II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > B. Kingdoms of Western Asia and Africa, to 323 B.C.E. > 6. Phoenicia, Carthage, and the Phoenician Colonies, c. 1200–322 B.C.E. > b. Economy, Technology, Society, and Culture
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
b. Economy, Technology, Society, and Culture
 
The arable land around the Phoenician cities was fertile, but limited, and wheat, grapes, figs, and date palms were staple crops. The Carthaginians developed a highly systematized agriculture in North Africa and wrote technical manuals on the subject. The main industry of Phoenicia was the manufacture of purple dye from the murex sea-mollusk, but weaving, glassmaking, metalworking, and ivory-working were also important. The famous cedars of Lebanon were exported to Egypt and elsewhere. The Phoenicians were famous traders and traveled widely from an early period all over the Mediterranean, and eventually as far as West Africa and Britain.  1
The Phoenician script reached its completed form around 1200 B.C.E. Though some inscriptions exist, little Phoenician literature survives, mainly a few translated fragments of the historian Dius and the philosopher Sanchuniathon. The Phoenicians created a synthesis of Egyptian and Mesopotamian culture and were the agents for passing much of Near Eastern civilization on to the Greeks.  2
The Phoenician city-states generally controlled only a small territory around them and rarely attempted to enlarge their land holdings. Generally, the city-states were ruled by hereditary kings assisted by advisory councils of nobles. Carthage also originally had a monarchy, but by the fourth century, the government was republican, with two annually elected magistrates (sufetes), a senate of 300 (which served for life), and a Council of 104, which had some sort of executive function. It is unclear when the republic replaced the monarchy: Carthaginian leaders are often called “kings,” which might be meant literally or as a translation of sufet, literally “judge.” In their late period other Phoenician cities were ruled by elected sufetes and senates.  3
The chief god of Tyre and its colonies was Melqart, and Sidon's main deity was Eshmun. Both worshipped Resheph (Apollo), Dagon, Astarte, and Tanit. The Phoenicians also worshipped Egyptian deities, especially Isis and Bes. The Carthaginians worshipped Baal Hammon, an assimilation of Baal with the Egyptian Amun, perhaps in a Libyan form. Archaeological evidence has confirmed that the Phoenicians and Carthaginians practiced child sacrifice.  4
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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