Ancient Phoenicia

By Ethan Gelber with the BikeAbout team

Sidon is another of the oldest Phoenician cities. Founded in the 3rd millennium BC, it was the only of the great urban centers that was not built directly on the waters of the Mediterranean. Referred to as"Sidon the Great, Mother of Arvad and of Tyre" it is referred to in the Old Testament and by Homer.

Sidon, due to its early prominence in trade (especially of Phoenician glassware and the special purple dyes), was a hard won prize but nevertheless frequently conquered, destroyed and rebuilt. Prosperous throughout the 2nd millennium BC, it was ruled by Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids of Syria, the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, and the Romans. Even Herod the Great and Jesus are known to have visited it.

The excavation of a sizable necropolis at modern Sidon, now called Saida, brought to light a great deal of material, including the sarcophagi of two Phoenician kings as well as an ornate third one once believed to have been that of Alexander. There are also the ruins of the Phoenician Temple of Eshmun.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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