The Phoenicians, based upon a narrow coastal strip that the Levant, put their fantastic seafaring skills to great use and created a network that colonies and trade centres across the old Mediterranean. Their major trade paths were by sea to the Greek islands, throughout southern Europe, down the Atlantic coastline of Africa, and also up to ancient Britain. In addition, Arabia and also India were got to via the Red Sea, and large areas of west Asia were associated to the countryside via land courses where goods were transported by caravan. Through the 9th century BCE, the Phoenicians had established themselves as among the biggest trading strength in the old world.

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Geographical Extent

Trade and the find for an useful commodities necessitated the establishment of permanent trading write-ups and, as the Phoenician ships generally sailed close to the coast and only in daytime, constant way-stations too. This outposts became an ext firmly created in bespeak to regulate the profession in particular commodities accessible at that particular site. In time, these developed further to come to be full nests so that a long-term Phoenician influence ultimately extended about the whole coastline of the ancient Mediterranean and also the Red Sea. Their broad-bottomed single-sail cargo ships transported items from Lebanon to the Atlantic coastline of Africa, Britain, and also even the Canary Islands, and brought goods back in the contrary direction, protecting against at profession centres all over else between. Nor was trade minimal to sea paths as Phoenician caravans additionally operated throughout west Asia tapping into well-established trading area such as Mesopotamia and also India.

Phoenician sea trade can, therefore, be divided into the for the colonies and also that with other trading civilizations. Consequently, the Phoenicians not just imported what castle needed and also exported what they themselves cultivated and also manufactured however they could also act together middlemen traders transporting products such as papyrus, textiles, metals, and spices between the many civilizations with who they had actually contact. They could thus make massive gains by offering a commodity v a low worth such as oil or ceramic for an additional such as tin or silver- which was not itself valued by its producers but could fetch massive prices elsewhere. Trade Phoenicians show up in every manner of ancient sources, indigenous Mesopotamian reliefs to the functions of Homer and also Herodotus, native Egyptian tomb arts to the book of Ezekiel in the Bible. The Phoenicians were the tantamount of the international haulage trucks of today, and just as ubiquitous.


Methods the Exchange

As with numerous other old civilizations the Phoenicians traded products using a range of methods. Reputation goods might be exchanged together reciprocal gifts yet these could be an ext than shared tokens of goodwill as, by bestowing top top the recipient an obligation, they were a method to initiate trade partnerships. Deluxe goods provided as presents may also have been a deliberate attempt by the Phoenicians to produce a need for much more such item and help the Phoenicians acquire the neighborhood resources they coveted.

Goods were bought or sold in a reasonably controlled manner where quantities and prices were resolved beforehand v the illustration up of trade agreements and also treaties.

Goods could be built up as a form of tribute in return for armed forces protection or under compulsion. These were then stored in huge quantities and then redistributed either in your ar or traded elsewhere. Goods could be bartered for and exchanged in kind on the spot. Alternatively, and also perhaps the most common an approach employed by the Phoenicians, goods might be bought or marketed in a reasonably controlled manner whereby quantities and also prices were fixed beforehand v the drawing up of profession agreements and also treaties managed by the state. The exchange worth of goods was, therefore, fixed and so coinage was unnecessary, which is no to speak there was no system of composed arbitrary values and credit arrangements. The Phoenicians might not have produced coinage precisely since their profession was important international and they had no usage for coins which could not be used much from the place of their mint.

Completely totally free trade wherein prices fluctuate because of supply and demand is a system thought through some historians not come have been in operation before the fourth century BCE however the check out is much debated amongst scholars. Phoenician trade was likely, then, lugged out through state officials functioning on commission but likewise by consortiums the traders closely connected with royal households. These latter would have actually been high-ranking nobles, as described in Isaiah 23:8, "Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers space the honourable the the earth." probably from roughly the 8 hours century BCE the amount of trade lugged out through private merchants increased and the straight intervention that the state was reduced, again, the point is still topic to scholastic debate. The trading of products most regularly took location in state-sanctioned trade centres which were usually recognised as neutral by the different regional states. The Phoenician city of tire is a standard example.

Exported items - Wood

Phoenicia was a mere seaside strip donate by mountains. Despite the paucity the land easily accessible they did control to develop cereals through watering of the arable terrain and cultivate ~ above a restricted scale such foods items as olives, figs, dates, walnuts, almonds, pomegranates, plums, apricots, melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, and also wine. However, the Phoenicians were most provided as exporters of wood. This commodity came from their abundant cedar and fir forests and had been traded because the start of tape-recorded history. The cedar is a high tree through a special girth, make it right for timber. It likewise has the additional benefit of possessing an fragrant odour. Mesopotamia and Egypt were the most notable customers, the previous receiving your trunks via caravan as much as the Euphrates river while ships carried the hardwood to the afri coast. The profession is taped in reliefs of Sargon II and also an engraving of Nebuchadnezzar. Follow to the chronicler George Rawlinson, Phoenician cedar lumber was offered by King Solomon for his commemorated temple, by Herod in Zerubbabel"s Temple, and by the Ephesians because that the roof the the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, among the 7 Wonders of the ancient World.


