The people of Sidon were one of the many different Semitic cultures that inhabited the land of Canaan. Sidon was established on the coast of modern-day Damascus near the Mesopotamian Sea. In time, these people became known as the Phoenicians, and they developed a unique seafaring culture that specialized in the trade of goods and merchandise. Around 1200 B.C., a group of Phoenician colonists left Sidon and headed north to create a new settlement. This newly founded area was called Tyre, and it eventually became the most powerful city of trade and commerce within the Phoenicians. It is placed on the Biblical Timeline Chart around between 1000 BC and 1100 BC as it reaches the height of its power.
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The city of Tyre had a vast seaport. This seaport is what allowed the city to have a monopoly on the coastal trade routes that existed in the Mesopotamian region. Tyre’s routes began in the east near modern day Lebanon and extended all the way to the west near modern day Spain. Many famous ancient cultures such as Egyptians, Romans and Greeks conducted business with the Phoenicians. Tyre also had sent colonists to the tip of North Africa in the west and established a powerful city-state known as Carthage. In the ancient world, many great cities were located next to Mesopotamian sea, and this is why the Phoenicians were able to use their seaports to effectively engage in commerce.
The Phoenicians developed an economy that was founded on the exchange of goods. They bartered just about anything they got their hands on. They traded wood, precious stones, weapons, cloth and slaves. The most important commodity that they exchanged was the purple dye. This particular substance was a powder used to provide color garments worn by the rich people of ancient times. The Phoenicians had managed to monopolize the trade of this purple dye and their name as a people became associated with the color. Phoinois is an ancient Greek word for purple and the word Phoenician had been ascribed to the people who manufactured this royal hue. The Phoenicians established manufacturing centers for the development of purple dye. They also had different manufacturing centers for wood and other goods such as glass and pottery.
Tyre was the center of activity for Phoenician trade and power. This city-state was ruled by kings, and it had a powerful navy that was considered the best in the ancient world. They also had land forces, but they relied heavily on their marine like warriors to carry out assaults against enemies that decided to attack their city or disrupt their trade lines.
Many Phoenicians had to learn how to become skilled craftsmen to earn a living and to produce many of the goods that they sold in their markets. The citizens of Tyre also worked in the manufacturing industries, or they were hired sailors who helped to man vessels along the trade routes. Tyre was famous for having so many merchants and businessmen since finance, and business-related occupations dominated the country.
The inhabitants of Tyre also traded with land lock countries such as Israel. When King Solomon was building a temple for God he received many of his supplies from the King Hiram of Tyre (see 2 Samuel 5:11 and 1 Kings 5:1). King Hiram of Tyre was an ally to King David before he had died. This relationship carried over to Solomon after his death.
Sidon tried to outdo Tyre with economic importance, but it could not overtake the city. Tyre was so economically powerful and well known in antiquity that the city’s fame had spread all over the ancient world. Emperors, kings and commoners knew that Tyre was the city for material goods and that they could buy just about anything that they desired from this place. Tyre’s economic and financial power lasted from 1200 B.C. to around 300 B.C. when the city went into decline. The Greeks and their culture overtook the Phoenicians importance and by 65 B.C. the city of Tyre was considered a second-rate economic power.