Phoenicia: Center Of The Ancient Mediterranean Economy

1360 words - 6 pages

Many people that do not know much about the Phoenicians only know about the alphabet that they created which aided the creation of the Romantic languages. What these people fail to realize is that that is not the only reason for which the Phoenicians should be remembered. The Phoenicians did not only create an alphabet, they created an economic empire, as well as a Phoenician culture, around the Mediterranean. First, they established the trading network, creating multiple city-states along their path across the Mediterranean. Then they began to raise a culture, piecing together parts from the cultures of their trading partners. Finally, they became important enough to be recognized by the ...view middle of the document...

At this time, the Phoenicians did not really have intent to fight or conquer, they just wanted to trade and become prosperous, and they were fully equipped to do so.It was through this development of trade and commerce that made Phoenician culture slowly burgeon and grow. The Phoenicians were essentially at the center of the world around the Mediterranean, giving them tremendous commercial opportunity. Mesopotamia, Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, and more were all around Phoenicia, and the seafaring nature of the Phoenicians allowed them to go to other Phoenician cities that had the luxuries that they could use to barter. For example, if a Babylonian felt like he wanted Greek pottery, the easiest way to get it was at Phoenicia. If an inhabitant of the western Mediterranean wanted papyrus, a Phoenician market was the place to go. The Phoenicians could get valued items from across the sea to land-goers easily and profitably because of the vast trading network. In the end, "...they were the hub around which a great deal of the early Mediterranean and near eastern trade revolved," or at least for a while: the Phoenicians were eventually dissatisfied with being a mere "hub."The way that they would develop their culture and economy was through their "know-how" and natural assets. The "know-how" was really things they learned from examining the bartering items and learning from their partners in trade. For example, they learned how to work ivory and blow glass. They then became major manufacturers of jewelry. The two major naturally derived assets were purple dye and lumber. Derived from a snail-like creature called a murex, which is found mostly around Tyre and Sidon, the Phoenician purple dye was (and still is) known for its expensively luxurious color. Some have even deemed it "Tyrian purple," after Tyre, known for its deep violet color and only worn by royalty. The process of extracting the dye from the glands of a murex is extremely strenuous; it takes 60,000 or more of the murex snails to produce a pound of dye (It has been calculated that a pound of fine quality silk according to the highest Tyrian standards "...could have fetched as much as $28,000 in modern currency"). Lumber from the Levantine cedar and fir trees is also of exceptional quality. The lumbers from these trees were remarked "...for their beauty, fragrance, commercial value, and utility in building." What really made the lumber from Phoenicia so desirable was the limited quantity of the asset, much like the murex snails' extract. This lumber was another almost exclusive asset to Phoenician land. It was not only these exclusivities, however, that attracted attention to Phoenicia.Trade was not the only thing that caught the eye of kings and emperors in Phoenicia. Main cities in Phoenicia East were really strategically valuable. One prime...

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