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Phoenicia

𐤐𐤕 / Pūt  (language?)
Φοινίκη
Phoiníkē  (Greek)
2500 BC–539 BC
Map of Phoenicia and its Mediterranean trade routes
Map of Phoenicia and its Mediterranean trade routes
Capital Byblos (2500–1000 BC)
Tyre (900–550 BC)
Common languages Phoenician, Punic
Religion
Canaanite religion
Government City-states ruled by kings
Well-known kings of Phoenician cities  
• c. 1000 BC
Ahiram
• 969 – 936 BC
Hiram I
• 820 – 774 BC
Pygmalion of Tyre
Historical era Classical antiquity
• Established
2500 BC
• Tyre in South Lebanon, under the reign of Hiram I, becomes the dominant city-state
969 BC
• Dido founds Carthage (legendary)
814 BC
• Cyrus the Great conquers Phoenicia
539 BC
Area
1000 BC 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Canaanites
Hittite Empire
Egyptian Empire
Achaemenid Phoenicia
Ancient Carthage

Phoenicia (/fəˈnɪʃə/; from the Ancient Greek: Φοινίκη, Phoiníkē) was a thalassocratic, ancient Semitic-speaking Mediterranean civilization that originated in the Levant, specifically Lebanon, in the west of the Fertile Crescent. Scholars generally agree that it was centered on the coastal areas of modern day Lebanon and included parts of what are now northern Israel and southern Syria reaching as far north as Arwad, but there is some dispute as to how far south it went, the furthest suggested area being Ashkelon. Its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean, such as Cádiz in Spain and most notably Carthage in North Africa, and even the Atlantic Ocean. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.

Phoenicia is an ancient Greek term used to refer to the major export of the region, cloth dyed Tyrian purple from the Murex mollusc, and referred to the major Canaanite port towns; not corresponding precisely to Phoenician culture as a whole as it would have been understood natively. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece,, centered in modern Lebanon, of which the most notable cities were Tyre, Sidon, Arwad, Berytus, Byblos, and Carthage. Each city-state was a politically independent unit, and it is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. In terms of archaeology, language, lifestyle, and religion there was little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other residents of the Levant, such as their close relatives and neighbors, the Israelites.

Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing of Phoenician. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures, including the Roman alphabet used by Western civilization today.

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