|Author||J. Brian. Peckham|
|Publication Date||October 30, 2014|
In this magnum opus, the late Brian Peckham examines all of the evidence currently available to paint as complete a portrait as is possible of Phoenicia: its history, its people, and its culture. In fact, it was not the Phoenicians but the Canaanites who invented the alphabet; what distinguished the Phoenicians in their turn was the transmission of the alphabet, which was a revolutionary invention, to everyone they met. The Phoenicians were traders and merchants, the Tyrians especially, thriving in the back-and-forth of barter in copper for Levantine produce. They were artists, especially the Sidonians, known for gold and silver masterpieces engraved with scenes from the stories they told and which they exchanged for iron and eventually steel; and they were builders, like the Byblians, who taught the alphabet and numbers as elements of their trade.
This complicated history shows up in episodes and anecdotes along a frangible and fractured timeline. Individual men and women come forward in their artifacts, amulets, or seals. There are king lists and alliances, companies, and city assemblies. Years or centuries are skipped in the twinkling of any eye and only occasionally recovered. For this reason, the subtitle, Episodes and Anecdotes from the Ancient Mediterranean, is a particularly appropriate description of Peckham's masterful (posthumous) volume, the fruit of a lifetime of research into the history and culture of the Phoenicians.