T Is For Trunko

Trunko is the nickname for a globster reportedly sighted in Margate, South Africa, on October 25, 1924, according to an article entitled Fish Like A Polar Bear that was published in the December 27, 1924, edition of London’s Daily Mail.  A globster or blob is an unidentified organic mass that washes up on the shoreline of an ocean or other body of water.  A globster is distinguished from a normal beached carcass by being hard to identify, at least by initial untrained observers, and by creating controversy as to its identity.  A globster is typically a huge sea creature, that is often smelly, because this mass of marine flesh is always found dead washed up on beaches throughout the world.  Mystery has surrounded these creatures for decades, as the seas of our world are vast and strange creatures are still lurking there.

Over the centuries every once and awhile something truly bizarre comes along, a sighting which seems to push the boundaries of the weird and shows us that we may be even further from understanding the deep than we think.  Surely one of the oddest such cases comes to us from the shores of South Africa, where there was a rather perplexing case of a sea monster that seems to defy classification, and which has gone on to become one of the more curious mysteries that haunted many people till the British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker explained it to be a globster in his 1996 book The Unexplained.  Trunko got its named in jest by Shuker in his book, and the name stuck.

Knowing that information can become altered over time, either intentionally or accidentally, almost 95 years ago, this curious sequence of inexplicable events began to unfold that startled and frightened witnesses on the beach.  Just off shore amidst a good amount of thrashing and splashing about there an enormous, white furred creature that looked like a long trunk and which one witness a South African farmer Mr. Hugh Ballance described as a giant polar bear, appeared to be engaged in vicious combat with a pair of killer whales, also known as orcas.  The great battle with the whales took place some distance out to sea, not at the shore and Hugh Ballance watched with the aid of glasses.  According to report, the strange, violent battle was truly epic, continuing for around three hours, as the sea frothed with red and the strange sea monster lashed out at the whales with its formidable looking tail, at one point it was purported to have leaped 20 feet out of the water during the melee.

In the churning depths of the Indian ocean the fierce battle drew to an end, the whales moved away and their furry attacker floated lifelessly at the surface.  The odd sea creature reportedly washed up onto shore, apparently killed by the orcas, where it would prove to be even stranger than originally thought.  Witnesses who claimed to have examined the carcass described it as being 47 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 5 feet high, without any limbs and the entirety of it covered with lush white fur around 8 inches long.  The creature appeared to have no discernible head, and from its torso protruded what looked like a thick trunk very similar to that of an elephant, which measured 5 feet long and 14 inches in diameter, with a tip described as being sort of like the snout of a pig.  The tail of the beast was said in later reports to be like that of a lobster, its bone structure was unclear and perhaps the strangest detail of all was that the corpse showed no signs of blood, despite the fact that the creature had presumably died of its wounds.

The descriptions given of Trunko created a vivid image of an extraordinary creature.  Although Trunko appeared to be a sea creature, it allegedly had thick hair all over its body and possessed a long trunk.  These features were combined with a powerful, lobster-like tail, and Trunko didn’t seem to have any sort of head or face.  Although the creature was examined and measured by witnesses on the beach, it seems that strangely no trained scientist ever came to see it and no photos were provided at the time.  However, a Johannesburg photographer named A. C. Jones did take three or four photos of Trunko, some of which were published in the August 1925 issue of Wide World Magazine, assuming, that this is not a newspaper hoax.  Some of the onlookers brought in a team of 32 oxen to move it seaward, which they failed to do on account of its immense weight.  After 10 days of rotting away on the beach, the fetid carcass then apparently was washed back out to sea where it would disappear forever and pass into one of the stranger cases in the history of the weird.

