Avner Raban

An Aegean Frank Lloyd Wright first used ashlars— squared, smoothly trimmed stones—as building blocks in about the 18th century B.C.E. This scene shows ashlars on the outside walls of 13th-century B.C.E. residential buildings at Enkomi, on Cyprus, one of three sites on the island where ashlar constructions have been recently excavated.

Ashlar architecture made the leap from Cyprus to the northern Canaanite mainland soon thereafter, appearing at Ugarit (Ras Shamra, in modern Syria). Ugarit’s excavator, Claude F. A. Schaeffer, credited the construction style to a whole new ethnic group that he dubbed the Ashlar Builders. Ashlars then went on, in the tenth and ninth centuries B.C.E., to become a signature of Phoenician architecture. Authors Stieglitz and Raban note that the Sea Peoples, having come from the Aegean to Canaan, are the most logical carriers of this new style to the mainland.