The Phoenicians.

by Donald B. (Donald Benjamin) Harden




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Publisher Unknown

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LibraryThing member keylawk
While this book covers tribal, geographic, historical and cultural "artifacts"--warfare, towns, commerce, trade--the most fascinating for me was the Chapter on "Religion".

The claim of a unique theophantic origin for Judaism does not survive the archeology. Now that we have decades of excavation of
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Ugarit (the largest epigraphic trove found at a single site as of 1962), we find a patriarchal narrative and fertility cults which run "parallel with the early Biblical tales". [82] The Christian and Muslim narrative of course fails on this same point -- the God of Phoenicians was "El". He was a sun-god, personified as a bull. His wife was Asherah-of-the-Sea, a mother-goddess. Their son was Baal, a storm and mountain god, often horned and identified later with Zeus/holding thunderbolts. The temple at Ugarit is remarkably similar to "Solomon's Temple" designed by YHWH but actually built by Phoenicians according to Tanak. [83] YHWH seems inordinately fond of Phoenicians.

Philo of Byblos (1st c. CE) translated a creation story by Sanchoniathon, a Phoenician priest.

Sacrificial precincts, or 'topheth' as the Bible mentions, have been found proving that infant sacrifice was practiced. [95] And human sacrifice on a large scale was used to expiate the death of Hamilcar after the battle at Himera in 409. [104] The priesthood was powerful and continuous, and the rules resemble the early chapters of Leviticus. [105]

Carthage remained until its end at the hands of Rome in 146 BCE.
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LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
This is a good introduction to the Phoenicians, who lived around the Mediterranean between about 1500 and 100 BC. They seemed to originate from Canaanite roots around the main cities including Tyre, Byblos, and Sidon, on what it now the coast of Lebanon, from which they spread West to establish
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colonies across the top of North Africa, including Carthage most famously. Their main power was on the seas, across which they traded extensively, setting up trading ports and colonies as opposed to invading further inland, though they did do this this also to some extent. Their alphabet predated and was further developed into that of the Greeks, having developed originally from Egyptian hieroglyphics to present a more easily usable system.

This book has separate chapters on the main areas of interest of Phoenician culture, including their origins and geography, their expansion across the Mediterranean, Carthage, wars, religion, language, towns, society, industry, trade, and art. Together these give a good idea of how the Phoenicians compared to other contemporary civilisations. For example Phoenician art borrowed from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, while Phoenicia in turn developed new types of ship which then were copied by her rival sea powers. They were also among the first civilisations to use coins.

There are good black and white illustrations showing Phoenician pottery, ornate tombs, jewellery, and sculpture, which together give a good idea of how developed this civilisation was.

Overall this is a readable book that presents a good range of information on an interesting and historically influential people.
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