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Ancient tribe Phoenicians - Ancestry and origin

Where did the Phoenicians live?

The heartland of the Phoenician settlement was the landscape Phoenicia, which gives its name was accordingly known in antiquity as Purpleland. The native name of Phoenicia was Canaan. This landscape stretched in the northern part of the Middle East and included the Coastal regions of Syria, Lebanon and Israel.
Already in the 3rd millennium B.C. the most important trade routes of the Near East crossed in Phoenicia. East, which established connections to Egypt in the south and Mesopotamia in the east. Besides Purple was construction timber (especially cedars from Lebanon) a sought-after commodity, which was exported was.
In the 2nd millennium B.C., trade contacts expanded to Cyprus, the Aegean and Syrian hinterland. The early trading centres included the port cities of Byblos, Tyros, Sidon and Berytos (Beirut).


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What was the ethnogenesis of the Phoenicians?

The majority population in Phoenicia were the Phoenicians, who in the 2nd millennium BC were People with a cultural-linguistic profile from the continuum of the ancient Qaanite populations (Canaanites) outsourced.

Linguistically, the Phoenicians are related to other north-western Semitic peoples, namely Aramaeans, Israelites and Moabites. A more recent stage of development of the Phoenician is the Language form of the Punic people in North Africa.



What is the history of the Phoenicians?

Since there was no "Phoenician state", a common history cannot be written. Rather, Phoenicia is defined by the representative city states of Arwad, Byblos, Sidon and Tyros. Both the Old Testament and the Assyrian sources mention only the Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast, not a state representing them. However, they shared a common language and writing, religion and material culture.

With regard to the cultural panorama in the city-states on the Levant, Phoenician identity is reflected in the barely broken traditions of the ancient Near Eastern Bronze Age, in the predominance of a differentiated urban way of life and in the highly developed technical (and administrative) knowledge of a civilization on a high level.

Common features of a Phoenician history can be identified: The city-states were, since their respective chambers of settlement were territorially limited, forced to expand, which took place over the sea to Cyprus, Crete, already in the 10th century B.C. also to the west (Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Spain and North Africa). Economic, political and cultural contacts also existed to Northern Syria and Anatolia.

The political supremacy seems to have been initially located near Byblos after the collapse of the North Syrian states after 1200 BC, but apparently passed to Tyros, which was founded by Sidon, as early as the 10th century BC. Only later, Carthage was founded in North Africa. Tyros remained "Mother of Carthage" and received financial help from there for a long time (until about 540 BC).

After the invasion of the Sea Peoples soon after 1200 BC, Egyptian rule became increasingly relaxed, and the Phoenician city-states experienced a period of political independence from 1100 BC onwards, initially paying tribute to the Assyrians. This was followed by periods of domination by the Babylonians, the Persians and the Macedonians under Alexander the Great. During the Persian rule, Tyros was finally overtaken by Sidon.

Tyros defended himself against Alexander the Great in 333 BC and was defeated after a siege of 7 months. Under en Diadochen and after 64 BC under the Romans, the Phoenician cities no longer played a political role. In the 2nd millennium BC, Phoenicia was under the domination of Egypt. The city states When Phoenicia was incorporated into the province of Syria in 64 BC, it had already lost its former role in the trade traffic of the eastern Mediterranean region.



Where were the colonies of the Phoenicians?

In the period between ca. 1100 and ca. 700 B.C., the Phoenicians founded trading centres in the Mediterranean far away from their home ports. Tyros was particularly active in establishing colonies.

Through Phoenician trade, Cyprus developed into a hub between the Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean and the West.

One of the oldest Phoenician bases in the western Mediterranean is Gades (today's Cadiz), founded around 1100 BC. The colonies in North Africa, Hippo Regius, Utica and Carthage, were founded in the 9th century BC.



How did the demise of the Phoenicians occur?

The Phoenicians were absorbed by the Arab population that settled in Phoenicia since late antiquity. In the colonies founded by the Phoenicians in the western Mediterranean, the Phoenicians assimilated to the local majority population. Linguistically, Phoenician can be traced in its younger variant, Carthaginian, until the 6th century AD. At the time of the Arab migrations in the 7th century AD, Phoenicianism in the ethnic sense had already dissolved.

Who the Phoenician folklore nor the Phoenician language have survived the times. But without the Phoenician alphabet, which in transformed form has found its way throughout the world, our modern writing is hardly imaginable. The Greek branch of the Phoenician alphabet has in turn produced the Latin alphabet.



Who were the Canaanites?

Under the name Canaanite various tribes are summarized, which settled the historical landscape of Canaan in the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. They did not merge to form an ethnically homogeneous tribe, nor did they ever develop a sense of political solidarity. Neither did they form a common Canaanite state. However, a Canaanite culture with a lasting effect did develop.

The Phoenicians, Amorites and Hurrians belong to the old-established Canaanite ethnic groups. The populations of Canaan were mainly Semitic peoples.

From the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C. onwards, peoples migrated to Canaan, where the ancient Canaanites gradually assimilated. The younger populations of Canaan include the Philistines, the Moabites, Edomites and Ammonites, and the Israelites.

The sovereign small empires of the region were under the political influence of the contemporary great powers for the longest time of their existence. The interest of the powerful neighboring empires in Canaan was based primarily on its role as the hub of the most important trade routes in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean.

In the 2nd millennium BC, the tradition of the god Baal flourished, whose cult spread throughout Canaan. The Baal cult was for a time the strongest competitor of the Yahweh cult of the Israelites.



Who were the Punic (Carthaginian)?

The history of the Punic people is understood as the historical fate of the Phoenician foundation of Carthage and the Carthaginian and Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean area, which increasingly merged into a Carthaginian "empire" from the end of the 6th century BC. The term "Punic history" therefore serves primarily to historically periodize Phoenician history and is of little help in classifying archaeological finds and as a classification aid in the history of religion, language and culture.

The ethnic profile of the Punic people as a people different from the Phoenicians appeared only late, at the time of the expansion of Carthage's political supremacy in the western Mediterranean since the 5th century BC.

The city of Carthage was founded in 814 BC by Phoenicians from Tyros. Since the 7th century BC, the Punic tribes took over the military protection of the Phoenician colonies in the essentially Mediterranean and maintained trade contacts. In alternating alliances with the Etruscans and initially also the Romans (5th and 4th century BC), the Punic tribes limited the influence of the Greek colonies in Sicily and southern France. By the end of the 5th century B.C. they had become the strongest political power of the Mediterranean countries west of Sicily.

The "formation of the empire", i.e. the political dominance of Carthage over other Phoenician-Carthaginian settlements and regions, is visible from the second half of the 6th century B.C. onwards in the military interventions that Carthage undertook in Sicily, Sardinia and off Corsica to secure the Phoenician-Punic presence and maritime freedom of movement.

In the Punic Wars (264-241, 218-201, 149-146 BC) the political supremacy of the Punic people was broken by the Romans. Language, religion, ethnic identity and partly also the political institutions of the Punic people remained formative or at least present even after the destruction of Carthage (146 BC) - just as in the strongly Punicized empires like Sardinia, at least until the end of the 3rd century AD.

The year of the destruction of Carthage (146 B.C.) is considered to be the beginning of the Neupunian language period. Since then, Punic developed independently from Phoenician. Like Phoenician, it was also in use as a written language. As a spoken language it remained until the 6th century AD.

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