Phoenician Settlement of Sicily


Phoenicia, the kingdom that arose in Canaan with capitals at Tyre and Sidon, was the first great colonizing power of the Mediterranean. Leveraging their superior seafaring skills--which some say were learned from Crete--the Phoenicians by about 1200 BC were trading at coastal towns across the whole Mediterranean. Distant Spain proved to be a particularly lucrative destination.
Phoenician travels
In time their trading led to their maintaining small commercial enclaves abroad. By 1000 BC the Phoenicians had begun establishing permanent colonies in Sicily and along the coast of North Africa. Colonies were also planted at Cyprus, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica and the coast of present-day Spain. The most important Phoenician city in Sicily was Palermo [Panormus].

The most famous and successful of all the Phoenician colonies was legendary Carthage, sited on the North African coast opposite Sicily. Founded by Dido, daughter of King Mutton I of Tyre, in 813 BC, Carthage grew in power as the fortunes of Phoenicia itself declined. Finally Carthage emerged as ruler of the colonies that Phoenicia had established along the shores of the central and western Mediterranean.

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1999 C. I. Gable