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Who are the Phoenicians Posted on 29 May 17:09

History of The Phoenicians

" The Phoenicians were the “rulers of the sea”. They mastered the art of navigation and dominated the Mediteranean sea trade. They excelled in producing textiles, carving ivory, working with metals and glass. 

The Phoenicians were organized into city-states and built several local cities, and established trade routes and colonies along the Mediterranean. They sailed towards the UK & Ireland as well as arriving North America, and were the first circumnavigating Africa and trading with the Indian Peninsula.

A great commercial network created by the Phoenicians. Hundreds of archeological sites scattered along the Mediterranean. The huge multitude of goods moving from one country to another had to be transported and traded in some sort of systematic way and it is the Phoenicians with their tall headdresses. Their formidable ships, their skills, trading, and their current jump on the high seas who made a name for themselves in this pursuit,

The Phoenicians took on a diverse civilization of cultures and wove them together to become the undisputed lords of the sea. 

The easiest way for Phoenicians to increase their prosperity was by contact with other peoples and the quickest route to new lands of cultures was the Mediterranean. They soon became outstanding sailors, astute traders, and indeed the very best. They learned to recognize products that people want to acquire and those they wanted to trade and they started sailing and trading. 

To support their trades, they set up ports, founded colonies, built warehouses and created network of routes that touched a neighboring countries such as Egypt, Greece, Magna Graecia, cartage in North Africa. Then they went on to reach Sardinia, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of Spain and further south along the coast as far as Senegal and north to England and Ireland.

A network of this size with hundreds of colonies and thousands of ships had to be well coordinated.

For years, scholars speculated as to how the Phoenicians were able to communicate with each other in those remote times to organize warehouses, trades and such a variety of goods.

It was the discovery of this sarcophagus of the Phoenician king Ahiram that dates back to the 13th BC that enabled archeologists to understand the reasons for such great organizational skills.

Engraved on the sarcophagus is the most ancient example of writing an alphabet form. It is composed of letters and not hieroglyphics. The Phoenicians were the first to invent an alphabet. In fact, that proved indispensable in establishing their great trading network. 

The commanders of the Phoenician fleet had to have many skills. They not only needed expert knowledge of the sea and foreign lands but they had to know the art of trading as well, what to buy, what to sell, 

In the Bible, Ezekiel mentions that the Phoenician city of Byblos, which lies in Lebanon, is the biggest naval shipyard in ancient times. Crossing the seas was not an easy matter even with a good ship. This is one of the reasons why the help from the Gods sought throughout the Mediterranean. The typical ship was 65 feet long and over 16 feet wide. Large enough to carry a great deal of the cedar as well as luxurious fabrics dyed with reddish purple pigment known as murex. The Phoenicians took their name from these fabrics.

The Phoenicians were the only people brave enough to venture into the Atlantic. Ancient peoples were terrified passing the Pillars of Hercules because they believed that beyond lay the end of the world.

Through their travels and their trading their ancient wheeling and dealing. The Phoenicians formed links with most of the known world at that time enabling a variety of peoples to share their best that distance cultures had to offer. The Phoenicians indisputably the master merchants of the Mediterranean".  

(Introduction / History of The Phoenicians is cited from : The Metropolitan Museum of Art - USA).