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Phoenicia () was an
ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from ...
thalassocratic A thalassocracy or thalattocracy (from grc-x-classical, θάλασσα, translit=thalassa () , and grc, κρατεῖν, translit=kratein, lit=power; giving grc-x-koine, θαλασσοκρατία, translit=thalassokratia, lit=sea power) is a s ...
(a state with primarily maritime realms)
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional characteristics such as , the of plant and ani ...

civilization
originating in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
region of the
eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct Ameri ...

eastern Mediterranean
, primarily located in modern
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue Line ...

Lebanon
. It was concentrated along the coast of Lebanon and included some coastal areas of modern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
, reaching as far north as
Arwad Arwad, the classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture ...

Arwad
, and as far south as
Acre The acre is a of land area used in the and systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one by one (66 by 660 feet), which is exactly equal to 10 square chains, of a square mile, or 43,560 square feet, and approximately 4,047 m ...
and possibly
Gaza Gaza may refer to: Places Palestine * Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea ** Gaza City, a city in the Gaza Strip ** Gaza Governorate, a governorate in the Gaza Strip United States * Gaza, Iowa, an ...
. At its height between 1100 and 200 BC, Phoenician civilization spanned the Mediterranean from
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
to the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region o ...

Iberian Peninsula
. The Phoenicians were a Semitic-speaking people of somewhat unknown origin who emerged in the Levant around 3000 BC. The term ''Phoenicia'' is an
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period (). Ancient Greek was the language of an ...
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
that most likely described one of their most famous exports, a dye also known as
Tyrian purple Tyrian purple ( grc, πορφύρα ''porphúra''; la, purpura), also known as Phoenician red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple, or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple Purple is any of a variety of color Color (Ame ...
; it did not correspond precisely to a cohesive culture or society as it would have been understood natively. It is debated whether Phoenicians were actually distinct from the broader group of Semitic-speaking peoples known as
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
ites. Historian Robert Drews believes the term "Canaanites" corresponds to the ethnic group referred to as "Phoenicians" by the ancient Greeks. The Phoenicians came to prominence in the mid 12th century BC, following the decline of most influential cultures in the
Late Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
. They were renowned among contemporaries as skilled traders and mariners, becoming the dominant commercial power for much of classical antiquity. The Phoenicians developed an expansive maritime trade network that lasted over a millennium, helping facilitate the exchange of cultures, ideas, and knowledge between major
cradles of civilization A cradle of civilization is any location where civilization is understood to have independently emerged. According to current thinking, there was no single "cradle" of civilization; instead, several cradles of civilization developed independentl ...
such as Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. After its zenith in the ninth century BC, Phoenician civilization in the eastern Mediterranean slowly declined in the face of foreign influence and conquest; its presence endured in the central and western Mediterranean until the mid-second century BC. The Phoenicians were organized in
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereignty, sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including c ...
s, similar to those of
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, of which the most notable were
Tyre Tyre may refer to: * Tire, the outer part of a wheel Places * Tyre, Lebanon, a city ** See of Tyre, a Christian diocese seated in Tyre, Lebanon ** Tyre Hippodrome, a UNESCO World Heritage site * Tyre District, Lebanon * Tyre, New York, a town in t ...
,
Sidon Sidon ( ), known locally as Sayda or Saida ( ar, صيدا), is the third-largest city in Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western A ...

Sidon
, and
Byblos Byblos ( ar, جبيل ''Jubayl'', locally ''Jbeil''; gr, Βύβλος; phn, 𐤂𐤁𐤋 (GBL) , (probably ''Gubal'') is a city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon Lebanon (), officially known as the Lebanese Republic,''Republic ...

Byblos
. Each city-state was politically independent, and there is no evidence the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. The Phoenicians established colonies and trading posts across the Mediterranean;
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...
, a settlement in northwest Africa, became a major civilization in its own right in the seventh century BC. Phoenician society and cultural life centered on commerce and seafaring; while most city-states were governed by some form of
king King is the title given to a male in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is , which title is also given to the of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the title may refer to . G ...

king
ship, merchant families likely exercised influence through
oligarchies Oligarchy (; ) is a form of power structure in which power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power ...
. The Phoenicians were long considered a lost civilization due to the lack of indigenous written records, and only since the mid-20th century have historians and
archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique h ...
been able to reveal a complex and influential civilization. Their best known legacy is the world's
oldest verified alphabet
oldest verified alphabet
, which was transmitted across the Mediterranean and used to develop the
Hebrew script The Hebrew alphabet ( he, אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, ), known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri Ktav Ashuri ( he, כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִי, ' "Assyrian script"; also Ashurit) is the traditional Hebrew language ...
,
Arabic script
Arabic script
, and
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
and in turn the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
and
Cyrillic alphabet , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used ...
s. The Phoenicians are also credited with innovations in shipbuilding, navigation, industry, agriculture, and government. Their international trade network is believed to have fostered the economic, political, and cultural foundations of Classical Western civilization.


Etymology

The name ''Phoenicians'', like
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
' (adj. ', later '), comes from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
('). The word ' meant variably "Phoenician person", "
Tyrian purple Tyrian purple ( grc, πορφύρα ''porphúra''; la, purpura), also known as Phoenician red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple, or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple Purple is any of a variety of color Color (Ame ...
,
crimson Crimson is a rich, deep red Red is the color at the long wavelength end of the visible spectrum of light, next to orange and opposite violet. It has a dominant wavelength Image:dominant wavelength.png, frame, Dominant/complementary wa ...

crimson
" or "
date palm ''Phoenix dactylifera'', commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae The Arecaceae is a family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birt ...

date palm
."
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was the presumed author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature. The ''Iliad'' is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year s ...

Homer
used it with each of these meanings. (The mythical bird phoenix also carries the same name, but this meaning is not attested until centuries later.) It is difficult to ascertain which meaning came first, but it is understandable how Greeks may have associated the crimson or purple color of dates and dye with the merchants who traded both products. A derivative, po-ni-ki-jo, is already attested in
Mycenean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of la ...
Linear B from the 2nd Millennium BC. In these records, it means "crimson" or "palm tree" and does not denote a group of people.


