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Old December 10th, 2012, 10:33 PM   #11

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Phoenicians are ethnically one of the same as Jewish people. Jewish people are Phoenicians who began to practice monotheism, paradoxically mixed with polytheism between 1000-500 BCE. This is the general picture presented in the very good Israeli National Museum in Jerusalem.

Just for interests sake, with no historical basis, the Christians in Syria and Lebanon claim ancestory from them too Maronites - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'm always a little bemused with these ethnic origin questions. Suppose Phoenicians came from the south of modern day Saudi Arabia, would your curiosity die there? Wouldn't you want to know how they got there? Where do origin questions end? All people came from Africa, surely that's the logical, and rather uninspiring conclusion to such questions.
This is why I tend to focus my attention on the period in which a certain civilization was born [building its own identity]. To go far in the past means to follow a chain of questions like "from where did they come?" .... "from A" ... "and the people who stayed at A ... from where did they come?"

So, in the case of the Phoenicians I wonder when did they become a visible and defined civilizations with the characteristics we know. And thanks to what.

For instance, the Egyptian term "Fenkhu" indicates a geographically stable foreign population. And this would be a bit against the idea that they were the result of a migration. The name gives the idea that the Egyptians has knew them as the population of that area and that's all.

If we think that Egyptians did know that region since the dynasty of Sesostri [Ugarith was in the sphere of influence of Egypt] we can imagine that the "Fenkhu" were a local coastal population they met there. May be, the term was used by extension to indicate the following civilization [a bit like the term "Italia" which at the beginning was used to indicate only a little part of the peninsula and sure not its whole population].
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Old December 10th, 2012, 11:19 PM   #12

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Some scholars made an interesting assumption that Pheonicians expanded into oversea colonization and trade because of Assyrian dominance in Levant. On one hand, Pheonicians needed to supply, either in trade or as tribute, massive amount of exotic goods to Assyria. On the other hand, Assyrian dominance left no room on land for Pheonician development.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 11:39 PM   #13

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I thought it was Herodotus who wrote that the Phoenicians came from the south, Egypt or Arabia? (I can't remember precisely)
There was likely no truth to the tradition because Thutmosis III records a people known as Fenkhu occupying the same coast where in later centuries the Phoenicians resided.
So these Fenkhu predate any Sea Peoples or Iron Age newcomers.

Taking their pottery as an indicator the peoples who occupied the Syrian coast (Fenkhu/Phoenician) were essentially Aegeanized Canaanites, due to constant trading contact throughout the 2nd millennium BCE.

The tradition spoken of by Herodotus(?) is possibly his confusion with the Exodus tradition.

...
I have already discussed that 'Phoenician' is not an endonym, it was coined by the Greeks (meaning Purple dye); so any reasoning based on the similarities of "Fenkhu" and "Phoenic" is not valid.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 12:54 AM   #14

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I have already discussed that 'Phoenician' is not an endonym, it was coined by the Greeks (meaning Purple dye); so any reasoning based on the similarities of "Fenkhu" and "Phoenic" is not valid.
To follow this mainstream in historiography regarding the origin of the term "Phoenician" ...

The main thing to keep in mind about the Phoenician network of cities is that it's not known how they called themselves, a part identifying themselves as the inhabitants of this or that city.

The Phoenicians called themselves "the inhabitants of the land of Canaan" and they specified "Sidoni" making reference to the city.

About this it's also interesting to note that the word Canaan could come from the Akkadian kinakhkh, word which made reference to the red color too.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 03:41 PM   #15

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I have already discussed that 'Phoenician' is not an endonym, it was coined by the Greeks (meaning Purple dye); so any reasoning based on the similarities of "Fenkhu" and "Phoenic" is not valid.
Greeks were 'the borrowers' of the ancient world.

One senior Egyptian official once told me that if the ancient world was a corporation, Egypt was the Engineering department while Greece was the marketing department.

