Thursday, February 24, 2011
A brief summary on the Phoenicians.
See Index on all my posts on Phoenicians in America.
Since I will be posting on the possible influence of Phoenicians on Patagonian natives, and speculate that they introduced their myths and beliefs in the region, I guess that the best way to do this is in an orderly manner. Today we will just talk about the Phoenicians.
Summary, Phoenicians, the people and the place
Phoenicians lived in what is now Lebanon. They called themselves Canaanites, from Cna'ani in Biblical Hebrew means merchant. They were organized as a series of state-cities Biblos, Beritos, Sidon and Tyre, which acted independently.
They had lived there from time immemorial, but the arrival of the Philistines (People of the Sea) as well as the Arameans around 1,200 BC occupied most of their former territory, forcing them to live on a narrow strip along the coast, and this led them to exploit the resource that was at hand, the sea, which they sailed along in large boats built with sturdy Lebanon cedar wood.
They thrived until the Greeks, under Alexander the Great occupied the region in 334 BC.
Trade, commerce, colonies
They set forth and peacefully established colonies along the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, Sardinia, Lybia, Morocco, Malta) and their most notable settlement: Carthage, which overtook its homeland taking control of the western colonies until it was destroyed by Rome in 146 BC after three long wars (Punic wars).
They even settled along the Atlantic coast in Morocco, far from their homeland. And this is important since it may help explain how they reached America.
They produced and traded in a highly appreciated purple dye that they obtained from mussels, they must have also traded in other dyes, because the name that we know them by, derived from the Greek word "Phoinix" meaning "red". This is also interesting, and we will get back to it in our next posts.
They also built excellent ships, and are credited with advancing the design of sea worthy vessels by inventing caulking and the rudder. Their ships plied the seas from the Indian ocean, to the Black Sea and the Atlantic. They transported goods and sold them to all known Mediterranean civilizations. Tin from Britain, amber from Scandinavia, copper from Cyprus, as well as wheat, olive oil, gems, precious metals, hides and wine.
Trade required clear notes and thus, they came up with a great discovery: the alphabet. Which was later adopted by the Greeks (who added vowels to it because the Phoenician alphabet only had consonants) and then by the Romans. They wrote, like modern Israelis, from right to left (by the way, paleo-Hebrew letters were virtually identical to the Phoenician ones, and related to them, though of a different origin
The Greeks also adopted many Phoenician gods as their own.
The best navigators
As they depended on trade, their sailing routes were state secret and they avoided disclosing any information on them.
They surely helped King Solomon bring his gold from they mythical Ophir ca. 930 BC. Their gold trade may also give us a clue pointing towards Brazil.
Greek historian Herodotus wrote that in 616 BC, Egyptian pharaoh Necho II sent out an expedition manned and led by Phoenicians to circumnavigate Africa. It took them three years to go from the Red Sea, round the Cape of Good Hope and Gibraltar, to enter the Mediterranean and land triumphantly again in Egypt at the Delta of the Nile.
Around 500 BC, Carthaginian navigator Hanno, sailed from Carthage to settle and trade with North west Africa, and he sailed south from Gibraltar reaching, we believe, Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea, from where he turned back.
Their excellent navigation skills can explain how they reached America and perhaps even Patagonia.
More of that in our next post:Part 5: Phoenicians, sailors, Brazil and Ophir.
Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia2011 International Year of Forests Copyright 2009-2011 by Austin Whittall ©