History

Since little has survived of Phoenician records or literature, most of what is known about their origins and history comes from the accounts of other civilizations and inferences from their material culture excavated throughout the Mediterranean.


Origins

The Canaanite culture that gave rise to the Phoenicians apparently developed ''in situ'' from the earlier
Ghassulian Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC). Its type-site, Teleilat Ghassul (Teleilat el Ghassul, Teleilat el-Ghassul, Tulaylat al ...
chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

chalcolithic
culture. Ghassulian itself developed from the Circum-Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, which in turn developed from a fusion of their ancestral
Natufian The Natufian culture () is a Late Epipaleolithic (Levant), Epipaleolithic archaeological culture of the Levant, dating to around 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. The culture was unusual in that it supported a Sedentism, sedentary or semi-sedentary popu ...
and
Harifian Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. It corresponds to the latest stages of the Natufian culture. History Like the Natufian, Harifian is characterized by semi-subterranean house ...
cultures with
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that a ...
(PPNB) farming cultures, practicing the
domestication of animals Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that seco ...
during the 6200 BC climate crisis, which led to the
Neolithic Revolution The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many s during the period from a lifestyle of to one of and , making an increasingly large population possible. These settled communities perm ...
in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
.
Byblos Byblos ( ar, جبيل ''Jubayl'', locally ''Jbeil''; gr, Βύβλος; phn, 𐤂𐤁𐤋 (GBL) , (probably ''Gubal'') is a city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon Lebanon (), officially known as the Lebanese Republic,''Republic ...

Byblos
is attested as an archaeological site from the
Early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical composition * Period, ...
. The Late Bronze Age state of
Ugarit Ugarit (; uga, 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ''ʼUgart''; ar, أُوغَارِيت ''Ūġārīt'' or ''Ūǧārīt''; he, אוּגָרִית ''Ugarit'') was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident ...

Ugarit
is considered quintessentially Canaanite archaeologically,Tubb, Jonathan N. (1998), "Canaanites" (British Museum People of the Past) even though the Ugaritic language does not belong to the
Canaanite languages The Canaanite languages, or Canaanite dialects, are one of the three subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages The Semitic languages ...
proper. . . Some scholars suggest there is evidence for a Semitic dispersal to the fertile crescent circa 2500 BC; others believe the Phoenicians originated from an admixture of previous non-Semitic inhabitants with the Semitic arrivals.
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ge ...
believed that the Phoenicians originated from
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ar, البحرين, al-Baḥrayn, , locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain ( ar, مملكة البحرين, links=no '), is a country in the Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fâr ...
, a view shared centuries later by the historian
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
. The people of modern
Tyre Tyre may refer to: * Tire, the outer part of a wheel Places * Tyre, Lebanon, a city ** See of Tyre, a Christian diocese seated in Tyre, Lebanon ** Tyre Hippodrome, a UNESCO World Heritage site * Tyre District, Lebanon * Tyre, New York, a town in t ...
in
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...
, have particularly long maintained
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
origins. The
Dilmun Dilmun, or Telmun, (Sumerian: , later 𒉌𒌇(𒆠), ni.tukki = DILMUNki; ar, دلمون) was an ancient East Semitic-speaking civilization in Eastern Arabia mentioned from the 3rd millennium BC onwards. Based on contextual evidence, it was loc ...
civilization thrived in Bahrain during the period 2200–1600 BC, as shown by excavations of settlements and the Dilmun burial mounds. However, recent genetic researches have shown that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population.


Emergence during the Late Bronze Age (1479–1200 BC)

The first known account of the Phoenicians relates to the conquests of Pharaoh
Thutmose III Thutmose III (variously also spelt Tuthmosis or Thothmes) was the sixth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth Dynasty. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years and his reign is usually dated from 28 April 1479 ...

Thutmose III
(1479–1425 BC). The Egyptians targeted coastal cities such as Byblos, Arwad, and Ullasa for their crucial geographic and commercial links with the interior (via the
Nahr al-Kabir The Nahr al-Kabir, also known in Syria as al-Nahr al-Kabir al-Janoubi ( ar, النهر الكبير الجنوبي, lit=the southern great river, by contrast with the Nahr al-Kabir al-Shamali) or in Lebanon simply as the Kebir, is a river in Syria ...
and the Orontes rivers). The cities provided Egypt with access to Mesopotamian trade and abundant stocks of the region's native cedarwood. There was no equivalent in the Egyptian homeland. By the mid 14th century BC, the Phoenician city-states were considered "favored cities" to the Egyptians. Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, and Byblos were regarded as the most important. The Phoenicians had considerable autonomy, and their cities were reasonably well developed and prosperous. Byblos was the leading city; it was a center for bronze-making and the primary terminus of precious goods such as
tin Tin is a with the Sn (from la, ) and  50. Tin is a silvery-colored metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent ...

tin
and
lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli (; ), or lapis for short, is a deep-blue metamorphic rock , a type of metamorphic rock Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock (geology), rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism up ...

lapis lazuli
from as far east as
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
. Sidon and Tyre also commanded interest among Egyptian officials, beginning a pattern of rivalry that would span the next millennium. The Amarna letters report that from 1350 to 1300 BC, neighboring
Amorites The Amorites (; Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''Th ...

Amorites
and
Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittites
were capturing Phoenician cities, especially in the north. Egypt subsequently lost its coastal holdings from Ugarit in northern Syria to Byblos near central Lebanon.


