Phenicia was an ancient civilization made up of independent cities that stretched along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea , spreading through what is now Syria , Lebanon, and northern Israel . The Phoenicians were a great maritime people , known for their mighty ships adorned with horse heads in honor of their god of the sea, Yamm, the brother of Mot, the god of death. The island of the city of Tire and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states of Phenicia. Phoenician cities or states began to take shape in 3200 BC. Phenicia prospered as a maritime trading town and as a manufacturing center and was very important in shipbuilding , glassmaking , production of dyes , and articles of luxury.


What are the Phoenicians?

The Phoenicians were a Middle Eastern people who were located in Lebanon , Syria and Palestine , they were Canaanites within the group of West Asians who were closely related to the Arameans in culture and ethnicity.


Characteristics of the Phoenicians

Among the main characteristics we mention the following:

  • They were promoters of peace and development .
  • They had a broad vision that allowed them to interact with different peoples and cultures.
  • They were able to adapt to climates and geographic conditions .
  • It was a more cosmopolitan than ethnocentric people .
  • His culture was based on knowledge and he was a city builder.
  • They drove commerce in the ancient world.


There is no exact date or data on the origin of the Phoenicians. According to Herodotus , they had come from the Indian Ocean and it is considered that the Phoenicians come from the Semitic branch that arrived in Palestine in the 12th century BC. They began to carry out commercial exchanges with Egypt and Crete , however, the people never managed to be really united. After 333 BC the Phoenician people had disappeared, as they had been absorbed by the Assyrian and Persian empires .

History of the Phoenicians

They are located from the year 1,200 BC . after they left the Middle East and began to trade with the islands of the Mediterranean Sea , Europe and North Africa. The Greeks were the ones who gave them the name of Phoenicians. They were heirs and always promoted peace and development , in their town you could find people who knew letters, the alphabet, books, inventions and different discoveries.

Geographic location

Phoenician culture had its development in Asia Minor , on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and in Western Syria . The current territory where the Phoenicians were located is known as Lebanon . It comprised a territory of about 40 to 50 kilometers wide by 200 kilometers long. It was bordered to the north by Syria, to the south by Palestine, to the east by the mountains of Lebanon and to the west by the Mediterranean Sea.

Political and social organization

The Phoenicians had a king and a council of elders whom they had to follow faithfully for this reason they never managed to have power. They had groups of men from families who had founded the city and who held the best positions within the administration . The merchants were divided into farmers and artisans , and, in addition, there were groups of slaves that came in most cases from commercial exchanges. Each Phoenician city had its businesses and they also had monarchs in charge of taking care of the interests, whose throne was inherited by the children of this one.


As for the religion of the Phoenician people, it is known that they had many gods, they were polytheists . The main god, however, was known by the name of Melkar . The most important temple of the Phoenician culture was the temple of Gades, which was located in the city of Gades . In their religious customs we can mention that women had to offer their virginity to the priests of the Ashtart temple. Children were sacrificed on altars. They worshiped Baal : the Sun, the teacher, god of rains and storms; and to Astarte or Baalith : the Moon, goddess of vegetation and fertility.

Economy and trade

The most important part for the Phoenician civilization was trade, since it was the backbone of all society . The lands, although they were not many, were quite fertile, which promoted production for commercial exchanges that were also the basis of their economy . They minted coins to pay for their products and to carry out the exchanges. All exchanges took place in the temples to promote security, and therefore the temples functioned as a kind of bank to carry out economic transactions . They developed the fabricdyeing , glass and metals .


They transformed the native rock and used it in the manufacture of houses, temples and tombs. The calcareous rock was also worked by the Phoenicians. Their houses were open structures with quadrangular plants , connected to each other by different spaces. They fortified their cities and built residential structures attached to each other.


The art of the Phoenician culture was merely handmade and reached its splendor with the exchange of objects. He had great influence from the people of Egypt , Assyria , Syria and the Aegean , and they took into account the tastes of these places to make their art.

Legacy and contributions of the Phoenicians

The legacy of the Phoenicians is the most important part for the religiosity of the West. The name of the bible comes from its relationship with Byblos. They built the great temple of King Solomon . Pythagoras was a Phoenician and they had knowledge about Pi (3.14159265). Many of the sections found in the Old Testament were copied from Phoenician literature . They are considered as the inventors of the Latin alphabet.

Phoenicians in Spain

The Phoenicians baptized Spain as ” Isephanim ” which means rabbit coast. Historians do not give notes on the Phoenician presence in the West, but it is stated that the Phoenician foundations located in Spain after the Trojan War existed. It is known that Cádiz , previously known as Gádir , functioned as the capital of the Phoenician colonies located on the Peninsula . With the Phoenicians in Spain the metallurgical industry was born in Spain and they dedicated themselves to fishing.

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