Phoenicians were people of eastern Mediterranean, occupying the region of modern-day Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, before Israelites settled in Canaan.

These people grew cedar wood, corn, and olives and produced oil, wine, and cloth. They traded with Egypt, Crete, Cyprus, and cities as far as Troy in western Turkey.

They engaged in trade heavily. They founded coastal cities such as Ugarit and Byblos, which lasted for centuries as trade centers. They also founded inland trading cities, such as Ebla.

Over 15,000 tablets from Ebla were found, recording city activities, taxation of imports, exports of cloth, and amount of tribute paid to the king by conquered lands.

Ugarit attached merchant seals to goods they produced to identify them and guarantee quality, much like today's businesses use trademarks. Buyers preferred products with famous trade seals. Poor traders may have faked famous seals to deceive buyers into buying their merchandise.

Although Phoenicians sold agricultural goods, their prosperity came from trading manufactured luxury items, like carved ivory, glassware, gold and silver ornaments. They imported raw materials, slaves, ebony, and Egyptian paintings, which they resold for a profit.

In 814 B.C., they founded Carthage in modern-day Tunisia, and several other cities on the northern coast of Africa, to serve as trade-cities. This linked the trade between inner Africa and the Mediterranean.

By 600 B.C., the population of Carthage grew large and rich on its own, and broke away from Phoenician control. People of Carthage built their own ships and organized expeditions. Carthaginian admiral is believed to have sailed around the African continent during that time.

Extensive sailing and trading across the Mediterranean Sea eventually brought Phoenicians into conflict with the Greeks, and later the Romans.

Sources:

Fry, Plantagenet Somerset. The Dorling Kindersley History of the World. London: D. Kindersley, 1994. Print.



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