a number of characters that are not available even in 8-bit Windows text. Where possible these have been represented with a similar letter, but some things, e.g. Hebrew script, have been omitted.

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Greek text has been transliterated within brackets "{}" using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. Diacritical marks have been lost. Phoenician or other Semitic text has been replaced with an ellipsis in brackets, i.e. "{...}".

The numerous sketches and maps in the original have also been omitted.


Histories of Phoenicia or of the Phoenicians were written towards the middle of the present century by Movers and Kenrick. The elaborate work of the former writer[01] collected into five moderate-sized volumes all the notices that classical antiquity had preserved of the Religion, History, Commerce, Art, &c., of this celebrated and interesting nation. Kenrick, making a free use of the stores of knowledge thus accumulated, added to them much information derived from modern research, and was content to give to the world in a single volume of small size,[02] very scantily illustrated, the ascertained results of criticism and inquiry on the subject of the Phoenicians up to his own day. Forty-four years have since elapsed; and in the course of them large additions have been made to certain branches of the inquiry, while others have remained very much as they were before. Travellers, like Robinson, Walpole, Tristram, Renan, and Lortet, have thrown great additional light on the geography, geology, fauna, and flora of the country. Excavators, like Renan and the two Di Cesnolas, have caused the soil to yield up most valuable remains bearing upon the architecture, the art, the industrial pursuits, and the manners and customs of the people. Antiquaries, like M. Clermont-Ganneau and MM. Perrot and Chipiez, have subjected the remains to careful examination and criticism, and have definitively fixed the character of Phoenician Art, and its position in the history of artistic effort. Researches are still being carried on, both in Phoenicia Proper and in the Phoenician dependency of Cyprus, which are likely still further to enlarge our knowledge with respect to Phoenician Art and Archaeology; but it is not probable that they will affect seriously the verdict already delivered by competent judges on those subjects. The time therefore appeared to the author to have come when, after nearly half a century of silence, the history of the people might appropriately be rewritten. The subject had long engaged his thoughts, closely connected as it is with the histories of Egypt, and of the "Great Oriental Monarchies," which for thirty years have been to him special objects of study; and a work embodying the chief results of the recent investigations seemed to him a not unsuitable termination to the historical efforts which his resignation of the Professorship of Ancient History at Oxford, and his entrance upon a new sphere of labour, bring naturally to an end.

The author wishes to express his vast obligations to MM. Perrot and Chipiez for the invaluable assistance which he has derived from their great work,[03] and to their publishers, the MM. Hachette, for their liberality in allowing him the use of so large a number of MM. Perrot and Chipiez' Illustrations. He is also much beholden to the same gentlemen for the use of charts and drawings originally published in the "Geographie Universelle." Other works from which he has drawn either materials or illustrations, or both, are (besides Movers' and Kenrick's) M. Ernest Renan's "Mission de Phenicie," General Di Cesnola's "Cyprus," A. Di Cesnola's "Salaminia," M. Ceccaldi's "Monuments Antiques de Cypre," M. Daux's "Recherches sur les Emporia Pheniciens," the "Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum," M. Clermont-Ganneau's "Imagerie Phenicienne," Mr. Davis's "Carthage and her Remains," Gesenius's "Scripturae Linguaeque Phoeniciae Monumenta," Lortet's "La Syrie d'aujourd'hui," Serra di Falco's "Antichita della Sicilia," Walpole's "Ansayrii," and Canon Tristram's "Land of Israel." The difficulty has been to select from these copious stores the most salient and noteworthy facts, and to marshal them in such a form as would make them readily intelligible to the ordinary English reader. How far he has succeeded in doing this he must leave the public to judge. In making his bow to them as a "Reader" and Writer "of Histories,"[04] he has to thank them for a degree of favour which has given a ready sale to all his previous works, and has carried some of them through several editions.

CANTERBURY: August 1889.



Phoenicia—Origin of the name—Spread of the name southwards—Real length of Phoenicia along the coast— Breadth and area—General character of the region—The Plains—Plain of Sharon—Plain of Acre—Plain of Tyre—Plain of Sidon—Plain of Berytus—Plain of Marathus—Hilly regions—Mountain ranges—Carmel—Casius—Bargylus—Lebanon— Beauty of Lebanon—Rivers—The Litany—The Nahr-el-Berid— The Kadisha—The Adonis—The Lycus—The Tamyras—The Bostrenus—The Zaherany—The Headlands—Main characteristics, inaccessibility, picturesqueness, productiveness.

Phoenice, or Phoenicia, was the name originally given by the Greeks—and afterwards adopted from them by the Romans—to the coast region of the Mediterranean, where it faces the west between the thirty-second and the thirty-sixth parallels. Here, it would seem, in their early voyagings, the Pre-Homeric Greeks first came upon a land where the palm-tree was not only indigenous, but formed a leading and striking characteristic, everywhere along the low sandy shore lifting its tuft of feathery leaves into the bright blue sky, high above the undergrowth of fig, and pomegranate, and alive. Hence they called the tract Phoenicia, or "the Land of Palms;" and the people who inhabited it the Phoenicians, or "the Palm-tree people."

The term was from the first applied with a good deal of vagueness. It was probably originally given to the region opposite Cyprus, from Gabala in the north—now Jebili—to Antaradus (Tortosa) and Marathus (Amrith) towards the south, where the palm-tree was first seen growing in rich abundance. The palm is the numismatic emblem of Aradus,[11] and though not now very frequent in the region which Strabo calls "the Aradian coast-tract,"[12] must anciently have been among its chief ornaments. As the Grecian knowledge of the coast extended southward, and a richer and still richer growth of the palm was continually noticed, almost every town and every village being embosomed in a circle of palm groves, the name extended itself until it reached as far south at any rate as Gaza, or (according to some) as Rhinocolura and the Torrens AEgypti. Northward the name seems never to have passed beyond Cape Posideium (Possidi) at the foot of Mount Casius, the tract between this and the range of Taurus being always known as Syria, never as Phoenecia or Phoenice.

The entire length of the coast between the limits of Cape Possidi and Rhinocolura is, without reckoning the lesser indentations, about 380 miles, or nearly the same as that of Portugal. The indentations of the coast-line are slight. From Rhinocolura to Mount Carmel, a distance of 150 miles, not a single strong promontory asserts itself, nor is there a single bay of sufficient depth to attract the attention of geographers. Carmel itself is a notable headland, and shelters a bay of some size; but these once passed the old uniformity returns, the line being again almost unbroken for a distance of seventy-five miles, from Haifa to Beyrout (Berytus). North of Beyrout we find a little more variety. The coast projects in a tolerably bold sweep between the thirty-fourth parallel and Tripolis (Tarabulus) and recedes almost correspondingly between Tripolis and Tortosa (Antaradus), so that a deepish bay is formed between Lat. 34 27' and Lat. 34 45', whence the line again runs northward unindented for fifty miles, to beyond Gabala (Jebili). After this, between Gabala and Cape Posideium there is considerable irregularity, the whole tract being mountainous, and spurs from Bargylus and Casius running down into the sea and forming a succession of headlands, of which Cape Posideium is the most remarkable.

But while the name Phoenicia is applied geographically to this long extent—nearly 400 miles—of coast-line, historically and ethnically it has to be reduced within considerably narrower limits. A race, quite distinct from that of the Phoenicians, was settled from an early date on the southern portion of the west Asian coast, where it verges towards Africa. From Jabneh (Yebna) southwards was Palestine, the country of the Philistines, perhaps even from Joppa (Jaffa), which is made the boundary by Mela.[13] Thus at least eighty miles of coast-line must be deducted from the 380, and the length of Phoenicia along the Mediterranean shore must be regarded as not exceeding three hundred miles.

The width varied from eight or ten miles to thirty. We must regard as the eastern boundary of Phoenicia the high ridge which forms the watershed between the streams that flow eastward toward the Orontes, Litany, and Jordan, and those that flow westward into the Mediterranean. It is difficult to say what was the average width, but perhaps it may be fairly estimated at about fifteen miles. In this case the entire area would have been about 4,500 square miles.

