Israel is small country in the Middle East, about the size of New Jersey, located on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and bordered by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The nation of Israel—with a population of more than 8 million people, most of them Jewish—has many important archaeological and religious sites considered sacred by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, and a complex history with periods of peace and conflict.
Phoenicia was an ancient civilization composed of independent city-states located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea stretching through what is now Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. The Phoenicians were a great maritime people, known for their mighty ships adorned with horses’ heads in honor of their god of the sea, Yamm, the brother of Mot, the god of death. The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centers. Phoenician city-states began to take form c. 3200 BCE and were firmly established by c. 2750 BCE. Phoenicia thrived as a maritime trader and manufacturing center from c. 1500-332 BCE and was highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and an impressive level of skill in the manufacture of luxury and common goods.