Yes, those feisty Phoenicians, an eastern Mediterranean trading culture based along, what we would now know as, northern Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
And no, not for their dandy purple-wearing seafarers trading all around the Med – but for inventing the Alphabet.
Yup, all modern, western alphabets stem from the Phoenician version. (Somewhere between 1500-1100 BC.) Though, this early alphabet didn’t contain any vowels, (known as an ‘abjad’ system). Vowels were added later by the Greeks, (circa 800 BC). Who, in turn, passed it on to the Romans.
The invention of an alphabet allowed for combinations of letters to make sounds, rather than relying on earlier systems which used pictograms. The problem with using pictograms is that they can only depict what already exists.
So, not only did the Phoenicians aid the dissemination of literacy, but also the advancement of new ideas, such as philosophy, science, poetry, diplomacy, exploration and democracy.
Without it, we wouldn’t have the likes of War & Peace, Madame Bovary or The National Enquirer.