Phoenician is an extremely ancient Semitic language that originated as a spoken language at about 3000 BC in Phoenicia.
The Phoenician culture, however, was the first to devise a non-pictographic alphabet. In 1000 BC, a literary counterpart for the spoken language was developed. It is a syllabic writing system based upon a 22 sign alphabet.
Before the start of the Common Era, the Phoenician writing system spread throughout the Mediterranean coast and was adopted by the old Hebrews and their neighbors. The South Arabs, who were located in an area that corresponds roughly to modern Yemen, also adopted it. Because of the South Arabs, the Phoenician system spread to Ethiopia, where it is still in use today.
Jews also adopted a form of the Phoenician, Aramaic, which became the common language spoken in Palestine at the time of Christ. North Arabs also adopted a form of the Aramaic system, that later became what is now known as Arabic. Finally, Greek, the forerunner of all the Western alphabets, is also greatly derived from the Phoenician.