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Phoenicia and the Phoenicians at the end of the third millennium BC.

The crisis that engulfed the Eastern Mediterranean in the XIII-XII centuries BC was also reflected in Phoenicia. The invasions of the Jewish and Aramaic tribes reduced the territory of the Canaanites, who were increasingly concentrated in Phoenicia itself. During one of the Philistine raids, Sidon was destroyed, and its inhabitants moved to Tyre. But still, Phoenicia was less affected by the events than many other countries in the region. They even did her good. The death of some and the decline of other great powers led to the temporary flourishing of small states, including the Phoenician city-states that were freed from Egyptian rule.

Rise of the City-State of Tyre

Internal and external situation of the State

The Phoenician sea god. Terracotta. VI century BC

Phoenician sea god. Terracotta. VI century BC.

North of Phoenicia, Ugarit died. Tyre, which had probably previously been actively involved in the western relations of the Eastern Mediterranean coast, now became the main center of Western trade and Western travel. In addition, it was in this city that, after the temporary destruction of Sidon, a particularly large population gathered, and this demographic tension had to be “removed” by evicting some of the “extra” people over the sea. This caused the beginning of the active colonization activity of Tyre. As a result of the first stage of colonization, Tyrian colonies appeared in different places of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The gold and silver that flowed into Tyre from the remote regions of the Western Mediterranean and the north of the Aegean enriched the city. Tyre became the “London of Antiquity”. It retained its position as a major trading center even after the Phoenicians were driven out of the Aegean Sea. This did not prevent active Phoenician trade with Greece. Trade with the West was largely provided by the preserved network of trading posts and colonies. These colonies became part of the Tyrian empire, paying tribute to the Tyrian king.

In the tenth century B.C., King Hiram of Tyre made an alliance with the kings of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah, David and his son Solomon. The king of Tyre supplied timber to Jerusalem for the construction of palaces and temples, and artisans who built the Temple of Jerusalem together with Solomon’s subjects. In return, he received bread, wine, and oil from Palestine, which was extremely important in the face of Phoenicia’s constant need for food. No less important was the creation of a trading “community” between the monarchs. Solomon’s ship was included in Hiram’s fleet, trading with the distant Tarshish in Southern Spain, and from there gold, silver, and exotic animals and birds valued in the eastern courts were delivered to both Phoenicia and Palestine. In return, the king of Tyre gained access to the port of Etzion-Geber on the Red Sea and thus the opportunity to sail to Ophir, rich in gold, the exact location of which is unknown, but which was located, most likely, somewhere in the area of the exit from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Gold teapot handle, with glass insert.

Gold teapot handle, with glass insert. 600-500 BC.

After the collapse of the unified Hebrew state, Tyre continued to contact the northern kingdom — Israel, and in the south, the merchants of Tyre still used the caravan road from Gaza to the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, judging by the inscriptions of these merchants found along the road. The extensive trade with Tarshish and Ophir, and the domination of the far-flung colonial power, gave the Tyrian kings a lot of money and contributed to the transformation of Tyre into the strongest city in southern Phoenicia. As a result, this city has some degree of dominance over the other city-states of the zone, including Sidon, which was restored after the Philistine raid.

The traditional view is that in the IX or even as early as the X century BC, a unified Tyro-Sidon kingdom emerged. Its king appeared primarily as the “king of the Sidonians” (as he is called not only in one of the biblical books and in the annals of the Assyrian kings, but also in the dedicatory inscription of the royal governor), but its capital was Tyre. Relatively recently, another opinion was expressed: in the southern part of Phoenicia, a federation of cities was formed, headed by Tyre.

Internal contradictions and the foundation of Carthage

The Phoenician blessing goddess. VIII century BC.

The Phoenician blessing goddess. Made in the Egyptian style (goddess Hathor). Silver-plated bronze. The eighth century BC is kept in the Louvre, Paris, France.

The richness and external splendor of the Shooting Gallery hid sharp internal contradictions. A fierce social and political struggle unfolded there. Hiram’s grandson, Abdastart, was killed by the sons of his nurse, and the eldest of them, who was enthroned, reigned for 12 years. After that, he, in turn, was eliminated, and the former dynasty, represented by three more monarchs, apparently returned to the throne. But the last of them, Feleth, was also overthrown and killed, and the power was seized by the priest of Astarte, Ithobaal, who became the founder of a new dynasty. Ithobaal’s speech reflects the struggle between the royal power and the apparently quite powerful priesthood. Another similar encounter, under Ithobaal’s great-grandson, Pygmalion, led this time to the king’s victory and the execution of the priest Melkarth Aherba. Ahab’s widow and sister Elissa, with a group of nobles supporting her and her late husband, fled Tyre and became the founder of Carthage in Africa.

