Bronze objects in almost infinite variety have been found on Phoenician sites, but only a few of them can have been personal ornaments. They comprise lamps, bowls, vases, jugs, cups, armlets, anklets, daggers, dishes, a horse’s bit, heads and feet of animals, statuettes, mirrors, fibulae, buttons, &c. Furniture would seem to have been largely composed of bronze, which sometimes formed its entire fabric, though generally confined to the ornamentation. Ivory was likewise employed in considerable quantities in the manufacture of furniture, to which it was applied as an outer covering, or veneer, either plain, or more generally carved with a pattern or with figures. The “ivory house” of Ahab was perhaps so called, not so much from the application of the precious material to the doors and walls, as from its employment in the furniture. There is every probability that it was the construction of Phoenician artists.
CHAPTER XIII—PHOENICIAN WRITING, LANGUAGE, AND LITERATURE
The Phoenician alphabet—Its wide use—Its merits—Question of its origin—Its defects—Phoenician writing and language— Resemblance of the language to Hebrew—In the vocabulary— In the grammar—Points of difference between Phoenician and Hebrew—Scantiness of the literature—Phoenician history of Philo Byblius—Extracts—Periplus of Hanno—Phoenician epigraphic literature—Inscription of Esmunazar—Inscription of Tabnit—Inscription of Jehav-melek—Marseilles inscription—Short inscriptions on votive offerings and tombs—Range of Phoenician book-literature.
The Phoenician alphabet, like the Hebrew, consisted of twenty-two characters, which had, it is probable, the same names with the Hebrew letters, and were nearly identical in form with the letters used anciently by the entire Hebrew race. The most ancient inscription in the character which has come down to us is probably that of Mesha, the Moabite king, which belongs to the ninth century before our era. The next in antiquity, which is of any considerable length, is that discovered recently in the aqueduct which brings the water into the pool of Siloam, which dates probably from the time of Hezekiah, ab. B.C. 727-699. Some short epigraphs on Assyrian gems, tablets, and cylinders belong apparently to about the same period. The series of Phoenician and Cilician coins begins soon after this, and continues to the time of the Roman supremacy in Western Asia. The soil of Phoenicia Proper, and of the various countries where the Phoenicians established settlements or factories, as Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Southern Gaul, Spain, and North Africa, has also yielded a large crop of somewhat brief legends, the “inscription of Marseilles" being the most important of them. Finally there have been found within the last few years, in Phoenicia itself, near Byblus and Sidon, the three most valuable inscriptions of the entire series—those of Jehavmelek, Esmunazar and Tabnit—which have enabled scholars to place the whole subject on a scientific basis.