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Phoenicia Trades with British Coast

Some nations conquer weaker ones through intimidation and war while some thrive on and extend their influence through commerce. This is what makes Phoenicians stand out among other groups of people in the Fertile Crescent in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.Their trade along the coasts is recorded on the Biblical Timeline around 1254 BC.

Master seafarers and traders sum up the legacy of the Phoenicians who flourished in the Mediterranean and beyond in 1500 BC-300 BC. The Phoenicians occupied territories or city-states that spanned through the coast of the Levant from Syria to Lebanon to Israel. Their major cities were Tyre (present day Sur), Sidon, Baalbek, Byblos, and Arwad. Among others, but their superb trading skills took them to the far reaches of the Mediterranean Sea and even the Atlantic Ocean.

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The main trading ports of the Phoenicians were scattered all over the Mediterranean, including Algiers, Cyprus, Sardinia, Sicily, Leptis Magna, Carthage, Tripoli, Malta, Algarve, Cadiz, and Phoenicus (modern Finike, Turkey). Apart from the valuable purple dye they traded for and other resources their seaside towns could not produce, the Phoenicians also traded with the famed cedars of Lebanon, glass, ceramics, and weapons. Their most important legacy, however, was their invention of the modern alphabet and their innovations in shipbuilding.

“Phoenician ship Carved on the face of a sarcophagus. 2nd century AD.”

At that time, venturing out of the Mediterranean was unheard of, but it has been said that Phoenicians reached the Atlantic coast of Africa and even northward to the British coast. Herodotus mentioned a Phoenician expedition commissioned by Pharaoh Necho II to navigate the entire coast of Africa. The Phoenicians left via the Red Sea, sailed the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, and came back through the Pillars of Heracles in Gibraltar.

Bronze was a highly prized metal in the ancient world and is created by mixing copper with tin. The Near East and North Africa regions were not known to have major tin mining operations during the Bronze Age, which may have pushed the Phoenicians to look for this highly prized metal elsewhere. Their search may have taken them past the Gibraltar and northwards to Britain where tin mining in Devon and Cornwall were at its height since the early Bronze Age. Britain is one of the proposed Tin Islands or Cassiterides mentioned by Greek historian Herodotus and geographer Strabo.

Picture By Elie plus at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Rawlinson, George. “CHAPTER VIII—INDUSTRIAL ART AND MANUFACTURES.” History of Phoenicia. N.p.: Longmans, Green, 1889. N. pag. Print.
Herodotus. “Book 4 MELPOMENE The Muse of Tragedy 4.42.” Herodotus: Histories.
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