Notaries in old Phoenicia, 1500 BC

Ancient Phoenicia was situated in the an ar at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Phoenician city-states, rule by monarchs (high priests), started to type around 3200 BC.

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The major ports were Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, and also Gebal (Byblos), now all in Lebanon. Byblos had actually been trading through Egypt and Mesopotamia since 3000 BC.

The Phoenicians were master shipbuilders, navigators, sailors, builders, craftsmen, and merchant traders. They learned come navigate by the stars. Your ships can travel 100 miles per day.

They sailed in fleets the cargo ships protected by warships v bronze-covered battering rams to destroy enemy ships. Warships had more oars for much faster speeds, supplied for attack and also ramming.

By 1200 BC, the Phoenicians had actually trading posts and also colonies on numerous Aegean and Mediterranean islands, trade agreements with neighbors, populated quarters in cities in Egypt and had swarms along the north shore of Africa and coastal Spain.

They traded with Greece, Rhodes, Cyprus, Crete, Egypt, and also Mesopotamia and dared to travel beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Strait that Gibraltar) right into the Atlantic. A key to their trading success to be the capacity to adapt to the tastes the buyers in various countries.


In the Old Testament, the region is called Canaan. Historians refer come the people as Canaanites as soon as talking about the society before 1200 BC. It is the promised floor in Hebrew scriptures come which Moses led the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt.

About 1200 BC, the seaside region to be raided through the secret Sea Peoples. Some of them worked out in the area and were known as the Philistines.

Imports and also Exports


Imports consisted of male and also female slaves, bales the linen, papyrus, rope, ebony, ivory, silk, amber, spices, incense, horses, gold, silver, copper, lead and also tin.

Although best known because that sea trade, the land-based Silk Road caravan trade in silk, spices, perfume, and also incense passed v Phoenicia.

Goods to be stored in good warehouses.

Exports were timbers from the cedars that Lebanon, cloth, fine linen, embroideries, blue and purple dyes, metalwork, inlaid furniture, swollen glass, glass trinkets, pottery, wine, olive oil, cedar oil, gold and silver jewelry, nuts, figs, apricots, salt, dried fish, and also perfume.

Phoenician artisans were experienced in wood, ivory, pottery, glass, metalworking, and textile production.

Land of violet People

Tyrian purple, recognized as Royal Purple, was an expensive violet-purple dye used by royalty and also wealthy elite to shade hems and also garments and for stripes in ship sails. Phoenicia originates from the Greek native phoinike, for purple.

The dye was made from the secretions the the Murex sea-snail. About 10,000 snails were required to do 1 gram the dye. The purple dye was 3 times an ext expensive 보다 gold. The stained the hands of dye workers, earning the surname “purple people”. Other types of snails produced a blue dye.

Note: Tyrian purple is a dark shade with a hexadecimal web shade code of #66023c. Tyrian Purple (red 66, green 02, blue 3c).

Phoenician Alphabet and Scribes

Phoenicia to be the birthplace the the alphabet, brought to greek by the Phoenician Kadmus, prior to the 8th century BC. The oldest known representation the the Phoenician alphabet is top top the sculpted limestone sarcophagus that King Ahiram that Byblos.

The marks do by the scribes, with a stylus on damp clay or papyrus, capture the sound that a word. This forced an alphabet of individual letters. The letter were design so most of the shapes are angular and straight to compose quickly.

It was made up of 22 consonants, known as an abjad writing system, written best to left, with no vowels. The Greeks included vowels. The Romans make a couple of changes for the Latin alphabet, now the many widely supplied alphabetic writing device in the world.

The widespread use of the alphabet across the Mediterranean boosted literacy past an elite team of royalty, priests, and scribes, who had previously supplied more complex writing to control accessibility to details by the public.

The scripts in use up to the 2nd millennium BC (in Egypt, Mesopotamia, or China) forced the scribe to learn hundreds of characters, every representing a word or syllable.

The alphabet to be the very first widespread phonetic script and influenced the social frameworks of plenty of civilizations. That simplicity enabled it to be provided in plenty of languages and permitted common human being to learn to read and also write.

The alphabet provided a an easy and easy means to store track the trades. Since money was involved, civilization were highly motivated to find out the system.

Along through the alphabet come the pen, ink, papyrus, parchment, and finally paper.

Papyrus records Destroyed

Phoenician merchants, government, military, religions, and also scribes kept records on papyrus. Lock imported so lot papyrus ~ above rolls from Egypt that the Greeks provided the name Byblos, for the great Phoenician port, to refer to the old paper. The surname Bible, or “the book,” derives from Byblos.

Black ink to be made the soot, water, and also gum arabic. Red ink was made of iron, water, and gum arabic.

Although the Phoenicians reportedly had a well-off literature and also an advanced code that laws, the was lost in antiquity. Their writings, largely on fragile papyrus, were ruined by conquerors Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander, or degenerated over time. Much more records made it through from Carthage and trading partners.

They occurred maritime laws provided in the Law that Rhodes, Lex Rhodia. The first law school was started in Beirut and taught Roman law for three centuries until it was damaged by an earthquake.

