Phoenician Crafts
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Phoenician Music

The page on Phoenician music has been moved and updated with additional materials.

Phoenician Art

An extensive study of Phoenician art is available on this Web site. Please see Phoenician Art.

Phoenician Sculpture and Crafts

In the artistic products of Phoenicia, Egyptian motifs and ideas were mingled with those of Mesopotamia, the Aegean, and Syria. Though little survives of Phoenician sculpture in the round, relief sculpture is much more abundant. Trading done by this people throughout the Mediterranean, however, provided the knowledge of the products of the most highly developed civilizations in the most remote lands--northern Africa, Sardinia, Spain, and Italy.

Phoenician specialties, and Phoenician goldsmiths' and metalsmiths' work was also well known. Glassblowing was probably invented in the coastal area of Phoenicia in the 1st century or earlier. Ivory and wood carving was another Phoenician craft. Their ivories, which were often inlays for furniture, date to the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. and have been found at Megiddo, Samaria, and elsewhere in Palestine, in Assyrian cities, on Cyprus and in the western Mediterranean, and in the homeland at Zaraphath and Byblos. The ornate Levantine style exhibits a strong Egyptian influence with motifs of winged sphinxes, lotus flowers, and human figures with Egyptian headdress. Metal bowls with embossed and engraved designs of a central medallion and concentric bands were produced by skilled Cypro-Phoenician craftsmen in bronze, silver, and gold.

The Phoenicians were skilled artisans noted for their fine crafts, often "borrowing" a basic idea or technology and improving on it. The craft of glass making was raised to a fine art by Phoenician artisans, and they may have been the first to develop blown glass. Though little is known about man's first attempt to make glass. The Roman historian Pliny attributed it to the Phoenician sailors. He recounted how they landed on a beach, propped a cooking pot on some blocks of natron they were carrying as cargo, and made a fire over which to cook a meal. To their surprise, the sand beneath the fire melted and ran in a liquid stream that later cooled and hardened into primitive glass. Their terra cotta vessels and pots often show a thoughtful refinement of shape, as do their votive statues. Excavations produced a series of semi-intact royal tombs that yielded a glimpse of Phoenician treasure, including vessels of gold, silver, and obsidian, sandals and breastplates of gold, and an array of royal paraphernalia.

The earliest major work of Phoenician sculpture to survive was found at Byblos; it was the limestone sarcophagus of Ahiram, King of Byblos at the end of the 11th century.What made this sarcophagus one of the most important finds, however, was an inscription in the Phoenician alphabet: "This coffin was made by Ithobaal, the son of Ahiram, King of Byblos, as the eternal resting place for his father. If any ruler or governor or general attacks Byblos and touches this coffin, his sceptre will be broken...." This discovery in l922 touched off a wave of excavation in Byblos and a renewed interest in the origin of the Phoenicians.

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