The foundation of Carthage fits into the second phase of Phoenician colonization that has already begun. The colonization itself (at this stage) was caused by both general economic reasons and specific socio-political ones that developed in Tyre. First of all, this is the internal struggle that we are talking about now. The tsar was opposed by a fairly significant group of nobles. These people also involved the “plebs”, i.e. the lower strata of the community, in their struggle. Perhaps they were those Tyrian “farmers” who, most likely under Ithobaal, rose up in arms. Their demand was for new lands in the colonies. The aristocrats who were defeated in this struggle, together with a part of the “plebs” who supported them, went abroad and created new settlements there. This was apparently also beneficial to the kings of Tyre, who thus got rid of internal enemies and potential rivals. It was not for nothing that Ithobaal, who ruled in the first half of the ninth century BC, began to establish new cities, creating Botris in Phoenicia itself and Auzu in Africa, hoping, perhaps, to send his enemies there.

Phoenician or Carthaginian glass pendant

Phoenician or Carthaginian glass pendant in the shape of a head. IV-III centuries BC.

Being a consequence of the acute political situation in Tyre itself, colonization at the same time generally met the interests of the ruling circles of this city, and not only it. It is necessary to take into account the role of Tyre in the economy of the then Middle East. From the time of the first stage of colonization, Tyre was the main point of communication of the Near East with the vast and rich areas of the Western Mediterranean. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, economic development has reached such a level that it was necessary to unite the various economic regions within a single empire. Colonization was a means of connecting the resources of those countries that were beyond the immediate reach of the imperial rulers to the Middle Eastern economy. But this, while enriching the Phoenician cities, especially Tyre, created a great danger for them. Unable to capture directly Tarshish or North-West Africa, Sardinia or Sicily, the imperial lords sought to establish their control over the country in the East, where these Western resources mainly came, i.e., over Phoenicia. The decline of Egypt did not allow this country to restore the political role that it played in the era of the New Kingdom.

At this time, Byblos remained the main point of Phoenician-Egyptian contact, but this time independent of the Pharaohs. In the first half of the XI century BC, the king of this city, Cheker-Baal, whose predecessors groveled before the Pharaoh, proudly asserted the independence not only of his own, but also of his father and grandfather. The first pharaohs of the XXII dynasty may have tried to restore political control over the Bible, but failed: if such control existed (this is disputed in science), it was for a very short time, hardly longer than the reign of the first two pharaohs of this dynasty — Sheshonk I and Osorkon. A much greater danger was approaching Phoenicia from the east. It was Assyria.

Relations of Phoenicia with the Middle Eastern Empires

The struggle of Phoenicia and Assyria

The golden head of the Egyptian Imp deity who was popular with the Phoenicians

The golden head of the Egyptian Imp deity who was popular with the Phoenicians. Ca. VI-V centuries BC.

Back at the turn of the XII—XI centuries BC, Tiglath-Pileser I received tribute from Byblos, Sidon and Arvad and visited Arvad and Tsumur (Simir), which was not so long ago the center of Egyptian power in this region. The Phoenician cities were forced to pay tribute to Ashur-nazir-apal II and his successors Shalmaneser III and Adad-nerari III. The Phoenicians repeatedly tried to fight the Assyrian kings. Some cities, particularly Arvad, participated in the anti-Assyrian coalition led by the king of Damascus in the mid-ninth century BC. Perhaps the danger from Assyria was caused by the union of the Tyrian king Ithobaal and the Israelite king Ahab, sealed by the marriage of Ahab with the Tyrian princess Jezebel. But all efforts were in vain, and the son of Ithobaal, Baleazar, was forced to pay tribute to Shalmaneser.