Ascendance and high point (1200–800 BC)

Sometime between 1200 and 1150 BC, the
Late Bronze Age collapse The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition period in a large area covering much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly ac ...
severely weakened or destroyed most civilizations in the region, including the Egyptians and Hittites. The Phoenicians appear to have weathered the crisis relatively well, emerging as a distinct and organized civilization in 1230 BC. The period is sometimes described as a "Phoenician renaissance." They filled the power vacuum caused by the Late Bronze Age collapse by becoming the sole mercantile and maritime power in the region, a status they would maintain for the next several centuries. The recovery of the Mediterranean economy can be credited to Phoenician mariners and merchants, who re-established long distance trade between Egypt and Mesopotamia in the 10th century BC. Early into the Iron Age, the Phoenicians established ports, warehouses, markets, and settlement all across the Mediterranean and up to the southern Black Sea. Colonies were established on
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
, the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic Islands
,
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, and
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
, as well as the coasts of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. Phoenician
hacksilver Hacksilver (sometimes referred to as hacksilber) consists of fragments of cut and bent silver Silver is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European wikt:Reconstruction ...
dated to this period bears lead isotope ratios matching ores in Sardinia and Spain, indicating the extent of Phoenician trade networks. By the tenth century BC, Tyre rose to become the richest and most powerful Phoenician city-state, particularly during the reign of
Hiram I Hiram I (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancest ...
(c. 969–936 BC). During the rule of the priest Ithobaal (887–856  BC), Tyre expanded its territory as far north as Beirut and into part of Cyprus; this unusual act of aggression was the closest the Phoenicians ever came to forming a unitary territorial state. Once his realm reached its largest territorial extent, Ithobaal declared himself "King of the Sidonians," a title that would be used by his successors and mentioned in both Greek and Jewish accounts. The Late Iron Age saw the height of Phoenician shipping, mercantile, and cultural activity, particularly between 750 and 650 BC. The Phoenician influence was visible in the "orientalization" of Greek cultural and artistic conventions. Among their most popular goods were fine textiles, typically dyed with
Tyrian purple Tyrian purple ( grc, πορφύρα ''porphúra''; la, purpura), also known as Phoenician red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple, or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple Purple is any of a variety of color Color (Ame ...
. Homer's ''Iliad,'' which was composed during this period, references the quality of Phoenician clothing and metal goods.


Foundation of Carthage

Carthage was founded by Phoenicians coming from Tyre, probably initially as a station in the metal trade with the southern
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region o ...

Iberian Peninsula
. The city's name in
Punic The Punic people or Western Phoenicians, were a group of Semitic people, Semitic peoples in the Western Mediterranean who traced their origins to the Phoenicians of the coasts of Western Asia. In modern scholarship, the term 'Punic' – the Lati ...
, , means "New City". There is a tradition in some ancient sources, such as , for an "early" foundation date of around 1215 BC—before the
fall of Troy In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature ...
in 1180 BC. However, Timaeus, a Greek historian from Sicily c. 300 BC, places the foundation of Carthage in 814 BC, which is the date generally accepted by modern historians. Legend, including
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
, assigns the founding of the city to Queen
Dido tells Dido of the Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king o ...

Dido
. Carthage would grow into a multi-ethnic empire spanning North Africa, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, the Balearic Islands, and southern Iberia, but would ultimately be destroyed by Rome in the
Punic Wars The Punic Wars were a series of wars (taking place between 264 and 146BC) that were fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run thr ...
(264–146 BC) before being rebuilt as a Roman city.


Vassalage under the Assyrians & Babylonians (858–538 BC)

As a mercantile power concentrated along a narrow coastal strip of land, the Phoenicians lacked the size and population to support a large military. Thus, as neighboring empires began to rise, the Phoenicians increasingly fell under the sway of foreign rulers, who to varying degrees circumscribed their autonomy. The Assyrian conquest of Phoenicia began with King
Shalmaneser III Shalmaneser III (''Šulmānu-ašarēdu'', "the god Shulmanu is pre-eminent") was king of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσ ...

Shalmaneser III
. He rose to power in 858 BC and began a series of campaigns against neighboring states. The Phoenician city-states fell under his rule, forced to pay heavy tribute in money, goods, and natural resources. Initially, they were not annexed outright—they remained in a state of vassalage, subordinate to the Assyrians but allowed a certain degree of freedom. This changed in 744 BC with the ascension of
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. By 738 BC, most of the Levant, including northern Phoenicia, were annexed; only Tyre and Byblos, the most powerful city-states, remained tributary states outside of direct Assyrian control. Tyre, Byblos, and Sidon all rebelled against Assyrian rule. In 721 BC,
Sargon II Sargon II (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_Press_.ht ...
besieged Tyre and crushed the rebellion. His successor
Sennacherib Sennacherib (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_Press_. ...

Sennacherib
suppressed further rebellions across the region. During the seventh century BC, Sidon rebelled and was destroyed by
Esarhaddon Esarhaddon, also spelled Essarhaddon, Assarhaddon and Ashurhaddon (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviatio ...

Esarhaddon
, who enslaved its inhabitants and built a new city on its ruins. By the end of the century, the Assyrians had been weakened by successive revolts, which led to their destruction by the
Median Empire bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in ...

Median Empire
. The Babylonians, formerly vassals of the Assyrians, took advantage of the empire's collapse and rebelled, quickly establishing the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
in its place. Phoenician cities revolted several times throughout the reigns of the first Babylonian King,
Nabopolassar Nabopolassar ( Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-apla-uṣur'', meaning " Nabu, protect the son") was the founder and first king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling from his coronation as king of Babylon in 626 BC to his death in 605 BC. Though initi ...
(626–605 BC), and his son
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling f ...
(c. 605–c. 562 BC). In 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre, which resisted for thirteen years, but ultimately capitulated under "favorable terms".


Persian period (539–332 BC)

In 539 BC,
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Ancient Greece, Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Histo ...