The tract was one of a remarkably diversified character. Lofty mountain, steep wooded hill, chalky slope, rich alluvial plain, and sandy shore succeeded each other, each having its own charm, which was enhanced by contrast. The sand is confined to a comparatively narrow strip along the seashore,[14] and to the sites of ancient harbours now filled up. It is exceedingly fine and of excellent silicious quality, especially in the vicinity of Sidon and at the foot of Mount Carmel. The most remarkable plains are those of Sharon, Acre, Tyre, Sidon, Beyrout, and Marathus. Sharon, so dear to the Hebrew poets,[15] is the maritime tract intervening between the highland of Samaria and the Mediterranean, extending from Joppa to the southern foot of Carmel—a distance of nearly sixty miles—and watered by the Chorseas, the Kaneh, and other rivers. It is a smooth, very slightly undulating tract, about ten miles in width from the sea to the foot of the mountains, which rise up abruptly from it without any intervening region of hills, and seem to bound it as a wall, above which tower the huge rounded masses of Ebal and Gerizim, with the wooded cone, on which stood Samaria, nestling at their feet.[16] The sluggish streams, several of them containing water during the whole of the year, make their way across it between reedy banks,[17] and generally spread out before reaching the shore into wide marshes, which might be easily utilised for purposes of irrigation. The soil is extremely rich, varying from bright red to deep black, and producing enormous crops of weeds or grain, according as it is cultivated or left in a state of nature. Towards the south the view over the region has been thus described: "From Ramleh there is a wide view on every side, presenting a prospect rarely surpassed in richness and beauty. I could liken it to nothing but the great plain of the Rhine by Heidelberg or, better still, to the vast plains of Lombardy, as seen from the cathedral of Milan and elsewhere. In the east the frowning mountains of Judah rose abruptly from the tract at their foot; while on the west, in fine contrast, the glittering waves of the Mediterranean Sea associated our thoughts with Europe. Towards the north and south, as far as the eye could reach, the beautiful plain was spread out like a carpet at our feet, variegated with tracts of brown from which the crops had just been taken, and with fields still rich with the yellow of the ripe corn, or green with the springing millet. Immediately below us the eye rested on the immense olive groves of Ramleh and Lydda, and the picturesque towers and minarets and domes of these large villages. In the plain itself were not many villages, but the tract of hills and the mountain-side beyond, especially in the north-east, were perfectly studded with them, and as now seen in the reflected beams of the setting sun they seemed like white villas and hamlets among the dark hills, presenting an appearance of thriftiness and beauty which certainly would not stand a closer examination."[18] Towards its northern end Sharon is narrowed by the low hills which gather round the western flanks of Carmel, and gradually encroach upon the plain until it terminates against the shoulder of the mountain itself, leaving only a narrow beach at the foot of the promontory by which it is possible to communicate with the next plain towards the north.[19]

Compared with Sharon the plain of Acre is unimportant and of small extent. It reaches about eight miles along the shore, from the foot of Carmel to the headland on which the town of Acre stands, and has a width between the shore and the hills of about six miles. Like Sharon it is noted for its fertility. Watered by the two permanent streams of the Kishon and the Belus, it possesses a rich soil, which is said to be at present "perhaps the best cultivated and producing the most luxuriant crops, both of corn and weeds, of any in Palestine."[110] The Kishon waters it on the south, where it approaches Carmel, and is a broad stream,[111] though easily fordable towards its mouth. The Belus (Namaane) flows through it towards the north, washing Acre itself, and is a stream of even greater volume than the Kishon, though it has but a short course.

The third of the Phoenician plains, as we proceed from south to north, is that of Tyre. This is a long but comparatively narrow strip, reaching from the Ras-el-Abiad towards the south to Sarepta on the north, a distance of about twenty miles, but in no part more than five miles across, and generally less than two miles. It is watered about midway by the copious stream of the Kasimiyeh or Litany, which, rising east of Lebanon in the Buka'a or Coelesyrian valley, forces its way through the mountain chain by a series of tremendous gorges, and debouches upon the Tyrian lowland about three miles to the south-east of the present city, near the modern Khan-el-Kasimiyeh, whence it flows peaceably to the sea with many windings through a broad low tract of meadow-land. Other rills and rivulets descending from the west flank of the great mountain increase the productiveness of the plain, while copious fountains of water gush forth with surprising force in places, more especially at Ras-el-Ain, three miles from Tyre, to the south.[112] The plain is, even at the present day, to a large extent covered with orchards, gardens, and cultivated fields, in which are grown rich crops of tobacco, cotton, and cereals.

The plain of Sidon, which follows that of Tyre, and is sometimes regarded as a part of it,[113] extends from a little north of Sarepta to the Ras-el-Jajunieh, a distance of about ten miles, and resembles that of Tyre in its principal features. It is long and narrow, never more than about two miles in width, but well-watered and very fertile. The principal streams are the Bostrenus (Nahr-el-Auly) in the north, just inside the promontory of Jajunieh, the Nahr-Sanik, south of Sidon, a torrent dry in the summer-time,[114] and the Nahr-ez-Zaherany, two and a half miles north of Sarepta, a river of moderate capacity. Fine fountains also burst from the earth in the plain itself, as the Ain-el-Kanterah and the Ain-el-Burak,[115] between Sarepta and the Zaherany river. Irrigation is easy and is largely used, with the result that the fruits and vegetables of Saida and its environs have the name of being among the finest of the country.[116]

The plain of Berytus (Beyrout) is the most contracted of all the Phoenician plains that are at all noticeable. It lies south, south-east, and east of the city, intervening between the high dunes or sand-hills which form the western portion of the Beyrout peninsula, and the skirts of Lebanon, which here approach very near to the sea. The plain begins at Wady Shuweifat on the south, about four miles from the town of Beyrout, and extends northwards to the sea on the western side of the Nahr Beyrout. The northern part of the plain is known as Ard-el-Burajineh. The plain is deficient in water,[117] yet is cultivated in olives and mulberries, and contains the largest olive grove in all Syria. A little beyond its western edge is the famous pine forest[118] from which (according to some) Berytus derived its name.[119]

The plain of Marathus is, next to Sharon, the most extensive in Phoenicia. It stretches from Jebili (Gabala) on the north to Arka towards the south, a distance of about sixty miles, and has a width varying from two to ten miles. The rock crops out from it in places and it is broken between Tortosa and Hammam by a line of low hills running parallel with the shore.[120] The principal streams which water it are the Nahr-el-Melk, or Badas, six miles south of Jebili, the Nahr Amrith, a strong running brook which empties itself into the sea a few miles south of Tortosa (Antaradus), the Nahr Kuble, which joins the Nahr Amrith near its mouth, and the Eleutherus or Nahr-el-Kabir, which reaches the sea a little north of Arka. Of these the Eleutherus is the most important. "It is a considerable stream even in summer, and in the rainy season it is a barrier to intercourse, caravans sometimes remaining encamped on its banks for several weeks, unable to cross."[121] The soil of the plain is shallow, the rock lying always near the surface; the streams are allowed to run to waste and form marshes, which breed malaria; a scanty population scarcely attempts more than the rudest and most inefficient cultivation; and the consequence is that the tract at present is almost a desert. Nature, however, shows its capabilities by covering it in the spring-time from end to end with a "carpet of flowers."[122]

From the edges of the plains, and sometimes from the very shore of the sea, rise up chalky slopes or steep rounded hills, partly left to nature and covered with trees and shrubs, partly at the present day cultivated and studded with villages. The hilly region forms generally an intermediate tract between the high mountains and the plains already described; but, not unfrequently, it commences at the water's edge, and fills with its undulations the entire space, leaving not even a strip of lowland. This is especially the case in the central region between Berytus and Arka, opposite the highest portion of the Lebanon; and again in the north between Cape Possidi and Jebili, opposite the more northern part of Bargylus. The hilly region in these places is a broad tract of alternate wooded heights and deep romantic valleys, with streams murmuring amid their shades. Sometimes the hills are cultivated in terraces, on which grow vines and olives, but more often they remain in their pristine condition, clothed with masses of tangled underwood.

The mountain ranges, which belong in some measure to the geography of Phoenicia, are four in number—Carmel, Casius, Bargylus, and Lebanon. Carmel is a long hog-backed ridge, running in almost a straight line from north-west to south-east, from the promontory which forms the western protection of the bay of Acre to El-Ledjun, on the southern verge of the great plain of Esdraelon, a distance of about twenty-two miles. It is a limestone formation, and rises up abruptly from the side of the bay of Acre, with flanks so steep and rugged that the traveller must dismount in order to ascend them,[123] but slopes more gently towards the south, where it is comparatively easy of access. The greatest elevation which it attains is about Lat. 32 4', where it reaches the height of rather more than 1,200 feet; from this it falls gradually as it nears the shore, until at the convent, with which the western extremity is crowned, the height above the sea is no more than 582 feet. In ancient times the whole mountain was thickly wooded,[124] but at present, though it contains "rocky dells" where there are "thick jungles of copse,"[125] and is covered in places with olive groves and thickets of dwarf oak, yet its appearance is rather that of a park than of a forest, long stretches of grass alternating with patches of woodland and "shrubberies, thicker than any in Central Palestine," while the larger trees grow in clumps or singly, and there is nowhere, as in Lebanon, any dense growth, or even any considerable grove, of forest trees. But the beauty of the tract is conspicuous; and if Carmel means, as some interpret, a "garden" rather than a "forest," it may be held to well justify its appellation. "The whole mountain-side," says one traveller,[126] "was dressed with blossoms and flowering shrubs and fragrant herbs." "There is not a flower," says another,[127] "that I have seen in Galilee, or on the plains along the coast, that I do not find on Carmel, still the fragrant, lovely mountain that he was of old."

