The Southern Levantine Roots of the Phoenician Mercantile Phenomenon

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I propose here a new way to look at the process through which, following the Bronze Age collapse and culminating in the second half of the 9th century B.C.E., polities in south Lebanon became the most important Levantine commercial hubs in the Mediterranean and the main patrons of the so-called Phoenician expansion. My approach differs from others dealing with the Phoenician question in that its definitions are not projected from a yet-to-happen “Phoenician” phenomenon in the West. It is an archaeological bottom-up diachronic approach and considers the entire Levantine coast and not Lebanon only, which is traditionally considered the Phoenician homeland. I argue that what may be termed the earliest Phoenician mercantile maritime ventures, in the early Iron Age, were launched mainly from the Carmel Coast and were directed mainly toward Egypt. Gradually this phenomenon expanded geographically, a process that can be followed closely. It was stimulated and conditioned mainly by the effects of Egypt’s withdrawal from Canaan, by the Late Cypriot IIIA collapse, by the slow recovery of the Syrian coast in the early Iron Age, and by environmental factors. The paper synthesizes several decades of research on Mediterranean issues, mainly in connection to Tel Dor on Israel’s Carmel Coast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-53
Number of pages23
JournalBulletin of ASOR
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Society of Overseas Research. All rights reserved.


  • Carmel Coast
  • Iron Age
  • Levant
  • Mediterranean exchanges
  • Phoenicia
  • Phoenician pottery
  • Tel Dor
  • Third Intermediate Period
  • maritime trade
  • networks
  • silver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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