|Map of Phoenicia and trade routes|
|Well-known kings of Phoenician cities|
|-||c. 1000 BC||Ahiram|
|-||969 BC – 936 BC||Hiram I|
|-||820 BC – 774 BC||Pygmalion of Tyre|
|Historical era||Classical antiquity|
|-||Tyre, under the reign of Hiram I, becomes the dominant city-state||969 BC|
|-||Pygmalion founds Carthage (legendary)||814 BC|
|-||Cyrus the Great conquers Phoenicia||539 BC|
|-||1200 BC est.||200,000|
|Today part of|| |
Phoenicia (UK /fɨˈnɪʃə/ or US /fəˈniːʃə/; from the Greek: Φοινίκη, Phoiníkē; Arabic: فينيقية, Finiqyah) was an ancient Semitic civilization situated on the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent and centered on the coastline of modern Lebanon and Tartus Governorate in Syria. All major Phoenician cities were on the coastline of the Mediterranean, some colonies reaching the Western Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550 BC to 300 BC. The Phoenicians used the galley, a man-powered sailing vessel, and are credited with the invention of the bireme. They were famed in Classical Greece and Rome as ''traders in purple'', referring to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the Murex snail, used, among other things, for royal clothing, and for their spread of the alphabet (or abjad), from which almost all modern phonetic alphabets are derived.
Phoenicians are widely thought to have originated from the earlier Canaanite inhabitants of the region. Although Egyptian seafaring expeditions had already been made to Byblos to bring back "cedars of Lebanon" as early as the 3rd millennium BC, continuous contact only occurred in the Egyptian New Empire period. In the Amarna tablets of the 14th century BC, people from the region called themselves Kenaani or Kinaani (either the same as the Canaanites, or the Kenanites/Cainanites spoken of the Septuagint version of Gen. 10:24), although these letters predate the invasion of the Sea Peoples by over a century. Much later, in the 6th century BC, Hecataeus of Miletus writes that Phoenicia was formerly called χνα (Latinized: khna), a name Philo of Byblos later adopted into his mythology as his eponym for the Phoenicians: "Khna who was afterwards called Phoinix".
Phoenicia is really a Classical Greek term used to refer to the region of the major Canaanite port towns, and does not correspond exactly to a cultural identity that would have been recognised by the Phoenicians themselves. The term in Greek means ''land of purple'', a reference to the valuable murex-shell dye they exported. It is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single ethnicity and nationality. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to ancient Greece. However, in terms of archaeology, language, life style and religion, there is little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other Semitic cultures of Canaan. As Canaanites, they were unique in their remarkable seafaring achievements.
Each city-state was a politically independent unit. They could come into conflict and one city might be dominated by another city-state, although they would collaborate in leagues or alliances. Though ancient boundaries of such city-centered cultures fluctuated, the city of Tyre seems to have been the southernmost. Sarepta (modern day Sarafand) between Sidon and Tyre is the most thoroughly excavated city of the Phoenician homeland.
The Phoenicians were the first state-level society to make extensive use of the alphabet. The Phoenician phonetic alphabet is generally believed to be the ancestor of almost all modern alphabets. From a traditional linguistic perspective, they spoke Phoenician, a Canaanite dialect. However, due to the very slight differences in language, and the insufficient records of the time, whether Phoenician formed a separate and united dialect, or was merely a superficially defined part of a broader language continuum, is unclear. Through their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to North Africa and Europe, where it was adopted by the Greeks, who later passed it on to the Etruscans, who in turn transmitted it to the Romans. In addition to their many inscriptions, the Phoenicians are believed to have left numerous other types of written sources, but most have not survived.Contents
The name Phoenicians, like Latin Poenī (adj. poenicus, later pūnicus), comes from Greek Φοίνικες (Phoínikes), attested since Homer and influenced by phoînix "Tyrian purple, crimson; murex" (itself from φοινός phoinós "blood red", of uncertain etymology; R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin of the ethnonym). The oldest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean po-ni-ki-jo, po-ni-ki, ultimately borrowed from Ancient Egyptian fnḥw (fenkhu) "Asiatics, Semites". The folk-etymological association of phoiniki with phoînix mirrors that in Akkadian which tied kinaḫni, kinaḫḫi "Canaan; Phoenicia" to kinaḫḫu "red-dyed wool". The land was natively known as knʿn (cf. Eblaite ca-na-na-um, ca-na-na), remembered in the 6th century BC by Hecataeus under the Greek form Chna, and its people as the knʿny (cf. Punic chanani, Hebrew kanaʿani).Origins: 2300–1200 BCPhoenician sarcophagus at the burial grounds of Antarados, northern Lebanon, 480-450 BC
Herodotus'' account (written c. 440 BC) refers to the myths of Io and Europa. (History, I:1).