Cyrus the Great
, king and founder of the Persian
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
, took Babylon. As Cyrus began consolidating territories across the Near East, the Phoenicians apparently made the pragmatic calculation of " ieldingthemselves to the Persians." Most of the Levant was consolidated by Cyrus into a single satrapy (province) and forced to pay a yearly tribute of 350 Talent (measurement), talents, which was roughly half the tribute that was required of Egypt and Libya. The Phoenician area was later divided into four vassal kingdoms—Sidon, Tyre, Arwad, and Byblos—which were allowed considerable autonomy. Unlike in other empire areas, there is no record of Persian administrators governing the Phoenician city-states. Local Phoenician kings were allowed to remain in power and given the same rights as Persian satraps (governors), such as hereditary offices and minting their coins. The Phoenicians remained a core asset to the Achaemenid Empire, particularly for their prowess in maritime technology and navigation; they furnished the bulk of the Persian fleet during the Greco-Persian Wars of the late fifth century BC. Phoenicians under Xerxes I built the Xerxes Canal and the pontoon bridges that allowed his forces to cross into mainland Greece. Nevertheless, they were harshly punished by the Persian King following his defeat at the Battle of Salamis, which he blamed on Phoenician cowardice and incompetence. In the mid-fourth century BC, King Tennes of Sidon led a failed rebellion against Artaxerxes III, enlisting the help of the Egyptians, who were subsequently drawn into a war with the Persians. The resulting destruction of Sidon led to the resurgence of Tyre, which remained the dominant Phoenician city for two decades until the arrival of Alexander the Great.


Hellenistic period (332–152 BC)

Phoenicia was one of the first areas to be conquered by Alexander the Great during his Wars of Alexander the Great, military campaigns across western Asia. Alexander's main target in the Persian Levant was Tyre, now the region's largest and most important city. It capitulated after a roughly Siege of Tyre (332 BC), seven month siege, during which many of its citizens fled to Carthage. Tyre's refusal to allow Alexander to visit its temple to Melqart, culminating in the killing of his envoys, led to a brutal reprisal: 2,000 of its leading citizens were Crucifixion, crucified and a puppet ruler was installed. The rest of Phoenicia easily came under his control, with Sidon surrendering peacefully. Alexander's empire had a Hellenization policy, whereby Hellenic culture, religion, and sometimes language were spread or imposed across conquered peoples. However, Hellenisation was not enforced most of the time and was just a language of administration until his death. This was typically implemented through the founding of new cities, the settlement of a Macedonian or Greek urban elite, and the alteration of native place names to Greek. However, there was no organized Hellenization in Phoenicia, and with one or two minor exceptions, all Phoenician city-states retained their native names, while Greek settlement and administration appear to have been very limited. The Phoenicians maintained cultural and commercial links with their western counterparts. Polybius recounts how the Seleucid King Demetrius I Soter, Demetrius I escaped from Rome by boarding a Carthaginian ship that was delivering goods to Tyre. The adaptation to Macedonian rule was likely aided by the Phoenicians' historical ties with the Greeks, with whom they shared some mythological stories and figures; the two peoples were even sometimes considered "relatives." When Alexander's empire collapsed after his death in 323 BC, the Phoenicians came under the control of the largest of its successors, the Seleucids. The Phoenician homeland was repeatedly contested by the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt during the forty-year Syrian Wars, coming under Ptolemaic rule in the third century BC. The Seleucids reclaimed the area the following century, holding it until the mid-first 2nd century BC. Under their rule, the Phoenicians were allowed a considerable degree of autonomy and self-governance. During the Seleucid Dynastic Wars (157–63 BC), the Phoenician cities were mainly self-governed. Many of them were fought for or over by the warring factions of the Seleucid royal family. Some Phoenician regions were under the control and influence of the Jews, who revolted and succeeded in defeating Seleucids in 164 BC. The Seleucid Kingdom, including Phoenicia, was seized by Tigranes the Great of Armenia in 82 BC, ending the Hellenistic influence on the region. With their strategically valuable buffer state absorbed into a rival power, the Romans intervened and conquered the territory in 62 BC. Shortly after that, the territory was incorporated into the Roman Syria, Roman province of Syria. Phoenicia became a Phoenice (Roman province), separate province in the third century AD. With the Roman invasion, whatever political autonomy Phoenicians had was dissolved, and the region was romanized. Roman Empire ruled the province up to 640s when the Muslim Arabs invaded the region successfully, and a process of Islamisation and Arabisation started.


Demographics

The people now known as Phoenicians, similar to the neighboring Israelites, Moabites and Edomites were a Canaanite people, Canaanite people. Canaanites are a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples that emerged in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
in at least the third millennium BC. Phoenicians did not refer themselves as such but rather are thought to have referred to themselves as "Kenaʿani", meaning
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
ites. One 2018 study of mitochondrial lineages in Sardinia concluded that the Phoenicians were "inclusive, multicultural and featured significant female mobility," with evidence of indigenous Sardinians integrating "peacefully and permanently" with Semitic Phoenician settlers. The study also found evidence suggesting that south Europeans may have settled in the area of modern Lebanon.


Genetic studies

A 2008 study led by Pierre Zalloua found that six subclades of Haplogroup J-M172 (J2)—thought to have originated between the Caucasus Mountains, Mesopotamia and the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
—were of a "Phoenician signature" and present amongst the male populations of coastal Lebanon as well as the wider Levant (the "Phoenician Periphery"), followed by other areas of historic Phoenician settlement, spanning Cyprus through to Morocco. This deliberate sequential sampling was an attempt to develop a methodology to link the documented historical expansion of a population with a particular geographic genetic pattern or patterns. The researchers suggested that the proposed genetic signature stemmed from "a common source of related lineages rooted in
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue Line ...

Lebanon
". Another study in 2006 found evidence for the genetic persistence of Phoenicians in the Spanish island of Ibiza. In 2016, the skeleton of 2,500 year old Carthaginian man excavated from a Punic tomb in Tunisia was found bearing the rare Haplogroup U (mtDNA), U5b2c1 maternal haplogroup. The lineage of this "Young Man of Byrsa" is believed to represent early gene flow from Iberia to the Maghreb. According to a 2017 study published by the American Journal of Human Genetics, present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
ite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age. More specifically, according to geneticist Chris Tyler-Smith and his team at the Sanger Institute in Britain, who compared "sampled ancient DNA from five Canaanite people who lived 3,750 and 3,650 years ago" to modern people, revealed that 93 percent of the genetic ancestry of people in Lebanon came from the Canaanites (the other 7 percent was of a Eurasian steppe population). In a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers have shown that there is substantial genetic continuity in Lebanon since the Bronze Age interrupted by three significant admixture events during the Iron Age, Phoenicia under Hellenistic rule, Hellenistic, and Ottoman Empire, Ottoman period, each contributing 3–11 percent of non-local ancestry to the admixed population.