The situation became even more acute when the Assyrians moved from spectacular but still sporadic campaigns to the creation of an empire. The campaigns of Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727 BC) led to the subjugation of Phoenicia. Its northern part, except for the city of Arvad, located on an island, was attached directly to Assyria itself, and the rest of the cities became its tributaries. The occasional tribute became a permanent tax paid by the Phoenicians to the Assyrian king. The local dynasties in the cities were preserved, but special representatives of the Assyrian king were placed next to the kings of Tyre and other cities, without whose knowledge the local monarchs could not not only show any initiative, but even read the correspondence. The Tyro-Sidonian state (or the Southern Phoenician federation led by Tyre) collapsed. In any case, in the VII century BC. e. in the face of the Assyrian power, these cities were already separate.

Phoenician ivory plaque, with a carved sphinx

A Phoenician ivory plaque with a carved sphinx. Ca. VIII century BC.

The Phoenicians repeatedly tried to free themselves from the heavy Assyrian yoke, but these attempts ended very badly. The revolt of Sidon ended with a new destruction of the city and the deprivation of its even ghostly independence. Tyr’s disloyalty cost him the loss of all his possessions on the mainland (Tyr himself, like Arvad, was on the island). Part of the Phoenician population was taken away from their homeland: Thus, the population of the southern city of Ahzib, which at one time was subordinate to Tyre, completely changed. After the destruction of Sidon, its inhabitants were also taken away from Phoenicia. However, a little later Sidon was restored and inhabited by the Phoenicians. The Assyrians did not completely destroy Phoenicia, as it was contrary to their interests.

Phoenicia and Babylonia

The subjugation of Assyria marked the beginning of a new era of Phoenician history, when the cities of Phoenicia, except for a short time, never regained full independence. The fall of Assyria freed them. But the legacy of this first Middle Eastern empire immediately became the subject of a battle of new predators. Claims to it were made by Sais Egypt and the New Babylonian kingdom. The Phoenician cities, like other small states in the region, did not have the strength to play an independent role in the unfolding drama, they could only bet on this or that card. Tyre bet on Egypt, and this led to a thirteen-year siege of the city by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians were unable to take Tyre, but the city was still forced to recognize the authority of the Babylonian king. At the same time, a part of the Tyrian population was resettled in Mesopotamia, as well as the inhabitants of Byblos. For a while, the kings of Tyre, Sidon, and Arvad were at the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Perhaps it was then that a peculiar situation developed in Tyre, when the throne was empty and power for 7-8 years passed to the Sufets, after which the former dynasty was restored to the throne.

Phoenicia as part of the Achaemenid empire

The head of the Phoenician lion from Sulchis

The head of a Phoenician lion from Sulcis (Sardinia). Alabaster. C. IV-III centuries BC. Stored in the Museum of Baraccio, Rome, Italy.

After the capture of Babylon by the Persians, the Phoenician cities immediately recognized the rule of Cyrus. Later, they became part of the fifth satrapy (“Zarechye”), which covered all the Asian territories south of Asia Minor and west of the Euphrates. According to Herodotus, the entire satrapy paid the Persians a tax of 350 talents of silver. This was a comparatively small sum, considering that 500 talents came to the Achaemenids from Cilicia alone, and 1,760 in all from Asia Minor. In addition, it is not known what proportion of these 350 talents fell on Phoenicia. The autonomy of the Phoenician cities was preserved, their own kings continued to rule there, and the Persians did not interfere in their internal affairs. It was advantageous for the Achaemenids to attract the Phoenicians, since their ships formed a significant part of the Persian fleet: it was not for nothing that when the Phoenicians did not obey the order to move against Carthage, Cambyses had to abandon his intention to subdue this city. On the other hand, the relatively mild Persian rule was beneficial to the Phoenicians, as the power of Persia helped them to compete, especially with the Greeks. In the Greco-Persian wars, the Phoenicians actively supported the Persians, and Herodotus singled out the Sidonian Tetramnestos, the Tyrian Mattenus, and the Arvadian Merbalus among the few local commanders he mentioned who submitted to the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. During the reign of the Achaemenids, Sidon took the first place among the Phoenician cities. His ships were the best in the Persian fleet. For some “important” business, Xerxes or Artaxerxes I handed over to the king of Sidon “forever” (which did not prevent the Sidonians from losing it later) the cities of Dor and Jaffa and the entire fertile Sharon Valley on the Palestinian coast. With the appearance of the coin, only the name of the king of Persia was minted on the reverse, which also indicates a slightly different connection between Sidon and the Achaemenids than with the rest of the Phoenicians.

