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Amalgamation of Phoenician Culture with those of Greek

Updated on December 6, 2014

In this hub, the author will focus on the amalgamation of two ancient cultures, the amalgamation of the ancient African with the Greek and these interaction influenced each other. In this paper, I am trying to prove during the 6th and 9th centuries, not only were many of the cultural elements transported from Phoenicia to Greek but also ideas.

Who Were the Phoenicians?

Phoenicians were semites who were derived from the Levant. Their main cities included Bablos, Tyre and Sidon. During the first millennium, they thrived along a stretch of 200 km3 coastline, backing on Lebanon mountains. During the 7th and 8th century, they were forced to venture overseas because of the land constrictions that were imposed on their homelands. They turned this migration aspect into an advantage by venturing into trade where they dealt with such items as ivory, metalwork, glass, wood and dyes (Moscati, 1995). Their culture derived much of the influence from those of their neighbors, the Assyrians, Egyptians and the Hittites ( Markoe, 2000).

The Influence of Phoenicians on Greek Culture

Black Athena is a book that is concerned on the Afro-asiatic roots of classical civilization written by Martin Bernal. In this book, Bernal discusses traditional Greek in new perspectives. His main thesis is the perception of traditional Greek with regard to the Greek’s Asiatic and African neighbors, particularly the ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians who according to him had colonized ancient Greek. The author offers a proposal that change in the Western perception of Greek occurred during the 18th century onwards, and that it is this change which fostered a subsequent denial by the Western scholars of any crucial Phoenician and African influence on traditional Greek civilization. In this book, Bernal rejects the assumption that Greek civilization was established by Indo-European settlers who had come from Europe, a theory which was generally popular in the 19th century. Bernal defends what he regards as the ancient model, which refers to both Phoenician and Egyptian influences on the Greek culture.

The Greek Culture

Aubet (1993) agrees with Benal that the Greek language came with foreigners who had come from the North. He however, argues that the classical Greek culture did not spring from the arrival of these invaders from the North; rather, it was imposed upon them by the Egyptian and Semitic culture. This is presumed to have occurred in the 18th century B.C when the invasion of Hyksos of Egypt overflowed into Crete and from the Aegean to Greek. Aubet strongly attacks the classicists of the last two centuries for their whitewashing of classical Greek and claims that by assuming the superiority of Europeans, they had overlooked the swarthy races from the Western Mediterranean and only focused at the vigorous Northern barbarians as pioneers of the Greek culture. In justifying, his “Revised Ancient Theory” the author has offered many detailed observations and arguments to support her assumptions.

In World History, Patterns of Interaction, Beck et al (1999) has derived analogues within England’s invasion of Norman and also Europe’s invasion of Hun, carefully noting that when aggressive and mobile groups grow, they in most cases end up transmitting not only its culture, but also one of the most established regions which it disrupted. Hence, the Normans who were originally Scandinavian brought along with them, the French culture into England, and not the Viking culture as sometimes presumed. In the same way, the Huns pushed the German culture across the Roman empire. Similarly, the author articulates that the Phoenicians, who emanated from the Levant influenced the culture of Greek in a great way.

In most cases, language follows the culture. If the classical Greek was actually established by traders and aliens from the Levant, one could expect to find many of their words in Greek language, the same way as Normans and Vikings is also moulded in the English language.

From this discussion, it is clear that Phoenician- Greek interaction influenced each other in a great deal. As skilled artisans and businesspersons, their contribution to Greek civilization cannot be overemphasized. Their architectural designs and crafts were incorporated into the Greek culture and their presence can still be felt even in the present day. However, the greatest impact to Greek culture was the contribution of the Greek phonetic alphabet, which was definitely a great improvement to the more ambiguous hieroglyphic and cuneiform. The Phoenician alphabet was literary used in Greek alphabet and acted as the most significant factor with regard to development of the Greek literature (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2012).


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