The Phoenicians were a Semitic people who established an earlycivilization – from about 1200 BCE – on the Mediterranean coastnear what is now Lebanon and western Syria where they established aseries of independent city-states (eg Sidon, Tyre, Byblos, with amajor city-state in Tunisia – Carthage). They were also one of thestrongest of the maritime powers of their time.

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They established trading colonies and posts all around theMediteranean basin, in North Africa (Morroco, Tunisia, Lybia,Algeria, Egypt), the Italian peninsula, Sicily, Corsica, Spain,Portugal, Babylon. Phoenicia as a state and civilization lastedfrom 1550 BC to 300 BC when the main territory was conquered by thePersians.

The cities in the east were taken over by Persia, then theHellenistic kingdoms in the 3rd Century BCE. The city of Carthagefought a century-long war with the rising power Rome and wasdemolished. By the 1st Century BCE Rome had absorbed the easterncities as well into is empire.

As an ethnicity, the Phoenician were of Semite origin but were amix of tribes which had moved in from the east into Lebanon andSyria.

They produced the alphabet from which Greece and Rome developedtheirs. They are credited with inventing the bireme.

The Phoenicians were conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 539BC, and then were divided into four vassal kingdoms thereafter.

They traded around the mediterranean sea purple and showed peoplehow to use the alphabet. They lived in colonies and were spread outby Cyrus the great.

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