After the initial article in the Daily Mall, other news sources picked up the story and it was widely reported on in various outlets.  Oddly, another article which was published in the March 27, 1925 edition of the Charleroi Mail, of Charleroi, Pennsylvania, in the United States and entitled “Whales Slain By Hairy Monster”, would give a slightly different version of the unusual events.  According to this article, the bizarre trunked sea monster had won the battle with the whales, killing them and then had retreated to shore where it collapsed from exhaustion rather than washing up dead.  Just as described in the original Daily Mail article, the creature then remained on the beach for 10 days, during which time it was not examined by scientists, yet in the Charleroi Mail article the beast groggily crawled back to the water and swam away rather than having its lifeless corpse carried away by the tides.

Others say that Trunko was not a globster, it was the dead, rotting remains of a white or whitish bull whale, or a basking shark, or a white shark that the Orca killed and the trunk was its exposed sexual organ.  Was Trunko just a massive, tough skin-sac of blubber containing collagen that was left behind from a dead whale that had its skull and skeleton separated from the skin and lost in the ocean?  Or perhaps Trunko was a living, white-furred, elephant-trunked cryptid that had never been found in existence before or after.

D Is For Dryad

Elementals are nature spirits and they consist of various types of beings or spirits which inhabit Nature.  The belief in their existence was universal in the ancient era of almost every religious practice.  Elementals are the basic unit of fey and they come in four distinct groups, being earth, air, fire and water, which were the elements back in classical Greek and Roman times.  Fey is a generic term used to refer to any creature associated with the fairy races, such as sprites, pixies, nymphs, etcetera.  Fey are usually human-shaped magical creatures closely tied to the forces of nature, or to some other force or place.  They dwell in twilight groves and misty forests.  The original fey races were made up of Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Goblins and Giants.

Classification becomes difficult because certain elementals can be both air and earth spirits and the relationships between different ones seemed to be necessary for humans so that they could make sense of the world around them.  There are fey tribes and groups that don’t fall into any of those categories above, like naiads and river gods, dryads and gnomes, although some people classify gnomes as earth elementals.  The Greeks used the name “nymph” to cover certain female Elementals of both water and trees.  The nymphs were usually associated with fertile, growing things, such as trees, or with water and tree nymphs are actually connected with water.  The two most common types of nymphs are the naiad (water nymph) and the dryad (tree nymph.)   A Dryad is a nymph or nature spirit who lives in trees and takes the form of a beautiful young woman. The Dryads belong to the group of elementals who dwell in that attenuated body of the earth along with the gnomes, pans, elves and brownies.

Dryads are said to be nature spirits that merged with small trees and through this joining, they are capable of assuming a human or elf form, as well as that of the tree that they possess.  Others say that dryads were actually human and elf druids or a combination between a fairy and an elf and through a magical ritual that went wrong became dryads.  The dryads probably started when some tree-fancying fey took the shape of a tree, and found that their true shape was a tree.  Whatever the true lore is behind dryads it will most likely remain a mystery, but what is known is that all dryads are female and they can take on the shape of a human or a maiden elf.  Dryads are tree spirits and they connect to all other trees within a given area.  The Dryad is not a woodland sprite, who runs around the branches and skips amongst the leaves, they constitute the living spirit within a tree, a spirit which many people feel that it is possible for you to communicate with, if you choose to.

Dryads are known for being rather shy, speaking with soft voices, but they also enjoyed playing pranks.  They were originally the attendants of Artemis goddess of the hunt, the moon, and chastity, and she protected them while they were in the trees, groves, and forests.  To see them was considered unlucky, but this may be because as vigilant guardian spirits they most frequently made themselves visible when displeased and then they became intent on inflicting disciplinary action to anyone who messed around with their forests and woods which was their homes.  The dryads should not be confused with hamadryads who are stationary spirits of individual trees and who die when their particular tree dies.  Dryads were mobile, and they could move around quite easily.  Most dryads are fans of a particular species of tree, the dryads were originally the spirits of oak trees, but the name was later applied to all tree nymphs, like the hamadryads who are most often connected with river-side trees like poplar trees, the meliads that have a connection with ash trees and fruit trees.

