Cedar trees are celebrated for their valuable wood, which is generally red, scented, and highly resistant to decay. The Phoenician civilization, ancient inhabitants of present-day Lebanon who invented the alphabet, built a trading economy on the sale of cedar timber. Native Americans of the Pacific Coast hollowed out red cedars, transforming them into ocean canoes, and carved them into totem poles. The wood is so durable that many of these have been found preserved after six to ten thousand years. A true cedar is any of four species of the genus cedrus, although the name is also used for a variety of other pines that share the characteristic red scented wood.