Greek and Phoenician Colonization

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by Jan van der Crabben
published on 26 April 2012

Both the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians extensively colonized vast areas of Europe, along the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. In doing so, they spread their culture, which strongly influenced the local tribes. For the Greeks, this is called “Hellenization”.

The Greeks mainly focused their colonization efforts on Italy and the Black Sea. Especially Sicily was a major Greek colony, with the bustling trade port Syracus at its center. Greek influence was also felt in Cyprus, and the northern Levant. As these regions were also targeted by Phoenician colonization, the cultures not always mixed in peace, but direct conflict occurred. The probably least known fact is that Greece set up colonies as far north as the Crimea (in modern-day Ukraine), and expeditions to the Caucasus region were not unknown (Jason and the Argonauts comes to mind, stealing the Golden Fleece of Kolchis).

Phoenician colonization was more focused on the western Mediterranean. The probably most prominent and important Phoenician colony is Carthage. From there, Phoenicians set up colonies all along the north African coast and in modern-day Spain. While the Greek colonization was very much concerned with spreading Hellenic culture, the Phoenicians were traders, and more concerned with making money. While many Phoenician colonies disappeared and were taken over by other cultures after the decline of Phoenicia, Carthage outlasted the Phoenician empire… and rose to become an even stronger power in the western Mediterranean, which would eventually bring fear into the citizens of Rome.



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  • Simone Giovanni Cardia wrote on 24 March 2012 at 17:22:

    Sardinia (Italy), Corsica (France) and part of Sicily (Italy) were also Phoenician colonies.

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