SLS Returning Guest Host

I am still filling in as the guest host for SLS Helen Vahdati’s This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time Song Lyric Sunday, while she is recovering.  Paula Light from lightmotifs suggested the prompt of “laughter” and since laughter is supposed to be the best medicine, hopefully this will help Helen recover.  I think that there are plenty of songs that can work with that, so let’s go with laugh/laughter/laughing for our theme.  Feel free to suggest future prompts.

Houston we have a problem, no not really but I do have an issue that WordPress has never resolved.  If I make a comment on any post that is not mine and someone responds I never get alerted of the response.  I love making comments and this is one of the best features on WordPress and the last thing that I want is for you to think that I am ignoring you.  I do get an alert email if you hit the LIKE button on my comment, so if you intend to write back to me please do that, so I can read what you write.

Here are the “rules”:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due and it’s honestly just a simple Google search.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will work best.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to use the Song Lyric Sunday badge by copying it into your post or add it to your site to show you are participating.

In case you are stuck I have a few suggestions.  Laughing by The Guess Who, Laugh I Nearly Died by the Rolling Stones, It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry by Bob Dylan, I Only Wanna Laugh by Dusty Springfield, Laugh It Off by Merle Haggard, The Moon Just Looks Down And Laughs by Billie Holiday, I’m Gonna Laugh You out of My Life by Sarah Vaughan, Don’t Laugh At Me by Peter Paul and Mary or by Howlin’ Wolf, Go Ahead and Laugh by Martha and the Vandellas, Laugh to Keep From Crying by Madonna, Laughing At Me by Alice Cooper, Between a Laugh and a Tear by John Mellencamp, Who’s Laughing Now by Jessie J, I Should Be Laughing by Patty Smyth or If I Laugh by Cat Stevens.  Since there is no requirement for the prompt laugh/laughter/laughing to be in the title of your song, you could always go with a song where the prompt is in the lyrics such as, If You Feel by Jefferson Airplane, The Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Purple Rain by Prince, Sun King by the Beatles or I Started A Joke by the Bee Gees.  I am going to listen to that Jeopardy Thinking Music while I figure out the song that I will write about for this week.

OK got it, I will go with ‘Ship Of Fools’ by the Grateful Dead.  So many choices, what will you go with and as stated in the first rule there is no need to follow the prompt, so post any song whether it fits the theme or not.  Don’t sweat the rules as the unwritten rule is to always have fun.  FYI Jeopardy!’s memorable theme song ‘Think!’ was originally composed by the show’s creator Merv Griffin.

The Oldest Profession

Singer, bassist and songwriter Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, along with drummer Stewart Copeland who is considered by Rolling Stone Magazine to be one of the top ten drummers of all time and guitarist Andy Summers who replaced Henri Padovani made their first album as The Police, Outlandos D’Amour (Outlaws Of Love), in 1978 and this included a song titled ‘Roxanne’ which was written by Sting.  Each member came from a different musical background, with Summers having played with The Animals, Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers, Neil Sedaka and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Copeland was a member of Curved Air and he also had a brief solo career as Klark Kent, while Sting had played in various jazz fusion groups.  The Police were a British-based Anglo-American pop/rock group whose career began in 1976 during the first rising of punk rock and ended, in a rather pathetic fashion, as they were at the height of their fame, when internal tensions caused the band to splinter apart in 1984.

Stewart chose the name “The Police” for his new band after seeing this written on the side of a cop car and he persuaded Sting to join.  Sting liked to wear this black and yellow sweater with hooped stripes that his girlfriend had knit for him and the band that he was in at the time, the Phoenix Jazzmen thought that he looked like a bee, or like a wasp, which prompted the name ‘Sting’.  Back in 1977 before the band made it big, they agreed to appear in a Wrigley’s gum commercial.  Wrigley’s demanded that the band dye their hair blond to play a non-descript punk band.  The look eventually became The Police’s trademark even though the commercial never aired.

