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Who Are The Phoenicians History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The Phoenicians are a group of traders known for their enormous role in the world today. They carried their knowledge from the Mediterranean Sea to the west. They were a big influence on the alphabet that we use today. Being that they were located between the two great ancient cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Phoenicians were politically dominated throughout history. A powerful ship is what was used to carry Phoenician goods and knowledge to remote parts of the world. Phoenician had a large influence on the modern world today thanks to their boat that traveled afar.

Early Phoenicians were migrating nomads in search of food and water. The word Phoenician comes from the Greek word Phoinix which means “red-purple” later referring to the people who traded the goods. It was the northern portion of the area known as cannan. The Phoenicians also created there empire in the northern end of the coastal strip. There were sailors, navigators and traders who were first to send explorers to establish cities throughout the mediterranian area.

They travels all the way to the strait of Gibraltar, sailed around Africa and as far western Europe. Even though they didn’t invent the alphabet there knowledge was carried to regions near and far. They left few records behind but the Greek and Roman historians tell us of the steamship and business dealings. Ancient Phoenicians were protected by and mountains that had rich fertile land for crops and could fish in the sea. They formed a loose federation of city-states on the narrow coastal strip.

The main cities were Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, Berytus, and Arwad. It was natural for the Phoenicians to look to the sea for shipbuilding abilities and they sailed in flatbottom barges along the shore. They devoted there time to building better keel-hulled boats and sailing the open sea. Phoenicians needed a quick easy way to keep records in shipping and trade, There language was similar to their neibors in mesapotamia and they were familiar with the cuniform script.

They quickly adapted these earliest forms of writing and developed a new system where sounds of the voice were represented by letters or a combination of letters. The chief devinties of the Phoenician religion were the god Baal and the goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth. The Phoenicians of the iron age descended from the original Canaanites who dwelt in the region during the early Bronze Age. In the 10th century B.C. the city-states of Tyre rose to hegemony among the Phoenicians state is and founded colonies thorough out the mediterranian region.

The Phoenician influence is also seen in the region of at Zinjirii where the king kiamuwa probly aramaean on orgin chose the Phoenician language and scrpt for a long inscription come from the same region and mark the rebuilding of his city with bilingual inscription. The strong influence of Phoenician in Cilicia maybe due to trading activities in a network including Urartu, the northern rival of Assyria in the eighth and nineth century B.C.

With rivers for irrigation the Phoenicians could grow a wide assortment of crops for there own use. As well as trading them for fruits vegetables such as apples, melons, grapes, citrus fruits, wheat and olives. Animals such as sheep and goats were raised for there milk and meat. There were a wide variety of game such as pathers, bears, gazelles and wild she was what they hunted. The grapes were use to make wine. They use the wine to preserve meat and fish for shipment. Things such as oils made from olives and cedar trees were valued and shipped in large clay jars with painted bottoms called amphorae. The Phoenicians most valuable resource was the forest that grew on a near by mountain. The fragrant oils from the cedar was used in Egypt for wrapping the bodies of mummified kings.

The early Phoenicians had a simple dress of simple wrap around the body or waist, later on the dress became more elaborate and decorative and Phoenicians became known for there clothing. The Phoenician en and women wore ankle length robes with fridge hems. Sometimes the men’s robe would stop below the knee, making them look more tunic that they tied at the waist with a sash. This clothing could be long sleeve or short sleeves, and the wealthier people could afford embroidery in their clothing.

The men and women both had unique hair styles and head gear. The men’s hair could be long or short and they wore soft peak caps, the women hair were worn long with bangs the women’s headgear had a veil that fell down there back and along the side of there faces. When making jewelry the Phoenicians learn from the Egyptians how to cast, hammer, and engrave metals such as gold, silver, and bronze. Only the wealthy could wear silver, gold, or bronze.

The city of Byblos became known for it’s shipbuilding. Small boats with the front shape ike a horse’s head hugged the coastline, these boats were called Hippoi, the greek word for horse. The soilder were use as marines to protect the merchants fleet from pirates who would still there valuable cargo. They also studies the stars and constellations as they traveled the coastline. As their navigational skills got better the sailor could use the stars to help them travel through the open sea.

They built larger trading boats call tubs, the singular sail was shape like a trapezoid and hung from a sturdy mask. They had brails that lowered and raise the sail. The Phoenician mastered the import and export business. Not only did they master by trading they were the middle man for the exchange of goods among other lands.

Two major exports of the Phoenicians were purple cloth and salt. The cloth was famous worldwide and in Rome and only the wealthy were allowed to wear the color purple. They also exported exotic goods such as horses, and many spices like cinnamon, garlic and many more. At the height of trading the Phoenicians bought copper from Cyprus, linen from Egypt, and silver, copper, and tin from Spain. Each of the city-states was independent and known for specific trade goods.

At anytime one city-state might be wealthier that another, but the Phoenicians did not build their empire by conquering and controlling their neibors. There interest was to promote trade. The coastal strip was the meeting place. Egypt and Phoenecia influence each other culturally. Mesopotamian influence is seen in the daily life of Phoenicians. The Phoenicians elite of the cities wrote in cuniform. Phoenicians sealed there documents with a cylinder seal. From 1100 B.C.E. they expanded their trade empire and built settlements on the island of Cyprus. The Phoenician empire met it’s final decline in 332 B.C. when Alexander the Great and many Phoenicians were killed and others were sold into slavery.

Overtime the Greeks absorbed all that remained of the Phoenician culture. The Phoenicians were polythesic and worship many gods and goddesses call Baal and Baalat. The main god of Phoenicians were El, protector of the universe, and his son Baal or Melguart. Melguart symbolize the annual growing season.

The Phoenicians prayed to Astarte to protect their children, give them good harvest, and maintain peace and harmony in the home. Eshmum was the god of healing. Sacrificies were and important part of the Phoenician religion. In order for things to go well Phoenicians had to perform many rituals and sacrifices for their god. Animals were killed and other delicacies such as milk, wine, honey, fruit, and oils were offered. It is believed that Phoenicians made human sacrifices to their god and for this they had a reputation of cruelty.

Edey. M. (1974). The Sea Traders. The emergence of Man.

Reece, K. (1955). The Phoenicians Mysterious Sea People. Ancient Civilazation.

“The Phoenicians” Civilizations of the ancient near East. 4 vols. Charles Scribner’s Son’s, 1995 http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/history/

“Phoenician Religion” Macmillian Compendium: World Religions. Macmillian Reference USA, 1987 http://galenet.galegroup/servlet/history/


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