Economy


Trade

The Phoenicians served as intermediaries between the disparate civilizations that spanned the Mediterranean and Near East, facilitating the exchange of goods and knowledge, culture, and religious traditions. Their expansive and enduring trade network is credited with laying the foundations of an economically and culturally cohesive Mediterranean, which would be continued by the Greeks and especially the Romans. Phoenician ties with the Greeks ran deep. The earliest verified relationship appears to have begun with the Minoan civilization on Crete (1950–1450 BC), which together with the Mycenaean Greece, Mycenaean civilization (1600–1100 BC) is considered the progenitor of classical Greece. Archaeological research suggests that the Minoans gradually imported Near Eastern goods, artistic styles, and customs from other cultures via the Phoenicians. To Egypt the Phoenicians sold logs of cedar for significant sums, and wine beginning in the eighth century. The wine trade with Egypt is vividly documented by shipwrecks discovered in 1997 in the open sea west of Ashkelon, Ascalon, Israel. Pottery kilns at
Tyre Tyre may refer to: * Tire, the outer part of a wheel Places * Tyre, Lebanon, a city ** See of Tyre, a Christian diocese seated in Tyre, Lebanon ** Tyre Hippodrome, a UNESCO World Heritage site * Tyre District, Lebanon * Tyre, New York, a town in t ...
and Sarepta produced the large terracotta jars used for transporting wine. From Egypt, the Phoenicians bought Nubian gold. From elsewhere, they obtained other materials, perhaps the most crucial being silver, mostly from
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
and the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region o ...

Iberian Peninsula
. Tin for making bronze "may have been acquired from Galicia (Spain), Galicia by way of the Atlantic coast of southern Spain; alternatively, it may have come from northern Europe (Cornwall or Brittany) via the Rhone valley and coastal Marseille, Massalia."
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
states that there was a highly lucrative Phoenician trade with Britain for tin via the Cassiterides, whose location is unknown but may have been off the northwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula.


Industry

Phoenicia lacked considerable natural resources other than its cedrus, cedar wood. Timber was probably the earliest and most lucrative source of wealth; neither Egypt nor Mesopotamia had adequate wood sources. Unable to rely solely on this limited resource, the Phoenicians developed an industrial base manufacturing a variety of goods for both everyday and luxury use. The Phoenicians developed or mastered techniques such as Glass production, glass-making, engraved and Repoussé and chasing, chased metalwork (including bronze, iron, and gold), ivory carving, and woodwork. The Phoenicians were early pioneers in mass production, and sold a variety of items in bulk. They became the leading source of glassware in antiquity, shipping thousands of flasks, beads, and other glass objects across the Mediterranean. Excavations of colonies in Spain suggest they also utilized the potter's wheel. Their exposure to a wide variety of cultures allowed them to manufacture goods for specific markets. The ''Iliad'' suggests Phoenician clothing and metal goods were highly prized by the Greeks. Specialized goods were designed specifically for wealthier clientele, including ivory reliefs and plaques, carved Tridacna, clam shells, sculpted amber, and finely detailed and painted ostrich eggs.


Tyrian purple

The most prized Phoenician goods were fabrics dyed with
Tyrian purple Tyrian purple ( grc, πορφύρα ''porphúra''; la, purpura), also known as Phoenician red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple, or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple Purple is any of a variety of color Color (Ame ...
, which formed a major part of Phoenician wealth. The violet-purple dye derived from the hypobranchial gland of the ''Murex'' marine snail, once profusely available in coastal waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea but exploited to local extinction. Phoenicians may have discovered the dye as early as 1750 BC. The Phoenicians established a second production center for the dye in Mogador, in present-day Morocco. The Phoenicians' exclusive command over the production and trade of the dye, combined with the labor-intensive extraction process, made it very expensive. Tyrian purple subsequently became associated with the upper classes. It soon became a status symbol in several civilizations, most notably among the Romans. Assyrian tribute records from the Phoenicians include "garments of brightly colored stuff" that most likely included Tyrian purple. While the designs, ornamentation, and embroidery used in Phoenician textiles were well-regarded, the techniques and specific descriptions are unknown.


Mining

Mining operations in the Phoenician homeland were limited; iron was the only metal of any worth. The first large-scale mining operations probably occurred in Cyprus, principally for copper. Sardinia may have been colonized almost exclusively for its mineral resources; Phoenician settlements were concentrated in the southern parts of the island, close to sources of copper and lead. Piles of scoria and copper ingots, which appear to predate Roman occupation, suggest the Phoenicians mined and processed metals on the island. The Iberian Peninsula was the richest source of numerous metals in antiquity, including gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, and lead. The significant output of these metals during the Phoenician and Carthaginian occupation strongly implied large scale mining operations. The Carthaginians are documented to have relied on slave labor for mining, though it is unknown if the Phoenicians as a whole did so.


Viticulture

The most notable agricultural product was wine, which the Phoenicians helped propagate across the Mediterranean. The Vitis vinifera, common grape vine may have been domesticated by the Phoenicians or Canaanites, although it most likely arrived from Transcaucasia via trade routes across Mesopotamia or the Black Sea. Vines grew readily in the coastal Levant, and wine was exported to Egypt as early as the Old Kingdom period (2686–2134 BC). Wine played an important part in Phoenician religion, serving as the principal beverage for offerings and sacrifice. An excavation of a small Phoenician town south of Sidon uncovered a wine factory used from at least the seventh century BC, which is believed to have been aimed for an overseas market. To prevent oxidation, vessels were sealed with a layer of olive oil, pinewood, and resin. The Phoenicians established vineyards and wineries in their colonies in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Spain, and may have taught winemaking to some of their trading partners. The ancient Iberians began producing wine from local grape varieties following their encounter with the Phoenicians. Iberian cultivars subsequently formed the basis of most western European wine.