Sting chose the name Roxanne because it relates to women of great beauty.  Roxanne was the name of one of Alexander The Great’s wives and also Cyrano de Bergerac’s love interest.  In October of 1977 the Police were staying at a flophouse hotel in Paris.  Sting was inspired by a poster of Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac peeling from the wall in the hotel’s rank foyer, which gave him this notion for a song that he thought would be played like a bossa nova on a nylon-stringed guitar.  The group shared a room because money was tight and outside in the alleyway, between the lurid glare of a sex shop and a dimly lit bookstore, prostitutes roamed around in open raincoats and cheap boots.

The Police were supposed to do this gig with The Damned, and they drove all the way to Paris from Holland in Andy Summers’ Citroen Dyane 6, so they could play at a club called The Nashville.  The night before, they all went their separate ways and Sting began to wander around the red-light district of Paris, looking at all the hookers.  This was the first time that Sting had seen prostitution on the streets, and he thought that some of the girls were actually beautiful.  Sting was in this alley and he had a tune going around in his head, when he imagined what it would be like to fall in love with one of them, figuring some of them must have boyfriends.  The night of the show, they were told that The Damned went back to England, so the concert was cancelled.

‘Roxanne’ was the breakthrough song for The Police turning them into superstars, and this song became their first major international hit.  In January 1978, The Police hired Surrey Sound Studios in Leatherhead and set out to record their debut album.  At the beginning of ‘Roxanne’, Sting fell backwards onto the piano and started to laugh.  The band decided to keep it in.  The song ‘Roxanne’ was released in the UK on April 7, but it didn’t become a hit at first, however a few people did notice it.  The Police went on tour in America and a disc jockey in Austin stared playing the song, it got a great response and other radio stations added it to their playlists.  The song became a minor hit, peaking at #32 on April 28.  The song also got some attention in the UK around this time, and it made #12 about a year after it was first released.

The color red has been attributed back to prostitution for over thousands of years.  Red lights were left outside of brothels to signify that they were open for business.  In red-light districts, hookers display themselves behind glass windows.  I actually wrote a poem on this song ‘Roxanne’ before, in case you want to read it.  The Police performed ‘Roxanne’ when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night
Roxanne
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light

(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
Oh!

I loved you since I knew ya
I wouldn’t talk down to ya
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy
I know my mind is made up
So put away your make-up
Told you once, I won’t tell you again it’s a bad way

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light

You don’t have to put on the red light (Roxanne)
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
You don’t have to put on the red light (Roxanne)
(Roxanne) put on the red light
You don’t have to put on the red light (Roxanne)
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light
(Roxanne) put on the red light

At An Impasse

Trump turned down a chance to get $25 billion for his boarder wall earlier this year, which the Democrats were willing to give him in return for Dreamer legislation.  He is like a baby throwing a tantrum, because he is not getting his own way.  The Democrats no longer feel that they have to appease Trump, as they will have a majority in the House next year and hopefully things will change for the better for our country.

Written for Linda G. Hill Life in progress One-Liner Wednesday – December 26 prompt which is “So Sorry”.

Boy Almost Gets Girl

‘Lovely Rita’ was recorded in 1967 and it came out on the Sgt. Pepper album.  This song exudes silliness, as the Beatles tried to have a little fun.  In Great Brittan the people who worked giving out parking tickets were called Traffic Wardens and the American equivalent for a female traffic warden was a meter maid, which McCartney who wrote and sings this song found to be funny.  Political correctness eventually led to the less gender-specific term of parking attendant.  Paul thought that the term maid had sexual connotations, like a French maid that would be a mistress in her master’s bed and come into the bedroom and turn down the bed, or fluff the pillow and of course there is the the French maid uniform which carries an implicit dominance and submission symbolism.  This American job title that combined the words maid and meter amused Paul, because he thought that it sounded so American and he viewed maid to be sexy, while he associated meter with being sort of a military thing.