The other renowned Phoenician export to be textiles which supplied wool, linen yarn, cotton, and later, silk. Structure (sheep and goat) probably dominated and also came indigenous Damascus and also Arabia. Linen yarn to be imported from Egypt while silk came from Persia. Acquisition these life materials, the Phoenicians transformed them into uniquely colourful items, particularly clothes and carpets. Fine multi-coloured apparel from Phoenicia is referenced both in Homer - wherein Paris gives Helen a gift the the cloth prior come whisking her off to trojan - and also in Egyptian arts when depicting Phoenicians native Sidon. The dyed structure were climate exported ago again, for example, to Memphis whereby the Phoenicians even had their own quarter in the city.

Cloth passed away purple using liquid from the murex shellfish lugged the Phoenicians fame transparent the ancient world.

Cloth dyed purple (actually shades ranging from pink to violet) using fluid from the Murex trunculus, Purpura lapillus, Helix ianthina, and also especially the Murex brandaris shellfish carried the Phoenicians fame transparent the old world. Life in fairly deep water, this shell-fish were caught in baited traps suspended from floats. The dye was then extracted from thousands of putrefied shellfish left to bake in the sun. So renowned were this textiles that substantial deposits of the shells have been excavated on the outskirts of Sidon and Tyre and the species was all but driven to extinction along the coasts of Phoenicia. The highest possible quality towel was recognized as Dibapha, meaning "twice dipped" in the purple dye. The Phoenicians not only exported the dyed fabric but also the procedure of extracting the dye, as suggested by the shell deposits uncovered at Phoenician colonies across the Mediterranean. Besides their lively colours, Phoenician textiles were additionally famous for their fine embroidery. Famous designs consisted of repeated motifs such as scarabs, rosettes, winged globes, lotus blossoms, and mythical monsters.



The Phoenicians additionally traded glassware. The Egyptians had already been long-time producers but from the 7th century BCE the Phoenicians began to produce transparent glass, as opposed to simply opaque glassware. Crucial centres the glass manufacturing were Sidon, Tyre, and Sarepta. Transparent glass was used to to produce mirrors, plates, and drinking glasses but the Phoenicians seemed to have appreciated semi-transparent coloured glass (blue, yellow, green, and brown) because that their an ext elaborate productions and also for jewellery and tiny plaques which were sewn top top clothing. Phoenician glassware, especially in the type of little perfume bottles, has actually been found as far afield as Cyprus, Sardinia, and also Rhodes.

Imported Goods

The Phoenicians imported metals, specifically copper from Cyprus, silver and iron from Spain, and also gold native Ethiopia (and probably Anatolia). This raw product was transformed into ornate vessels and also art objects in Phoenician workshops and also then exported. Believe (from Britain), command (Scilly Isles and also Spain), and also brassware were likewise traded, the latter principally coming from Spain. Cream color was imported indigenous either punting or India, as was ebony, both comes to Phoenicia via Arabia. Amber came either indigenous the Baltic or Adriatic coast and also was provided in Phoenician jewellery. Embroidered linen and also grain to be imported from Egypt and also fine, worked towel from Mesopotamia. Grain, barley, honey, and oak timber supplied for oars on Phoenician ships, came from Palestine.

Phoenician markets additionally traded in slaves (from Cilicia and Phrygia but additionally captured through the Phoenicians themselves), lamb (Arabia), horses and also mules (Armenia), goats, structure (Damascus and Arabia), coral, perfumes (Judah and Israel), agate, and also precious stones such as emeralds (from Syria and Sheba). Flavors came indigenous the Arabian peninsula (some coming from distant India) and also included cinnamon, calamus, cassia, ladanum, frankincense, and myrrh.

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From the 7th century BCE the Phoenicians" profession network was overshadowed by the initiatives of one of its many successful nests - Carthage, by the Greeks, and also then the Romans. Yet the Phoenicians had actually been the first Mediterranean trade superpower, and also their early dominance led to those realms which followed adopting comparable trading practices and also even adopting Phoenician names for specific exotic products from far-off lands. The Phoenicians had actually dared come sail past the horizon and also transport commodities to wherein they were many prized. Together the prophet Isaiah (23:2) stated, "you merchants of Sidon, whose goods travelled over the sea, over large oceans."

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Mark is a history writer based in Italy. His special interests incorporate pottery, architecture, civilization mythology and discovering the principles that all people share in common. That holds one MA in political Philosophy and is the posting Director in ~ WHE.