- c.1200-540 BC.
The *Greeks were the first to use the name 'Phoenicians' for all the Canaanites; later, the term came to refer to those people who occupied the coastal area of Syria/ Palestine and retained an independent status. The early inhabitants of Syria/Palestine had political and trading contacts with Egypt, through the coastal town of *Byblos, from at least as early as the Old Kingdom. When Egypt undertook its great territorial expansion in the Eighteenth Dynasty, the petty princes of the area became Egyptian vassals and the pharaohs ensured that these city-states were ruled by their favoured candidates. As the Egyptian empire declined during the reign of *Akhenaten, local rulers such as *Rib-Addi, the governor of *Byblos, and Abimilki of Tyre, wrote in vain to the Egyptian capital, begging for Egyptian assistance. In the Nineteenth Dynasty the campaigns of *Sethos I and *Ramesses II against the *Hittites once again restored Egyptian influence in the Phoenician coastal area.It was only in the latter half of the second millennium BC that the Phoenicians became a distinct and separate entity. By 1200 BC, the Canaanites were squeezed in the south by the Philistines and the Hebrews, and in the north by the *Hittites and Amorites, so that they were able to retain only the central coastal strip which became known as Phoenicia.The Egyptian kingdom, divided in the Twenty-first Dynasty, rapidly declined and the *Hittites also lost their power; with these great influences removed, several kingdoms now developed and flourished in Syria/Palestine—Phoenicia, Philistia, Israel, Moab and Edom. The Phoenicians, as great explorers and colonisers, soon spread their commercial and political influence throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. Their naval prowess was also recognised in later periods and, together with *Greeks and *Carians, they were used to fight as mercenaries for the Egyptian kings of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, whose fleet they modernised and over whom they gained great influence.Eventually, the Phoenicians were taken by *Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon but when he in turn was conquered by the *Persians in 539 BC, Phoenicia with Syria and Cyprus became the fifth satrapy (governate) of the *Persian Empire, and Phoenician naval power was adopted as one of the greatest forces in the *Persians' sea battles.No documentary evidence has yet been discovered on the Phoenician sites which provides any commentary on their own view of their relationships with their great neighbours—Egypt, *Assyria, *Persia and the *Greeks. Thus to some extent it has only been possible to interpret their history from the literature of other societies.BIBL. Leclant, J. in Ward, W.A. (ed.) The role of the Phoenicians in the interaction of Mediterranean civilizations. Beirut: 1968, pp. 13 ff; Harden, D. The Phoenicians. Harmondsworth: 1971.Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. EdwART. 2011.
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