The song ‘Lovely Rita’ added fuel to the fire about the rumor that Paul was Dead, a made up theory that occurred during The Beatles fame.  This song figures into the hoax because the story says that one rainy night after a late session at their Abbey Road studios, which ended in an argument amongst the Beatles, Paul got into his Aston Martin and picked up a girl named Rita along the way, before crashing his car into a lamp-post.  McCartney was distracted by Rita while driving, and this led to the car crash that ended his life in 1966, so he was replaced by William Shears Campbell.  Apparently the British M15 believed that hundreds of citizens would commit suicide if the shocking news were revealed, considering the Beatles were a national treasure, so a Scottish lad named Billy Shears filled in after some plastic surgery.  The funeral procession was depicted on the cover of the Abby Road album.  McCartney actually was involved in a moped crash on December 26, 1965, which resulted in a chipped tooth and a scar on his lip that gave him the impetus to grow a moustache and around the same time the other three Beatles also grew moustaches, just in time for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

This song was written during a time when parking meters were just starting to become more prevalent, as before this British citizens were able to park freely, thus antagonistic feeling towards these people did not exist yet.  Paul McCartney had been issued a number of parking tickets, and his first inclination was to take lyrical revenge by writing this song as an anti-authority satire.  He changed his mind about this being a hate song, because he thought that it would work better if he were to love her.  Rita was the only name that Paul thought would rhyme with meter, so he started out with, “Lovely Rita, meter maid” and he developed the story from that.

Decades later, a woman named Meta Davis came forward claiming to be the meter maid in this song.  She had served as the first female traffic warden in the London neighborhood of St. John’s Wood, where McCartney lived in the Sixties.  Meta Davis issued Paul a ten-shilling ticket in the spring of 1967, because his parking meter showed that he had parked for an excess of time.  She placed the ticket on his windshield and Paul came along and they chatted.  Paul said that Meta’s name would be a good for a song and he asked her if she would mind if he used it.  There is another rumor that says Meta Davis later arrested Arlo Guthrie for littering, giving birth to the song ‘Alice’s Restaurant’, but this seems hard to fathom.

This song is about a shy and polite man who develops a crush on a parking meter lady, so he asks her, “May I inquire discreetly When are you free to take some tea with me?”  Things go really well on their date and Rita even picks up the bill after they eat dinner.  He drives her back to her house and he thinks that he might get lucky, but her two sisters are there putting a damper on the evening.  It is also possible that this guy becomes cocky thinking that he is a real hotshot with women, and he begins to boast that he nearly made it (in other words he didn’t) with her two sisters while sitting on the sofa, except that nothing happened.  Rita probably paid the dinner bill because she felt sorry for this poor shlub.

Lovely Rita, meter maid
Nothing can come between us
When it gets dark I tow your heart away

Standing by a parking meter
When I caught a glimpse of Rita
Filling in a ticket in her little white book
In a cap she looked much older
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man

Lovely Rita, meter maid
May I inquire discreetly
When are you free to take some tea with me?

Rita!

Took her out and tried to win her
Had a laugh and over dinner
Told her I would really like to see her again

Got the bill and Rita paid it
Took her home, I nearly made it
Sitting on the sofa with a sister or two

Oh, lovely Rita, meter maid
Where would I be without you
Give us a wink and make me think of you

Three Day Quote Challenge

Fandango nominated me for this honor that he called a thingie.  I looked up the word ‘thingie’ and apparently it is a component of a significant project or an important matter unto itself, with ‘unto itself’ being regarded as something that affects an object but that object is actually itself.  Now that I have cleared this up (or did I) and we all understand that this is a leap of faith and that a leopard cannot change its spots and some things are totally independent as a entity standing on their own as islands unto themselves.  I rambled so much that I forgot where I was going, but now back to the thingie.  For instance, someone might say, “Houston we have a problem with the thingie.”

What I need to do is:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you. Thanks Dango.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

I like to write and I am usually looking for a prompt that I can make a post from, but the awards and this challenge all seem a bit like spam to me, so I will be breaking some of the rules.  I will do all three quotes in this post and then you can stick a fork in me because I will be done.  Also since nominating the other bloggers is the hardest part for me, as anytime I nominate anyone for anything they always seem to ignore me, I am just going to nominate two bloggers.  Let me start off by saying that your acceptance and participation in this challenge is purely voluntary, so don’t feel obligated in any way.