The appearance of your own coin

Silver Tetradrachma (Bibl). Ca. 554-544 BC

Silver Tetradrachma (Bibl). Ca. 554-544 BC.

The appearance of the coin in the middle of the V century BC was a sign of the beginning changes in the life of the Phoenicians. The Phoenician economy has long had a commodity character. The Phoenicians traded both their own goods (handicrafts, wood, wine, although it was not always enough for themselves), and mostly foreign goods, being the main transit merchants of the Mediterranean. The scope of their trade covered an area of

  • From Assyria to Spain,
  • from Southern Arabia to Italy,
  • from Egypt to Asia Minor, including Greece, Etruria, their own colonies.

However, until the middle of the fifth century BC, it was essentially a commodity exchange, and when necessary, the Phoenicians used the Greek coin. Since the middle of the V century BC, in Tyre, Sidon, Bybla, and Arvada, their own silver and bronze coins have appeared. The Phoenician economy becomes not only commodity, but also monetary, as if foreshadowing the development of the monetary economy in the Hellenistic era. At the same time, the Phoenicians used their own standard, different from others, including the very common Attic.

Phoenician revolt against Persian rule

Another sign of the emerging changes was the first attempt in the history of Phoenicia to somehow coordinate its policies and create a semblance of a confederation within the Achaemenid empire. To this end, the Sidonians, Arvadians, and Tyrians built a “triple city” (Tripolis, as the Greeks called it) in the northern part of the country, where they lived, however, in separate quarters at a short distance from each other. Here, apparently, the Phoenician kings gathered with their advisers to consider the common affairs of all the Phoenicians. How effective these meetings were, we do not know. It is possible that at such a meeting in 349 A.D. The Phoenicians decided to revolt against the Persians.

Figure of a reclining woman

Figure of a reclining woman. Found in Arslan Tash, Syria. IX-VIII centuries BC.

Over time, the Achaemenid empire underwent irreversible processes leading to its weakening. Under these conditions, the benefits of Persian domination became increasingly dubious. The Persian kings used Phoenicia as a springboard for military operations against Egypt and Cyprus, and these wars disrupted free commercial shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean. The military power of the Achaemenids was in decline, and they could no longer be a reliable shield for the Phoenicians in the fight against competitors, and the further development of the commodity-money economy increasingly connected the Phoenician merchants with their Hellenic colleagues.

Therefore, the rule of the Achaemenids became more and more burdensome for the Phoenicians, and in 349 BC they rebelled. The soul of the revolt was Sidon, which had previously been the main support of the Persians in Phoenicia. In the course of the uprising, the differences between the interests of the king of Sidon and the citizens of Sidon were revealed. The latter were interested in an uncompromising struggle with the Persians, while the king at the crucial moment conspired with Artaxerxes III and betrayed the city. In 345, Persian troops entered Sidon. The townspeople put up a brave resistance, but were broken. The city was again destroyed and burned, and even its conflagration was sold by Artaxerxes for a few talents. 40 thousand people died in the flames, and the king took many others into slavery. In the following year, the rest of the Phoenician cities also submitted to Artaxerxes. For the third time in its history, Sidon was soon restored, and it seems that some part of the inhabitants was returned to it. After that, he was put under the “direct” control of the satrap of Cilicia Mazdei for a while, but then again found himself under the rule of his own king Abdastart. Thus, even the suppression of the rebellion did not lead to a radical change in the internal situation of Phoenicia.

Internal structure of Phoenicia

The power system

Decoration from Kition (Cyprus). IX century BC.

Decoration from Kition (Cyprus). IX century BC.

The internal history of Phoenicia after the invasion of the “peoples of the sea” in its main features was a direct continuation of the previous period. As in the second millennium BC, the political system of the Phoenician cities was a hereditary monarchy, and in each city the throne seems to have belonged to representatives of one royal family, although it could pass (and more than once passed) to different branches of this genus. In the hands of the king, the solution of all foreign policy issues was concentrated (and, when subordinated to the kings of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, relations with them were also concentrated). During wars, the kings led the army and navy, or sent their own men to command. Within the State, they performed administrative-judicial and military-police functions. With the appearance of the coin, it was not issued by the city, but by the king. The king seems to have had a special connection with the deity. But this did not mean that the figure of the king itself had a sacred character. He remained a man of the world. Next to the king stood the high priest, who could be the second person in the state, as was the priest of Melkart in Tyre under the kings Meten and Pygmalion. Quite sharp contradictions could arise between these two persons. As a result, the throne could end up in the hands of a priest, as happened in Tyre under Ithobaal and in Sidon under Eshmunazar. But even so, it seems, the dualism of secular and spiritual power was soon restored.

