Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Phoenicia, ancient mercantile state of the Iron Age (c.1200–539 bc) and the Persian period until the capture of Tyre by Alexander the Great. The Phoenicians were the successors of the canaanites ethnically and culturally, and so inherited their aptitude for viniculture. Their territory at its widest extent included modern lebanon and coastal southern Syria and northern Israel. Arwad, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre were among the famous city-states of Phoenicia. Vines and olives were grown along the coast and in fertile inland valleys, especially the Beqaá (Bekaa Valley). The Phoenicians were seafaring merchants and colonizers par excellence, spreading the Near Eastern ‘wine culture’ elsewhere in the Mediterranean. They applied a similar formula wherever they went: import wine and other luxury goods; entice the rulers with the wine culture by presenting them with speciality wine sets, and then wait until they were asked to help in establishing native industries, including viniculture, by transplanting the domesticated Eurasian grapevine. Their greatest colony, carthage in modern Tunisia, survived until destroyed by the Romans in 146 bc.