Prior to the catastrophe of
1200 BC, Canaanite traders had been restricted to perhaps the Levantine
coast, Egypt, and the southern coast of Anatolia. The Minoans on Crete
blocked entrance into the Aegean, controlled all trade in that area, and
perhaps even controlled trade further east. The Canaanite coastal towns
were usually controlled themselves by Egypt and one of their principal
businesses was providing wood (the cedars of Lebanon) to the Nile region.
The Minoan civilization was
destroyed in 1200 BC, removing most of the constraints on Mediterranean
and Aegean sea trading by others. The Phoenicians were the most aggressive
of those attempting to fill the void. Their cities were well positioned
for this enterprise by being located literally in the center of the known
world. The Aegean, Mesopotamia, and Egypt were all roughly equidistant to
the west, south, and east. For any of the three regions to trade with
another, the easiest trade route was through the Phoenician cities.
By the Ninth Century BC the
ancient dark age was nearing an end. The Phoenicians were growing rich as
traders and this attracted enemies, principally the Assyrians. In the face
of repeated assaults or heavy tribute payments at the least, the Tyrians
adopted the strategy of establishing colonies to the west. Colonies were
removed from the grasp of the Assyrians and also helped with the
exploitation of metals and trade in the western Mediterranean.
The most important
Phoenician colony was at Carthage, established around 700 BC. Other
important colonies were in Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, and Spain (modern
Cadiz and Cartagena). Over the next 500 years Carthage grew rapidly in
size and power. Most of its wealth came from the ore mines of Spain.
Carthage fought for control of the western Mediterranean with the Greeks
first and then the Romans.
Phoenicians have two major bonuses. They have -25% war elephant and
elephant archer cost, and +65% catapult trireme and juggernaut fire rate.
This is one
great race for naval battles. All of their ships are well equipped for
On land the
Phoenician are not a very good choice do to limited land units. However
one could argue that they do since they do have war elephants.