Shipbuilding

As early as 1200 BC, the Phoenicians built large merchant ships. During the Bronze Age, they developed the keel. Pegged Mortise and tenon, mortise-and-tenon joints proved effective enough to serve as a standard until late into the Roman Empire. The Phoenicians were possibly the first to introduce the bireme, around 700 BC. An Assyrian account describes Phoenicians evading capture with these ships. The Phoenicians are also credited with inventing the trireme, which was regarded as the most advanced and powerful vessel in the ancient Mediterranean world, and was eventually adopted by the Greeks. The Phoenicians developed several other maritime inventions. The amphora, a type of container used for both dry and liquid goods, was an ancient Phoenician invention that became a standardized measurement of volume for close to two thousand years. The remnants of self-cleaning artificial harbors have been discovered in Sidon, Tyre, Atlit, and Acre. The first example of admiralty law also appears in the Levant. The Phoenicians continued to contribute to cartography into the Iron Age. In 2014, a roughly 50-foot Phoenician trading ship was found near Gozo island in Malta. Dated 700 BC, it is one of the oldest wrecks found in the Mediterranean. Fifty amphorae, used to contain wine and oil, were scattered nearby.


Important cities and colonies

The Phoenicians were not a nation in the political sense. However, they were organized into independent city-states that shared a common language and culture. The leading city-states were Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos. Rivalries were expected, but armed conflict was rare. Numerous other cities existed in the Levant alone, many probably unknown, including Beiruta (modern Beirut) Ampi, Amia, Arqa, Baalbek, Botrys, Sarepta, and Tripoli. From the late tenth century BC, the Phoenicians established commercial outposts throughout the Mediterranean, with Tyre founding colonies in Cyprus, Sardinia, Iberia, the Balearic Islands, Sicily, Malta, and North Africa. Later colonies were established beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, particularly on the Atlantic coast of Iberia. The Phoenicians may have explored the Canary Islands and the British Isles. Phoenician settlement was primarily concentrated in Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, northwest Africa, the Balearic Islands, and southern Iberia.


Phoenician colonization

To facilitate their commercial ventures, the Phoenicians established numerous colonies and trading posts along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Phoenician city states generally lacked the numbers or even the desire to expand their territory overseas. Few colonies had more than 1,000 inhabitants; only Carthage and some nearby settlements in the western Mediterranean would grow larger. A major motivating factor was competition with the Greeks, who began expanding across the Mediterranean during the same period. Though largely peaceful rivals, their respective settlements in Crete and Sicily did clash intermittently. The earliest Phoenician settlements outside the Levant were on
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
and Crete, gradually moving westward towards Corsica, the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic Islands
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
, and
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, as well as on the European mainland in Genoa and Marseilles. The first Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean were along the northwest African coast and on
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
and the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic Islands
. Tyre led the way in settling or controlling coastal areas. Phoenician colonies were fairly autonomous. At most, they were expected to send annual tribute to their mother city, usually in the context of a religious offering. However, in the seventh century BC the western colonies came under the control of Carthage, which was exercised directly through appointed magistrates. Carthage continued to send annual tribute to Tyre for some time after its independence.


Society and culture

Since very little of the Phoenicians' writings have survived, much of what is known about their culture and society comes from accounts by contemporary civilizations or inferences from archaeological discoveries. The Phoenicians had much in common with other Canaanites, including language, religion, social customs, and a monarchical political system centered around city-states. However, by the early Iron Age (roughly 1300 BC), they had emerged as distinct people. Their culture, economy, and daily life were heavily centered on commerce and maritime trade. Their propensity for seafaring brought them into contact with numerous other civilizations.


Politics and government

The Phoenician city-states were fiercely independent in both domestic and foreign affairs. Formal alliances between city-states were rare. The relative power and influence of city-states varied over time.
Sidon Sidon ( ), known locally as Sayda or Saida ( ar, صيدا), is the third-largest city in Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western A ...

Sidon
was dominant between the 12th and 11th centuries BC and influenced its neighbors. However, by the tenth century BC,
Tyre Tyre may refer to: * Tire, the outer part of a wheel Places * Tyre, Lebanon, a city ** See of Tyre, a Christian diocese seated in Tyre, Lebanon ** Tyre Hippodrome, a UNESCO World Heritage site * Tyre District, Lebanon * Tyre, New York, a town in t ...
rose to become the most powerful city. At least in its earlier stages, Phoenician society was highly stratified and predominantly Monarchy, monarchical. Hereditary kings usually governed with absolute power over civic, commercial, and religious affairs. They often relied upon senior officials from the noble and merchant classes; the priesthood was a distinct class, usually of royal lineage or leading merchant families. The King was considered a representative of the gods and carried many obligations and duties concerning religious processions and rituals. Priests were thus highly influential and often became intertwined with the royal family. Phoenician kings did not commemorate their reign through sculptures or monuments. Their wealth, power, and accomplishments were usually conveyed through ornate sarcophagi, like that of Ahiram sarcophagus, Ahiram of
Byblos Byblos ( ar, جبيل ''Jubayl'', locally ''Jbeil''; gr, Βύβλος; phn, 𐤂𐤁𐤋 (GBL) , (probably ''Gubal'') is a city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon Lebanon (), officially known as the Lebanese Republic,''Republic ...

Byblos
. The Phoenicians kept records of their rulers in tomb inscriptions, which are among the few primary sources still available. Historians have determined a clear line of succession over centuries for some city-states, notably Byblos and Tyre. Starting as early as 15th century BC, Phoenician leaders were "advised by councils or assemblies which gradually took greater power". In the sixth century BC, during the period of Phoenicia under Babylonian rule, Babylonian rule, Tyre briefly adopted a system of government consisting of a pair of judges with authority roughly equivalent to the Roman consul, known as (shophets), who were chosen from the most powerful noble families and served short terms. In the fourth century BC, when the armies of Alexander the Great approached Tyre, they were met not by its King but by representatives of the commonwealth of the city. Similarly, historians at the time describe the "inhabitants" or "the people" of Sidon making peace with Alexander. When the Macedonians sought to appoint a new king over Sidon, the citizens nominated their candidate.