The geological structure of Carmel is, in the main, what is called "the Jura formation," or "the upper oolite"—a soft white limestone, with nodules and veins of flint. At the western extremity, where it overhangs the Mediterranean, are found chalk, and tertiary breccia formed of fragments of chalk and flint. On the north-east of the mountain, beyond the Nahr-el-Mukattah, plutonic rocks appear, breaking through the deposit strata, and forming the beginning of the basalt formation which runs through the plain of Esdraelon to Tabor and the Sea of Galilee.[128] Like most limestone formations, Carmel abounds in caves, which are said to be more than 2,000 in number,[129] and are often of great length and extremely tortuous.

Carmel, the great southern headland of Phoenicia, is balanced in a certain sense by the extreme northern headland of Casius. Mount Casius is, strictly speaking, the termination of a spur from Bargylus; but it has so marked and peculiar a character that it seems entitled to separate description. Rising up abruptly from the Mediterranean to the height of 5,318 feet, it dominates the entire region in its vicinity, and from the sea forms a landmark that is extraordinarily conspicuous. Forests of fine trees clothe its flanks, but the lofty summit towers high above them, a bare mass of rock, known at the present day as Jebel-el-Akra, or "the Bald Mountain." It is formed mainly of the same cretaceous limestone as the other mountains of these parts, and like them has a rounded summit; but rocks of igneous origin enter into its geological structure; and in its vegetation it more resembles the mountain ranges of Taurus and Amanus than those of southern Syria and Palestine. On its north-eastern prolongation, which is washed by the Orontes, lay the enchanting pleasure-ground of Daphne, bubbling with fountains, and bright with flowering shrubs, where from a remote antiquity the Syrians held frequent festival to their favourite deity—the "Dea Syra"—the great nature goddess.

The elevated tract known to the ancients as Bargylus, and to modern geographers as the Ansayrieh or Nasariyeh mountain-region, runs at right angles to the spur terminating in the Mount Casius, and extends from the Orontes near Antioch to the valley of the Eleutherus. This is a distance of not less than a hundred miles. The range forms the western boundary of the lower Coelesyrian valley, which abuts upon it towards the east, while westward it looks down upon the region, partly hill, partly lowland, which may be regarded as constituting "Northern Phoenicia." The axis of the range is almost due north and south, but with a slight deflection towards the south-east. Bargylus is not a chain comparable to Lebanon, but still it is a romantic and picturesque region. The lower spurs towards the west are clothed with olive grounds and vineyards, or covered with myrtles and rhododendrons; between them are broad open valleys, productive of tobacco and corn. Higher up "the scenery becomes wild and bold; hill rises to mountain; soft springing green corn gives place to sterner crag, smooth plain to precipitous heights;"[130] and if in the more elevated region the majesty of the cedar is wanting, yet forests of fir and pine abound, and creep up the mountain-side, in places almost to the summit, while here and there bare masses of rock protrude themselves, and crag and cliff rise into the clouds that hang about the highest summits. Water abounds throughout the region, which is the parent of numerous streams, as the northern Nahr-el-Kebir, which flows into the sea by Latakia, the Nahr-el-Melk, the Nahr Amrith, the Nahr Kuble, the Nahr-el-Abrath, and many others. From the conformation of the land they have of necessity short courses; but each and all of them spread along their banks a rich verdure and an uncommon fertility.

But the great range of Phoenicia, its glory and its boast is Lebanon. Lebanon, the "White Mountain"[131]—"the Mont Blanc of Palestine"[132]—now known as "the Old White-headed Man" (Jebel-esh-Sheikh), or "the Mountain of Ice" (Jebel-el-Tilj), was to Phoenicia at once its protection, the source of its greatness, and its crowning beauty. Extended in a continuous line for a distance of above a hundred miles, with an average elevation of from 6,000 to 8,000 feet, and steepest on its eastern side, it formed a wall against which the waves of eastern invasion naturally broke—a bulwark which seemed to say to them, "Thus far shall ye go, and no further." The flood of conquest swept along its eastern flank, down the broad vale of the Buka'a, and then over the hills of Galilee; but its frowning precipices and its lofty crest deterred or baffled the invader, and the smiling region between its summit and the Mediterranean was, in the early times at any rate, but rarely traversed by a hostile army. This western region it was which held those inexhaustible stores of forest trees that supplied Phoenicia with her war ships and her immense commercial navy; here were the most productive valleys, the vineyards, and the olive grounds, and here too were the streams and rills, the dashing cascades, the lovely dells, and the deep gorges which gave her the palm over all the surrounding countries for variety of picturesque scenery.

The geology of the Lebanon is exceedingly complicated. "While the bulk of the mountain, and all the higher ranges, are without exception limestone of the early cretaceous period, the valleys and gorges are filled with formations of every possible variety, sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. Down many of them run long streams of trap or basalt; occasionally there are dykes of porphyry and greenstone, and then patches of sandstone, before the limestone and flint recur."[133] Some slopes are composed entirely of soft sandstone; many patches are of a hard metallic-sounding trap or porphyry; but the predominant formation is a greasy or powdery limestone, bare often, but sometimes clothed with a soft herbage, or with a thick tangle of shrubs, or with lofty forest trees. The ridge of the mountain is everywhere naked limestone rock, except in the comparatively few places which attain the highest elevation, where it is coated or streaked with snow. Two summits are especially remarkable, that of Jebel Sunnin towards the south, which is a conspicuous object from Beyrout,[134] and is estimated to exceed the height of 9,000 feet,[135] and that of Jebel Mukhmel towards the north, which has been carefully measured and found to fall a very little short of 10,200 feet.[136] The latter, which forms a sort of amphitheatre, circles round and impends over a deep hollow or basin, opening out towards the west, in which rise the chief sources that go to form the romantic stream of the Kadisha. The sides of the basin are bare and rocky, fringed here and there with the rough knolls which mark the deposits of ancient glaciers, the "moraines" of the Lebanon. In this basin stand "the Cedars." It is not indeed true, as was for a long time supposed, that the cedar grove of Jebel Mukhmel is the sole remnant of that primeval cedar-forest which was anciently the glory of the mountain. Cedars exist on Lebanon in six other places at least, if not in more. Near Tannurin, on one of the feeders of the Duweir, a wild gorge is clothed from top to bottom with a forest of trees, untouched by the axe, the haunt of the panther and the bear, which on examination have been found to be all cedars, some of a large size, from fifteen to eighteen feet in girth. They grow in clusters, or scattered singly, in every variety of situation, some clinging to the steep slopes, or gnarled and twisted on the bare hilltops, others sheltered in the recesses of the dell. There are also cedar-groves at B'sherrah; at El Hadith; near Duma, five hours south-west of El Hadith; in one of the glens north of Deir-el-Kamar, at Etnub, and probably in other places.[137] But still "the Cedars" of Jebel Mukhmel are entitled to pre-eminence over all the rest, both as out-numbering any other cluster, and still more as exceeding all the rest in size and apparent antiquity. Some of the patriarchs are of enormous girth; even the younger ones have a circumference of eighteen feet; and the height is such that the birds which dwell among the upper branches are beyond the range of an ordinary fowling-piece.

