History: Phoenicians

Posted on Sun 25 October 2020 in history

Palestine, Levant- A Semitic speaking people originating on the Arabian Peninsula. The Phoenician people had settled in the region of Palestine, on the Mediterranean coast, since early times. The Phoenician city of Byblos was a major trading center for the middle east in the early first millennia BCE, in particular it was one of the best centers for Egyptian papyrus outside of Egypt. Other Phoenician cities include Tyre and Sidon. The Phoenicians were prosperous due to their international trading relationships. The Phoenicians produced many goods including glass, wine, and lumber, but most importantly the Phoenicians were known for their production of rare purple dies. The purple dies were so rare that they were predominantly worn only by nobles or royalty, and this is the reason for our modern association of purple with royalty. The Phoenicians established an expansive empire that stretched as far as Southern Spain and the West Coast of Africa. Despite the richness of all of these achievements, the Phoenicians are best known for their simplification of traditional pictographic writing systems. They produced a 'phonetic' alphabet, in which characters have aural representation rather than pictographic symbolism. The Phoenician alphabet consisted of twenty-two characters, and was highly influential in the development of modern language, including Latin, Greek, and subsequently even English.