Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 31 January 2023



  • Jean-François Salles


Phoenicians (Φοίνικες, Poeni), a people (rather than a nation) occupying the coast of the Levant; they are thus described only in the classical sources and etymologically their name is Greek; their own name for themselves is unknown, although the Bible classes them as Canaanites (for the Greek tradition on Chna see *Hecataeus (1) in Steph. Byz.; also *Philon (5) of Byblos). The royal Assyrian inscriptions (9th–7th cent. bce) refer to the cities of *Tyre, *Sidon, *Byblos , etc. , as (in the form of ethnics) do the Phoenician inscriptions; but they are silent about ‘Phoenicia’ and ‘Phoenicians’, which were classical constructs.A common view derives Phoinikes from the Greek φοίνιος, φοίνος, meaning ‘red’. The Phoenicians were so designated (runs this view) from their copper skin, and/or their expertise in the *purple industry; other theories relate their name to the copper trade, the palm-tree and dates, textiles (based on a tablet of ambiguous sense from Minoan Cnossus; see minoan civilization ), or to an Egyptian word for ‘woodcutters’.


  • Near East

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription