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Phoenician Achievements

[Summary]Phoenicia Coordinates: 34°07′25″N 35°39′04″E / 34.12361°N 35.65111°E / 34.12361; 35.65111 Byblos, Mount Lebanon (1200 BC–1000 BC) Tyre, Southern Lebanon (1000 BC–333 BC) Carthage (333 BC–149 BC) Lebanon Syria Algeria Cyprus Egypt France The Phoeni

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Phoenicia

Coordinates: 34°07′25″N 35°39′04″E / 34.12361°N 35.65111°E / 34.12361; 35.65111

Byblos, Mount Lebanon (1200 BC–1000 BC)

Tyre, Southern Lebanon (1000 BC–333 BC)

Carthage (333 BC–149 BC)

Phoenician Achievements
Lebanon

Phoenician Achievements
Syria

Phoenician Achievements
Algeria

Phoenician Achievements
Cyprus

Phoenician Achievements
Egypt

Phoenician Achievements
France

The Phoenicians

Far away in Macedon Philip 11 (382-336 B.C.) becomes king. He gathers together a large force of infantry and the phalanx to support his cavalry and looks eastward, fired by ambition, to free Asia Minor of the Persian king.

He marries Olympias, the wild, witch-like daughter of the king of Epirus. According to Plutarch in his Life of Alexander (2.3-4) when newly wed, Philip comes upon his wife asleep with a serpent by her side. He is filled with revulsion and fears her as an enchantress.

Phoenicia

Phoenicia was an ancient civilization composed of independent city-states which lay along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea stretching through what is now Syria, Lebannon and northern Israel. The Phoenicians were a great maritime people, known for their mighty ships adorned with horses’ heads in honor of their god of the sea, Yamm, the brother of Mot, the god of death. The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centers. Phoenician city-states began to take form c. 3200 BCE and were firmly established by c. 2750 BCE. Phoenicia thrived as a maritime trader and manufacturing center from c.1500-332 BCE and was highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and an impressive level of skill in the manufacture of luxury and common goods.

The Phoenicians

Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic civilization situated on the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent near modern-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. All major Phoenician cities were on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550 BCE to 300 BCE. The Phoenicians used the galley, a man-powered sailing vessel, and are credited with the invention of the bireme oared ship. They were famed in Classical Greece and Rome as "traders in purple," which refers to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the Murex snail, used for royal clothing, among other things.

Phoenician Religion -- Pagan

We are comparatively ill informed about the deities worshipped by the early Phoenicians when they came from the East to set up trading posts, great and small, along the maritime highway which took them as far as Caries in Spain. These sailors and salesmen must primarily have invoked the gods who could ensure them a safe voyage, permitting them to defy storms or to evade rocks, and to gain hospitable havens which would shelter them alike from the hostility of nature and of man. Such, doubtless, was the substance of the prayers they addressed to the god Resheph, whose statuette was recovered from the sea near Selinunte in 1961. The foundation of Carthage at the end of the ninth century B.C. -- for we may retain the traditional date -- encouraged the more permanent establishment in the Western Mediterranean of members of the Phoenician pantheon. No longer did merchants set up temporary trading posts, many of them going back to spend their old age in Tyre, where they had left their families. Now there was an aristocracy which had departed from the mother city never to return, trying to embed their homes and beliefs permanently in the colonies. For several centuries, however, the new capital's sphere of influence remained very restricted, and under the aegis of the Magonid dynasty the Carthaginians continued to look almost entirely seaward for the increase of their wealth.

Phoenician Alphabet Origin

Updated January 3, 2017

Phoenician Alphabet

Gold plates with Phoenician

and Etruscan writing

You might imagine that something as simple and basic as the alphabet would have been around forever. But of course it hasn't. As you may well know, the elaborate pictures of Egyptian hieroglyphics and the intricate reed-poked-into-clay marks of Mesopotamian cuneiform used to be the way people communicated in writing. Gradually these were simplified into syllable symbols instead of word symbols, but were still fairly daunting and only a few scholars ever learned to write.

Ancient Phoenician Ships, Boats and Sea Trade

Phoenician boat

Phoenician boat at Tyre in Lebanon

The ancient Phoenician boatbuilding skills are not a lost art . . . in fact they are still in use today. Sanford Holst documented this remarkable experience in Lebanon: "When I was in Tyre in 2004, the local boatmaster was just finishing one-and-a-half years of work constructing a boat by hand using the old Phoenician methods described below. It was an absolutely beautiful vessel, and he took the time to tell me about many of the details that went into it. The maiden voyage was to be two days later. On the second day, I was having lunch at the harbor in Byblos -- about 70 miles (115 km) north of Tyre -- and quite incredibly the Phoenician boat sailed directly into the harbor and docked right in front of my table! The crew was as surprised as I was. We happily celebrated their successful voyage."

Phoenician Economy and Trade

Phoenician Achievements
Phoenician Economy, Trade, and Navigation

There is no doubt that the Phoenicians exploited the small extent of arable land as much as they could, forcing cultivation right up to the slopes of the Lebanese mountains and using the watercourses for irrigation. The terrain which it was possible to flood enabled them to cultivate cereals, while the rocky land was restricted to plantations. The system of cultivation of the cereals, in particular of grain, must have remained in use until recently. The Punic stelae show a very simple plough which, according to Mago, was drawn by oxen and bears a close resemblance to the modern Berber and Syrian plough. It would seem, therefore, that the Phoenician plough was similar. Stone wheels, found in more or less good condition, must have been used for grinding.

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