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." An ochrous earth is also found in the hills above Beyrout, which gives from fifty to sixty per cent. of metal. 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. Carmel yields crystals of quarts and chalcedony, 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.
CHAPTER III—THE PEOPLE—ORIGIN AND CHARACTERISTICS
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