But it is through the contrasts which it presents that Lebanon has its extraordinary power of attracting and delighting the traveller. Below the upper line of bare and worn rock, streaked in places with snow, and seamed with torrent courses, a region is entered upon where the freshest and softest mountain herbage, the greenest foliage, and the most brilliant flowers alternate with deep dells, tremendous gorges, rocky ravines, and precipices a thousand feet high. Scarcely has the voyager descended from the upper region of naked and rounded rock, when he comes upon "a tremendous chasm—the bare amphitheatre of the upper basin contracts into a valley of about 2,000 feet deep, rent at its bottom into a cleft a thousand feet deeper still, down which dashes a river, buried between these stupendous walls of rock. All above the chasm is terraced as far as the eye can reach with indefatigable industry. Tiny streamlets bound and leap from terrace to terrace, fertilising them as they rush to join the torrent in the abyss. Some of the waterfalls are of great height and of considerable volume. From one spot may be counted no less than seven of these cascades, now dashing in white spray over a cliff, now lost under the shade of trees, soon to reappear over the next shelving rock."[138] Or, to quote from another writer,[139]—"The descent from the summit is gradual, but is everywhere broken by precipices and towering rocks, which time and the elements have chiselled into strange fantastic shapes. Ravines of singular wildness and grandeur furrow the whole mountain-side, looking in many places like huge rents. Here and there, too, bold promontories shoot out, and dip perpendicularly into the bosom of the Mediterranean. The ragged limestone banks are scantily clothed with the evergreen oak, and the sandstone with pines; while every available spot is carefully cultivated. The cultivation is wonderful, and shows what all Syria might be of under a good government. Miniature fields of grain are often seen where one would suppose that the eagles alone, which hover round them, could have planted the seed. Fig-trees cling to the naked rock; vines are trained along narrow ledges; long ranges of mulberries on terraces like steps of stairs cover the more gentle declivities; and dense groves of olives fill up the bottoms of the glens. Hundreds of villages are seen, here built amid labyrinths of rock, there clinging like swallows' nests to the sides of cliffs, while convents, no less numerous, are perched on the top of every peak. When viewed from the sea on a morning in early spring, Lebanon presents a picture which once seen is never forgotten; but deeper still is the impression left on the mind, when one looks down over its terraced slopes clothed in their gorgeous foliage, and through the vistas of its magnificent glens, on the broad and bright Mediterranean."

The eastern flank of the mountain falls very far short of the western both in area and in beauty. It is a comparatively narrow region, and presents none of the striking features of gorge, ravine, deep dell, and dashing stream which diversify the side that looks westward. The steep slopes are generally bare, the lower portion only being scantily clothed with deciduous oak, for the most part stunted, and with low scrub of juniper and barberry.[140] Towards the north there is an outer barrier, parallel with the main chain, on which follows a tolerably flat and rather bare plain, well watered, and with soft turf in many parts, which gently slopes to the foot of the main ascent, a wall of rock generally half covered with snow, up which winds the rough track whereby travellers reach the summit. Rills of water are not wanting; flowers bloom to the very edge of the snow, and the walnut-tree flourishes in sheltered places to within two or three thousand feet of the summit; but the general character of the tract is bare and bleak; the villages are few; and the terraced cultivation, which adds so much to the beauty of the western side, is wanting. In the southern half of the range the descent is abrupt from the crest of the mountain into the Buka'a, or valley of the Litany, and the aspect of the mountain-side is one of "unrelieved bareness."[141]

There is, however, one beauty at one point on this side of the Lebanon range which is absent from the more favoured western region. On the ascent from Baalbek to the Cedars the traveller comes upon Lake Lemone, a beautiful mountain tarn, without any apparent exit, the only sheet of water in the Lebanon. Lake Lemone is of a long oval shape, about two miles from one end to the other, and is fed by a stream entering at either extremity, that from the north, which comes down from the village of Ainat, being the more important. As the water which comes into the lake cannot be discharged by evaporation, we must suppose some underground outlet,[142] by which it is conveyed, through the limestone, into the Litany.

The eastern side of Lebanon drains entirely into this river, which is the only stream whereto it gives birth. The Litany is the principal of all the Phoenician rivers, for the Orontes must be counted not to Phoenicia but to Syria. It rises from a small pool or lake near Tel Hushben,[143] about six miles to the south-west of the Baalbek ruins. Springing from this source, which belongs to Antilibanus rather than to Lebanon, the Litany shortly receives a large accession to its waters from the opposite side of the valley, and thus augmented flows along the lower Buka'a in a direction which is generally a little west of south, receiving on either side a number of streams and rills from both mountains, and giving out in its turn numerous canals for irrigation. As the river descends with numerous windings, but still with the same general course, the valley of the Buka'a contracts more and more, till finally it terminates in a gorge of a most extraordinary character. Nothing in the conformation of the strata, or in the lie of ground, indicates the coming marvel[144]—the roots of Lebanon and Hermon appear to intermix—and the further progress of the river seems to be barred by a rocky ridge stretching across the valley from east to west, when lo! suddenly, the ridge is cut, as if by a knife, and a deep and narrow chasm opens in it, down which the stream plunges in a cleft 200 feet deep, and so narrow that in one place it is actually bridged over by masses of rock which have fallen from the cliffs above.[145] In the gully below fig-trees and planes, besides many shrubs, find a footing, and the moist walls of rock on either side are hung with ferns of various kinds, among which is conspicuous the delicate and graceful maidenhair. Further down the chasm deepens, first to 1,000 and then to 1,500 feet, "the torrent roars in the gorge, milk-white and swollen often with the melting snow, overhung with semi-tropical oleanders, fig-trees, and oriental planes, while the upper cliffs are clad with northern vegetation, two zones of climate thus being visible at once."[146] Where the gorge is the deepest, opposite the Castle of Belfort (the modern Kulat-esh-Shukif), the river suddenly makes a turn at right angles, altering its course from nearly due south to nearly due west, and cuts through the remaining roots of Lebanon, still at the bottom of a tremendous fissure, and still raging and chafing for a distance of fifteen miles, until at length it debouches on the coast plain, and meanders slowly through meadows to the sea,[147] which it enters about five miles to the north of Tyre. The course of the Litany may be roughly estimated at from seventy to seventy-five miles.

The other streams to which Lebanon gives birth flow either from its northern or its western flank. From the northern flank flows one stream only, the Nahr-el-Kebir or Eleutherus. The course of this stream is short, not much exceeding thirty miles. It rises from several sources at the edge of the Coelesyrian valley, and, receiving affluents from either side, flows westward between Bargylus and Lebanon to the Mediterranean, which it enters between Orthosia (Artousi) and Marathus (Amrith) with a stream, the volume of which is even in the summer-time considerable. In the rainy season it constitutes an important impediment to intercourse, since it frequently sweeps away any bridge which may be thrown across it, and is itself unfordable. Caravans sometimes remain encamped upon its banks for weeks, waiting until the swell has subsided and crossing is no longer dangerous.[148]

From the western flank of Lebanon flow above a hundred streams of various dimensions, whereof the most important are the Nahr-el-Berid or river of Orthosia, the Kadisha or river of Tripolis, the Ibrahim or Adonis, the Nahr-el-Kelb or Lycus, the Damour or Tamyras, the Auly (Aouleh) or Bostrenus, and the Zaherany, of which the ancient name is unknown to us. The Nahr-el-Berid drains the north-western angle of the mountain chain, and is formed of two main branches, one coming down from the higher portion of the range, about Lat. 34 20', and flowing to the north-west, while the other descends from a region of much less elevation, about Lat. 34 30', and runs a little south of west to the point of junction. The united stream then forces its way down a gorge in a north-west direction, and enters the sea at Artousi, probably the ancient Orthosia.[149] The length of the river from its remotest fountain to its mouth is about twenty miles.

The Kadisha or "Holy River" has its source in the deep basin already described, round which rise in a semicircle the loftiest peaks of the range, and on the edge of which stand "the Cedars." Fed by the perpetual snows, it shortly becomes a considerable stream, and flows nearly due west down a beautiful valley, where the terraced slopes are covered with vineyards and mulberry groves, and every little dell, every nook and corner among the jagged rocks, every ledge and cranny on precipice-side, which the foot of man can reach, or on which a basket of earth can be deposited, is occupied with patch of corn or fruit-tree.[150] Lower down near Canobin the valley contracts into a sublime chasm, its rocky walls rising perpendicularly a thousand feet on either side, and in places not leaving room for even a footpath beside the stream that flows along the bottom.[151] The water of the Kadisha is "pure, fresh, cool, and limpid,"[152] and makes a paradise along its entire course. Below Canobin the stream sweeps round in a semicircle towards the north, and still running in a picturesque glen, draws near to Tripolis, where it bends towards the north-west, and enters the sea after passing through the town. Its course, including main windings, measures about twenty-five miles.

The Ibrahim, or Adonis, has its source near Afka (Apheca) in Lat. 34 4' nearly. It bursts from a cave at the foot of a tremendous cliff, and its foaming waters rush down into a wild chasm.[153] Its flow is at first towards the north-west, but after receiving a small tributary from the north-east, it shapes its course nearly westward, and pursues this direction, with only slight bends to the north and south, for the distance of about fifteen miles to the sea. After heavy rain in Lebanon, its waters, which are generally clear and limpid, become tinged with the earth which the swollen torrent detaches from the mountain-side,[154] and Adonis thus "runs purple to the sea"—not however once a year only, but many times. It enters the Mediterranean about four miles south of Byblus (Jebeil) and six north of Djouni.