...
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Old December 11th, 2012, 11:42 PM   #16

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Greeks were 'the borrowers' of the ancient world.

One senior Egyptian official once told me that if the ancient world was a corporation, Egypt was the Engineering department while Greece was the marketing department.

...
Well that's something I expect to hear from an Egyptian.

Anyway, I think the original self-determinant word for them could have been something akin to "Hebrew". Do you know of any theory that explains the similarity of the words "ivri", "arab", "aram" and "amor"?
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Old December 12th, 2012, 08:44 AM   #17

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Greeks were 'the borrowers' of the ancient world.

One senior Egyptian official once told me that if the ancient world was a corporation, Egypt was the Engineering department while Greece was the marketing department.

...

A 'senior Egyptian official'?!?!?! Wow, how credible. So an old bureaucrat says something and you think it has the insight of Plato?
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Old December 24th, 2012, 08:45 PM   #18

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Herodotus indeed mentions them coming from the Erythrean Sea. He also says the Euphrates and the Tigris empty in this same sea, so either he meant the Persian Gulf, or the entire sea around the Arabian peninsula (of which he didn't know it was a peninsula probably however).
He also reports from around 450BC that the priests of the temple of Melqart in Tyre said the city was then 2300 years old, which brings us to 2750BC.

Archaeological records show continuity from 3200BC onwards in Byblos.According to legends Tyre and Sidon were founded by people from Byblos. There are no signs of invasion during the time of the Sea Peoples around 1200BC. The Phoenician cities are interestingly exactly the one part of the levant that remained untouched by the invasions.

What did change in Byblos around 3200BC was the beginning of trade with Egypt. The area around Byblos was full of cedar trees, which the Egyptian used for their many building projects. From this time on Byblos grew from a settlement of fishermen into a bustling trade city.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 10:23 PM   #19

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Herodotus indeed mentions them coming from the Erythrean Sea. He also says the Euphrates and the Tigris empty in this same sea, so either he meant the Persian Gulf, or the entire sea around the Arabian peninsula (of which he didn't know it was a peninsula probably however).
He also reports from around 450BC that the priests of the temple of Melqart in Tyre said the city was then 2300 years old, which brings us to 2750BC.

Archaeological records show continuity from 3200BC onwards in Byblos.According to legends Tyre and Sidon were founded by people from Byblos. There are no signs of invasion during the time of the Sea Peoples around 1200BC. The Phoenician cities are interestingly exactly the one part of the levant that remained untouched by the invasions.

What did change in Byblos around 3200BC was the beginning of trade with Egypt. The area around Byblos was full of cedar trees, which the Egyptian used for their many building projects. From this time on Byblos grew from a settlement of fishermen into a bustling trade city.
2750BC ... This carry us back to the Egyptian conception of the Phoenicians as a geographically stable population of that area.

Regarding the origin, being it so far in the past, it can be also mythical [Herodotus reported, he had no way to check the information, so we can rely on him about this as on a tradition, nothing more].
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Old December 24th, 2012, 11:15 PM   #20

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Herodotus is a great source of history for around his own times, 450 BC. This was the great age of Persia and its early wars against the Greeks. Prior to this era, Herodotus can only give us folk tales of where each of the nations came from originally.

The question of where the Phoenicians or any of the nations came from is beyond the scope of history, since it is beyond the scope of Herodotus.

Archaeology provides the only reasonable clues.

Archaeology shows us that around the 3rd millenium BC there were already well established settlements at Egypt, Nineveh, Jerico, Mohenjo Daro, Meso America, and in China. So there is no telling where each nation came from. Could have been China. Could have been India. Could have been Africa.

Herodotus' folklore often refers to the Erythraean Sea, which could be Mohenjo Daro.

And wherever Airyane Vaejahi was, the precursor to Mohenjo Daro, we have no clue yet from archaeology. You can bet it was not in Africa though -- too far away.

Last edited by ShoobeeDoobeeDoo; December 24th, 2012 at 11:32 PM.
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