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Old December 5th, 2012, 07:29 AM   #1

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Where did the Phoenicians come from?


I know they occupied what is now Lebanon but where did they come from? The Jordan region? Mesopotamia? The Gulf region?

I've heard from some friends that the Phoenicians originated from Bahrain itself! (I call it baloney but then again, it would be surprising if true)
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Old December 5th, 2012, 07:36 AM   #2

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I'd say they evolved from the surrounding Semitic cultures into their own. But where did they come from then...
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Old December 5th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #3
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From what I know, they were very-trade orientated. Perhaps they were more of a confederation of various merchants who eventually became a ‘people’ all on their own?

Good to see you again Mo'
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Old December 5th, 2012, 09:44 AM   #4

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The linguistic data shows that they were closely related to the Hebrew people. So based on the fact that most of the people living on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf spoke East Arabian dialects, it is highly probable that these people sprang out of a common Linguistic nucleus (Since these are all west Semitic languages).

Generally speaking there are two hypothesis about where the Semitic people came from. The first proposed homeland is southern Arabia, because of the archaic features found in the southern Arabian languages. The second one is that they originated in Syria, which is based on archaeological and historical data.

The Canaanite people are thought to have been the first Semitic people who came in contact with the Egyptians and from there they grew in power and number through trade (3000 BC.). After the invasion of the sea people around 1200 BC (which are of unknown origin but some speculate that they might have been the Mycenaean or Trojan, or Minoan people), an entity which the Greeks call 'Phoenicia' (meaning "Purple" after the dye they produced and traded) came into existence by the union of several cities such as Byblos, Sidon and Tyre. So it is probable that they were not originally homogenous and Phoenician was adopted after the unity was established.

So there you have it:

They migrated from the Arabian penisula towards northwest Arabia together with Arameans (first half of 4th century BC) --->
moved through trade routes between the two major civilizations of the day (second half of 4th century BC) --->
settled on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea and mixed with local populations, since the area of Canaan was populated well before history (3000 BC) --->
mixed with the sea people (1200 BC) --->
were at the height of their power (1000-800 BC)
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Old December 5th, 2012, 01:08 PM   #5

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They had very close ties to Egypt. But I'm not sure they were related.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 11:12 PM   #6

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What about the invasions / migrations of the Sea Peoples?

In Italy there are scholars [like Leonardo Melis] who join the thesis of international researchers like Sir Leonard Woolley. In a few words the Sea Peoples invaded that coast occupying the land [a good part of Canaan included]. Also Gerard Herm in his "Die Poinizier" agrees with this hypothesis.

But he adds a more comprehensive analysis. According to his thought, the Sea Peoples mixed themselves with Canaanite populations and from this mix came the Phoenician identity.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 10:28 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
What about the invasions / migrations of the Sea Peoples?

In Italy there are scholars [like Leonardo Melis] who join the thesis of international researchers like Sir Leonard Woolley. In a few words the Sea Peoples invaded that coast occupying the land [a good part of Canaan included]. Also Gerard Herm in his "Die Poinizier" agrees with this hypothesis.

But he adds a more comprehensive analysis. According to his thought, the Sea Peoples mixed themselves with Canaanite populations and from this mix came the Phoenician identity.
This is the background from which I have allways imagined the phoenicians emerged out of. It is obvious that culturally, the semites existing along Syria prior to these invasions had little interest in sea-faring and ocean trade. It seems to me that the semites along the coast had been somewhat "proto-hellenized". They operated in a city-state social structure which defined them culturally and politically. They clearly were different from the Hebrews and other inland semites in that they were oriented towards the mediterranean.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 11:59 AM   #8

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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.

...
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Old December 10th, 2012, 01:45 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wickerman View Post
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.

...
Good mention.

The Phoenician influence on proto Israelis is evident [even the Temple was a Phoenician architecture ...].

Anyway, it may be a usage of an archaic term to define something developed in that area.

Personally I see as decisive an external injection for the birth of the proper Phoenician civilization. But I do consider the Fenkhu hypothesis.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 02:24 PM   #10

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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.
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