Phoenicia was an ancient civilization centred in the north of ancient Canaan, situated along the coastal regions of modern day Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean during the period 1550 BC to 300 BC. The Phoenicians often traded by means of a galley, a man-powered sailing vessel, and are credited with the invention of the bireme.
Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to ancient Greece. The Phoenicians were also the first state-level society to make extensive use of the alphabet, and the Canaanite-Phoenician alphabet is generally believed to be the ancestor of almost all modern alphabets. Through their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to North Africa and Europe, where it was adopted by the Greeks, who later passed it on to the Romans and Etruscans.