The Lycus or Nahr-el-Kelb ("Dog River") flows from the northern and western flanks of Jebel Sunnin. It is formed by the confluence of three main streams. One of these rises near Afka, and runs to the south of west, past the castle and temples of Fakra, to its junction with the second stream, which is formed of several rivulets flowing from the northern flank of Sunnin. Near Bufkeiya the river constituted by the union of these two branches is joined by a third stream flowing from the western flank of Sunnin with a westerly course, and from this point the Lycus pursues its way in the same general direction down a magnificent gorge to the Mediterranean. Both banks are lofty, but especially that to the south, where one of Lebanon's great roots strikes out far, and dips, a rocky precipice, into the bosom of the deep.[155] Low in the depths of the gorge the mad torrent dashes over its rocky bed in sheets of foam, its banks fringed with oleander, which it bathes with its spray. Above rise jagged precipices of white limestone, crowned far overhead by many a convent and village.[156] The course of the Nahr-el-Kelbis about equal to that of the Adonis.

The Damour or Tamyras drains the western flank of Lebanon to the south of Jebel Sunnin (about Lat. 33 45'), the districts known as Menassif and Jourd Arkoub, about Barouk and Deir-el-Kamar. It collects the waters from an area of about 110 square miles, and carries them to the sea in a course which is a little north of west, reaching it half-way between Khan Khulda (Heldua) and Nebbi Younas. The scenery along its banks is tame compared with that of the more northern rivers.

The Nahr-el-Auly or Bostrenus rises from a source to the north-east of Barouk, and flows in a nearly straight course to the south-west for a distance of nearly thirty-five miles, when it is joined by a stream from Jezzin, which flows into it from the south-east. On receiving this stream, the Auly turns almost at a right angle, and flows to the west down the fine alluvial track called Merj Bisry, passing from this point through comparatively low ground, and between swelling hills, until it reaches the sea two miles to the north of Sidon. Its entire course is not less than sixty miles.

The Zaherany repeats on a smaller scale the course of the Bostrenus. It rises near Jerju'a from the western flank of Jebel Rihan, the southern extremity of the Lebanon range, and flows at first to the south-west. The source is "a fine large fountain bursting forth with violence, and with water enough for a mill race."[157] From this the river flows in a deep valley, brawling and foaming along its course, through tracts of green grass shaded by black walnut-trees for a distance of about five miles, after which, just opposite Jerju'a, it breaks through one of the spurs from Rihan by a magnificent chasm. The gorge is one "than which there are few deeper or more savage in Lebanon. The mountains on each side rise up almost precipitously to the height of two or three thousand feet above the stream, that on the northern bank being considerably the higher. The steep sides of the southern mountain are dotted with shrub, oak, and other dwarf trees."[158] The river descends in its chasm still in a south-west direction until, just opposite Arab Salim, it "turns round the precipitous corner or bastion of the southern Rihan into a straight valley," and proceeds to run due south for a short distance. Meeting, however, a slight swell of ground, which blocks what would seem to have been its natural course, the river "suddenly turns west," and breaking through a low ridge by a narrow ravine, pursues its way by a course a little north of west to the Mediterranean, which it enters about midway between Sidon and Sarepta.[159] The length of the stream, including main windings, is probably not more than thirty-five miles.

We have spoken of the numerous promontories, terminations of spurs from the mountains, which break the low coast-line into fragments, and go down precipitously into the sea. Of these there are two between Tyre and Acre, one known as the Ras-el-Abiad or "White Headland," and the other as the Ras-en-Nakura. The former is a cliff of snow-white chalk interspersed with black flints, and rises perpendicularly from the sea to the height of three hundred feet.[160] The road, which in some places impends over the water, has been cut with great labour through the rock, and is said by tradition to have been the work of Alexander the Great. Previously, both here and at the Ras-en-Nakura, the ascent was by steps, and the passes were known as the Climaces Tyriorum, or "Staircases of the Tyrians." Another similar precipice guards the mouth of the Lycus on its south side and has been engineered with considerable skill, first by the Egyptians and then by the Romans.[161] North of this, at Djouni, the coast road "traverses another pass, where the mountain, descending to the water, has been cut to admit it."[162] Still further north, between Byblus and Tripolis, the bold promontory known to the ancients as Theu-prosopon, and now called the Ras-esh-Shakkah, is still unconquered, and the road has to quit the shore and make its way over the spur by a "wearisome ascent"[163] at some distance inland. Again, "beyond the Tamyras the hills press closely on the sea,"[164] and there is "a rocky and difficult pass, along which the path is cut for some distance in the rock."[165]

The effect of this conformation of the country was, in early times, to render Phoenicia untraversable by a hostile army, and at the same time to interpose enormous difficulties in the way of land communication among the natives themselves, who must have soon turned their thoughts to the possibility of communicating by sea. The various "staircases" were painful and difficult to climb, they gave no passage to animals, and only light forms of merchandise could be conveyed by them. As soon as the first rude canoe put forth upon the placid waters of the Mediterranean, it must have become evident that the saving in time and labour would be great if the sea were made to supersede the land as the ordinary line of communication.

The main characteristics of the country were, besides its inaccessibility, its picturesqueness and its productiveness. The former of these two qualities seems to have possessed but little attraction for man in his primitive condition. Beauties of nature are rarely sung of by early poets; and it appears to require an educated eye to appreciate them. But productiveness is a quality the advantages of which can be perceived by all. The eyes which first looked down from the ridge of Bargylus or Lebanon upon the well-watered, well-wooded, and evidently fertile tract between the mountain summits and the sea, if they took no note of its marvellous and almost unequalled beauty, must at any rate have seen that here was one of earth's most productive gardens—emphatically a "good land," that might well content whosoever should be so fortunate as to possess it. There is nothing equal to it in Western Asia. The Damascene oasis, the lower valley of the Orontes, the Ghor or Jordan plain, the woods of Bashan, and the downs of Moab are fertile and attractive regions; but they are comparatively narrow tracts and present little variety; each is fitted mainly for one kind of growth, one class of products. Phoenicia, in its long extent from Mount Casius to Joppa, and in its combination of low alluvial plain, rich valley, sunny slopes and hills, virgin forests, and high mountain pasturage, has soils and situations suited for productions of all manner of kinds, and for every growth, from that of the lowliest herb to that of the most gigantic tree. In the next section an account of its probable products in ancient times will be given; for the present it is enough to note that Western Asia contained no region more favoured or more fitted by its general position, its formation, and the character of its soil, to become the home of an important nation.


Climate of Phoenicia—Varieties—Climate of the coast, in the south, in the north—Climate of the more elevated regions—Vegetable productions—Principal trees—Most remarkable shrubs and fruit-trees—Herbs, flowers, and garden vegetables—Zoology—Land animals—Birds—Marine and fresh-water fish—Principal shell-fish—Minerals.

The long extent of the Phoenician coast, and the great difference in the elevation of its various parts, give it a great diversity of climate. Northern Phoenicia is many degrees colder than southern; and the difference is still more considerable between the coast tracts and the more elevated portions of the mountain regions. The greatest heat is experienced in the plain of Sharon,[21] which is at once the most southern portion of the country, and the part most remote from any hills of sufficient elevation to exert an important influence on the temperature. Neither Carmel on the north, nor the hills of Samaria on the east, produce any sensible effect on the climate of the Sharon lowland. The heat in summer is intense, and except along the river courses the tract is burnt up, and becomes little more than an expanse of sand. As a compensation, the cold in winter is very moderate. Snow scarcely ever falls, and if there is frost it is short-lived, and does not penetrate into the ground.[22]

Above Carmel the coast tract is decidedly less hot than the region south of it, and becomes cooler and cooler as we proceed northwards. Northern Phoenicia enjoys a climate that is delightful, and in which it would be difficult to suggest much improvement. The summer heat is scarcely ever too great, the thermometer rarely exceeding 90 of Fahrenheit,[23] and often sinking below 70. Refreshing showers of rain frequently fall, and the breezes from the north, the east, and the south-east, coming from high mountain tracts which are in part snow-clad, temper the heat of the sun's rays and prevent it from being oppressive. The winter temperature seldom descends much below 50; and thus the orange, the lemon and the date-palm flourish in the open air, and the gardens are bright with flowers even in December and January. Snow falls occasionally, but it rarely lies on the ground for more than a few days, and is scarcely ever so much as a foot deep. On the other hand, rain is expected during the winter-time, and the entire line of coast is visited for some months with severe storms and gales, accompanied often by thunder and violent rain,[24] which strew the shore with wrecks and turn even insignificant mountain streams into raging torrents. The storms come chiefly from the west and north-west, quarters to which the harbours on the coast are unfortunately open.[25] Navigation consequently suffers interruption; but when once the winter is past, a season of tranquillity sets in, and for many months of the year—at any rate from May to October[26]—the barometer scarcely varies, the sky is unclouded, and rain all but unknown.

