Monday, December 10, 2018

Where Did the Phoenicians Sail? – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding where the early Phoenician mariners sailed and traded. As earlier state, the Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean during the first millennium B.C.E. Though ancient boundaries of such city-centered cultures fluctuated, the city of Tyre seems to have been the southernmost. Sarepta between Sidon and Tyre, is the most thoroughly excavated city of the Phoenician homeland.
Based on the fourteenth century BC Amarna tablets, the Phoenicians called themselves Kenaani or Kinaani, meaning Canaanites. The name Phoenicia became common because of the Greeks who called the land Phoiniki, referring to the purple dye the Phoenicians created, which led to their initial trading in dyed cloth. Stories circulated by some current historians, based in part on Herodotus’ History in 440 BC, that the Phoenicians migrated into the Levant from the Erythraean Sea around the Horn of Africa, or from
Strabo who wrote that they came from Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, has recently been invalidated based on DNA comparisons.

    In terms of archeology, language, and religion, there is little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other local cultures of Canaan. However, they are unique in their remarkable seafaring achievements. Yet, as indicated in the previous post, the Phoenicians were not explorers or discoverers of other lands, nor were they adventurers—their interest was in trade and they were very successful merchant traders.
    Their involvement on the sea was to widen their trading enterprises and spread trade further through opening new trading areas and establishing new trading partners. In fact, they were not land-oriented at all, retaining their control no further inland that the villages and towns they settled and with whom they traded.
    Their homeland, considered to be the area of modern-day Lebanon in the Lavant of the eastern Mediterranean, extended no further than the coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, and Babylos along the western end of the Fertile Crescent. Nor did they make any attempt to control or interfere with the sovereignty of the cities and settlements with whom they traded.
    According to Amazing Bible timeline with World History (Bible Charts and Maps, Austin, Texas, 2018), the Phoenicians primarily sailed along the coastlines to various trading points that were situated on their routes. Even though they were a seafaring people, they did not take long extended voyages into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They might have sailed up to Gaul (modern day France) to trade in wine of which the Phoenicians were well known to produce, and to Britain for the all-important tin, but it’s highly unlikely that they would have ventured out beyond these points. If any Phoenician traders or sailors traveled out into the deep waters of the Atlantic Oceans, it should be noted that no historical records indicate that this ever happened.
    While there is speculation among some historians that the Phoenicians sailed beyond Spain to Britain to trade tin, because during the Bronze Age this particular metal substance was needed in the process of making copper, there is no substantive proof of such voyages. Strabo (Strabonis), an ancient Greek philosopher and historian from Asia Minor (Turkey), states in his Geographica that the Phoenicians had a lucrative trade with Britain for tin, and only tin and no other type of materials. Again, this tin might have reached the Mediterranean and the Phoenician traders overland across Gaul.
The Phoenicians, like most traders of antiquity, dealt in physical products that could be used by consumers, usually household items, having started their trade empire selling purple-dyed Tyrian cloth, the dye obtained from the Murex mollusk material unique to their homeland 

In fact, there is no real historic evidence that the Phoenicians ever traded (or sailed) outside the Mediterranean Sea. According to Professor Timothy Champion, of Oxford, and an Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton, as well as a former Editor of the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, and who also served as Vice-President and then President of the Prehistoric Society, in discussing the ancient very important tin trade, he claims the Phoenicians never sailed to or traded in Cornwall (Britain). He states that the Cornish tin trade was solely in the hands of the natives of Cornwall, and its transport to the Mediterranean was organized by local merchants, by sea and then over land through Gaul, well outside Phoenician control. This appears more in line with the trade of tin entering the Mediterranean across Gaul.
    According to George Rawlinson, Camden Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oxford and Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of Turin, as late as 700 B.C., the Phoenicians were sailing in rowed boats with no sail at all, or just a small, close-reefed sail, having invented the double rowed vessel by placing the rowers on two different levels, one above the other, which the Greeks called “biremes.” This method of propulsion is found on both types of Phoenician vessels of the time, both their war-galley and transport ships (Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez, History of Art in Phonenicia, vol.3, 34, in History of Phoenicia, Chapman and Hall, Library of Alexandria, 1885).
    The point is, history has no record that the Phoenicians sailed anywhere outside the Mediterranean and of the more than 100 cities, settlements and trading posts established by the Phoenicians, they are known to have settled only thirteen trading centers between 1000 and 200 B.C., beyond the Strait of Gibraltar: five in Spain, including Karteia, Gades/Cadiz, Onoba, Gadeira and Tartessus; with eight in Morocco, including Tingus, Silis or Zilil, Asilah, Lixus, Thamusida/Kenitra, Sala, Anfa, and Mugador/Essaouira, which was the furthest south.
Phoenician established settlements and trading posts between 1000 B.C. and 200 B.C. around the Strait of Gibraltar and along the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Morocco, which were the furthest penetration of the Phoenicians westward across the Mediterranean