In the Phoenician cities of the first millennium BC, as before, the existence of a community is noted, with the will of which the king in many cases had to reckon. The community expressed its will through a meeting “at the gates” of the city and a council, which was clearly an organ of the communal aristocracy. The exact distribution of the powers of the king and the community is unknown. But the available facts suggest that the authority of the latter extended to the capital city itself, and outside of it the king acted completely independently.

Under the rule of the kings, in addition to the capital, there were other cities. The colonies founded by Tyre, with the exception of Carthage, were for a long time part of the Tyrian Empire. In Phoenicia itself, there were more or less extensive territories subject to one or another Phoenician king. In the subordinate cities, too, there were probably civil communities, but the system of relations between the community of the capital and the rest is not attested. Probably, in the Phoenician states there was a certain political dualism, in which the royal power and the system of communities co-existed, apparently unrelated to each other. The tsar shared power with the communal bodies directly in the cities themselves, but not outside them or in the state at all.

Socio-economic relations

This political-administrative dualism corresponded to the duality in socio-economic terms. In Phoenicia, the existence of two sectors of socio-economic life is clearly visible.

Phoenician sarcophagus from Amathus (Cyprus). Ser. V century BC.

Phoenician sarcophagus from Amathus (Cyprus). Ser. V century BC.

The royal sector included a forest. Both the kings of Tyre and the kings of the Bible cut down cedars, cypresses, and pines and sent them to Egypt or Palestine, without asking anyone, and clearly based on their ownership rights. If the king did not have a monopoly on the forest (there is no information about private felling, but their absence is not proof), he still secured the lion’s share in the extraction and export of this most important commodity of Phoenicia. The royal sector also included ships and the maritime trade conducted on them. The king also owned some land, the products of which he could put into trade. The tsar also had craft workshops. Thus, the royal sector covered all branches of the economy.

The royal sector included, of course, people. First of all, they are slaves. Despite the inaccuracy of the use of the word “slave” in the ancient East, we can be sure that some of those who are so called by the sources were real slaves, for example, the loggers of the Biblical king Cheker-Baal, who worked under the supervision of overseers, and the Tyrian king Hiram, whose earnings, paid by Solomon, went to the king himself as their master.

Along with them, there were people in Phoenicia who still occupied a slightly different position and were rather “royal people”. Such are the rowers, sailors, and helmsmen — some of them were strangers who came to the city, as in Tyre, where the rowers are the inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad. Among the” royal people “there were also artisans, such as a coppersmith (and in reality a master of” a wide profile») Hiram, who was sent by his royal namesake to build the temple in Jerusalem. This kind of people probably included foreign soldiers who served together with their own citizens. In the VI century BC. In Tyre they were citizens of Arvad, and in the fourth century in Sidon they were Greeks.

Only fragmentary information opens the way for the formation of a layer of “royal people”. The sailors, especially the rowers, who did the hardest work at sea, were foreigners, as were the warriors. But they came from different strata of a foreign city. Ezekiel calls the rowers the ” inhabitants “of Arvad, and the warriors the” sons ” of the same city. The latter expression denoted the citizens of the city. As for the artisans, they might have been locals, but socially inferior, like the aforementioned coppersmith Hiram, who was only half Tyrian.

For all its importance, the tsarist sector was not the only one in the economy. So, part of the trade, both sea and land, was carried out by private traders. There were undoubtedly artisans and landowners who were not part of the royal sector, as is proved by the inscriptions on various products and on vessels containing agricultural products. There is no information about the relationship between these sectors. But indirect indications suggest that the king was not the supreme owner of all the land. If he wanted to “round up” his possessions at the expense of the peasants, he had to resort to lawsuits. The implementation of such intentions should not have gone smoothly. And we know about the revolt of the farmers of Tyre, which most likely took place under Ithobaal.

