February 8: Lecture by J. David Schloen

Phoenicians, East and West: Revealing a Lost Mediterranean Civilization through Archaeological Research from the Levant to Spain

Beginning around 1500 BCE, if not earlier, Bronze Age Canaanites from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean began to sail westward, pioneering sea routes from Egypt to Greece and creating an international exchange system. By 900 BCE they were sailing as far west as Spain and Portugal, spreading the method of alphabetic writing we use to this day and inventing new techniques of trade that stimulated a new kind of market-based exchange. They settled in Sicily, Spain, and North Africa, linking east and west while planting the seeds of the great empire of Carthage, which fought Rome for control of the Mediterranean — and lost. Rome utterly destroyed Carthage in 146 B.C. and tried to erase its memory, but archaeology has revealed the amazing exploits of the Phoenicians and their Canaanite ancestors, the “makers of the Mediterranean.”

In this lecture, Professor David Schloen of the University of Chicago will use archaeological finds to illustrate the long history of the Canaanites and their Phoenician descendants from the Bronze Age to the Roman era, explaining their role in making the ancient Mediterranean a single economic and cultural space. In ancient times, they were famous as sophisticated, literate merchants and purveyors of luxuries, traveling far and wide and teaching their backward customers—the Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—how to read and write. Sadly, their own literature has been lost and we know about them only through occasional distorted comments made by their rivals. However, archaeological research on the Phoenicians is progressing rapidly, with exciting new discoveries that help us to know when and where and how they traveled and the extent of their economic and culture impact on world history.

February 8 at 6:00 pm
✎ Webinar Registration Required (link forthcoming)