As the traveller mounts from the coast tract into the more elevated regions, the climate sensibly changes. An hour's ride from the plains, when they are most sultry, will bring him into a comparatively cool region, where the dashing spray of the glacier streams is borne on the air, and from time to time a breeze that is actually cold comes down from the mountain-tops.[27] Shade is abundant, for the rocks are often perpendicular, and overhand the road in places, while the dense foliage of cedars, or pines, or walnut-trees, forms an equally effectual screen against the sun's noonday rays. In winter the uplands are, of course, cold. Severe weather prevails in them from November to March;[28] snow falls on all the high ground, while it rains on the coast and in the lowlands; the passes are blocked; and Lebanon and Bargylus replenish the icy stories which the summer's heat has diminished.

The vegetable productions of Phoenicia may be best considered under the several heads of trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, fruit-trees, and garden vegetables. The chief trees were the palm-tree, the sycamore, the maritime pine, and the plane in the lowlands; in the highlands the cedar, Aleppo pine, oak, walnut, poplar, acacia, shumac, and carob. We have spoken of the former abundance of the palm. At present it is found in comparatively few places, and seldom in any considerable numbers. It grows singly, or in groups of two or three, at various points of the coast from Tripolis to Acre, but is only abundant in a few spots more towards the south, as at Haifa, under Carmel, where "fine date-palms" are numerous in the gardens,[29] and at Jaffa, where travellers remark "a broad belt of two or three miles of date-palms and orange-groves laden with fruit."[210] The wood was probably not much used as timber except in the earliest times, since Lebanon afforded so many kinds of trees much superior for building purposes. The date-palm was also valued for its fruit, though the produce of the Phoenician groves can never have been of a high quality.

The sycamore, or sycamine-fig, is a dark-foliaged tree, with a gnarled stem when it is old;[211] it grows either singly or in clumps, and much more resembles in appearance the English oak than the terebinth does, which has been so often compared to it. The stem is short, and sends forth wide lateral branches forking out in all directions, which renders the tree very easy to climb. It bears a small fig in great abundance, and probably at all seasons, which, however, is "tasteless and woody,"[212] though eaten by the inhabitants. The sycamore is common along the Phoenician lowland, but is a very tender tree and will not grow in the mountains.

The plane-tree, common in Asia Minor, is not very frequent either in Phoenicia or Palestine. It occurs, however, on the middle course of the Litany, where it breaks through the roots of Lebanon,[213] and also in many of the valleys[214] on the western flank of the mountain. The maritime pine (Pinus maritama) extends in forests here and there along the shore,[215] and is found of service in checking the advance of the sand dunes, which have a tendency to encroach seriously on the cultivable soil.

Of the upland trees the most common is the oak. There are three species of oak in the country. The most prevalent is an evergreen oak (Quercus pseudococcifera), sometimes mistaken by travellers for a holly, sometimes for an ibex, which covers in a low dense bush many miles of the hilly country everywhere, and occasionally becomes a large tree in the Lebanon valleys,[216] and on the flanks of Casius and Bargylus. Another common oak is Quercus AEgilops, a much smaller and deciduous tree, very stout-trunked, which grows in scattered groups on Carmel and elsewhere, "giving a park-like appearance to the landscape."[217] The third kind is Quercus infectoria, a gall-oak, also deciduous, and very conspicuous from the large number of bright, chestnut-coloured, viscid galls which it bears, and which are now sometimes gathered for exportation.[218]

Next to the oak may be mentioned the walnut, which grows to a great size in sheltered positions in the Lebanon range, both upon the eastern and upon the western flank;[219] the poplar, which is found both in the mountains[220] and in the low country, as especially about Beyrout;[221] the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), of which there are large woods in Carmel, Lebanon, and Bargylus,[222] while in Casius there is an enormous forest of them;[223] and the carob (Ceratonia siliqua), or locust-tree, a dense-foliaged tree of a bright lucid green hue, which never grows in clumps or forms woods, but appears as an isolated tree, rounded or oblong, and affords the best possible shade.[224] In the vicinity of Tyre are found also large tamarisks, maples, sumachs, and acacias.[225]

But the tree which is the glory of Phoenicia, and which was by far the most valuable of all its vegetable productions, is, of course, the cedar. Growing to an immense height, and attaining an enormous girth, it spreads abroad its huge flat branches hither and thither, covering a vast space of ground with its "shadowing shroud,"[226] and presenting a most majestic and magnificent appearance. Its timber may not be of first-rate quality, and there is some question whether it was really used for the masts of their ships by the Phoenicians,[227] but as building material it was beyond a doubt most highly prized, answering sufficiently for all the purposes required by architectural art, and at the same time delighting the sense of smell by its aromatic odour. Solomon employed it both for the Temple and for his own house;[228] the Assyrian kings cut it and carried it to Nineveh;[229] Herod the Great used it for the vast additions that he made to Zerubbabel's temple;[230] it was exported to Egypt and Asia Minor; the Ephesian Greeks constructed of cedar, probably of cedar from Lebanon, the roof of their famous temple of Diana.[231] At present the wealth of Lebanon in cedars is not great, but the four hundred which form the grove near the source of the Kadisha, and the many scattered cedar woods in other places, are to be viewed as remnants of one great primeval forest, which originally covered all the upper slopes on the western side, and was composed, if not exclusively, at any rate predominantly, of cedars.[232] Cultivation, the need of fuel, and the wants of builders, have robbed the mountain of its primitive bright green vest, and left it either bare rock or terraced garden; but in the early times of Phoenicia, the true Lebanon cedar must undoubtedly have been its chief forest tree, and have stood to it as the pine to the Swiss Alps and the chestnut to the mountains of North Italy.

Of shrubs, below the rank of trees, the most important are the lentisk (Pistachia lentiscus), the bay, the arbutus (A. andrachne), the cypress, the oleander, the myrtle, the juniper, the barberry, the styrax (S. officinalis), the rhododendron, the bramble, the caper plant, the small-leaved holly, the prickly pear, the honeysuckle, and the jasmine. Myrtle and rhododendron grow luxuriantly on the flanks of Bargylus, and are more plentiful than any other shrubs in that region.[233] Eastern Lebanon has abundant scrub of juniper and barberry;[234] while on the western slopes their place is taken by the bramble, the myrtle, and the clematis.[235] The lentisk, which rarely exceeds the size of a low bush, is conspicuous by its dark evergreen leaves and numerous small red berries;[236] the arbutus—not our species, but a far lighter and more ornamental shrub, the Arbutus andrachne—bears also a bright red fruit, which colours the thickets;[237] the styrax, famous for yielding the gum storax of commerce, grows towards the east end of Carmel, and is a very large bush branching from the ground, but never assuming the form of a tree; it has small downy leaves, white flowers like orange blossoms, and round yellow fruit, pendulous from slender stalks, like cherries.[238] Travellers in Phoenicia do not often mention the caper plant, but it was seen by Canon Tristram hanging from the fissures of the rock, in the cleft of the Litany,[239] amid myrtle and bay and clematis. The small-leaved holly was noticed by Mr. Walpole on the western flank of Bargylus.[240] The prickly pear is not a native of Asia, but has been introduced from the New World. It has readily acclimatised itself, and is very generally employed, in Phoenicia, as in the neighbouring countries, for hedges.[241]

