Glenn E. Markoe, Phoenicians: Peoples of the Past. British Museum Press, 2000. Pp. 224, incl. 12 colour and 74 black-and-white illustrations, 2 maps and an appendix. ISBN 0-71414-2095-2. UK£24.99.
This wide-ranging book covers a period of some twelve hundred years, from the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BC) to the Persian period (550-300 BC) and is comprised of seven chapters. Each of them deals with a particular aspect of the Phoenician civilization.
The book begins with a series of maps and a four-page introduction (pp. 10-13), in which Markoe sets out its structure and composition. He lays out the two separate stories he intends to narrate, the first concerning the eastern Mediterranean Phoenicians, who are Markoe's primary emphasis, (the 'Phoenician' horizon) and the second the Carthaginians in the west (the 'Punic' horizon). By means of this twofold approach, Markoe gives Phoenicians and Carthaginians both their due.
The first chapter, 'History' (pp. 14-67), is devoted to the continuity in tradition that characterized Phoenician history during the Late Bronze Age -- when the Phoenician cities (with the exception of Byblos) first emerged as urban entities -- and the Iron Age marked by the re-emergence of the Phoenicians in the twelfth century, the Phoenician commercial expansion in the eleventh century, the birth of the Tyrian maritime commercial empire in the tenth century, and the trade relationships between Phoenicians and Assyrians in the ninth century. The description of Phoenician history during those two periods is followed by the narration of the rise of Aram- Damascus in the end of the ninth and first half of the eighth century, the commercial relationships between the Phoenicians and Egyptians (690-664 BC), the fall of Tyre under Egyptian control (664-610 BC), the fall of Phoenicia to the Babylonians (605-562 BC), the Persian period when the Phoenicians were conquered the Persians, the Phoenician political independence in the West and the rise of Carthage under the Magonids and, lastly, the Hellenization of Phoenicia and the Punic West in the fourth century BC.
In the second chapter, 'The City' (pp. 68-92), the author describes the urban characteristics of the Phoenician city in comparison to other urban centres within the Near East continent and the Phoenician port and the domestic architecture by comparing the Phoenician house to the Punic house. To this are added a study of the urban evolution of the Phoenician cities, specifically of Motya, a western Phoenician city, and a comparison between the Phoenician and Punic armed forces and fortifications. The chapter ends with the examination of the administration and the social life of the Phoenician and Punic city.
In the third chapter, 'Economy: Commerce and Industry' (pp. 93-107), Markoe seeks to analyze the structure of the maritime and commercial economy of the Phoenicians in the light of their external relations with their colonies and the foreign sovereigns, namely the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians.
The following chapter, 'Language and Literature' (pp. 108-14) deals with the Phoenician language, which is known as North-west Semitic and belongs to the Canaanite group. Markoe explains its division into two main phases, an archaic (tenth to seventh centuries BC) and a classical one (sixth to first centuries BC), its innovations in grammatical development, especially in the area of phonology, and the origin, development and spread of the Phoenician alphabet beyond the borders of the homeland.
Chapter Five, 'Religion' (pp. 115-42), consists of a comparative examination of the Phoenician and Punic religions. Markoe seeks to clarify the structure of both pantheons, their cultic practices and religious architecture. He sheds light on the role of feasts and celebrations that revolved around the agricultural cycle, the religious associations centred on a particular god or temple complex and the various shapes of dedications and votive offerings. The chapter ends with the study of temple complexes found throughout Phoenician mainland, North Africa, Sardinia and Sicily.
In Chapter Six, 'Material Culture' (pp. 143-69), Markoe contrasts the Phoenician material culture with the Punic one. More specifically, he intends to elucidate both arts. In contrast to the latter, Phoenician material culture is analyzed in detail: ivory-works, which seem have been a particular specialty of the Phoenicians because they employed a variety of techniques including ajouré and champlevé; metal-works, i.e. decorated metal bowls in both bronze and silver; stone sculpture; the production of sarcophaghi, which have been recovered from tombs in the Phoenician mainland; the production of jewellery in precious metal; the use of stamp seal which displays a diversified repertoire of the themes drawn from the Egyptian, Etruscan and Western Greek cultural spheres; faience and glass; terracottas; and, finally, pottery.
The last chapter, 'Commercial Expansion Abroad' (pp. 170-89), refers to the external trade networks of both the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians. Markoe stresses the overseas Phoenician settlement and trade in Mediterranean, specifically in the Northern and Central Aegean, Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, Sicily, Sardinia, Central Italy, Malta, Spain, the Balearics and Ibiza and, lastly, Morocco.
The book ends with an epilogue (pp. 190-91) comprising a brief outline of the most important historical steps of Phoenicia and Carthage, an appendix referring to a survey of cities in the Phoenician homeland (pp. 192-206), a chronological chart (p. 207), bibliographical abbreviations (pp. 208-10), notes (pp. 211-18), glossary (p. 218), acknowledgements (pp. 219-20) and an index (pp. 221- 24).
Throughout this impressive book, Glenn Markoe, a specialist in Mediterranean art and trade of the Orientalizing era, displays a profound erudition of Near Eastern history, art and archaeology. He lays out the significant role of the Phoenicians in the Near East and the Mediterranean world, their complex history, culture and religion as well as their most important characteristics by presenting them as excellent navigators, traders, engineers and artisans. In this study, Markoe draws on the most recent research and excavations which shed light on this remarkable people of the past.