Phoenician Notes

The Phoenicians & the Hebrews
(1200BC – 510BC)
- Canaan: eastern end of Mediterranean Sea connecting Egypt & Mesopotamia
o Modern day Lebannon & Isreal
- Northern part of Canaan
- Most information comes from Bible, ancient writings, ruins of cities & ships
- 2 Groups
o Canaanites
 Desert south & east
 Herders
o Philistines
 Eastern Mediterranean near Greece
 Traders & ship builders
- Growth of trade
o Sea provides life
 Lived along land btwn mountains & sea
 Not enough land to grow food for all
o Shipping
 Built from cedar
 Coastal traders
 Controlled Mediterranean trade
 Traded: Cedar logs, Cloth, Glass trinkets & Perfume
 For:
o Gold, papyrus, linen from Egypt
o Pottery from Mesopotamia
o Copper & hides from Cyprus
o Traveling workshops
 Sailors were artisans
 Carried tools & worked on ships
o General travel
 Used stars to navigate
 Brought Middle Eastern culture to western Mediterranean
 May have sailed around coast of Africa to India
o Treaties – agreements btwn states or countries
 Supply free shipments of goods to guarantee Phoenician
- Cities on the sea
- Not enough land to grow food
- Plenty of cedar for wood
- Celestial navigation
Rise of
- New colonies & exploration
- Control of the Mediterranean
- Traveling workshops
- Spread of Middle East culture
- Peace keeping treaties
- Spread of alphabet
Cities in Phoenicia
o Collection of city-states
 Mountains separated groups
 Only contact through narrow passes & by sea
 Tyre, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon (known by city name)
o Spoke same language
o Similar religion
o Competitive for profit
o Within the walls
 Merchants & artisans
 Family owned businesses
 Carpenters, cabinetmakers, metalworkers (learned from
Egyptians & Mesopotamians)
 Buildings
 Crowded together
 Made of stone or brick, tile roofs
o Ports
 Centers of activity
 Docks for loading goods to & from ships
 Warehouses for storage
 Shipping records kept
o Centers for cloth-dyeing
 “Phoenician” – of purple merchants
 Purple dye from murex shellfish
 Legend: God Melqart was walking along seashore w/Tyrus.
Dog bit murex and turned mouth purple. Tyrus demanded a
gown of purple before she would marry Melqart. Melqart
made the gown & started the dyeing.
o Kings served as high priests
o Merchants formed council (took power of king)
Gods and goddesses
o Tied closely to nature
o Temples
 Holy of holies – most sacred chamber
 Image or sacred stone
 Sacrifices
 Wine, perfume, animals, humans
 Only priests could offer
 Provided strength & power to gods
o Afterlife
 Buried dead in clay urns (ornamental vases)
 Later – embalmed bodies, coffins, hillside cemetery
o Settled in 814BC (present day Tunisia)
o Phoenician colony (permanent settlements)
o Legend:
 Phoenician princess Dido ruled Tyre, but her brother wanted to
rule. He killed Dido’s husband. She fled to North Africa &
founded Carthage.
o Powerful trading city
 Sailed as far as British Isles for tin
o Borrowed simple version of Canaanite hieroglyphs (from Egypt)
o Became alphabet before reaching Phoenicia
o 22 symbols (letters)
o Used for keeping trade records
o Passed to other cultures through trade
 Greeks borrowed
 Romans borrowed from Greeks
 Most Western alphabets (inc. English) based on Roman alpha