The Phoenicians were at one time the predominant force in the Mediterranean Sea. They were descendants of the mysterious “Sea Peoples” who migrated from the Arabian Peninsula about 1,200 BCE, came to the coast of what is now Lebanon around 3,500 years ago, and established great cities at Beirut, Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, and Baalbek. The coastal area became an important trading center and the Phoenicians grew powerful as a maritime trading nation. Seeking peace and prosperity through trade agreements and alliances rather than war and aggression, the Phoenicians were able to develop the most advanced ships and navigation skills of all the cultures surrounding the Mediterranean. They established colonies wherever it was possible in order to expand their domain. While overland caravans were responsible for a great deal of their commerce, the majority of their trading ventures were by sea. They dealt in wine, olives and olive oil, wheat, linen, cotton, and most important, in spices from Asia. They also dealt in trade with countries that produced tin, silver, gold, iron, lead, mules and horses, honey, wool, and balm (balsam).