The position of Rhodes as a distributing centre of Levantine and especially of Phoenician goods is well attested by archaeological finds.
This town, which was laid out on an exceptionally fine site according to a scientific plan by the architect Hippodamus of Miletus, soon rose to considerable importance, and attracted much of the Aegean and Levantine commerce which had hitherto been in Athenian hands.
The expansion of Levantine trade which ensued in the Hellenistic age brought especial profit to Rhodes, whose standard of coinage and maritime law became widely accepted in the Mediterranean.
The land was traversed by old-established trade routes and possessed important harbours on the Gulf of `Akaba and on the Mediterranean coast, the latter exposing it to the influence of the Levantine culture.
Towards the close of the 13th century the Egyptian king Merneptah (Mineptah) records a successful campaign in Palestine, and alludes to the defeat of Canaan, Ascalon, Gezer, Yenuam (in Lebanon) and (the people or tribe) Israel.3 Bodies of aliens from the Levantine coast had previously threatened Egypt and Syria, and at the beginning of the 12th century they formed a coalition on land and sea which taxed all the resources of Rameses III.