The story

Phoenicians (continued)


Economy

The principal economic activity of the Phoenicians was commerce. Due to commercial business, the Phoenicians developed maritime navigation techniques, becoming the largest navigators of antiquity.

In this way, they traded with large numbers of people and in various parts of the Mediterranean, keeping the sea routes they discovered secret. A considerable part of the products traded by the Phoenicians came from their artisan workshops dedicated to metallurgy (bronze and iron weapons, gold and silver jewelry, religious statues). the manufacture of tinted glasses and the production of dye fabrics (purple fabrics should be highlighted). In turn, they imported products from various regions such as metals, aromatic essences, precious stones, horses and cereals. Tire was the principal city engaged in the slave trade, acquiring prisoners of war and selling them to the rulers of the Near East. Expanding their commercial activities, the Phoenicians founded several colonies that at first served as trading bases. We found Phoenician colonies in places like Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia and southern Spain. In North Africa, the Phoenicians founded the important colony of Carthage.


Relief of a Phoenician boat

The alphabet, a Phoenician creation

What led the Phoenicians to create the alphabet was precisely the need to control and facilitate trade. The Phoenician alphabet had 22 letters, only consonants, and was therefore much simpler than cuneiform and hieroglyphic writing. The Phoenician alphabet served as the basis for the Greek alphabet. This gave rise to the Latin alphabet, which in turn generated the alphabet currently used in Brazil.

The Phoenicians and the religion

The Phoenician religion was polytheistic and anthropomorphic. The Phoenicians preserved the ancient traditional gods of the Semitic peoples: the earthly and heavenly deities common to all peoples of ancient Asia. It should be noted, as a strange fact, that they gave no greater importance to the deities of the sea.

Each city had its god, Baal (lord), often associated with a female entity - Baalit. Sidon's Baal was Eshmun (god of health). Byblos adored Adonis (god of vegetation), whose worship was associated with that of Ashtart (the Chaldean Ihstar; the Greek Astarteia), goddess of earthly goods, love and spring, fecundity and joy. In Tire surrendered worship to Melcart and Tanit.

To placate the wrath of the gods animals were sacrificed. And sometimes terrible human sacrifices were made. They even burned their own children. On some occasions, 200 newborns were thrown into the fire at the same time - while their mothers watched the sacrifice impassively.