A History of Phoenician Civilization – The decline

Attack on the city of Tyre
Attack on the city of Tyre. From the History of Alexander the Great. France, 15th CE. Source: warfarehistorynetwork.com

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh at brewminate.com

Cyrus the Great conquered Phoenicia in 538 B.C.E. Phoenicia was divided into four vassal kingdoms by the Persians: Sidon, Tyre, Arwad, and Byblos, and they prospered, furnishing fleets for the Persian kings. However, Phoenician influence declined after this. It is also reasonable to suppose that much of the Phoenician population migrated to Carthage and other colonies following the Persian conquest, as it is roughly then (under King Hanno) that historical records identify Carthage as a powerful maritime entity. In 350 or 345 B.C.E. a rebellion in Sidon led by Tennes was crushed by Artaxerxes III, and its destruction was described, perhaps too dramatically, by Diodorus Siculus.

Alexander the Great took Tyre in 332 B.C.E. following the Siege of Tyre. Alexander was exceptionally harsh to Tyre, executing 2,000 of the leading citizens, but he maintained the king in power. He gained control of the other cities peacefully: the ruler of Aradus submitted; the king of Sidon was overthrown. The rise of Hellenistic Greece gradually ousted the remnants of Phoenicia’s former dominance over the Eastern Mediterranean trade routes, and Phoenician culture disappeared entirely in the motherland. However, its North African offspring, Carthage, continued to flourish, mining iron and precious metals from Iberia, and using its considerable naval power and mercenary armies to protect its commercial interests, until it was finally destroyed by Rome in 149 B.C.E. at the end of the Punic Wars.

As for the Phoenician homeland, following Alexander it was controlled by a succession of Hellenistic rulers: Laomedon of Mytilene (323 B.C.E.), Ptolemy I (320 B.C.E.), Antigonus II (315 B.C.E.), Demetrius I of Macedon (301 B.C.E.), and Seleucus I Nicator (296 B.C.E.). Between 286 and 197 B.C.E., Phoenicia (except for Aradus) fell to the Ptolemies of Egypt, who intalled the high priests of Astarte as vassal rulers in Sidon (Eshmunazar I, Tabnit, Eshmunazar II). In 197 B.C.E., Phoenicia along with Syria reverted to the Seleucids, and the region became increasingly Hellenized, although Tyre actually became autonomous in 126 B.C.E., followed by Sidon in 111. Phoenicia was seized by king Tigranes the Great from 82 until 69 B.C.E. when he was defeated by Lucullus, and in 65 B.C.E. Pompey finally incorporated it as part of the Roman province of Syria.

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