Sanchuniathon was an early Phoenician sage, priest, and also writer from Beirut in 1400 BC. The assembled the ancient history from the heritages of separation, personal, instance cities, and also from records and also inscriptions on sun pillars in temples. In the 1st century AD, Philo that Byblos wrote a Phoenician History in ripe volumes, translating the job-related of Sanchuniathon native Phoenician to Greek.

According to Sanchuniathon, understanding started with Taautus, a god native Byblos, who found the use of letters and the writing of records. This scribe that the gods bore a tablet, pen, and also palm-branch (Phoenix tree). He attended the judgment of the souls, developed writing, and served together a wise teacher and also peacemaker.

Seals and Notaries

Many stamp seals and also cylinder seals have been uncovered throughout the Levant (eastern Mediterranean region). Seals to be made of rock or clay and were provided to make impressions in clay or wax to seal a document. Countless seal impressions, well-known as bullae, have survived.

Seals are stated in the Bible. They contained symbols, patterns, faces, gods, animals, names, and also text.

Priests acted together scribes and notaries, standardization weights and measures, and oversaw banking and also warehousing. Temples served as warehouses and also banks, attracting private deposits that silver and also goods.

The substantial trade of Phoenicia compelled much record-keeping, contracts, loans, insurance, peace treaties, letter of introduction, and correspondence.

Although papyrus records have been destroyed, some old writings endured as inscriptions in clay, stone, ivory, gold, silver, or bronze. In rarely cases, reusable wax writing tablets have been found inside huge clay ceramic jars. They were supplied for drafting documents.


The Journey the Wen-Amen, describes a priest of the Amen holy place at Karnak. Throughout the reign of Ramses III of Egypt, Wen-Amen sailed in a Phoenician ship to Gebal (Byblos), to buy cedar timbers for the building of the great barge Userhet that Amen-Re, king of gods, of 130 cubits length, inlaid v gold.

The journey defines scribes and also journals supplied for composing letters, ship manifests, and record keeping. One Egyptian scribe earned around 15 deben of copper every month. A deben was a weight unit, about 91 grams.

Colony that Carthage

Over time, Phoenicia was got into by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, and also Romans. But, they had established numerous distant colonies. The strategically important nest of Carthage (Qart-hadash) “New City,” in existing Tunisia, southwest of Sicily, was established in 800 BC.

In 573 BC, when Tyre was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Carthage ended up being the main Phoenician naval port.

In the sixth century BC, Hanno the Navigator sailed with 60 ships native Carthage and also explored the coastline of West Africa, as far south together the Niger River, developing trading posts and also colonies.

In 450 BC, Carthaginians sailed to England, and additionally began to trade routinely with West Africa, exchanging goods because that gold.

In 332 BC, Phoenicia was overcame by Alexander the Great of Macedonia.

In 145 BC, during the Punic Wars, the Phoenician swarm at Carthage was ruined by the Roman Empire, and the soil was sown through salt to prevent plants from growing.

In 64 BC, Phoenicia became part of the Roman district of Syria, and also faded into history. The Arab Conquest came in 636 AD.

Phoenicians in America

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Phoenician sailors, at the inquiry of Pharaoh Necho II (610–595 BC), circumnavigated Africa, 2 thousand years before Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1497.

Carthaginians may have discovered and followed the Canary and also North Equatorial westward ocean currents native the west shore of Africa come the Caribbean, two thousand years before Columbus.

They may have sent pearls on follow-up ocean voyages to Mexico, North and also South America. Gold coins produced in Carthage be afflicted with a pattern resembling a map, controversially said as illustrating America.

One theory is that once Rome destroyed Carthage, fleeing Carthaginians escaped through ship and also sailed throughout the Atlantic, perhaps to web page on the Gulf that Mexico and Yucatan. They were battle-hardened warriors v long, thick beards, helmets, spears, and also shields.

They were known as Toltecs by the natives, with artefacts found in Mexico and Arizona. Mexican history describes bearded warriors that arrived through ships indigenous the east. Bearded statues in Mexico resemble bearded artwork in Phoenicia.

An engraving on Tumamoc Hill facing Tucson Arizona uses ancient Phoenician letters. That is an providing to Tanit and Baal, the gods of the Sea Peoples. The ancient name for the Pima and also Papago Indians was Hohokam, meaning Sea Peoples. Tumamoc Hill was the previous Toltec fortress city that Rhoda, perhaps called for Rhodes, a Phoenician colony.

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Image Credits1. Map the Phoenicia, trade routes, through Yom (talk · contribs) , via Wikimedia Commons2. Phoenician seller ship3. Tyrian imperial Purple, by CC-BY-SA-3.0 (>, via Wikimedia Commons4. Phoenician alphabet5. Papyrus document, through Mystharion, kid of Heron, fl. 126. Bill of sale because that a donkey, 126. 1 leaf : papyrus ; 19.3 x 7.2 cm. Ms Gr SM2223 houghton Library, Harvard college , via Wikimedia Commons6. National geographical documentary, quest for the Phoenicians, 2004, 55 minutes7. Phoenician warship

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