The fruit-trees of Phoenicia are numerous, and grow most luxuriantly, but the majority have no doubt been introduced from other countries, and the time of their introduction is uncertain. Five, however, may be reckoned as either indigenous or as cultivated at any rate from a remote antiquity—the vine, the olive, the date-palm, the walnut, and the fig. The vine is most widely spread. Vineyards cover large tracts in the vicinity of all the towns; they climb up the sides of Carmel, Lebanon, and Bargylus,[242] hang upon the edge of precipices, and greet the traveller at every turn in almost every region. The size of individual vines is extraordinary. "Stephen Schultz states that in a village near Ptolemais (Acre) he supped under a large vine, the stem of which measured a foot and a half in diameter, its height being thirty feet; and that the whole plant, supported on trellis, covered an area of fifty feet either way. The bunches of grapes weighed from ten to twelve pounds and the berries were like small plums."[243] The olive in Phoenicia is at least as old as the Exodus, for it was said of Asher, who was assigned the more southern part of that country—"Let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil."[244] Olives at the present day clothe the slopes of Lebanon and Bargylus above the vine region,[245] and are carried upward almost to the very edge of the bare rock. They yield largely, and produce an oil of an excellent character. Fine olive-groves are also to be seen on Carmel,[246] in the neighbourhood of Esfia. The date-palm has already been spoken of as a tree, ornamenting the landscape and furnishing timber of tolerable quality. As a fruit-tree it is not greatly to be prized, since it is only about Haifa and Jaffa that it produces dates,[247] and those of no high repute. The walnut has all the appearance of being indigenous in Lebanon, where it grows to a great size,[248] and bears abundance of fruit. The fig is also, almost certainly, a native; it grows plentifully, not only in the orchards about towns, but on the flanks of Lebanon, on Bargylus, and in the northern Phoenician plain.[249]

The other fruit-trees of the present day are the mulberry, the pomegranate, the orange, the lemon, the lime, the peach, the apricot, the plum, the cherry, the quince, the apple, the pear, the almond, the pistachio nut, and the banana. The mulberry is cultivated largely on the Lebanon[250] in connection with the growth of silkworms, but is not valued as a fruit-tree. The pomegranate is far less often seen, but it is grown in the gardens about Saida,[251] and the fruit has sometimes been an article of exportation.[252] The orange and lemon are among the commonest fruits, but are generally regarded as comparatively late introductions. The lime is not often noticed, but obtains mention in the work of Mr. Walpole.[253] The peach and apricot are for the most part standard trees, though sometimes trained on trellises.[254] They were perhaps derived from Mesopotamia or Persia, but at what date it is quite impossible to conjecture. Apples, pears, plums, cherries, quinces, are not unlikely to have been indigenous, though of course the present species are the result of long and careful cultivation. The same may be said of the almond and the pistachio nut. The banana is a comparatively recent importation. It is grown along the coast from Jaffa as far north as Tripolis, and yields a fruit which is said to be of excellent quality.[255]

Altogether, Phoenicia may be pronounced a land of fruits. Hasselquist says,[256] that in his time Sidon grew pomegranates, apricots, figs, almonds, oranges, lemons, and plums in such abundance as to furnish annually several shiploads for export, while D'Arvieux adds to this list pears, peaches, cherries, and bananas.[257] Lebanon alone can furnish grapes, olives, mulberries, figs, apples, apricots, walnuts, cherries, peaches, lemons, and oranges. The coast tract adds pomegranates, limes, and bananas. It has been said that Carmel, a portion of Phoenicia, is "the garden of Eden run wild;"[258] but the phrase might be fitly applied to the entire country.

Of herbs possessing some value for man, Phoenicia produces sage, rosemary, lavender, rue, and wormwood.[259] Of flowers she has an extraordinary abundance. In early spring (March and April) not only the plains, but the very mountains, except where they consist of bare rock, are covered with a variegated carpet of the loveliest hues[260] from the floral wealth scattered over them. Bulbous plants are especially numerous. Travellers mention hyacinths, tulips, ranunculuses, gladioli, anemones, orchises, crocuses of several kinds—blue and yellow and white, arums, amaryllises, cyclamens, &c., besides heaths, jasmine, honeysuckle, clematis, multiflora roses, rhododendrons, oleander, myrtle, astragalus, hollyhocks, convolvuli, valerian, red linum, pheasant's eye, guelder roses, antirrhinums, chrysanthemums, blue campanulas, and mandrakes. The orchises include "Ophrys atrata, with its bee-like lip, another like the spider orchis, and a third like the man orchis;"[261] the cyclamens are especially beautiful, "nestling under every stone and lavish of their loveliness with graceful tufts of blossoms varying in hue from purest white to deepest purple pink."[262] The multiflora rose is not common, but where it grows "covers the banks of streams with a sheet of blossom;"[263] the oleanders fringe their waters with a line of ruby red; the mandrake (Mandragora officinalis) is "one of the most striking plants of the country, with its flat disk of very broad primrose-like leaves, and its central bunch of dark blue bell-shaped blossom."[264] Ferns also abound, and among them is the delicate maidenhair.[265]

The principal garden vegetables grown at the present day are melons, cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, turnips, carrots, and radishes.[266] The kinds of grain most commonly cultivated are wheat, barley, millet, and maize. There is also an extensive cultivation of tobacco, indigo, and cotton, which have been introduced from abroad in comparatively modern times. Oil, silk, and fruits are, however, still among the chief articles of export; and the present wealth of the country is attributable mainly to its groves and orchards, its olives, mulberries, figs, lemons, and oranges.

The zoology of Phoenicia has not until recently attracted very much attention. At present the list of land animals known to inhabit it is short,[267] including scarcely more than the bear, the leopard or panther, the wolf, the hyaena, the jackal, the fox, the hare, the wild boar, the ichneumon, the gazelle, the squirrel, the rat, and the mole. The present existence of the bear within the limits of the ancient Phoenicia has been questioned,[268] but the animal has been seen in Lebanon by Mr. Porter,[269] and in the mountains of Galilee by Canon Tristram.[270] The species is the Syrian bear (Ursus syriacus), a large and fierce beast, which, though generally frugivorous, will under the presser of hunger attack both men and animals. Its main habitat is, no doubt, the less accessible parts of Lebanon; but in the winter it will descend to the villages and gardens, where it often does much damage.[271] The panther or leopard has, like the bear, been seen by Mr. Porter in the Lebanon range;[272] and Canon Tristram, when visiting Carmel, was offered the skin of an adult leopard[273] which had probably been killed in that neighbourhood. Anciently it was much more frequent in Phoenicia and Palestine than it is at present, as appears by the numerous notices of it in Scripture.[274] Wolves, hyaenas, and jackals are comparatively common. They haunt not only Carmel and Lebanon, but many portions of the coast tract. Canon Tristram obtained from Carmel "the two largest hyaenas that he had ever seen,"[275] and fell in with jackals in the vicinity.[276] Wolves seem to be more scarce, though anciently very plentiful.

The favourite haunts of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Phoenicia are Carmel[277] and the deep valleys on the western slope of Lebanon. The valley of the Adonis (Ibrahim) is still noted for them,[278] but, except on Carmel, they are not very abundant. Foxes and hares are also somewhat rare, and it is doubtful whether rabbits are to be found in any part of the country;[279] ichneumons, which are tolerably common, seem sometimes to be mistaken for them. Gazelles are thought to inhabit Carmel,[280] and squirrels, rats, and moles are common. Bats also, if they may be counted among land-animals, are frequent; they belong, it is probable, to several species, one of which is Xantharpyia aegyptiaca.[281]

If the fauna of Phoenicia is restricted so far as land-animals are concerned, it is extensive and varied in respect of birds. The list of known birds includes two sorts of eagle (Circaetos gallicus and Aquila naevioides), the osprey, the vulture, the falcon, the kite, the honey-buzzard, the marsh-harrier, the sparrow-hawk, owls of two kinds (Ketupa ceylonensis and Athene meridionalis), the grey shrike (Lanius excubitor), the common cormorant, the pigmy cormorant (Graeculus pygmaeus), numerous seagulls, as the Adriatic gull (Larus melanocephalus), Andonieri's gull, the herring-gull, the Red-Sea-gull (Larus ichthyo-aetos), and others; the gull-billed tern (Sterna anglica), the Egyptian goose, the wild duck, the woodcock, the Greek partridge (Caccabis saxatilis), the waterhen, the corncrake or landrail, the coot, the water-ouzel, the francolin; plovers of three kinds, green, golden, and Kentish; dotterels of two kinds, red-throated and Asiatic; the Manx shearwater, the flamingo, the heron, the common kingfisher, and the black and white kingfisher of Egypt, the jay, the wood-pigeon, the rock-dove, the blue thrush, the Egyptian fantail (Drymoeca gracilis), the redshank, the wheat-ear (Saxicola libanotica), the common lark, the Persian horned lark, the cisticole, the yellow-billed Alpine chough, the nightingale of the East (Ixos xanthopygius), the robin, the brown linnet, the chaffinch; swallows of two kinds (Hirundo cahirica and Hirundo rufula); the meadow bunting; the Lebanon redstart, the common and yellow water-wagtails, the chiffchaff, the coletit, the Russian tit, the siskin, the nuthatch, and the willow wren. Of these the most valuable for the table are the partridge, the francolin, and the woodcock. The Greek partridge is "a fine red-legged bird, much larger than our red-legged partridge, and very much better eating, with white flesh, and nearly as heavy as a pheasant."[282] The francolin or black partridge is also a delicacy; and the woodcock, which is identical with our own, has the same delicate flavour.

