The Phoenicians’ Route – France

The southern part of France and the surrounding area of the present-day city of Marseilles are interesting around the 7th to 7th centuries BC by exploration tours conducted by the Phoenicians in search of precious metals, tin and other raw materials. The Phoenicians, after the founding of Carthage in 814 BC, seek to expand their sphere of influence, moving towards the western coasts of Sardinia, towards the Balearic Islands and the Gulf of Lyon. Certainly, they frequented the southern coast of Provence: we talk about a mythical city called Eraclea, identified in the Espeyran area among the lagoons of the Petite Camargue (Saint-Gilles du Gard). In an attempt to conquer new territories and commercial ports, they compete with the Greeks, who, having conquered Magna Grecia, since the 12th century BC have tried to expand their commercial power in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Greek and Latin authors tell of military action, attempts of conquest and fellowship between Phoenicians and the Etruscans against Greek expansionism. The result of this alliance is, however, failing, in fact a historical source reports that in 600 BC the city of Marseilles is founded by the inhabitants of Focea, Greek city of Asia Minor (still called “cité phocéenne” in French). In this way, the Greeks ensured the commercial routes of Catalonia and southern France, forcing the Phoenicians to follow other routes and create new emporiums along the Atlantic coasts of Europe.