Bad Dad Cartoons 101

Sight11

President Trump’s campaign was defined by three slogans, “Build the wall”, “Lock her up”, and “Drain the swamp”.  The Build the wall is still with us, however Mexico is not going to pay for this.  Lock her up has gone away, but Trump is still a bully.  Drain the swamp is just a joke or more apropos a charade.  This campaign promise was meant to pump up his supporters and Trump never intended to do anything about cleaning up the political mess in Washington, D.C.  Every day he tramples all over the spirit of working stiffs and instead aligns himself with Wall Street, pharmaceutical giants and other corporate interests.

Do Fish Like Water

Around 675 BC, Phoenician sailors conquered the eastern Mediterranean, because they were highly skilled shipbuilders and sailors who built strong and fast sailing vessels to carry their goods.  Given their location on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and the fact that they only had a narrow strip of fertile coastal land to live on, it was natural for the Phoenicians to take to water.  The Phoenicians had to look outwards for any hope of development and because of this Man commenced his navigation westwards, to conquer ever more territories.  They used their strategic position at the crossroads of eastern and western cultures to build a trading empire that extended from the Fertile Crescent in the east, through the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, and as far west as the Iberian Peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean.

Their high level of skill in ship-building allowed them to navigate the often turbulent waters of the Mediterranean Sea.  Ship building seems to have been perfected at Byblos where the design of the curved hull was first initiated.  The Phoenicians sailed enormous distances as they were driven by the desire to acquire new and more cost-effective sources of raw materials and to sell their products to markets other than in their homeland.  It is thought that they even might have sailed as far as Britain and around the southern tip of Africa.

Phoenicians are descendants of the Canaanites and originally the city of Byblos was called Gebal, which way back then was just a small town off the Mediterranean Sea that was made up of farmers and fishermen.  Once the Phoenician people discovered that the cedars growing on the sides of their mountains, made excellent wood for boats, because of their high resistance to rotting, they started building sailing ships.  The lumber and the oil that was derived from harvested cedars, was desired by the Egyptians, who used it for embalming, and thus they became valuable for trading with other civilizations.  They exchanged it for gold, alabaster, papyrus rolls, papyrus rope and linen.  The Phoenicians expanded to Sidon, which is south of Byblos on the coast, and then they spread out even farther south to the island of Tyre.  Byblos became a strong religious city, while Sidon and Tyre became cities of business, industry, and navigation.

Phoenicians used the pole star Polaris (aka the North Star) as a navigational aid which allowed them to travel where no one else would dare to go.  Its position in the sky was so close to the northern end of the Earth’s axis that it appeared static throughout each night and became a reliable indication of due north. The Phoenicians also build up a store of information about winds and currents, which they carefully guarded as valuable trade secrets.  The famous Lebanese cedar tress covering the slopes of mountains of their native land were the perfect material for construction of strong seaworthy ships.  The Phoenicians often traded by means of a galley, a man-powered sailing vessel. They were the first civilization to create the bireme.  The Phoenicians were peaceful traders, who were only interested in building up their commerce and they founded many colonies.  To fight off pirates who often harassed their trading ships, the Phoenicians designed special warships to accompany their trading fleets.  Oarsmen would propel a sharp ramming device at the front of the boat into an enemy’s vessel, putting a hole into it that would cause it to sink.

After Egypt was invaded by the Sea Peoples and the Bronze Age ended, the ancient civilizations that once flourished in the Mediterranean world were weakened and they went into decline.  This shifted the political and economic centers which allowed the Phoenicians to start dominating Mediterranean sea travel, trade and commerce.  This lasted for hundreds of years, which made the Greeks slightly envious.  Yet, for most of their glorious history the Phoenicians were not a maritime military power, as Phoenicia was never an empire.  During most of its history, Phoenicia was essentially a peaceful, loosely united confederation of independent city-states, very similar to the way Greece was structured, and they usually maintained good relations with their powerful neighbors to the East and South.  The Phoenicians were experienced sailors, because they had been at sea before the Greeks, however they were traders, rather than warriors and they were not concerned with territorial expansion and therefore they did not use sea power as an instrument of conquest.

