Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
History - Ancient Civilizations
Who Were the Phoenicians?
Who Were the Phoenicians?
There never was a country called "Phoenicia." The land of the Phoenicians'
was located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, Lebanon today.
Sea people traders became an important society between 900 to 700
BC. There were two groups: The Canaanites from the South, and the
Aegeans from the area around Greece.
Why Did the Phoenicians Become Great Traders?
Location. They were near the sea. The land was dry and hilly - bad
Assets. They had timber for ships, crafts, and trade.
Technology. Shipbuilding and navigation; first to make clear glass.
By 600 BC, the Phoenicians had sailed around Africa. They traded
by leaving goods on the shore. The people would come and leave something
by it. If the Phoenicians thought it was a good trade, they would
take the payment, and the people knew they could take the product.
If not, the buyers could either leave more, or take their payment
A Phoenician Ivory Carving From About 800 BC
The Arameans were also traders, but not sea traders; they used camel
caravans. Phoenicians and Arameans became socially strong, not military
strong; they were traders, not fighters.
Writing - The Phoenician Alphabet
The Phoenicians used Mesopotamian cuneiform at first, simplifying
cuneiform and hieroglyphics. They later developed and spread an
alphabet, making widespread literacy possible. An alphabet
is far easier to learn than 1,000s of picture symbols. The Phoenicians
carried this alphabet wherever they traded. (The reason our alphabet
is mostly straight lines is because the symbols are easier to make
The Phoenician people wore long dresses. Men wore beads, long hair,
and jewelry. They were known as the "Purple
People" because of a dye they used in clothing. The purple
dye was made from sea shells, and it cost so much to produce that
only the rich could afford it.
Economy - The Phoenicians were traders.
Religion - Polytheistic
Government - Merchants led the government, made powerful through
Migration The Phoenicians went south toward
the coast to a fertile area. In 1200 BC the Philistines came to
Canaan and the area became known as Palestine. (Another group, the
Hebrews, settled in Israel - The two groups have never gotten along.)
Inventing the Alphabet
Traders had to be able to write in order to keep track of their
business transactions. The Phoenician alphabet used 20 symbols had
only consonants - no vowels.
Early Money Was Made in All Shapes and Sizes.
Phoenicians used bullion and coins - no paper money. By 900 BC they
started writing on their coins. Now, one must have money in order
People kept their own language, but Aramaic became the important
second language - Like English is today.
Phoenicians and Arameans blended together trade and became the important