𐤐𐤕 / Pūt  (Phoenician)
Phoiníkē  (Greek)
2500 BC[1]–539 BC
Map of Phoenicia and its Mediterranean trade routes
Map of Phoenicia and its Mediterranean trade routes
CapitalByblos (2500–1000 BC)
Tyre (900–550 BC)[2]
Common languagesPhoenician, Punic
Canaanite religion
GovernmentCity-states ruled by kings
Well-known kings of Phoenician cities 
• c. 1000 BC
• 969 – 936 BC
Hiram I
• 820 – 774 BC
Pygmalion of Tyre
Historical eraClassical antiquity
• Established
2500 BC[1]
• Tyre in South Lebanon, under the reign of Hiram I, becomes the dominant city-state
969 BC
• Dido founds Carthage (legendary)
814 BC
• Cyrus the Great conquers Phoenicia
539 BC
1000 BC20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Hittite Empire
Egyptian Empire
Achaemenid Phoenicia
Ancient Carthage

Phoenicia (ə/;[3] from Ancient Greek: Φοινίκη, Phoiníkē) was a thalassocratic, ancient Semitic-speaking Mediterranean civilization that originated in the Levant, specifically Lebanon, in the west of the Fertile Crescent. Scholars generally agree that it was centered on the coastal areas of modern day Lebanon and included parts of what are now northern Israel and southern Syria reaching as far north as Arwad, but there is some dispute as to how far south it went, the furthest suggested area being Ashkelon.[4] Its colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean, such as Carthage in North Africa, and even the Atlantic Ocean, such as Cádiz in Spain. The civilization spread across the Mediterranean between 1500 BC and 300 BC.

Phoenicia is an ancient Greek term used to refer to the major export of the region, cloth dyed Tyrian purple from the Murex mollusc, and referred to the major Canaanite port towns; not corresponding precisely to Phoenician culture as a whole as it would have been understood natively. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece,[5], centered in modern Lebanon, of which the most notable cities were Tyre, Sidon, Arwad, Berytus, Byblos, and Carthage.[6] Each city-state was a politically independent unit, and it is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. In terms of archaeology, language, lifestyle, and religion there was little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other residents of the Levant.[7]

Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing of Phoenician.[8] It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures, including the Roman alphabet used by Western civilization today.[9]


The name Phoenicians, like Latin Poenī (adj. poenicus, later pūnicus), comes from Greek Φοίνικες (Phoínikes). The word φοῖνιξ phoînix meant variably "Phoenician person", "Tyrian purple, crimson" or "date palm" and is attested with all three meanings already in Homer.[10] (The mythical bird phoenix also carries the same name, but this meaning is not attested until centuries later.) The word may be derived from φοινός phoinós "blood-red",[11] itself possibly related to φόνος phónos "murder".

It is difficult to ascertain which meaning came first, but it is understandable how Greeks may have associated the crimson or purple color of dates and dye with the merchants who traded both products. Robert S. P. Beekes has suggested a pre-Greek origin of the ethnonym.[12] The oldest attested form of the word in Greek may be the Mycenaean po-ni-ki-jo, po-ni-ki, possibly borrowed from Ancient Egyptian: fnḫw [13] (literally "carpenters", "woodcutters"; likely in reference to the famed Lebanon cedars for which the Phoenicians were well-known), although this derivation is disputed.[14] The folk etymological association of Φοινίκη with φοῖνιξ mirrors that in Akkadian, which tied kinaḫni, kinaḫḫi "Canaan" to kinaḫḫu "red-dyed wool".[15][16]

The land was natively known as 𐤐𐤕 (Pūt) and its people as the 𐤐𐤍𐤉𐤌 (Pōnnim).[17] In the Amarna letters of the 14th century BC, people from the region called themselves Kenaani or Kinaani, equivalent to Canaanite. The common Canaanite identity was gradually differentiated into regional subgroups, of which the Phoenicians were one, so they continued to use Canaanite as one of their self-designations.[17] Thus, much later, in the sixth century BC, Hecataeus of Miletus writes that Phoenicia was formerly called χνα khna, a name that Philo of Byblos later adopted into his mythology as his eponym for the Phoenicians: "Khna who was afterwards called Phoinix".[18] The ethnonym survived in North Africa until the fourth century AD (see Punic language). As late as the 3rd century, as mentioned by Augustine of Hippo, an African identified himself as Chanani.[17] Conversely, the names of the inhabitants of most prominent Phoenician cities Tyre and Sidon could sometimes also be used to refer to Phoenicians in general, so that for instance the self-designation Sorim, Tyrians, was used in Tripolitania.[17]

Cover of a Phoenician anthropoid sarcophagus of a woman, made of marble, 350–325 BC, from Sidon, now in the Louvre.
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Fenisië
አማርኛ: ፊንቄ
العربية: فينيقيون
asturianu: Fenicia
azərbaycanca: Finikiya
تۆرکجه: فنیقی‌لر
Bân-lâm-gú: Phoenicia
башҡортса: Финикия
беларуская: Фінікія
български: Финикия
bosanski: Fenicija
brezhoneg: Fenikia
буряад: Финики
català: Fenícia
Cebuano: Penisya
čeština: Fénicie
Cymraeg: Ffenicia
dansk: Fønikien
Deutsch: Phönizien
eesti: Foiniikia
español: Fenicia
Esperanto: Fenicio
euskara: Fenizia
فارسی: فنیقی‌ها
français: Phénicie
Frysk: Fenysje
Gaeilge: An Fhéiníc
galego: Fenicios
한국어: 페니키아
հայերեն: Փյունիկիա
Արեւմտահայերէն: Փիւնիկէ
हिन्दी: फ़ोनीशिया
hrvatski: Fenicija
Bahasa Indonesia: Bangsa Fenisia
íslenska: Föníka
italiano: Fenici
עברית: פיניקים
ქართული: ფინიკია
қазақша: Финикия
Kiswahili: Finisia
kurdî: Fenîke
Кыргызча: Финикия
Latina: Phoenices
latviešu: Feniķija
lietuvių: Finikija
Lingua Franca Nova: Fenisia
magyar: Fönícia
македонски: Феникија
Malagasy: Fenisia
Malti: Feniċi
مصرى: فينيقيا
Bahasa Melayu: Phoenicia
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Pĭ-nà̤-gĭ
монгол: Финик
Nederlands: Fenicië
日本語: フェニキア
norsk: Fønikia
norsk nynorsk: Fønikia
occitan: Fenicia
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Finikiya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਫੋਨੀਸ਼ੀਆ
پنجابی: فونیقی
polski: Fenicja
português: Fenícia
română: Fenicia
русский: Финикия
sardu: Fenìtzios
Scots: Phoenicie
shqip: Fenikasit
sicilianu: Finici
Simple English: Phoenicia
slovenčina: Feničania
slovenščina: Fenicija
српски / srpski: Феникија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Fenikija
svenska: Fenicien
Tagalog: Phoenicia
தமிழ்: போனீசியா
Türkçe: Fenikeliler
українська: Фінікія
اردو: فونیقی
vèneto: Fenici
Tiếng Việt: Phoenicia
Winaray: Fenisya
吴语: 腓尼基
粵語: 腓尼基
中文: 腓尼基