According to the Persians best informed in history, the Phoenicians began the quarrel. These people, who had formerly dwelt on the shores of the Erythraean Sea, having migrated to the Mediterranean and settled in the parts which they now inhabit, began at once, they say, to adventure on long voyages, freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria ...—Herodotus
The Greek historian Strabo believed that the Phoenicians originated from Bahrain. Herodotus also believed that the homeland of the Phoenicians was Bahrain. This theory was accepted by the 19th-century German classicist Arnold Heeren who said that: "In the Greek geographers, for instance, we read of two islands, named Tyrus or Tylos, and Arad, Bahrain, which boasted that they were the mother country of the Phoenicians, and exhibited relics of Phoenician temples." The people of Tyre in particular have long maintained Persian Gulf origins, and the similarity in the words "Tylos" and "Tyre" has been commented upon. However, there is little evidence of occupation at all in Bahrain during the time when such migration had supposedly taken place. Later classicist theories were proposed prior to modern archaeological excavations which revealed no disruption of Phoenician societies between 3200 BC and 1200 BC.High point: 1200–800 BC
Fernand Braudel remarked in The Perspective of the World that Phoenicia was an early example of a "world-economy" surrounded by empires. The high point of Phoenician culture and sea power is usually placed c. 1200–800 BC.Assyrian warship (probably built by Phoenicians) with two rows of oars, relief from Nineveh, c. 700 BC
Many of the most important Phoenician settlements had been established long before this: Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, Simyra, Arwad, and Berytus, all appear in the Amarna tablets. Archeology has identified cultural elements of the Phoenician zenith as early as the 3rd millennium BC.
The league of independent city-state ports, with others on the islands and along other coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, was ideally suited for trade between the Levant area, rich in natural resources, and the rest of the ancient world. During the early Iron Age, in around 1200 BC an unknown event occurred, historically associated with the appearance of the Sea Peoples from the north. They weakened and destroyed the Egyptians and the Hittites respectively. In the resulting power vacuum, a number of Phoenician cities rose as significant maritime powers.
The societies rested on three power-bases: the king; the temple and its priests; and councils of elders. Byblos first became the predominant center from where the Phoenicians dominated the Mediterranean and Erythraean (Red) Sea routes. It was here that the first inscription in the Phoenician alphabet was found, on the sarcophagus of Ahiram (c. 1200 BC). Later, Tyre gained in power. One of its kings, the priest Ithobaal (887–856 BC) ruled Phoenicia as far north as Beirut, and part of Cyprus. Carthage was founded in 814 BC under Pygmalion of Tyre (820–774 BC). The collection of city-states constituting Phoenicia came to be characterized by outsiders and the Phoenicians as Sidonia or Tyria. Phoenicians and Canaanites alike were called Sidonians or Tyrians, as one Phoenician city came to prominence after another.Decline: 539–65 BC Persian rule Main article: Achaemenid PhoeniciaA naval action during the siege of Tyre (350 BC). Drawing by André Castaigne, 1888–1889.
