The Phoenicians and the Formation of the Western World

Full article The Phoenicians and the Formation of the Western World

A small maritime region, Phoenicia lay on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. The
Phoenicians, who were Semites, emerged as a distinct Canaanite group around 3200 B.C. Hemmed in by the Lebanon Mountains, their first cities were Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, and Aradus.

Scholars agree that there are two sources of the Western tradition: Judeo-Christian doctrine and ancient Greek intellectualism. More generally, there is recognition that Western civilization is largely built atop the Near Eastern civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. A basic question arises, however, as to which ancient people specifically prepared the way for the West to develop.

While early Aegean cultures are often viewed as the mainspring, assessment of the growing literature reveals that the city-states of Phoenicia stimulated (Bronze Age) and fostered (Iron Age) Western civilization. Phoenicia, the principal axis of Eastern influence, sent forth pioneering seafarers, skilled engineers, gifted artisans, and the master entrepreneurs of antiquity.

Through a peaceful, long-distance exchange network of goods and ideas, they influenced the trade, communication, and civilizational development of the Mediterranean basin. The height of Phoenician shipping, mercantile, and cultural activity was during the Greek early Archaic period, especially the Orientalizing phase, c. 750-650 B.C., which appears to have laid the foundations for fifth century B.C., classical Greece.

Phoenician mercantilism also prompted European state formation in the Aegean, Italy, and Spain. Rome would succeed Greece and Carthage. Finally, Roman Carthage promoted Latin Christianity.

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Original Source
Scott, John C. (2018) “The Phoenicians and the Formation of the Western World,” Comparative Civilizations Review: Vol. 78 : No. 78 , Article 4.
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