In fact, there is some question as to the exact dates of Phoenician colonization; some claim it began in 1200 B.C. while others cite their expansion to be contemporary with Greek colonization in the 8th century B.C. Still others reference sailing vessels of Tyre in the 19th century B.C. from the Bible,where a 10th century source from Tyre to a colony not paying its tribute (likely Tuica or Cyprus). In addition, there is a unanimity of ancient writers that Phoenician colonization of the Mediterranean occurred before the Greeks.
   Thus, a compromise has been achieved among scholars which posits a period of “pre-colonial” trade centers established between the 12th to 8th centuries B.C., followed by the establishment of colonies proper between the 8th and 6th centuries B.C.  In this period then, lasting over 500 years, the Phoenicians controlled a network of stopping points which established them as one of the greatest trading powers in the ancient world. Between these colonies, Phoencia itself, and the great civilizations of the period, goods were shipped and exchanged all across the Mediterranean.
    With this in mind, then it is easy to see that the Phoenicians would not be out sailing the Atlantic before they established their trading centers in the western Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coats of Spain and Morocco (North Africa), which all but eliminates any speculation regarding their sailing far and wide prior to the time Lehi and Mulek left Jerusalem for the Land of Promise. In addition, the vast majority of knowledgeable historians have been far more conservative in their histories of the sailing routes of the ancient Phoenicians, limiting their efforts to the coastal shores of mostly the southern Mediterranean (North Africa) and the limited area along the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Morocco.
    After all, the Phoenicians were not explorers, but merchants involved in trade—their entire history is about trade and opening new settlements and outposts to further their trading enterprises. In fact, there is not even a consensus among historians that the Phoenicians ever even reached Britain, let alone sailed far into the Atlantic to the nearby islands, or to the Americas as some of our Land of Promise theorists like to claim. Phoenicia was no doubt a maritime power in the Mediterranean, dominating trade from 1200 to 800 BC, but by 539, when the Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Phoenicia, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Phoenicians left the Mediterranean Sea, despite so many claims to the contrary by historians.
The naval siege of Tyre by the Macedonian Alexander the Great in 350 BC marked the end of Phoenicia’s maritime trading empire
Under Persian dominance, the Phoenicians flourished building fleets of ships for the Persian kings; however, in 350 BC an uprising was crushed by the Persiasn and in 332 BC, when Alexander the Great captured Tyre after a long siege, Phoenicia was ousted as a dominant shipbuilding and trading entity in the Eastern Mediterranean. In fact, Phoenician culture disappeared entirely in the homeland. Only Carthage remained.
    The idea that Phoenicia, during its successful trading enterprise, sailed the open seas and landed in the Americas is strictly fallacious, written by those interested in changing history. The Phoenicians lacked any vessels that could make such voyages, still depending mostly on oar power as late as 600 BC. Even during their circumnavigation of Africa for the Egyptian king Necho, which is questioned by many historians, the Phoenicians are recorded as setting into land every night, and twice during the three year voyage, planted and harvested grain in order to continue on their journey—not something that would be possible crossing the oceans.
    The only thing we know for certain about the Phoenicians, is their journeys along the coasts of the Mediterranean in the pursuit of trade, not exploration.

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