Notes on “Phoenicians”

The following are my notes on the following article:

Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg), Röllig, Wolfgang (Tübingen), Eder, Walter (Berlin), Müller, Walter W. (Marburg/Lahn) and Müller, Hans-Peter (Münster), “Phoenicians, Poeni”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider. Consulted online on 10 April 2017 <;

If you aren’t interested in reading the notes, directly below here is two paragraphs responding this article and other things.

In terms of being part of a West-Semitic context, the P. fit very well. Thus, some would claim that ancient Israel should be understood within a P. context. This approach, however, seems to draw too much on the people who descended from the P., namely the Punic ethnicity. Based on what I read in this article, the lack of archaeological support, the HB, and the inimical way in which people reported on P. culture and history, it seems that P. was an equal contender with ancient Israelian-Judean ethnicity (ethnicities?). Just like Judah was able to survive the pressure of empires more than their Northern counterparts, so Sidon was able to survive the pressure of empires more than their counterpart, namely Tyre.

In other words, the historical developments within this shaky history of P. is nothing particularly grands, just as ancient Israelian-Judean historical developments is not particularly grand. Each ethnic group was situated in a politically and religious challenging context. They each dealt with the issue in distinct ways.

I. Names and concept, sources

  • Name and idea of Phoenicians formed in Greek world
  • Referring to political/ethnic identity from LBA.
  • For Greek traders, P. was a functional designation.
  • Latin name Poeni.
    • Roman creation based in Carthage.
  • Scanty literary sources; mainly transmitted by neighbouring people.
    • P. and Punic cultures were often portrayed as inimical, and thus they distorted thier stories.
  • Archaeology contributes little to the cultural profile of P.

II.  Geography and Topography

  • Mother country defined by concrete territory, though we don’t know exact locations.
    • Included Arward, Byblus, Sidon, Tyrus.
  • Historically and geographically situated near Ugarit in the N., Samaria and Jerusalem in the S.
  • P. sought to “acquire the raw materials pressingly needed for domestic industry and crafts and for their prosperous… trading in the eastern Mediterranean”.
  • Strategic in placing settlements.
  • Large finds of exported luxury good outside of P. cities and settlements.
    • earl Iron Age saw elite position and access to raw materials; copper in Cyprus, gold in Thasos, and many other mining regions.
  • P. was not an original “resident” of ancient Mediterranean, but they were present.

III. History

  • P. is defined by representative city states because there is no comon history.
    • Josephus ref. a Hellenistic historian who wrote a P. history.
    • Philo of Byblus wrote a P. History.
    • In HB, only P. cities are mentioned, but no state of larger tribal unit.
    • Though, shared cultural things.
  • Forced to expand into Cyprus and Crete by 10th century BCE, also Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and N. Africa.
  • Political ties with Anatolia and Syria.
    • Sidon joined anti-Assyrian coalition, only to be “deported and decapitated by Asarhaddon (681-669) in 676 BCE.
  • Collapse of N. Syria political world let Byblus come to political forefront c. 1200 BCE.
  • c. 969-936, treaty with Sidonian leader Hiram I and Solomon, 1 Kings 5:26.
  • Tyre became a key player in warlike disputes c. 810-727.
    • Hiram II (739-732) participated in a revolt at Damascus.
    • Sidon retained indepndence.
    • 663 – it was besieged by Assurbanipal and surrendered.
      • Province was likely incorporated into Assyrian system.
  • Post-Assyrian fall, P. cities try to regain independence.
    • cf. Zeph 1,4
    • Egypt, and Babylon, prevented this.
    • According to Josephus, Tyre “was besieged for 13 years (Jos. Ap. 1,143).
  • Under Persian rule, Sidon again sought to regain independence after being incorporated into the Persian Empire.
    • Rose against Artaxerxes III Ochus, but surrendered.
    • Sidon received Alexander the Great in 333; Tyre tried to resist for 7 months, but failed.
  • Post  64 BCE, under Romans, P. cities lost political power.

B. Punic

  • The article has much on it; however, this is outside of what my area of focus is. I’d like to read it eventually, but not now.

IV. Archaeology and Cultural History, the P.

  • early period only attests “smallish sanctuaries of the sacral architecture in cities”
    • Astarte/Tinnit, Sarepta (8th century BCE).
    • Punic temple of Kerkounana (4th/3rd century BCE).
    • Temple of Melqart built by Hiram I, in Tyre
      • Only from literary reports.
    • Other temples from the Persian and Hellenistic periods.
  • P. architecture in early time is decorative, with cascade of leaves.
  • Sculpture.
    • god worshiped with aniconic cult images
    • 8th-6th century large sculptures from P. cities based on Egyptian models.
  • Well-known for luxury crafts.
  • P. in Mediterranean was a uniqe phenomenon.
    • location, social groups, transportation, etc. all contributed to its formation.
    • Along with other city states on Levant coast. P. was in-line with ANE Bronze Age.


Briefly, facial masks likely have a religious significance. They are monuments since at least the 9th/8th centuries BCE in P. May have held cultic and apotropaic function because they are found at graves and sanctuaries.

Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg) and Blume, Horst-Dieter (Münster), “Masks”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider. Consulted online on 10 April 2017 <;