Phoenicia: Center of the Ancient Mediterranean Economy.

Essay by Fik November 2005

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Many people that do not know much about the Phoenicians only know about the alphabet that they created which aided the creation of the Romantic languages. What these people fail to realize is that that is not the only reason for which the Phoenicians should be remembered. The Phoenicians did not only create an alphabet, they created an economic empire, as well as a Phoenician culture, around the Mediterranean. First, they established the trading network, creating multiple city-states along their path across the Mediterranean. Then they began to raise a culture, piecing together parts from the cultures of their trading partners. Finally, they became important enough to be recognized by the major powers of the Mediterranean world. This is how their phonetic alphabet was spread around and directed towards its implementation in the Romantic languages. It is not the creation of the alphabet itself that the Phoenicians should be remembered by, it is the creation and maintenance of the trading empire that allowed the alphabet to increase in prominence.

The Phoenicians originated from the Canaanites. These Canaanites inhabited the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to start, but they ended up expanding to all the way around the Mediterranean Sea. At first, they were confined to a small region around what is now Israel, since they were a relatively small group of people in terms of both size and power. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hittites, and others totally overpowered the Phoenicians, who were cornered between sea and mountains anyways; however, the Phoenicians found a way out. All of their local enemies had only land-going armies. The Phoenicians had no way to fight back against these threats, so the Phoenicians expanded on their boat technology and skills, allowing some of them to escape their confinement. After a few hundred years, the...