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A Short History of The Phoenicians

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The Phoenicians present a tantalizing face to the ancient historian. Latin sources suggest they once had an extensive literature of history, law, philosophy and religion; but all now is lost. Offering new insights based on recent archaeological
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  Cover illustration:  Ex-voto, gilded bronze statuette votive offerings, eighteenth-century BCE   (Dea Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images) www.ibtauris.com The Phoenicians present a tantalizing face to the ancient historian. Though credited by classical authors with transmitting the first alphabet to the West, Phoenician literature has all but vanished from history. Moreover, since they lived in a loose confederation of widely dispersed mercantile city-states – rather than a single country with clearly defined borders – the Phoenicians, and the society that they created, have proven challenging to understand. Offering new insights based on recent archaeological discoveries in their heartland of modern-day Lebanon, Mark Woolmer here presents a fresh appraisal of this fascinating, yet elusive, Semitic people. Discussing material culture, language, religion, governance, trade and the expansion into the western Mediterranean, he explores Phoenicia in all its paradoxical complexity. Expertly unravelling some of the mysteries and contradictions surrounding the Phoenicians, the author not only demonstrates the vibrancy and richness of their culture but reveals in addition their considerable impact on the wider history of the Mediterranean region. Mark Woolmer  is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University. T HE P H O E NI   C I  A N S  M a r k W o  o l  m e r  ‘A new and up-to-date introduction to Phoenician history and culture.’ JOSEPHINE CRAWLEY QUINN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN ANCIENT HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD ‘Succeeds in being both an informative and an enjoyable read.’ HÉLÈNE SADER, PROFESSOR OF ARCHAEOLOGY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT ‘The author is internationally recognized as an expert on the Phoenician civilization, and this excellent and readable short history does his reputation full justice.’ PHILIP C. SCHMITZ, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PHOENICIANS Mark Woolmer  The Phoenicians present a tantalizing face to the ancient historian. Though credited by classical authors with transmitting the first alphabet to the West, and with producing an extensive body of texts on topics such as history, philosophy, law, science and religion, Phoenician literature has all but vanished from the historical record. Moreover, since they lived in a loose confederation of widely dispersed mercantile city-states – rather than a single country with clearly defined borders – the Phoenicians, and the society that they created, have proven challenging to understand. Offering new insights based on recent archaeological discoveries in their heartland of modern-day Lebanon, Mark Woolmer here presents a fresh appraisal of this fascinating, yet elusive, Semitic people between the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550 BCE ) and the dawning of the Hellenistic Period (c. 300 BCE ).Discussing material culture, language and alphabet, religion (including funerary customs and beliefs in an afterlife), governance, trade and the expansion into the western Mediterranean, he explores Phoenicia in all its paradoxical complexity. Viewed in antiquity as sage scribes and intrepid explorers who pushed back the boundaries of the known world (for instance, by circumnavigating Africa over two thousand years before Vasco da Gama did it again in 1498), and as skilled engineers who built monumental harbour cities like Tyre and Sidon, the Phoenicians were also considered unscrupulous profiteers and pirates: men who could not be trusted, and who were more interested in money than morality. Expertly unravelling some of the mysteries and contradictions surrounding the Phoenicians, the author not only demonstrates the vibrancy and richness of their culture but reveals in addition their impact on the wider history of the Mediterranean region. Mark Woolmer  is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University. A leading authority on the subject, he has discussed the Phoenicians on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’, is the author of  Ancient Phoenicia:  An Introduction  (2011), and recently curated the international exhibition ‘Daily Life in Ancient Lebanon’. Also available WWW.SHORT-HISTORIES.COM
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