Ep. 022 – Rise of the Phoenicians

The Phoenicians have finally arrived on the historical stage, at least as our humble podcast is concerned. In today's episode, we look at their place in the post-Bronze Age world, along with the rise of the island city of Tyre. The Phoenicians would create a widespread maritime network, leading to their recognition as the preeminent ancient maritime navigators and sailors. This all fell into place after King Hiram I helped Tyre rise to power through an alliance with Israel, after which they founded the first Phoenician colony at Kition on the island of Cyprus. Join us for the first focused look at the Phoenicians.

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  • Abulafia, David, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean (2013).
  • Aratus, Phaenomena. [link]
  • Aubet, Maria Eugenia, The Phoenicians and the West: Politics, Colonies and Trade (2001).
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  • Casson, Lionel, The Ancient Mariners: Seafarers and Sea Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times (1959).
  • Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization, Vol I: Our Oriental Heritage (1935).
  • Herodotus, The Histories (Robert Strassler, Ed., Andrea Purvis, Transl., 2007).
  • Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII. [link]
  • Nonnus of Panopolis, Dionysiaca. [link]
  • McGrail, Seán, Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times (2009).
  • Miles, Richard, Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization (2010).
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  5 comments for “Ep. 022 – Rise of the Phoenicians

  1. Les
    April 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Hi, I love this podcast. I’m glad you mentioned Solomon’s trading fleet. Though you seemed to locate Eloth in Egypt. According to many scholars it is the former name for the coastal town of Eilat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eilat) which is in what was Edom. According to the Bible either David or Solomon (I can’t remember which) subdued Edom. This would have given Solomon a great opportunity to take advantage of Edom’s coastal region. Which is what he did.

    Was it the same Hiram who dealt with Solomon as with David? They each reigned for such a long time. I often wonder about that one.

    It seems that Solomon may have founded trading posts in Africa. When his son Reheboam lost Edom these trading posts would have been cut off from Israel. This is one theory as to the origin of the Ethiopian Jews who seem to date back to Solomon’s days and have no traditions from the later Jewish histories.

    Another thought, did the Phoneticians trade with the early British people? I know the Greeks did later on but have an inkling at the back of my mind that the Phoenicians had done so too.

    • Brandon Huebner
      April 12, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Hi Les, thanks so much for the kind words and for listening! Solomon’s fleet was some interesting research for me and I’m glad I had some maritime connection to share in regard to the ancient Israelites.

      You are certainly correct about Eloth. I incorrectly hinted that it was in Egypt while, as you say, it was actually in Edom and came under Solomon’s control. I’ll be sure to mention that in the next episode as a correction. Thanks for pointing it out!

      As far as Hiram goes, I do believe that it was the same Hiram who allied Tyre with David and then with Solomon. He seems to have reigned for several decades and was mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with both David and Solomon. Josephus though focuses mainly on the alliance with Solomon.

      The theory regarding the Ethiopian Jews and the trading posts there is something I’ve heard allusion to before though never researched in depth. It’s a most fascinating possibility to explain their presence in Ethiopia. I wonder if any recent archaeological work has focused on the possibility of Jewish trading centers in Africa?

      Ah yes, Phoenician trade with the British. I must confess, I’m in the middle of research on the Phoenician expansion westward, so I can’t give a very satisfactory answer yet, but we will certainly cover this ground in the upcoming episodes of the podcast. My inclination at this point is that it was certainly possible for them to have done so. Their motivation in expansion was the search for natural resources, and the tin wealth of ancient Britain is well attested to in many ancient histories and geographies. The Phoenicians had the ships to reach Britain and the navigational ability as well, plus we know with much certainty that they reached Portugal, Spain, and the Atlantic to some degree, so the British Isles aren’t too much further when you’ve already come so far.

      Thanks again for listening, Les, and for joining in the conversation!

      • Les
        April 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

        Hi Brandon,
        Thanks for replying. It occurred to me that when Solomon gained Edom it put Israel in the position of being only one of two countries to have access to both the Mediterranean and the Red Seas. The other country being Egypt. Although Solomon doesn’t seem to have exploited his Mediterranean coast, his alliance with Tyre would have put him in a very enviable position. Trade with darkest Africa and India plus access to a trading network with the west through Tyre, would have made for an incredibly lucrative trade.

        • Les
          April 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

          According to 1 Kings 10:22 The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.

          Ivory & Baboons would suggest trade with the East coast of Africa. This would strengthen the case for the Ethiopian Jews.

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