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Ancient Phoenicia History

Phoenician Cities: Tyre - Sidon - Arwad - Byblos - Amrit - Tripoli
Laodicea - Berytus - Achzib - Acco - Dor - Joppa - Tartus - Sarafand

Prologue: If we use the term "Phoenician" in its broadest sense and include evidence of the people both in its land of origin and in the Mediterranean diaspora, which extended to the limits of the then known West, then we have to distinguish the largest Phoenician colony - Carthage - as having built up a vast empire. "Punic" was the Latin adaptation of the word "Phoenician" and applied by the Romans to the Carthaginians (See Page 16 of *3 Below) .....

Until the advent of the Iron Age around 1200 BC the history of Canaan does not differentiate the centres on the coast that were to constitute Phoenicia from the centres inland. It was the arrival of the Sea Peoples in the region - and more specifically the Philistines on the Mediterranean coast south of Phoenicia - that resulted in their cities emerging as independent entities. Their freedom from vassalage was the by-product of the Sea Peoples driving out the great neighbouring powers of Egypt and Mesopotamia beyond the boundaries of the area: the emerging Hebrew state and Aram thus prospered and the Phoenician cities were compressed against the coast. Thus came into being the impetus for expansion into the only corridor now available to them - the Mediterranean Sea - and the resulting maritime trade
(See Page 24 ibid) .....

Geographical Overview: At the eastern end of the Mediterranean facing towards the west and looking out on the Levantine Sea or "Sea of the Rising Sun" was the scanty but fortunately situated tract which the Greeks and Romans knew as Phoenicia or "the Region of Palms" (See Page 1 of *1 Below) .....

Phoenicia was not a centralised nation with a single recognizable capital like Judea - Samaria - Syria - Assyria - Babylonia. It was a congeries of homogeneous tribes who had never been amalgamated into a single political entity and who clung fondly to the idea of seperate independence. The nearest approach to such a period of time when all the city-states acknowledged a single one as their mistress or suzerain was when Sidon - Byblos - Aradus (Arvad) all appear as subject to Tyre (Ezekiel 27:8 - 11) a little preceding the siege of that city by the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar in the last quarter of the sixth millennium BC (Ezekiel 26:7 - 12). The cities of Phoenicia numbered about twenty-five and ranged from Laodicea (Phoenician Ramitha) in the extreme north to Joppa in the extreme south (See Pages 64-5 of *2 Below) ...

The Phoenicians descended from the original Canaanites who dwelt in the region during the earlier Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC). Despite the fact that the coastal cities were occupied without interruption or change in population the term "Phoenician" is now normally applied to them in the Iron Age onward when the traits that characterize Phoenician culture evolved: long-distance seafaring, trade and colonization, and distinctive elements of their material culture -- language -- script ...

Bibliography

(*1) The Story of the Nations: The Story of Phoenicia (1889)
George Rawlinson (Publisher: Putnam of New York)

Camden Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oxford

(*2) History of Phoenicia by George Rawlinson (1889)
Publisher: Longmans - Green and Company of London

(*3) The Phoenicians by Sabatino Moscati (1988)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium