views updated Jun 11 2018

Phoenicia Greek name for an ancient region bordering the e Mediterranean coast. The Phoenicians were related to the Canaanites. Famous as merchants and sailors, they never formed a single political unit, and Phoenicia was dominated by Egypt before c.1200 bc and by successive Near Eastern empires from the 9th century bc. The Phoenician city-states, such as Tyre, Sidon and Byblos, reached the peak of their prosperity in the intervening period, but the Phoenicians dominated trade in the Mediterranean throughout the Bronze Age. Expert navigators, they traded for tin in Britain, and sailed as far as West Africa. The Phoenicians founded colonies in Spain and North Africa, notably Carthage. In 332 bc, Alexander the Great captured Tyre and subsumed Phoenicia into the Hellenistic Empire.


views updated May 14 2018

Phoenicia an ancient country on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean, corresponding to modern Lebanon and the coastal plains of Syria. It consisted of a number of city states, including Tyre and Sidon, and was a flourishing centre of Mediterranean trade and colonization during the early part of the 1st millennium bc.

The Phoenicians, a Semitic people inhabiting ancient Phoenicia and its colonies, prospered from trade, and their trading contacts extended throughout Asia, and reached westwards as far as Africa (where they founded Carthage), Spain, and possibly Britain. They continued to thrive until the capital, Tyre, was sacked by Alexander the Great in 332 bc. The Phoenicians invented an alphabet which was borrowed by the Greeks and passed down into Western cultural tradition.


views updated May 23 2018

Phoe·ni·cian / fəˈnēshən/ • n. 1. a member of a Semitic people inhabiting ancient Phoenicia and its colonies. The Phoenicians prospered from trade and manufacturing until the capital, Tyre, was sacked by Alexander the Great in 332 bc.2. the Semitic language of this people, written in an alphabet that was the ancestor of the Greek and Roman alphabets.• adj. of or relating to Phoenicia or its colonies, or its people, language, or alphabet.