Law and administration

After the King and council, the two most important political positions in virtually every Phoenician city-state were governor and commander of the army. Details regarding the duties of these offices are sparse. However, it is known that the governor was responsible for collecting taxes, implementing decrees, supervising judges, and ensuring the administration of law and justice. As warfare was rare among the most mercantile Phoenicians, the army's commander was generally responsible for ensuring the defense and security of the city-state and its hinterlands. The Phoenicians had a system of courts and judges that resolved disputes and punished crimes based on a semi-codified body of laws and traditions. Laws were implemented by the state and were the responsibility of the ruler and certain designated officials. Like other Levantine societies, laws were harsh and biased, reflecting the social stratification of society. The murder of a commoner was treated as less severe than that of a nobleman, and the upper classes had the most rights; the wealthy often escaped punishment by paying a fine. Free men of any class could represent themselves in court and had more rights than women and children, while slaves had no rights. Men could often deflect punishment to their wives, children, or slaves, even having them serve their sentence in their place. Lawyers eventually emerged as a profession for those who could not plead their case. As in neighboring societies at the time, penalties for crimes were often severe, usually reflecting the principle of reciprocity; for example, the killing of a slave would be punished by having the offender's slave killed. Imprisonment was rare, with fines, exile, punishment, and execution the main remedies.


Military

As with most aspects of Phoenician civilization, there are few records of their military or approach to warfare. Compared to most of their neighbors, the Phoenicians generally had little interest in conquest and were relatively peaceful. The wealth and prosperity of all their city-states rested on foreign trade, which required good relations and a certain degree of mutual trust. They also lacked the territory and agricultural base to support a population large enough to raise an army of conquest. Instead, each city had an army commander in charge of a defensive garrison. However, the specifics of the role, or city defense, are unknown.


Language

The Phoenician language was a member of the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of the Northwest Semitic languages. Its descendant language spoken in the Carthaginian Empire is termed
Punic The Punic people or Western Phoenicians, were a group of Semitic people, Semitic peoples in the Western Mediterranean who traced their origins to the Phoenicians of the coasts of Western Asia. In modern scholarship, the term 'Punic' – the Lati ...
. Punic was still spoken in the fifth century AD and known to St. Augustine of Hippo.


Alphabet

Around 1050 BC, the Phoenicians developed a script for writing Phoenician language, their own language. The Canaanite-Phoenician alphabet consists of 22 letters, all consonants (and is thus strictly an abjad). It is believed to be a continuation of the Proto-Sinaitic script, Proto-Sinaitic (or Proto-Canaanite) script attested in the Sinai Peninsula, Sinai and in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
in the Late Bronze Age. Through their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to Anatolia, North Africa, and Europe. The name ''Phoenician'' is by convention given to inscriptions beginning around 1050 BC, because Phoenician language, Phoenician, Hebrew language, Hebrew, and other Canaanite languages, Canaanite dialects were largely indistinguishable before that time. Phoenician inscriptions are found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus and other locations, as late as the early centuries of the Christian era. The alphabet was adopted and modified by the Greeks probably in the eighth century BC. This most likely did not occur in a single instance but the process of commercial exchange. The legendary Phoenician hero Cadmus is credited with bringing the alphabet to Greece. However, it is more plausible that Phoenician immigrants brought it to Crete, whence it gradually diffused northwards.


Art

Phoenician art was largely centered on ornamental objects, particularly jewelry, pottery, glassware, and reliefs. Large sculptures were rare; figurines were more common. Phoenician goods have been found from Spain and Morocco to Russia and Iraq; much of what is known about Phoenician art is based on excavations outside Phoenicia proper. Phoenician art was highly influenced by many cultures, primarily Egypt, Greece, and Assyria. Greek inspiration was particularly pronounced in pottery, while Egyptian styles were most reflected in ivory work. Phoenician art also differed from its contemporaries in its continuance of Bronze Age conventions well into the Iron Age, such as terracotta masks. Phoenician artisans were known for their skill with wood, ivory, bronze, and textiles. In the Old Testament, a craftsman from Tyre is commissioned to build and decorate the legendary Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which "presupposes a well-developed and highly respected craft industry in Phoenicia by the mid-tenth century BC". The ''Iliad'' mentions the embroidered robes of Priam’s wife, Hecabe, as "the work of Sidonian women" and describes a mixing bowl of Repoussé and chasing, chased silver as "a masterpiece of Sidonian craftsmanship." The Assyrians appeared to have valued Phoenician ivory work in particular, collecting vast quantities in their palaces. Phoenician art appears to have been indelibly tied to Phoenician commercial interests. They have crafted goods to appeal to particular trading partners, distinguishing not only different cultures but even socioeconomic status classes. File: Phoenician, Iraq, Nimrud, 9th-8th Century BC - Decorative Plaque- Man; and Griffin in Combat - 1968.45 - Cleveland Museum of Art.tif, Decorative plaque which depicts a fighting of man and griffin; 900–800 BC; Nimrud ivories; Cleveland Museum of Art (Ohio, US) File:Oinochoe MET DP279075.jpg, Oinochoe; 800–700 BC; terracotta; height: 24.1 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) File: Glass face bead MET DP121044.jpg, Face bead; mid-4th–3rd century BC; glass; height: 2.7  cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art File: Pair of gold earrings with four relief faces MET sf19992896ab2.jpg, Earring from a pair, each with four relief faces; late fourth–3rd century BC; gold; overall: 3.5 x 0.6  cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art


Women

Women in Phoenicia took part in public events and religious processions, with depictions of banquets showing them casually sitting or reclining with men, dancing, and playing music. In most contexts, however, women were expected to dress and behave more modestly than men; female figures are almost always portrayed as draped from head to feet, with the arms sometimes covered as well. Although they rarely had political power, women took part in community affairs. They had some voice in the popular assemblies that began to emerge in some city-states. At least one woman, Unmiashtart, is recorded to have ruled Sidon in the fifth century BC. The two most famous Phoenician women are political figures: Jezebel, portrayed in the Bible as the assertive princess of Sidon, and
Dido tells Dido of the Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king o ...

