What are the contributions of earlier civilization to history, like the Phoenicians and the Hebrews?
This is a great question. Ancient civilizations have contributed much to our world today. We must resist the temptation to view earlier civilizations as primitive. In many ways, there were just as intelligent as we are today. In some instances, they may have surpassed us.
The Phoenicians are very important for two reasons. First, they were a great seafaring people. They, therefore, introduced sailing and trade through sailing. More importantly, they introduced the alphabet to the Western world. So, if you think about it, the Phoenicians gave the alphabet to the Greeks and the Greek spread it further to the civilizations to the West. Writing, therefore, was invented, no small feat.
The Hebrews also gave something the world. They gave their religion. Today two of the major three religions are based off of the Hebrew text - Judaism and Christianity.