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Cyrus the Great conquered Phoenicia in 539 BC. The Persians divided Phoenicia into four vassal kingdoms: Sidon, Tyre, Arwad, and Byblos. They prospered, furnishing fleets for the Persian kings. Phoenician influence declined after this. It is likely that much of the Phoenician population migrated to Carthage and other colonies following the Persian conquest. In 350 or 345 BC a rebellion in Sidon led by Tennes was crushed by Artaxerxes III. Its destruction was described by Diodorus Siculus.Hellenistic rule
Alexander the Great took Tyre in 332 BC after the Siege of Tyre. Alexander was exceptionally harsh to Tyre, executing 2,000 of the leading citizens, but he maintained the king in power. He gained control of the other cities peacefully: the ruler of Aradus submitted; the king of Sidon was overthrown. The rise of Hellenistic Greece gradually ousted the remnants of Phoenicia''s former dominance over the Eastern Mediterranean trade routes. Phoenician culture disappeared entirely in the motherland. Carthage continued to flourish in North Africa. It oversaw the mining of iron and precious metals from Iberia, and used its considerable naval power and mercenary armies to protect commercial interests. Rome finally destroyed it in 146 BC, at the end of the Punic Wars.
Following Alexander, the Phoenician homeland was controlled by a succession of Hellenistic rulers: Laomedon (323 BC), Ptolemy I (320), Antigonus II (315), Demetrius (301), and Seleucus (296). Between 286 and 197 BC, Phoenicia (except for Aradus) fell to the Ptolemies of Egypt, who installed the high priests of Astarte as vassal rulers in Sidon (Eshmunazar I, Tabnit, Eshmunazar II).
In 197 BC, Phoenicia along with Syria reverted to the Seleucids. The region became increasingly Hellenized, although Tyre became autonomous in 126 BC, followed by Sidon in 111. Syria, including Phoenicia, was seized and ruled by king Tigranes the Great of Armenia from 82 until 69 BC, when he was defeated by Lucullus. In 65 BC Pompey finally incorporated the territory as part of the Roman province of Syria. Phoenicia became a separate province ca. 200 AD.Demographics Genetic studies
In 2008 a study was published in The American Journal of Human Genetics examining sites that had been influenced by Phoenicians in "the coastal Lebanese Phoenician Heartland and the broader area of the rest of the Levant (the "Phoenician Periphery"); then Cyprus and South Turkey; then Crete; then Malta and East Sicily; then South Sardinia, Ibiza, and Southern Spain; and, finally, Coastal Tunisia and cities like Tingris in Morocco". The study "found that haplogroup J2, in general, and six Y-STR haplotypes, in particular, exhibited a Phoenician signature that contributed > 6% to the modern Phoenician-influenced populations examined." This was part of the development of a methodology which would enable linking a documented historical expansion with a geographic genetic pattern. They also suggested "a common source of related lineages rooted in Lebanon."
In a 2013 interview the lead investigator, Pierre Zalloua, pointed out that genetic variation preceded religious variation and divisions:"Lebanon already had well-differentiated communities with their own genetic peculiarities, but not significant differences, and religions came as layers of paint on top. There is no distinct pattern that shows that one community carries significantly more Phoenician than another."Economy Trade See also: Phoenicians and wineMap of Phoenicia and trade routesMap of Phoenicia.
