Canaanite.org was born out of years of research into the Canaanite culture, its vocabulary, lexicon, grammar, history, archeology and architecture. It all started during my years at the Masters degree program in Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, that was geared towards the disciplines of History, Theory and Criticism. My extended research into the fields of Hermeneutics, Phenomenology and Deconstruction, blasted the field of Language wide open. The ultimate realization that we do not control language, and that we are not the masters of language was an eye openning revelation. I have always suspected the power of language, but to the extent that it shaped our understanding, that did not occur to me before that point, but in some way, everything began to make sense.
Next came a phase of research into language. My first intuition was to start investigating the Arabic language, since we are taught from an early age, that we speak Arabic. This pre-conception turned out to be the turning point in my understanding, because the more I researched the Arabic language, the more questions I had instead of answers. Something was profoundly missing. Then, at a point, I found a thesis written by Dr. Anis Frayḣa, out of all people, at the Library at the University of Cincinnati. This book was simple in its content. Dr. Frayha was exploring the Quadrilaterals of speech in Mount Lebanon, and their origins, but it was one of the first books I have read about our Lebanese Dialect. This small book turned my attention to another language that was spoken in our land ages before the Arabic language. That language was the Syriac. My research into Syriac, took me further back into Aramaic. The Aramaic Language took me back to the Phoenician. Once I hit the Phoenician Language, words started to make sense. The Canaanite Language, or the Phoenician Language as it was called by the Greeks and the west, is very peculiar in its structure, in that it is a composed language, like ancient Greek. This quality attests to it being the closest to the original Semitic language from which all other Semitic tongues descended.
But what does all this have to do with my thesis in architecture? Actually, a lot! In Lebanon, there have not been any proper research regarding Lebanese Architecture per se. The only book that could probably be found out there is “Architecture in Lebanon” by Freidrich Ragette, first published in 1974. From the book’s title, you would realize that it does not attest to a “Lebanese” architecture, but speaks about architecture in Lebanon instead. But why is this the case? Simply because no one has had enough resources before today to be able to undertake such a task.
But I am not here to discuss my research into Lebanese Architecture, for that is a separate matter. What is common between my architectural research and my research into the Canaanite culture at large has to do with language. In a way actually, this current website and all the information in it, are only a by-product of my research into Lebanese Architecture. The fact that it has transformed into an extensive thesis, required that it becomes a subject on its own right. This website and this information I hope, will help become a catalyst for further research into various fields of knowledge pertaining to our Lebanese culture at large. I am making this information available online, because it is only through free sharing of information that we can grow as a human race, and understand the different parts of our human cultures. I hope, in specific, that Lebanese people start engaging into more research and make it available online for a greater body of work to be disseminated.
Maroun Kassab 2007