Phoenicians, a renowned Semitic people, whose original home is supposed to have been in the islands- and round the shores of the Persian Gulf, whence they migrated in prehistoric times to the head of the Mediterranean, between Asia Minor and Egypt. Here they founded Tyre, Sidon, and other flourishing marts, and over 3,000 years ago became the chief intermediaries of trade and intercourse between the eastern and western nations, and the great seafarers of antiquity. They founded numerous settlements, such as Utica, Carthage, and Cadiz on the Mediterranean seaboard and beyond the Straits, traded with the British Isles, introduced a knowledge of letters into Greece, circumnavigated Africa once, if not twice, and contended with Rome for universal empire. Their Semitic language is nearest allied to Hebrew, and was written in the oldest known alphabet, most probably derived from the hieratic and demotic phonograms of the Egyptian or Chaldaean hieroglyphics. Numerous inscriptions are still extant in this script, which is the direct or indirect source of nearly all current syllabic and alphabetic systems.