The Phoenicians were among the greatest traders of their time and owed much of their prosperity to trade. At first, they traded mainly with the Greeks, trading wood, slaves, glass and powdered Tyrian purple. Tyrian purple was a violet-purple dye used by the Greek elite to color garments. In fact, the word Phoenician derives from the ancient Greek word phoínios meaning "purple". As trading and colonizing spread over the Mediterranean, Phoenicians and Greeks seemed to have split that sea in two: the Phoenicians sailed along and eventually dominated the southern shore, while the Greeks were active along the northern shores. The two cultures rarely clashed, mainly in Sicily, which eventually settled into two spheres of influence, the Phoenician west and the Greek east.Phoenician plate with red slip, 7th century BC, excavated in Mogador island, Essaouira, Morocco
In the centuries after 1200 BC, the Phoenicians were the major naval and trading power of the region. Phoenician trade was founded on the Tyrian purple dye, a violet-purple dye derived from the shell of the Murex sea-snail, once profusely available in coastal waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea but exploited to local extinction. James B. Pritchard''s excavations at Sarepta in present-day Lebanon revealed crushed Murex shells and pottery containers stained with the dye that was being produced at the site. The Phoenicians established a second production center for the dye in Mogador, in present day Morocco. Brilliant textiles were a part of Phoenician wealth, and Phoenician glass was another export ware.
To Egypt, where grapevines would not grow, the 8th-century Phoenicians sold wine: the wine trade with Egypt is vividly documented by the shipwrecks located in 1997 in the open sea 50 kilometres (30 mi) west of Ascalon. Pottery kilns at Tyre and Sarepta produced the big terracotta jars used for transporting wine. From Egypt, the Phoenicians bought Nubian gold. Additionally, great cedar logs were traded with lumber-poor Egypt for significant sums. Sometime between 1075 and 1060 BC an Egyptian envoy by the name of Wen-Amon visited Phoenicia and secured seven great cedar logs in exchange for a mixed cargo including ''4 crocks and 1 kak-men of gold; 5 silver jugs; 10 garments of royal linen; 10 kherd of good linen from Upper Egypt; 500 rolls of finished papyrus; 500 cows'' hides; 500 ropes; 20 bags of lentils and 30 baskets of fish.'' Those logs were then moved by ship from Phoenicia to Egypt.
From elsewhere, they obtained other materials, perhaps the most important being silver from the Iberian Peninsula and tin from Great Britain, the latter of which when smelted with copper from Cyprus created the durable metal alloy bronze. Strabo states that there was a highly lucrative Phoenician trade with Britain for tin. It was once thought that this was direct trade but it is now believed to have been indirect. Professor Timothy Champion, a specialist in this period found it likely that the trade of the Phoenicians with Britain was indirect and under the control of the Veneti of Brittany.
The Phoenicians established commercial outposts throughout the Mediterranean, the most strategically important being Carthage in North Africa, directly across the narrow straits. Ancient Gaelic mythologies attribute a Phoenician/Scythian influx to Ireland by a leader called Fenius Farsa. Others also sailed south along the coast of Africa. A Carthaginian expedition led by Hanno the Navigator explored and colonized the Atlantic coast of Africa as far as the Gulf of Guinea; and according to Herodotus, a Phoenician expedition sent down the Red Sea by pharaoh Necho II of Egypt (c. 600 BC) even circumnavigated Africa and returned through the Pillars of Hercules after three years. Using gold obtained by expansion of the African coastal trade following the Hanno expedition, Carthage minted gold staters in 350 BC bearing a pattern, in the reverse exergue of the coins, which Mark McMenamin has controversially argued could be interpreted as a map. According to McMenamin, the Mediterranean is represented as a rectangle in the centre, a triangle to the right represents India in the east, and an irregular shape on the left represents America to the west.