Internal social structure of Phoenician cities

Thus, in both socio-economic and political terms, there is a duality of royal and communal institutions in the Phoenician cities. The community itself, of course, was not a single entity. It distinguishes the aristocracy and the “plebs”, as the Latin author calls it (the corresponding Phoenician terms were” powerful “and”small”). But both were “sons” of the city, i.e. its citizens. In addition to them, there were still “residents” of the city. They did not seem to be part of the civilian collective, but they were free men, for otherwise it is not clear how the” inhabitants ” of Arvad could have become rowers on the ships of Tyr. Perhaps the “inhabitants” included “tsarist people”, although they could also be the third category of the population of the state.

Phoenician glass Face Pendant

Phoenician glass pendant in the form of a head. Ca. 400-200 BC.

The complexity of the social and political structure of the Phoenician cities was reflected in the acute internal struggle, which has already been partially discussed. Kings and priests clashed, sharp conflicts tore apart the camp of the “powerful”. The latter drew the “small ones” into their internecine feuds, and sometimes they themselves rose up to defend their interests. It is even known about the slave revolt in Tyre, which occurred during the war of the Tyrians with the Persians, i.e., probably during the revolt of 348-344 BC, in which Tyre also took part. For a while, the slaves even took possession of the city, but then the power was in the hands of a certain Straton (Abdastart), who became the founder of a new dynasty. Thus, the Phoenician society, as far as we can judge from the scant data of the sources, “fits” into the general structure of the societies of ancient Western Asia. The changes that began to be outlined in the V-IV centuries BC (the appearance of the coin and the attempt to create a Phoenician confederation) did not radically change the character of Phoenicia. A deeper transformation took place in it after the conquest of Alexander.

After the defeat of the army of Darius III in 333 BC, Alexander the Great moved to Phoenicia. Most of the Phoenician cities submitted to him without a fight. True, the Sidonian king Abdastart II would have preferred to remain loyal to Darius, but was forced to follow the “popular will”. The Tyrian community, in the absence of the king, who was in the Persian fleet, took the fate of the city into their own hands, especially since the entire mainland part of the state was already in the hands of the conqueror. The Tyrians wanted to remain neutral in the war, but Alexander demanded to be allowed into the city. The Tyrians refused. The siege began. After a months-long siege and a brutal assault, the city was taken by an enemy army for the first time in its history in 332 BC. With the capture of Tyre, Alexander established his control over all of Phoenicia. The Macedonian conquest opened in Phoenicia, as in other countries of the Middle East, a new era of history — Hellenistic.

Phoenician Colonization

The head of a Phoenician. Limestone.

The head of a Phoenician. Limestone. X century BC is kept in the Museum of Cadiz, Spain.

A characteristic feature of ancient history was forced emigration, caused by the “scissors” between the growth of the population and the low level of development of the productive forces. One of the forms of forced emigration was colonization, i.e. the establishment of new settlements in foreign lands. Phoenician colonization played a significant role in the history of the ancient Mediterranean. The history of Phoenician colonization can be divided into two stages. The main causes and conditions of colonization at its first stage have already been discussed:

  • this is the emergence of relative overpopulation in Tyre,
  • the
    collapse of the Mycenaean sea power, which made it possible to sail more intensively in the western direction,
  • the
    use of this situation by the ruling circles of Tyre to get rid, on the one hand, of “undesirable” elements of the population, and on the other — to strengthen the most important trade routes and in places of extraction of precious metals.

The colonization of Phoenicia is divided into two stages —

  1. the second half of the XII — the first half of the XI century BC. e. — there is a gradual penetration into new lands, outposts are formed, contacts with local people are unstable;
  2. IX-VII centuries BC — a more serious stage of colonization. Building cities and forming strong connections with local residents.

The first stage of colonization

The first stage of colonization covers the second half of the XII — first half of the XI century BC. e. The Phoenicians moved in two ways —

  1. one went to Rhodes, then along the western coast of Asia Minor to Phasos,
  2. the
    other from Rhodes along the southern edge of the Aegean Archipelago to Sicily, thence to the northern promontory of Africa, and finally along the African coast to Southern Spain.

Gold-bearing Phasos and silver-rich Spain were the main targets of the colonists. On the way to them, the Phoenicians created intermediate points. Such points have arisen on the island of Melos in the Aegean Sea, on the Kiefer south of the Peloponnese, on the eastern and southern coasts of Sicily, in North Africa (Utica). Ancient tradition tells of a three-fold attempt by the Tyrians to settle in Southern Spain, and this is probably due to the resistance of the local population. Only for the third time on a small island off the coast, already behind the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar), the Phoenicians founded a city that received the characteristic name of Gadir – “fortress”, later the Romans called this city Hades. Apparently, in the interval between these attempts, in order to create a springboard for penetration into Spain in the north-west of Africa, also already behind the Pillars of Hercules, Like was founded.

