In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Archaeology and Material Culture of Phoenicia and the Phoenicians

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works and Bibliographies
  • Definitions
  • Journals and Series
  • Archaeological Surveys, Settlement Pattern and Territories, Urbanism
  • Architecture
  • Burial and Mortuary Practice
  • Pottery
  • Arts, Sculpture, Stone Reliefs, Stelae, and Figurines
  • Ivory, Bone, and Shell Carving
  • Masks and Protomes
  • Jewelry
  • Seals, Scarabs, and Amulets
  • Metalwork
  • Coins
  • Glass and Faience
  • Ships and Navigation
  • Colonization

Biblical Studies Archaeology and Material Culture of Phoenicia and the Phoenicians
Gunnar Lehmann
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 October 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0268


The Phoenicians are the population of ancient Lebanon during the first millennium BCE. However, Phoenician settlement was also located on the coast of modern Syria and Israel. The Phoenicians were not immigrants and developed out of the local Bronze Age populations of the second millennium BCE. Some scholars do not distinguish the Late Bronze Age (1550–1150 BCE) city-states of Lebanon from those of the Phoenicians in the Iron Age of the 1st millennium BCE. Rather than defining “Phoenicia” with ethnic features, the approach chosen here emphasizes aspects of the political economy. With the sociopolitical changes at the end of the Late Bronze Age, new communities emerged with a specific pattern of social and political organization and economic activities that increasingly included “private” entrepreneurial initiatives. With these developments, a new form of Levantine city-state emerged from previous Bronze Age formations. Another specific feature of the Phoenician phenomenon is the development of an alphabetic writing that had significant influence on ancient scripts of the first millennium BCE, such as Hebrew, Aramaic, or ancient Greek writing. This bibliography focuses on the archaeology of the Phoenician homeland in the Levant during the Iron Age and the Persian period (c. 1150–330 BCE). Scholars have repeatedly investigated the problem of defining the Phoenicians—if this is at all possible. The appellation “Phoenicians” originates in ancient Greek views and does not represent the self-definition of “Phoenicians” themselves, who preferred to identify themselves with their urban communities, such as “man of Tyre” or “woman of Arwad.” The unprecedented rise of the Phoenician economy after the ninth century BCE had a significant impact on social and cultural changes in the Levant and the Mediterranean. Phoenician material culture appeared in all the neighboring economies of Phoenicia and led eventually to a colonization in the western Mediterranean. However one wants to define the Phoenicians, they were among the principal agents of an early globalization of the Mediterranean and the ancient Near East.

General Overviews

This section is dedicated to studies with a more global approach and includes both popular and academic studies. Moscati 1988, the catalogue for an exhibit titled The Phoenicians at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, prompted and revived a wider public interest in the subject. It showed for the first time the full wealth and influence of the ancient Phoenician civilization in a popular exhibit with numerous artifacts and objects. The exhibit La Méditerranée des Phéniciens at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, in 2008 was accompanied by a similar richly illustrated catalogue, Fontan and Le Meaux 2007. The popular, yet detailed, introduction of Gras, et al. 1989 provides a comprehensive summary and an overview of Phoenician culture. Markoe 2000 serves a similar purpose for the English-speaking world, with a concise and easy readable summary of “The Phoenicians.” Sagona 2008 summarizes the current chronological discussions. This edited volume aims at academic readers and presents the most important approaches to the chronology of the Phoenicians. Krings 1994 as well as López-Ruiz and Doak 2019 are edited volumes summarizing academic contributions, with a wide range of aspects of Phoenician history, culture, and epigraphy. Sader 2019 is currently the best introduction into the archaeology and history of the Phoenicians with an emphasis on research in Lebanon,

  • Fontan, Elisabeth, and Hélène Le Meaux, eds. La Méditerranée des Phéniciens: De Tyr à Carthage; Exposition, Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, 6 novembre 2007–20 avril 2008: Organisée avec la collaboration du Musée du Louvre. Paris: Somogy Éditions d’Art, 2007.

    A catalogue to the exhibit with the same name at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, in 2008. The catalogue is richly illustrated. Some chapters of the book include introductions to Phoenician culture in general, and others discuss the main aspects of Phoenician material culture, such as metalwork, ivory and shell carving, jewelry, glyptics, and figurative arts. The volume provides an extensive catalogue of objects and color photographs.

  • Gras, Michel, Pierre Rouillard, and Javier Teixidor. L’univers phénicien. Paris: Arthaud, 1989.

    The volume is an introduction to and synthesis of the Phoenician world, aiming at a wider French-speaking public. Leading scholars in Phoenician studies provide a readable yet precise synthesis of the state of research on Phoenician material culture in 1989. The volume addresses issues like the spatial structure of Phoenician settlement, economy and trade, the “Orientalizing” phenomenon during the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE, mortuary practice, and the establishment of Phoenician colonies.

  • Krings, Véronique, ed. La civilisation phénicienne et punique: Manuel de recherche. Handbuch der Orientalistik 1.20. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1994.

    The edited volume is a comprehensive academic survey of all major subjects of Phoenician history and archaeology. It provides an extensive bibliography to the subject matter and summarizes the state of research until the early 1990s. Although published in 1994, this volume is only partially outdated and still constitutes one of the most important summaries of Phoenician culture.

  • López-Ruiz, Carolina, and Brian R. Doak, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Phoenician and Punic Mediterranean. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

    This edited volume is the most up-to-date summary on Phoenician and Punic culture with the contribution of leading experts in the field. The handbook offers summary studies and new perspectives on key historical moments (such as the history of Carthage), areas of culture (organized around language, religion, and material culture), regional studies and areas of contact (spanning from the Levant and the Aegean to Iberia and North Africa), and the reception of the Phoenicians as an idea, entangled with the formation of other cultural identities, both ancient and modern.

  • Markoe, Glenn E. Phoenicians. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

    A volume aiming at a wider public and summarizing the essential aspects of Phoenician history and culture in an easy, understandable style. The book discusses subjects such as urbanism, economy, industry, and language and literature as well as religion. Material culture constitutes one chapter of this volume, focusing in a very short way on arts, pottery, seals, textiles, glass, and faience manufacture. This volume offers much to the beginner in Phoenician studies, yet little to the specialist.

  • Moscati, Sabatino, ed. The Phoenicians. New York: Abbeville, 1988.

    The catalogue to an important exhibit at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, Italy, that prompted a revived interest in the Phoenicians among the wider public. The richly illustrated volume is accompanied by numerous short articles by leading experts, providing an essential introduction, with bibliography, to all relevant matters of Phoenician history and culture. As a catalogue to an exhibit, the emphasis of this richly illustrated publication is distinctly on aspects of Phoenician material culture.

  • Sader, Hélène. The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia. Archaeology and Biblical Studies 25. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctvrxk3xg

    Written by one of the most senior Lebanese archaeologists, this book introduces the reader to the most recent research on the history and archaeology of the Phoenicians with an emphasis on Lebanon. The book emphasizes the diversity of ancient Phoenicia, focusing on the homeland proper.

  • Sagona, Claudia, ed. Beyond the Homeland: Markers in Phoenician Chronology. Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Supplement 28. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2008.

    Aiming at an academic readership, this volume summarizes the debates regarding chronological issues of Phoenician culture and its environments. In particular, the edited volume provides a forum for scholars working in the various regions of the Mediterranean, who developed divergent chronologies. These chronologies are still not sufficiently reconciled with one another and remain conflicting.

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