In the 2nd millennium BC, the Phoenicians traded with the Somalis. Through the Somali city-states of Mosylon, Opone, Malao, Sarapion, Mundus and Tabae, trade flourished.Phoenician ships
The Greeks had two names for Phoenician ships: hippoi and galloi. Galloi means tubs and hippoi means horses. These names are readily explained by depictions of Phoenician ships in the palaces of Assyrian kings from the 7th and 8th centuries, as the ships in these images are tub shaped (galloi) and have horse heads on the ends of them (hippoi). It is possible that these hippoi come from Phoenician connections with the Greek god Poseidon.Depictions
The Tel Balawat gates (850 BC) are found in the palace of Shalmaneser III, an Assyrian king, near Nimrud. They are made of bronze, and they portray ships coming to honor Shalmaneser. The Khorsabad bas-relief (7th century BC) shows the transportation of timber (most likely cedar) from Lebanon. It is found in the palace built specifically for Sargon II, another Assyrian king, at Khorsabad, now northern Iraq.Important cities and coloniesDetailed map of PhoeniciaMap of Phoenician and Greek colonies at about 350 BC (with German legend).Carthage
From the 10th century BC, the Phoenicians'' expansive culture led them to establish cities and colonies throughout the Mediterranean. Canaanite deities like Baal and Astarte were being worshipped from Cyprus to Sardinia, Malta, Sicily, Spain, Portugal, and most notably at Carthage in modern Tunisia.
The islands of Malta
The Phoenician alphabet was one of the first (consonantal) alphabets with a strict and consistent form. It is assumed that it adopted its simplified linear characters from an as-yet unattested early pictorial Semitic alphabet developed some centuries earlier in the southern Levant. It is likely that the precursor to the Phoenician alphabet was of Egyptian origin, since Middle Bronze Age alphabets from the southern Levant resemble Egyptian hieroglyphs or an early alphabetic writing system found at Wadi-el-Hol in central Egypt. In addition to being preceded by proto-Canaanite, the Phoenician alphabet was also preceded by an alphabetic script of Mesopotamian origin called Ugaritic. The development of the Phoenician alphabet from the Proto-Canaanite coincided with the rise of the Iron Age in the 11th century BC.
This alphabet has been termed an abjad, — that is, a script that contains no vowels — from the first four letters aleph, beth, jamal, and daleth.Sarcophagus of Ahiram in the National Museum of Beirut
The oldest known representation of the Phoenician alphabet is inscribed on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos, dating to the 11th century BC at the latest. Phoenician inscriptions are found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Cyprus and other locations, as late as the early centuries of the Christian Era. The Phoenicians are credited with spreading the Phoenician alphabet throughout the Mediterranean world. Phoenician traders disseminated this writing system along Aegean trade routes, to Crete and Greece. The Greeks adopted the majority of these letters but changed some of them to vowels which were significant in their language.
The Phoenician language is classified in the Canaanite subgroup of Northwest Semitic. Its later descendant in North Africa is termed Punic. In Phoenician colonies around the western Mediterranean, beginning in the 9th century BC, Phoenician evolved into Punic. Punic Phoenician was still spoken in the 5th century AD: St. Augustine, for example, grew up in North Africa and was familiar with the language.Art
Phoenician art lacks unique characteristics that might distinguish it from its contemporaries. This is due to its being highly influenced by foreign artistic cultures: primarily Egypt, Greece and Assyria. Phoenicians who were taught on the banks of the Nile and the Euphrates gained a wide artistic experience and finally came to create their own art, which was an amalgam of foreign models and perspectives. In an article from The New York Times published on January 5, 1879, Phoenician art was described by the following:
He entered into other men''s labors and made most of his heritage. The Sphinx of Egypt became Asiatic, and its new form was transplanted to Nineveh on the one side and to Greece on the other. The rosettes and other patterns of the Babylonian cylinders were introduced into the handiwork of Phoenicia, and so passed on to the West, while the hero of the ancient Chaldean epic became first the Tyrian Melkarth, and then the Herakles of Hellas.Religion Further information: Sanchuniathon See also: Canaanite religion
|This section requires expansion with: information on how these gods relate to Phoenician culture. (September 2014)|
Phoenician culture had a huge effect upon the cultures of the Mediterranean basin in the early Iron Age, and had been affected by them in turn. For example, in Phoenicia, the tripartite division between Baal, Mot and Yam seems to have influenced the Greek division between Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. In various Mediterranean ports during the classical period, Phoenician temples sacred to Melkart were recognized as sacred to Greek Hercules. Stories like the Rape of Europa, and the coming of Cadmus also draw upon Phoenician influence.