Figure of a Phoenician woman with an Egyptian hairstyle

Figure of a Phoenician woman with an Egyptian hairstyle. Ivory. Ca. IX-VIII centuries BC.

At this stage, the Phoenician colonization was mainly of a commercial nature. The most important goal of the Phoenicians was precious metals. In return, they sold oil, various trinkets, all sorts of small sea goods, fabrics. The nature of these goods has left few tangible traces of the Phoenician trade. And it was most likely a “silent” exchange, when the participants of the transaction laid out their goods until both sides agreed to take them. In some cases, the Phoenicians themselves exploited the mines, as was the case on Phasos.

At this time, the Phoenicians founded simple strongholds for conducting trade or ensuring its security, and trading posts without a permanent population, and anchorages. Temples played an important role, often preceding the founding of cities, as was the case in Hades and Lyx: they gave merchants a sense of divine protection and a safe market. Some temples, as on Phasos, could also act as organizers of production. At that time, real cities with a permanent population were created, such as Gadir (Hades) in Spain and Utica in Africa.

Second stage of Phoenician colonization

A gap of about two centuries separates the first stage of colonization from the second. The economic and political problems that arose in the East, which have already been mentioned, led to the resumption of colonial expansion. The beginning of the second stage of it falls, apparently, in the second quarter of the IX century BC.

Tartessian Winged Cat

Tartessian “Winged Cat” from Spain. 750-575 BC is preserved at the Villa Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, the possibilities of Phoenician expansion were limited. Here, large centralized states regained strength, and in the Aegean basin, the movements of the Greeks and Thracians led to the displacement of the Phoenicians from the already occupied islands. In Greece itself, in the conditions of the beginning of the formation of the polis, there was also no place for Phoenician colonization. Therefore, if the Phoenicians settled there, they did not form independent organizations and quickly became Hellenized. In other countries, they could create separate quarters-trading posts, like the camp of Tyre in Memphis in Egypt. It was only in Cyprus that the Phoenicians established colonies in the southern part of the island. Cyprus became the base of their further advance to the west. Through this island, the Phoenicians moved to the Western Mediterranean.

In the Western Mediterranean, the scope of Phoenician colonization changed in its second phase. Now Sardinia has entered it. It attracted the colonists and its mineral wealth, and the fertility of the soil, and the strategic position that opened the way to Italy, Corsica, Gaul, Spain. In the IX-VII centuries BC, a number of Phoenician cities appeared on the southern and western shores of Sardinia — Nora, Sulch, Bitia, Tarros, and Calaris. Relatively early, the Phoenicians began to settle inside the island.

The second new area of colonization was the small but very important islands between Sicily and Africa: Melita (Malta) and Gavlos (Gozo). The Tyrians settled there in the eighth century BC. These islands were the most important points of communication between the mother country and the westernmost fringes of the Phoenician world.

In Southern Spain, by the end of the eighth century BC, the Tartessian power was formed, which entered into various contacts with the Phoenicians. The strengthening of these contacts required the creation of new points on the Iberian Peninsula. And here on its southern shore, but already east of the Pillars of Hercules, the Phoenicians created in the VIII-VII centuries BC. e. many settlements of various sizes and values. These were both relatively large cities, like Malaka or Sexy, and relatively small villages, whose names we do not know and which are now called by the names of modern settlements, like Toscanos or Chorrera. The establishment of colonies on the Mediterranean, rather than the Atlantic, coast of Southern Spain, was probably caused by the policy of the Tartessian monarchs, who did not want to strengthen competitors in the immediate vicinity of the center of the power, which was located at the mouth of the Betis River (Guadalquivir), which flows into the Atlantic Ocean immediately west of the Pillars.

Phoenician amphorae found in Sidon. 300-250 BC.

Phoenician amphorae found in Sidon. 300-250 BC.

In Sicily, in the eighth century BC, with the beginning of Greek colonization, the Phoenicians left the eastern and southern coasts and concentrated in the western part of the island. The cities of Motia, Solunt, and Panormus established there provided links to the already colonized areas of Sardinia and Africa. In the central part of North Africa, where Utica was founded earlier, several new Phoenician cities have now emerged, including Carthage (Karthadasht — a New City). In the north-west of this continent, south of Lyx, the Phoenicians settled around a bay that bore the eloquent Greek name “Emporicus” (Trade).

