Phoenicia () was an ancient thalassocratic (a state with primarily maritime realms) civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-states extended and shrank throughout their history and they possessed several enclaves such as Arwad and Tell Sukas (modern Syria). The core region in which the Phoenician culture developed and thrived stretched from Tripoli and Byblos in northern Lebanon to Mount Carmel in modern Israel. At their height, the Phoenician possessions in the Eastern Mediterranean stretched from the Orontes River mouth to Ashkelon. Beyond its homeland, the Phoenician civilization extended to the Mediterranean from Cyprus to the Iberian Peninsula.
The Phoenicians were a Semitic-speaking people of somewhat unknown origin who emerged in the Levant around 3000 BC. The term Phoenicia is an ancient Greek exonym that most likely described one of their most famous exports, a dye also known as Tyrian purple; it did not correspond precisely to a cohesive culture or society as it would have been understood natively. It is debated whether Phoenicians were actually distinct from the broader group of Semitic-speaking peoples known as Canaanites. Historian Robert Drews believes the term "Canaanites" corresponds to the ethnic group referred to as "Phoenicians" by the ancient Greeks; However, according to archaeologist Jonathan N. Tubb, "Ammonites, Moabites, Israelites, and Phoenicians undoubtedly achieved their own cultural identities, and yet ethnically they were all Canaanites", "the same people who settled in farming villages in the region in the 8th millennium BC."
The Phoenicians came to prominence in the mid-12th century BC, following the decline of most influential cultures in the Late Bronze Age collapse. They were renowned among contemporaries as skilled traders and mariners, becoming the dominant commercial power for much of classical antiquity. The Phoenicians developed an expansive maritime trade network that lasted over a millennium, helping facilitate the exchange of cultures, ideas, and knowledge between major cradles of civilization such as Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. After its zenith in the ninth century BC, the Phoenician civilization in the eastern Mediterranean slowly declined in the face of foreign influence and conquest; its presence endured in the central and western Mediterranean until the mid-second century BC.
The Phoenicians were organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece, of which the most notable were Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos. Each city-state was politically independent, and there is no evidence the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. The Phoenicians established colonies and trading posts across the Mediterranean; Carthage, a settlement in northwest Africa, became a major civilization in its own right in the seventh century BC. Phoenician society and cultural life centered on commerce and seafaring; while most city-states were governed by some form of kingship, merchant families likely exercised influence through oligarchies. — Read more about Phoenicia, its mythology and language
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