The Phoenicians were an adventurous race, who adapted their fragile ships to conquer the Eastern Mediterranean sea.  They bravely explored this unknown sea and survived the perils of waves and storms, along with the dreaded monsters of the deep, being guided in their daring voyages only by their knowledge of the North Star.  The mighty tides, blinding rains and frequent fogs were not the only dangers that they had to deal with, as they often came into contact with savage races of treacherous, bloodthirsty men.  They sailed mostly in the dry summer months when the seas were calm and the stars were visible for navigation. They generally sailed in vast fleets of cargo ships paired with fighting vessels, to discourage pirates.  The Phoenicians earned the respect of other civilizations because of their improvements in shipbuilding, navigation and for their geographic knowledge.

The Phoenicians created and manufactured the first see through glass, which they traded along with their cedar and slaves, but their main trade was purple dyes.  The name Phoenician means ‘of purple merchants’ and this name came from the Greeks who knew about the famous Tyrian purple dye that was used in ancient textile trade, and was highly desired.  Phoenicians traded their precious purple dye that they made from the Murex snail, which they had a monopoly on and this was used for royal clothing among other things.  It is said that Hercules discovered this dye when his dog’s mouth was stained purple after he munched on some snails along the Levantine coast.  This brilliant purple dye is applied to many garments, which become highly prized for their beauty.  A high cost is associated with this, as it takes 60,000 murex shellfish to produce one pound of this dye.  The dye became known as royal purple, because it is worn in ceremonial robes by the by Egyptian Pharaohs and Roman emperors.

The Phoenicians were among the greatest traders of their time and they owed much of their prosperity to this trade.  Many great landlocked Mesopotamian cities depended on the Phoenicians for their seaports, so they could exchange their goods.  The cost of transport over land was much higher than it was to move goods on ships.  Land transport was done in two or four wheeled carts and it was dependent on roads and animals, which both needed costly maintenance, and this was also much slower and it had a more limited capacity.  Two things made the Phoenicians great traders, their ships and their alphabet.  The Phoenicians made the most high tech ships of their time, which used mostly sails, but occasionally oars and rowers were employed and these cargo ships were much faster and more efficient than any others, until the Greeks finally took over.

Phoenician interactions with other nations became the source of their lifeblood and their power.  Their merchants bartered just about anything they got their hands on, acting as middlemen for their neighbors, so needing to learn foreign languages and becoming familiar with other civilizations customs, was an essential skill for them to acquire.  The extensive trade that the Phoenicians conducted required a great deal of book keeping and correspondence, as merchants and traders had to record contracts, receipts, and lists of goods.  The Egyptians had developed a method of writing which used pictures to symbolize their words, however the Phoenicians simplified this down from word symbols to syllable symbols, which they called the alphabet.

Phoenician words were able to be formed from a few simple and regular laws with this new method. Twenty two symbols in different combinations were able to replace thousands of more complicated symbols.  Once the Phoenicians began using the alphabet to keep track of their trade records, others that were exposed to this, saw it as a much more simple and easy way of keeping business records.  When money and wealth are involved, people become highly motivated to learn the system and make sure that transactions are being accurately recorded.  The Phoenician alphabet gained momentum as it proved to be so much better than any of the previous methods being used by other people and many foreigners modified it for their own languages.  The Phoenicians not only contributed the basic alphabet, but they also were responsible for making papyrus the common substance for writing, as once their written language was established, it was inscribed on Egyptian papyrus.  The Greeks associated their love of writing with the Phoenicians so much that they called the major Phoenician city Byblos, which was derived from the Greek word for book.