The fish of Phoenicia, excepting certain shell-fish, are little known, and have seldom attracted the attention of travellers. The Mediterranean, however, where it washes the Phoenician coast, can furnish excellent mullet,[283] while most of the rivers contain freshwater fish of several kinds, as the Blennius lupulus, the Scaphiodon capoeta, and the Anguilla microptera.[284] All of these fish may be eaten, but the quality is inferior.

On the other hand, to certain of the shell-fish of Phoenicia a great celebrity attaches. The purple dye which gave to the textile fabrics of the Phoenicians a world-wide reputation was prepared from certain shell-fish which abounded upon their coast. Four existing species have been regarded as more or less employed in the manufacture, and it seems to be certain, at any rate, that the Phoenicians derived the dye from more shell-fish than one. The four are the Buccinum lapillus of Pliny,[285] which is the Purpura lapillus of modern naturalists; the Murex trunculus; the Murex brandaris; and the Helix ianthina. The Buccinum derives its name from the form of the shell, which has a wide mouth, like that of a trumpet, and which after one or two twists terminates in a pointed head.[286] The Murex trunculus has the same general form as the Buccinum; but the shell is more rough and spinous, being armed with a number of long thin projections which terminate in a sharp point.[287] The Murex brandaris is a closely allied species, and "one of the most plentiful on the Phoenician coast."[288] It is unlikely that the ancients regarded it as a different shell from Murex trunculus. The Helix ianthina has a wholly different character. It is a sort of sea-snail, as the name helix implies, is perfectly smooth, "very delicate and fragile, and not more than about three-quarters of an inch in diameter."[289] All these shell-fish contain a sac or bag full of colouring matter, which is capable of being used as a dye. It is quite possible that they were all, more or less, made use of by the Phoenician dyers; but the evidence furnished by existing remains on the Tyrian coast is strongly in favour of the Murex brandaris as the species principally employed.[290]

The mineral treasures of Phoenicia have not, in modern times, been examined with any care. The Jura limestone, which forms the substratum of the entire region, cannot be expected to yield any important mineral products. But the sandstone, which overlies it in places, is "often largely impregnated with iron," and some strata towards the southern end of Lebanon are said to produce "as much as ninety per cent. of pure iron ore."[291] An ochrous earth is also found in the hills above Beyrout, which gives from fifty to sixty per cent. of metal.[292] Coal, too, has been found in the same locality, but it is of bad quality, and does not exist in sufficient quantity to form an important product. Limestone, both cretaceous and siliceous, is plentiful, as are sandstone, trap and basalt; while porphyry and greenstone are also obtainable.[293] Carmel yields crystals of quarts and chalcedony,[294] and the fine sand about Tyre and Sidon is still such as would make excellent glass. But the main productions of Phoenicia, in which its natural wealth consisted, must always have been vegetable, rather than animal or mineral, and have consisted in its timber, especially its cedars and pines; its fruits, as olives, figs, grapes, and, in early times, dates; and its garden vegetables, melons, gourds, pumpkins, cucumbers.


Semitic origin of the Phoenicians—Characteristics of the Semites—Place of the Phoenicians within the Semitic group— Connected linguistically with the Israelites and the Assyro- Babylonians—Original seat of the nation, Lower Babylonia— Special characteristics of the Phoenician people—Industry and perseverance—Audacity in enterprise—Pliability and adaptability—Acuteness of intellect—Business capacity— Charge made against them of bad faith—Physical characteristics.

The Phoenician people are generally admitted to have belonged to the group of nations known as Semitic. This group, somewhat irrelevantly named, since the descent of several of them from Shem is purely problematic, comprises the Assyrians, the later Babylonians, the Aramaeans or Syrians, the Arabians, the Moabites, the Phoenicians, and the Hebrews. A single and very marked type of language belongs to the entire group, and a character of homogeneity may, with certain distinctions, be observed among all the various members composing it. The unity of language is threefold: it may be traced in the roots, in the inflections, and in the general features of the syntax. The roots are, as a rule, bilateral or trilateral, composed (that is) of two or three letters, all of which are consonants. The consonants determine the general sense of the words, and are alone expressed in the primitive writing; the vowel sounds do but modify more or less the general sense, and are unexpressed until the languages begin to fall into decay. The roots are, almost all of them, more or less physical and sensuous. They are derived in general from an imitation of nature. "If one looked only to the Semitic languages," says M. Renan,[31] "one would say, that sensation alone presided over the first acts of the human intellect, and that language was primarily nothing but a mere reflex of the external world. If we run through the list of Semitic roots, we scarcely meet with a single one which does not present to us a sense primarily material, which is then transferred, by transitions more or less direct and immediate, to things which are intellectual." Derivative words are formed from the roots by a few simple and regular laws. The noun is scarcely inflected at all; but the verb has a marvellous wealth of conjugations, calculated to express excellently well the external relations of ideas, but altogether incapable of expressing their metaphysical relations, from the want of definitely marked tenses and moods. Inflections in general have a half-agglutinative character, the meaning and origin of the affixes and suffixes being palpable. Syntax scarcely exists, the construction of sentences having such a general character of simplicity, especially in narrative, that one might compare it with the naive utterances of an infant. The utmost endeavour of the Semites is to join words together so as to form a sentence; to join sentences is an effort altogether beyond them. They employ the {lexis eiromene} of Aristotle,[32] which proceeds by accumulating atom on atom, instead of attempting the rounded period of the Latins and Greeks.

The common traits of character among Semitic nations have been summed up by one writer under five heads:—1. Pliability combined with iron fixity of purpose; 2. Depth and force; 3. A yearning for dreamy ease; 4. Capacity for the hardest work; and 5. Love of abstract thought.[33] Another has thought to find them in the following list:—1. An intuitive monotheism; 2. Intolerance; 3. Prophetism; 4. Want of the philisophic and scientific faculties; 5. Want of curiosity; 6. Want of appreciation of mimetic art; 7. Want of capacity for true political life.[34] According to the latter writer, "the Semitic race is to be recognized almost entirely by negative characteristics; it has no mythology, no epic poetry, no science, no philosophy, no fiction, no plastic arts, no civil life; everywhere it shows absence of complexity; absence of combination; an exclusive sentiment of unity."[35] It is not very easy to reconcile these two views, and not very satisfactory to regard a race as "characterised by negatives." Agreement should consist in positive features, and these may perhaps be found, first, in strength and depth of the religious feeling, combined with firm belief in the personality of the Deity; secondly, in dogged determination and "iron fixity of purpose;" thirdly, in inventiveness and skill in the mechanical arts and other industries; fourthly, in "capacity for hard work;" and, fifthly, in a certain adaptability and pliability, suiting the race for expansion and for commerce. All these qualities are perhaps not conspicuous in all the branches of the Semites, but the majority of them will be found united in all, and in some the combination would seem to be complete.

It is primarily on account of their language that the Phoenicians are regarded as Semites. When there are no historical grounds for believing that a nation has laid aside its own original form of speech, and adopted an alien dialect, language, if not a certain, is at least a very strong, evidence of ethnic character. Counter-evidence may no doubt rebut the prima facie presumption; but in the case of the Phoenicians no counter-evidence is producible. They belong to exactly that geographic zone in which Semitism has always had its chief seat; they cannot be shown to have been ever so circumstanced as to have had any inducement to change their speech; and their physical character and mental characteristics would, by themselves, be almost sufficient ground for assigning them to the type whereto their language points.

The place which the Phoenicians occupy within the Semitic group is a question considerably more difficult to determine. By local position they should belong to the western, or Aramaic branch, rather than to the eastern, or Assyro-Babylonian, or to the southern, or Arab. But the linguistic evidence scarcely lends itself to such a view, while the historic leads decidedly to an opposite conclusion. There is a far closer analogy between the Palestinian group of languages—Phoenician, Hebrew, Moabite, and the Assyro-Babylonian, than between either of these and the Aramaic. The Aramaic is scanty both in variety of grammatical forms and in vocabulary; the Phoenician and Assyro-Babylonian are comparatively copious.[36] The Aramaic has the character of a degraded language; the Assyro-Babylonian and the Phoenician are modelled on a primitive type.[37] In some respects Phoenician is even closer to Assyro-Babylonian than Hebrew is—e.g. in preferring at to ah for the feminine singular termination.[38]

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