The second stage of the Phoenician colonization covered the IX-VII centuries BC, and the greatest scale of colonization is probably in the second half of the IX century BC, when the Tyrians began to withdraw colonies to Sardinia and radically expand their presence in Africa, founding Carthage and, perhaps, other cities. The territory of colonization has changed, now covering the extreme west of Sicily, the south and west of Sardinia, the Mediterranean coast of Southern Spain, the islands of Melita and Gavlos, and the central and extremely western part of North Africa. Metals are still the main goal of the Phoenicians. However, now we are talking not only about gold and silver, but also about the iron, lead, and tin necessary for the production itself. Another goal of colonization at this stage is the acquisition of land: it is not for nothing that the center of colonization activity largely moved from Spain, where the Tartessians did not allow them to settle in the fertile Betis valley, to the center of the Mediterranean basin — in fertile Sardinia and the Tunisian salient of Africa, famous for its land wealth. Colonization itself has become much more widespread, and the mass of immigrants has increased.

The inner life of the colonies

Lead weight with Tanita symbol

A lead weight with the symbol of Tanita, the Phoenician Moon goddess. V-II centuries BC.

In the colonies, along with trade, crafts, agriculture and, of course, fishing began to develop. The number of cities has increased. Along with them, there were also small villages — some of them developed a multi-industry economy, while others focused on a single industry. The Phoenicians began to penetrate into the interior of certain territories.

The relations of the colonists with the local population have changed. The latter has now developed so much that it was not limited to “silent” exchange and began to enter into a variety of contacts with the aliens. These contacts eventually covered the entire economic, political and cultural sphere. Where there were conditions for this, local variants of the “orientalizing” civilization emerged. Such was the Tartessian, which developed in the south of the Iberian Peninsula in the VIII-VI centuries BC. There was also a reverse influence of the local population on the colonists, which led to the emergence of local branches of the Phoenician culture. The surrounding inhabitants thus acted as an important component of the colonization process.

The removal of colonies, and to a large extent trade, was due to the support and even initiative of the government. Under these conditions, the cities and towns that emerged became part of the Tyrian empire, although it is now difficult to determine the forms and degree of dependence on the mother country. It is known that in Carthage, Cyprus, there was a governor of the king, who called himself his slave and bore the title of sukin. Apparently, in the Phoenician cities of Cyprus, close to Phoenicia, the power of the king was felt quite strongly. Strict control of the more distant colonies was more difficult, and yet Utica’s attempt to evade the payment of tribute caused a punitive expedition from Tyre. Later, the Carthaginians sent special residents to their colonies to control the life of these cities. It is possible that they borrowed this practice from the mother country, and in this case it can be assumed that the Tyrian authorities sent similar residents to their colonies. There was one important exception to this rule — Carthage in Africa. It was founded in 825-823. not at the initiative of the king of Tyre, but by a group of opposition nobles led by the king’s sister Elissa. She became the queen of the city. There could be no question of Carthage’s political subordination to Tyre, although the Carthaginians had maintained spiritual ties with the metropolis throughout their history.

The decline of Phoenicia as a powerful power

The political subordination of Phoenicia to the Assyrians could not but affect the fate of the Tyrian power. As early as the end of the eighth and beginning of the seventh centuries BC, the Phoenician cities in Cyprus were subject to Tyre: its king fled to the island, apparently to his own domain, from the attack of Sinachherib. But the successor of Sinacherib, Esarhaddon, treated the Phoenician kings of Cyprus as his own subjects, regardless of Tyre or Sidon. Apparently, it was in the first half of the seventh century that the Phoenicians of Cyprus came out from under the rule of Tyre. The final blow to the power was dealt by the events of the 80-70s of the VI century BC, when, after a long siege in 574, Nebuchadnezzar subdued Tyre, where even for a moment the royal power was eliminated. And soon after, the Tartessians launched an offensive against the Phoenician colonies in Spain, apparently taking advantage of the fact that they had lost the support of the mother country. Some of the Phoenician settlements there perished. The colonial power created by Tyre seems to have ceased to exist. Its place in the Western Mediterranean was taken by another Phoenician power, led by Carthage.

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