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date: 23 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The origins and ethnogenesis of a cultural entity, people, and territory referred to as “Phoenician” in later biblical and Classical sources and modern scholarship remain a topic of debate. This chapter examines the textual and archaeological sources relevant to the northern and central Levantine littoral during the Proto- (Late Bronze) and Early (Iron I) Phoenician periods (ca. fourteenth–eleventh centuries bce). What emerges out of the ruins of the Late Bronze Age is a resilient Early Iron Age coastal culture centered on the commercial interactions of maritime city-states, which survived the demise of the Hittite and Egyptian empires, as well as the collapse of international trade at around 1200 bce. Autochthonous Canaanite traditions dominate Iron I Phoenician cultural assemblages, but intrusive Aegean-style “Sea Peoples” and Cypriot influences are also present. Together they reflect the dynamic interplay of maritime cultural and commercial exchanges characteristic of the northern and central Levantine littoral during the final centuries of the second millennium bce.

Keywords: Proto-Phoenician, Phoenicia, Sea Peoples, Levantine littoral, Canaan, Late Bronze, Iron I, city-state

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