Dido
, the semi-legendary founder and first queen of Carthage. In
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's epic poem, the ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
'', Dido is described as having been the co-ruler of Tyre, using cleverness to escape the tyranny of her brother Pygmalion and to secure an ideal site for Carthage.


Religion

The religious practices and beliefs of Phoenicia were generally common to those of their neighbors in Canaanite religion, Canaan, which in turn shared characteristics common throughout the Ancient Semitic religions, ancient Semitic world. Religious rites were primarily for city-state purposes; payment of taxes by citizens was considered in the category of religious sacrifices. Unfortunately, many of the Phoenician sacred writings known to the ancients have been lost. Several Canaanite practices are attested in ancient sources and mentioned by scholars, such as temple prostitution and child sacrifice. Special sites known as "Tophets" were allegedly used by the Phoenicians "to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire," and are condemned by Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible, particularly in ''Jeremiah'' 7:30–32, and in ''Books of Kings, 2nd Kings'' 23:10 and 17:17. Notwithstanding these and other important differences, cultural and religious similarities persisted between the ancient Hebrews and the Phoenicians. Canaanite religion, Canaanite religious mythology does not appear as elaborate as their Semitic cousins in Mesopotamia. In Canaan the supreme god was called El (god), El (𐤀𐤋, "god"). The son of El was Baal (𐤁𐤏𐤋, "master", "lord"), a powerful Dying-and-rising deity, dying-and-rising storm god. Other gods were called by royal titles, such as Melqart, meaning "king of the city", or Adonis for "lord". Such epithets may often have been merely local titles for the same deities. The Semitic pantheon was well-populated; which god became primary evidently depended on the exigencies of a particular city-state. Melqart was prominent throughout Phoenicia and overseas, as was Astarte, a fertility goddess with regal and matronly aspects. Religious institutions in Tyre called (𐤌𐤓𐤆𐤄, "place of reunion"), did much to foster social bonding and "kin" loyalty. held banquets for their membership on festival days, and many developed into elite fraternity, fraternities. Each nurtured congeniality and community through a series of ritual meals shared among trusted kin in honor of deified ancestors. In Carthage, which had developed a complex republican system of government, the may have played a role in forging social and political ties among citizens; Carthaginians were divided into different institutions that were solidified through communal feasts and banquets. Such festival groups may also have composed the voting cohort for selecting members of the city-state's History of Punic era Tunisia#Constitution of State, Assembly. The Phoenicians made votive offerings to their gods, namely in the form of figurines and pottery vessels. Hundreds of figurines and fragments have been recovered from the Mediterranean, often spanning centuries between them, suggesting they were cast into the sea to ensure safe travels. Since the Phoenicians were predominantly seafaring people, it is speculated that many of their rituals were performed at sea or aboard ships. However, the specific nature of these practices is unknown.


See also

* Maronites * Names of the Levant * Phoenicianism * Punic language * Punics * Theory of Phoenician discovery of the Americas *
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan


References


Citations


Sources

* Se
Review by Roger Wright
University of Liverpool. * * Bondi, S. F. 1988. "The Course of History." In ''The Phoenicians'', edited by Sabatino Moscati, 38–45. Milan: Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri. * * * * * * Elayi, J. 2013. '. Paris: Perrin * * Gordon, C. H. 1966. ''Ugarit and Minoan Crete''. New York: W.W. Norton & Company * * Heard, C
''Yahwism and Baalism in Israel & Judah''
(3 May 2009) * * * * Homer. 6th century BC (perhaps 700 BC). ''The Odyssey''. Translated by Stanley Lombardo. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company. * * * * Mikalson, J.D. 2005. ''Ancient Greek Religion''. Malden: Blackwell publishing * * * Ovid. 1st century AD. ''Metamorphoses''. Translated by Rolfe Humphries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. * * * * W. Röllig (1995)
Phoenician and the Phoenicians in the context of the Ancient Near East
in S. Moscati (ed.), I Fenici ieri oggi domani : ricerche, scoperte, progetti, Roma, p. 203-214 * * * Urquhart, David, "Mount Lebanon"; Google Archives *


Further reading

* Carayon, Nicolas,
Les ports phéniciens et puniques
', PhD Thesis, 2008, Strasbourg, France. * Cerqueiro, Daniel, ', Buenos Aires, Ed. Peq. Venecia, 2002, . * Cioffi, Robert L., "A Palm Tree, a Colour and a Mythical Bird" (review of Josephine Quinn, ''In Search of the Phoenicians'', Princeton, 2017, 360 pp., ), ''London Review of Books'', vol. 41, no. 1 (3 January 2019), pp. 15–16. * Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Thiollet, Jean-Pierre, ', foreword by Guy Gay-Para, H & D, Paris, 2005, . * , for a critical examination of the evidence of Phoenician trade with the South West of the U.K. * Silva, Diógenes. "La literatura sobre fenicios en el territorio brasileño: orígenes y razones", PhD Thesis, Madrid - 2016. Available in https://eprints.ucm.es/39468/


External links


BBC Radio4 – In Our Time: The Phoenicians (audio archive)

The quest for the Phoenicians in South Lebanon


* {{Authority control Phoenicia, Ancient Lebanon Ancient Levant Ancient Near East Bronze Age Asia Bronze Age cultures Iron Age cultures of Asia Iron Age cultures of Africa History of the Mediterranean Ancient Asia Ancient Africa Ancient Europe Ancient Syria Ancient history of Turkey Ancient history of the Iberian Peninsula Ancient history of North Africa History of Palestine (region) History of Western Asia Civilizations 2nd millennium BC 9th century BC 8th century BC 7th century BC 6th century BC States and territories established in the 3rd millennium BC States and territories disestablished in the 6th century BC 6th-century BC disestablishments Ancient Israel and Judah