The Phoenicians: Why It’s the Lesser Known Ancient Civilization

European history is said to have revolved around the peopleand culture of three ancient civilizations, namely the Egyptians, the Hebrews and the Phoenicians. Yet this brief post about ancestral journeys delves on the Phonenicians, who are known in biblical history as the first rulers of the Mediterranean.

Who were the Phoenicians?

Phoenicia (Phœnicia) was an ancient Semitic civilization that originated in the Levant region, primarily in what is known today as Lebanon. Composed of a mix of Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew people they spoke ancient languages like Akkadian and Phoenician. Actually, the name Phoenician was a Greek term used to describe the group of people who existed during the first millennium B.C.

The term was derived from the Greek word phoinix, which possibly referred to the highly-valued purple-red die, a product for which the unnamed civilization was famous. The die was made from secretions extracted from different kinds of mollusks and was so expensive its use was exclusively for royalty, nobles and priests.

Why Phoenicia is the Lesser Known Ancient Civilization

The Phoenician people were occupants of the narrow tract of land situated along the coast of present day Lebanon, Syria and Northern Israel. Their reputation as ancient rulers in the Eastern Mediterranean was attributed to their famous maritime and commercial capabilities, which brought the region economic prosperity.

This ancient civilization had established harbours, and successful trading posts and communities across the Mediterranean basin, a geolocation that covers portions of Africa, Europe and Asia. Moreover, the decline of the Egyptian empire in 1200 B.C., liberated the cities from foreign domination.
However, the Phoenicians presented themselves as organisations of maritime traders rather than as a nation. Mainly because cities such as Arwad, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre were rival trading posts that asserted fierce independence from each other and their neighbours. That being the case, what this ancient civilization called themselves as a country is unknown. Yet biblical historians surmise them to be the Canaanites during the ancient biblical period.