Phoenicians: The Quickening of Western Civilization

By Scott, John C. | Comparative Civilizations Review, Fall 2019 | Go to article overview

Phoenicians: The Quickening of Western Civilization


Scott, John C., Comparative Civilizations Review


Editor's Note: This article builds upon a preliminary version sketched out last year and published in the journal on Pages 25 to 40, issue No. 78, Spring 2018. It represents in our view an important addition to scholarship on a significant and foundational topic, one central to the development of Western Civilization and the comparative study of civilizations.

A relatively recent field of inquiry, Phoenician and Punic studies covers much the same time and geographical areas as Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Greek and Roman history.1 Adjacent fields include economic, business, writing, agricultural, nautical, and biblical history. Scholarship today is moving beyond the Hellenocentric and Romanocentric viewpoints and the record of Phoenician history is increasingly seen as critical for understanding European origins.

Scholars generally agree that there are two sources of the Western tradition: Jude°Christian doctrine and ancient Greek intellectualism. There is also recognition that Western civilization is largely built atop the Near Eastern civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, which were among the first in the world. The proximity of Europe to the Near East, hence "near" region, explains cultural interaction. A basic question arises, however, as to which antique people specifically prepared the way for the West to develop. While early Aegean cultures are often viewed as the mainspring, assessment of the growing literature reveals that the maritime city-states of Phoenicia stimulated (Bronze Age) and fostered (Iron Age) Western civilization.

Phoenicia, a small maritime region, lay on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. The Phoenicians, who were Semites, emerged as a distinct Canaanite group around 3200 BCE. Hemmed in by the Lebanon Mountains, their first cities were Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, and Aradus.2

The principal axis of Eastern influence, Phoenicia sent forth pioneering seafarers, skilled engineers, gifted artists and artisans, and master entrepreneurs of antiquity.

Through a peaceful,3 long-distance exchange network of goods and ideas, they influenced the trade, communication, and civilizational development of the Mediterranean basin, notably Greece. The height of Phoenician shipping, mercantile, and cultural activity was during the early Greek Archaic period, especially, the Orientalizing phase, c. 750-650 BCE, which appears to have laid the foundations for fifth century BCE Classical Greece. Phoenician mercantilism prompted European state formation in the Aegean, Italy, and Spain.

This past century, anthropologist Ralph Linton, in The Tree of Culture, confirmed the influence of the Phoenician thalassocracy - rule of the sea - and explained: "Their main role in the development of the Greek and other Mediterranean cultures was as intermediaries between Asia and Europe."4 Modern Phoenician studies were launched during the early 1960's by Sabatino Moscati and the Italian school. During the seventies, there was a focus on the Phoenician expansion.

The Sea Traders was introduced by archeologist James B. Pritchard: "They became the first to provide a link between the culture of the ancient Near East and that of the uncharted world of the West...They went not for conquest as the Babylonians and Assyrians did, but for trade. Profit rather than plunder was their policy."5 Hans G. Niemeyer edited the educative Phönizier im Westen6

Toward the close of the century, La civilization phenicienne et punique: Manuel de recherché1 appeared as a landmark collection of articles in Phoenician-Punic studies. Reviewer Philip C. Schmitz's concluding comment: "To the general historian, the volume offers an alternative history of the Mediterranean before Rome, balancing the Hellenocentric narratives that have so long determined the shape of 'Western' civilization."8

The Bronze Age: Phoenicia and Embryonic Western Civilization

From the Early Bronze through the Iron Age, North Africa and the whole of Europe were eventually integrated. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Phoenicians: The Quickening of Western Civilization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.