Origin of the
History of the Phoenicians
in their homeland
Phoenician expansion overseas
Commerce, trade and
of the Phoenicians
Industry and Art
of the Phoenicians
Religion of the
Language, script and texts
of the Phoenicians
Map of Greek and Phoenician
Settlements in the Mediterranean
Basin,about 550 B.C
The Phoenicians were master sailors, traders and craftsmen who established a great commercial network from their homeland on the coastal areas of the modern day Syrian and Lebanese coast from their great trading cities of Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Acco and Berytus (Beirut) . Their commercial empire extended throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and establish colonies in Cyprus, Sardinia. Sicily, Malta, North Africa, Tripolis (Libya), Ikossim (Algiers), Spain, Gadir (Cadiz), Malaca (Malaga) and Ibossim (Ibiza). Phoenician sailors braved the seas beyond the Pillar of Hercules to sail afar as the modern day Azores, Senegal and Ireland .
According to the Greek historian Herodotus, a Phoenician fleet was commissioned to circumnavigate Africa by Pharaoh Necho (610-595 B.C.), however, there is no Egyptian evidence for this feat . However, there is historical evidence that Hanno the Navigator (c. 500 B.C.) did sail as far south as modern day Senegal with a large fleet .
Sailing With The Phoenicians
To maintain their commercial empire, they built hundreds of colonies , some of which became great cities themselves, such as Carthage, which became powerful enough to challenge Rome itself .
They developed a more efficient writing system, the alphabet, which spread throughout the Mediterranean with their trade. The Phoenician alphabet developed from the North Emetic alphabet and was in use as early as the 11th cent B.C. and is the ancestor of Arabic, Latin, Hebrew and Greek scripts and the script to write this very article . Phoenician and Punic (Carthaginian Phoenician was in use until the first cent B.C. in Phoenicia and the third cent A.D. in North Africa . St. Augustine was the last ancient writer with knowledge of Punic .
Unfortunately, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians recorded their written works on papyrus which went up in smoke when their great cities or sacked or turned to dust over time, unlike the older cuneiform which was recorded usually on clay tablets .
The Quest For The Phoenicians
The Phoenicians were both lauded and despised in the ancient world . Some of the bad press they received in the classical world was that they were cheaters and hucksters whose promises could not be trusted. That they were crazed zealots burned their children in sacrifice to their god Baal and prostituted their daughters . The evidence for child sacrifice is ambiguous, an estimated 20,000 child burial urns have been found at the cemetery (Tophet) in Carthage, it is not clear if these were sacrificed or died of natural causes .
"The Phoenician Code", a fictional novel based on astounding historical and
religious facts. Where The Da Vinci Code scratches
the surface The Phoenician Code digs deeper .
The Phoenicians were never politically unified and lived in many competitive city states, principally Tyre, Sidon, Beirut and Byblos . The Phoenicians were important bearers of culture and their trade did much to hasten the growth of civilization in once backward areas .
During the sixteenth century B.C. the Phoenicians were made subject to Egypt and remained under Egyptian rule for over four centuries .
After 1200 B.C., they enjoyed a period of independence, the Phoenician golden age of sea commerce and culture from 1200 to 800 B.C. Phoenician traders have been credited with the rebirth of the Mediterranean economy and culture after the Late Bronze Age ( c. 1550 B.C.) collapse of the Hittites and Mycenaens in the 1200s B.C. and helped bring Greece out of the isolation of the so called Greek Dark Ages of 1200~800 B.C.
In the eighth century B.C. the Phoenicians were incorporated into the Assyrian Empire and thereafter never enjoyed any real independence, but passed successively under the rule of the Neo-Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids and finally the Romans .
The decline of Phoenician dominance of the Mediterranean began when the leader of the founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great, conquered Phoenicia in 539 B.C. and large numbers of Phoenicians migrated to Carthage and other cities . After Alexander the Great conquered Tyre in 332 B.C., the Greeks became dominant in the eastern Mediterranean and gradually Phoenician culture vanished from their homeland .
Sanford Holst is one of the world's leading authorities on the
Phoenicians, and appears in the BBC series Ancient Worlds.
The Phoenicia Ship Expedition will attempt to sail a 600BC replica Phoenician vessel clockwise around Africa - in total 17,000 and 12 months at sea. Watch this video all about the Expedition or learn more at www.phoenicia.org.uk.
The Assyrians and Persians made great use of the seafaring skill of the Phoenicians and Phoenician ships and men formed the backbone of their navies . The existence of Phoenicia as a separate country was ended in 64 B.C. when it was added to the Roman province of Syria . The word Phoenician is derived for the Greek word for purple (Phoinix), after the color of the famous purple dye the Phoenicians made from the Murex snail, which was made into royal clothing - the royal or Tyrian purple. According to the Amarna tablets written in the lingua-franca of the ancient world in pre roman times, cuneiform, from the 14th cent B.C., the Phoenicians referred to themselves as Kenaani or Kinaani (Canaanites) . A DNA test sponsored by the National Geographic Society found that 6% of the population in the areas of Phoenician activity have distinctive Phoenician genetic traits, showing while most of the evidence of Phoenician culture has been lost, their left a genetic heritage which spread throughout the Mediterranean .
Alexander's siege of Tyre
2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered Aug 27, 2014
CNN March 15, 2013