The recovery of the Mediterranean economy after the late Bronze Age collapse (ca. 1200 BC) seems to have been largely due to the work of Phoenician traders and merchant princes, who re-established long distance trade between Egypt and Mesopotamia in the 10th century BC.
There are many countries and cities around the Mediterranean region that derive their names from the Phoenician Language. Below is a list with the respective meanings:
Towards the end of the Bronze Age (around 1200 BC) there was trade between the Canaanites (early Phoenicians), Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece. In a shipwreck found off of the coast of Turkey, the Ulu Bulurun wreck, Canaanite storage pottery along with pottery from Cyprus and Greece was found. The Phoenicians were famous metalworkers, and by the end of the 8th century BC, Greek city-states were sending out envoys to the Levant (the eastern Mediterranean) for metal goods.
The height of Phoenician trade was around the 7th and 8th centuries. There is a dispersal of imports (ceramic, stone, and faience) from the Levant that traces a Phoenician commercial channel to the Greek mainland via the central Aegean. Athens shows little evidence of this trade with few eastern imports, but other Greek coastal cities are rich with eastern imports that evidence this trade.
Al Mina is a specific example of the trade that took place between the Greeks and the Phoenicians. It has been theorized that by the 8th century BC, Euboean traders established a commercial enterprise with the Levantine coast and were using Al Mina (in Syria) as a base for this enterprise. There is still some question about the veracity of these claims concerning Al Mina. The Phoenicians even got their name from the Greeks due to their trade. Their most famous trading product was purple dye, the Greek word for which is phoenos.Alphabet
The Phoenician phonetic alphabet was adopted and modified by the Greeks probably at the 8th century BC (around the time of the hippoi depictions). This most likely did not come from a single instance but from a culmination of commercial exchange. This means that before the 8th century, there was a relationship between the Greeks and the Phoenicians. Though there is no evidence to support the suggestion, it is probable that during this period there was also a passing of religious ideas. Herodotus cited the city of Thebes (a city in central Greece) as the place of the importation of the alphabet. The legendary Phoenician hero Cadmus is credited with bringing the alphabet to Greece, but it is more plausible that it was brought by Phoenician emigrants to Crete, whence it gradually diffused northwards.Connections with Greek mythology
So these Phoenicians, including the Gephyraians, came with Kadmos and settled this land, and they transmitted much lore to the Hellenes, and in particular, taught them the alphabet which, I believe the Hellenes did not have previously, but which was originally used by all Phoenicians.—The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories, Book 5.58, translated by Andrea L. Purvis.
In his Republic, Plato contends that the love of money is a tendency of the soul found amongst Phoenicians and Egyptians, which distinguishes them from the Greeks who tend towards the love of knowledge. In his Laws, he asserts that this love of money has led the Phoenicians and Egyptians to develop skills in cunning and trickery (πανουργία) rather than wisdom (σοφία).Sources on Phoenicia In the Bible
Hiram (also spelled Huran) associated with the building of the temple.
|“||2 Chronicles 2:14—The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father a man of Tyre, skillful to work in gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, timber, royal purple(from the Murex), blue, and in crimson, and fine linens; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him ...||”|
This is the architect of the Temple, Hiram Abiff of Masonic lore.
Later, reforming prophets railed against the practice of drawing royal wives from among foreigners: Elijah execrated Jezebel, the princess from Tyre who became a consort of King Ahab and introduced the worship of her gods Baal.
Long after Phoenician culture flourished, or Phoenicia existed as a political entity, Hellenized natives of the region where Canaanites still lived were referred to as "Syro-Phoenicians", as in the Gospel of Mark 7:26: "The woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by birth".
The word Bible itself derives from Greek biblion, which means "book" and either derives from, or is the (perhaps ultimately Egyptian) origin of Byblos, the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal.Legacy
The legacy of the Phoenicians are many and varied and include: