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How the Canaanites and Phoenicians Sailed West and Created the Mediterranean Trading Economy

Beginning around 1500 B.C., if not earlier, Bronze Age Canaanites from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean sailed west, pioneering sea routes from Egypt to Greece and creating an international exchange system. By 900 B.C. they were sailing as far west as Spain and Portugal, spreading the method of alphabetic writing we use to this day and inventing new techniques of trade and finance that stimulated a new kind of market-based exchange. They settled in Sicily, Spain, and North Africa, linking east and west while planting the seeds of the great empire of Carthage, which fought Rome for control of the Mediterranean — and lost. Rome utterly destroyed Carthage in 146 B.C. and tried to erase its memory, but archaeology has revealed the amazing exploits of the Phoenicians and their Canaanite ancestors, the “makers of the Mediterranean.”

In this lecture, Professor David Schloen of the University of Chicago will use archaeological finds to illustrate the long history of the Canaanites and their Phoenician descendants from the Bronze Age to the Roman era, explaining their role in making the ancient Mediterranean a single economic and cultural space. In ancient times, they were famous as sophisticated, literate merchants and purveyors of luxuries, traveling far and wide and teaching their backward customers — the Hebrews, Greeks, and many others — how to read and write. Sadly, their own literature has been lost and we know about them only through occasional distorted comments made by their rivals. However, archaeological research on the Phoenicians is progressing rapidly, with exciting new discoveries that help us to know when and where and how they traveled and the extent of their economic and culture impact on world history.

 

This will be a totally virtual lecture. Streaming live here on explorers.org, our YouTube Channel, and our Facebook Live  Monday, February 7th at 7:00 pm ET.

Speakers

David Schloen

David Schloen is a professor of archaeology at the University of Chicago, where he has taught for 27 years. He has directed excavations at several major sites in Israel and southern Turkey dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages, and in 2022 he plans to start digging with Spanish colleagues at an early Phoenician colony site on the south coast of Spain near Málaga — following the Phoenicians from their eastern homeland in the Levant to their lands in the west. He has a strong interest in the development of the ancient economy and the transition from a politically controlled trade in luxuries in the Bronze Age, conducted by royal trading agents from palace to palace, toward a freer market exchange in the Iron Age, facilitated by coined money and the growth of a mercantile economy.

Andrew Peters MR'18

Andrew Peters, MR’18 started a lifelong interest in archaeology after visiting Israel as a child, which later turned into regularly joining archaeological digs as a volunteer.  He also spent 4 years in southwest China’s Yunnan Province learning the minority language of the Naxi and surveying Tibetan architecture and archaeological sites in China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region.  He is a steadfast supporter of exploration projects in China and is currently planning on a return post-COVID lockdowns.  Andrew lives in Manhattan with his wife, two teenage children, and rescue Jindo.

February 7,2022
February 7, 2022
7:00 pm ET
7:00 pm ET
David Schloen
David Schloen
Ancient Entrepreneurs

How the Canaanites and Phoenicians Sailed West and Created the Mediterranean Trading Economy

Beginning around 1500 B.C., if not earlier, Bronze Age Canaanites from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean sailed west, pioneering sea routes from Egypt to Greece and creating an international exchange system. By 900 B.C. they were sailing as far west as Spain and Portugal, spreading the method of alphabetic writing we use to this day and inventing new techniques of trade and finance that stimulated a new kind of market-based exchange.
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