Joseph A. Greene
There is no ecological reason why the vine could not have been established very early in North Africa, long before the arrival of the Phoenicians. The Maghreb lies well within the primitive range of wild grape (see chapter 2 by Zohary, this volume) and the climate along the Mediterranean seaboards of modern Morocco, Algeria and especially Tunisia is quite hospitable to cultivated vines (Map 19.1). North Africa in many ways resembled the Phoenicians' homeland in coastal Lebanon, where the typical Mediterranean triad of cereals, olive and grape had already been established for millennia. North Africa, in short, was environmentally pre-adapted to viticulture, needing only human agents to introduce cultivated vine into a pristine landscape.
This environmental pre-adaptation was a fortunate circumstance for the founders of Carthage, for they brought with them from their homeland not only their religion, their language and their legendary commercial acumen, but also their well-cultivated taste for wine. Southern coastal Syria, Lebanon and Palestine had been a grape-growing and wine-exporting region since the late 4th millennium B.C. In the Early Bronze Age, Byblos was a center for the export of wine and other luxury products to the elites of Old Kingdom Egypt (see chapter 13 by James, this volume). In the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, many commodities, including wine, were shipped from Canaan to all parts of the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean in so-called “Canaanite Jars” (see chapter 15 by Leonard, this volume). In the early Iron Age, wine, fine textiles and carved ivory headed a list of precious goods distributed from the cities of coastal Phoenicia to points throughout the Near East