Samira Tawfik (سميرة توفيق) – Asmar Ep (1988)

Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities (Sidon, Tyre, Byblos) were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550 BC to 300 BC. They were famed in Classical Greece and Rome as ‘traders in purple’, referring to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the Murex snail and for their spread of the alphabet, upon which all major modern alphabets are derived.

The oldest known representation of the Phoenician alphabet is inscribed on the sarcophagus of the King of Byblos, dating to the 11th century BC. Phoenician inscriptions are found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Cyprus, and other locations, as late as the early centuries of the Christian Era.

Ahiram Sarcophagus

Phoenicians are credited with spreading the Phoenician alphabet throughout the Mediterranean world. Phoenician traders disseminated this writing system along Aegean trade routes, to Creta and Greece. This alphabet has been termed an abjad, a script that contains no vowels, from the first four letters aleph, beth, jamal, and daleth. The Greeks adopted the majority of these letters but changed some of them to vowels which were signifiable in their language, giving rise to the first true alphabet.

They were among the greatest traders of their time and owed much of their prosperity to trade. At first, they traded mainly with the Greeks: wood, salves, glass and powdered Tyrian purple. Tyrian Purple was a violet-purple dye used by the Greek elite to color garments. In fact, the word Phoenician derives from the Ancient Greek word phoinios meaning ‘purple’. As trading and colonizing spread over the Mediterranean, Phoenicians, and Greeks seemed to have unconsciously split that sea in two:

Phoenician / Greek Settlements
Phoenician / Greek Settlements

The Phoenicians sailed along and eventually dominating the southern shore, while the Greeks were active along the northern shores. The two cultures clashed rarely, mainly in Sicily, which eventually settled into two spheres of influence. In the centuries after 1200 BC, the Phoenicians were the major naval and trading power of the region. Brilliant textiles were a part of Phoenician wealth, and Phoenician glass was another export ware. They traded unrefined, prick-eared hunting dogs of Asian or African origin which locally they had developed into many breeds.

To Egypt, where grapevines would not grow, the 8th-century Phoenicians sold wine, the wine trade with Egypt is vividly documented by the shipwrecks located in 1997 in the open sea 30 miles west of Ascalon. Pottery kilns at Tyre produced the big terracotta jars used for transporting wine and from Egypt they bought gold. From elsewhere, they obtained other materials, perhaps the most important being silver from the Iberian peninsula and tin from Great Britain, the latter of which when smelted with copper (from Cyprus) created the durable metal alloy bronze.

Hippoi / Galloi Mosaic
Hippoi / Galloi Mosaic

Cyrus the Great conquered Phoenicia in 539 BC. The Persians divided Phoenicia into four vassal kingdoms. They prospered, furnishing fleets for the Persian kings. Phoenician influence declined after this. It is likely that much of the Phoenician population migrated to Carthage and other colonies following the Persian conquest. In 350 or 345 BC a rebellion in Sidon led by Tennes was crushed by Artaxerxes III.

Let’s go to our album:

Due to the vast scope that our Arab divas had in recent months, we didn’t think twice before bringing another exclusive from our blossom of Lebanon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find further info on this extended play, such as his year of release, musicians and composers, will any reader could help us?

Young Diva
Young Samira

Either way, today’s album brings us two vigorous live acts and other three studio entries with the well known traditional band with its intricate Maqamaat scales, three-quarters tonal steps, passionate interpretations, and even some synths tinges.

The ‘IM’ highlights are for Asmar (Ya Helou) and Enta Ashea’a

Boarding through the fertile lands of the Beqaa Valley and n’udo laa!

Tracks Include:

A1 Barda Barda

A2 Asmar Ya Helou

A3 Sana We Tnin (Live)

A4 Enta Ashea’a

A5 Walhan (Live)

Digital Press Hellas S.A

Byblos Shore
Byblos Shore