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THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
08:42 PM Beirut time
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UNESCO to preserve Lebanon's ancient Phoenician documents
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BEIRUT: Lebanon's historical documents on the "Evolution of the Phoenician Alphabet" and "Commemorative stela of Nahr el-Kalb" at Mount Lebanon are to be permanently preserved as they become a part of UNESCO's collection of worldwide rare documents. "Now Lebanon will have a unified memory of its past," said Minister of Culture Tarek Mitiri during a conference at the Culture Ministry.

"Instead of always reflecting over a fragmented past based on the Civil War, Lebanese can now look further back and realize a far deeper and common history that unities them all," said Mitiri as he congratulated the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO. The commission compiled and presented the rare documents which are now preserved and included in the world's library of historical documents at UNESCO's Memory of the World Program and Register.

UNESCO's program was established to preserve the memory of the world and raise awareness thanks to a rich documentary heritage that reflects the diversity of languages, peoples and cultures. The program was born of the realization that this memory is fragile and that important documentary material is lost every day.

"I don't think the world would be where it is without the Phoenician alphabet that is the sound basis for all the world alphabets," said Salwa Seniora Baassiri, Secretary General of the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO, referring to the file containing compiled documents on the "Evolution of the Phoenician Alphabet."

The inscribed Phoenician alphabet on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos, dating back to the 13th Century B.C., is the earliest known example of alphabetical as opposed to hieroglyphic or cuneiform writing. The sarcophagus is kept at the National Museum in Beirut.

"As for the information gathered from Nahr el-Kalb, it shows that different civilizations existed in Lebanon - and that indeed Lebanon is a very old country and a cradle of civilizations that played a pivotal role in the development of humanity," said Baassiri.

The "Commemorative stela of Nahr el-Kalb" on Mount Lebanon are a series of stone pillars that depict the Lebanese history from the 14th Century B.C. to the present through the inscriptions left by the successive Pharaonic, Assyro-Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Arab, French and British armies.

The stela, which are situated on a strategic north-south road, are carved with inscriptions in different languages, thus evoking the history of Lebanon and testifying to its relations with the rest of the world.

 
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