I have found a fascinating website that details the history, and contributions, of the Phoenician people. It is not unusual for Lebanese to take pride in their Phoenician heritage. But is it accurate to call some modern Lebanese “Phoenician”?
Lebanon has seen many invasions over the last two thousand years. To the casual observer, it would appear that the Phoenicians have gone the way of the renowned Cedar forests of Lebanon. After all, practically every component of ancient Phoenician culture has disappeared. Their religion is gone. Their language is gone. Their dress, dance, music and mores are all gone. Therefore, it would follow that the Phoenicians themselves are gone.
Of course all of the above applies, to one extent or another, to Jews as well. Even the Jewish religion is, arguably, not the same religion it was in ancient times; it has “evolved” almost beyond recognition. Yet nothing stops us Jews from calling ourselves “Jews”. Probably because there has been a continuous ethnic identity with us. I do not believe the same can be said about the Phoenicians. But who says continuity is a prerequisite for ethnic identity?
I say let modern Lebanese call themselves “Phoenician” if they wish.
I do wonder if any efforts are being made to restore some of the ancient traits of Phoenicians. Is ancient Hebrew (AKA Phoenician) being revived in Lebanon? Are the old gods being restored? Is traditional Phoenician garb making a comeback? Making themselves distinctive, in some way, from the surrounding non-Phoenician populations, would go a long way toward restoring their identity. If this is, indeed, their endeavor, then they certainly have my blessing – as long as they refrain from practices such as human sacrifice.
Note: The site listed above, includes audio recordings of Aramaic being read for Christian ceremonies. To me, it sounds like they are being read in a Persian accent. Therefore, the gutturals have been compromised. Some of the vowels also sound Persian – but there is no way to know how they would have been pronounced, exactly, in antiquity.