Arts and craftsmanship

The Phoenician art, developed between the III and the I millenium BC, lacks of a specific and coherent stylistic tradition and it is then charcterized by an ecleticism of styles welcoming Egyptian, Mesopotamian, middle Eastern and Aegean influences. For the most ancient period the sole testimonies of architecture were the remains of Biblo and Ugarit. At the turn of the I century BC, the architecture was not widely known, and evidence of it was given by the temples of Marato and Sidone and by the description the Bible does of the Salomon temple in Jerusalem, built by Phoenician workers according to a Phoenician pattern. Several rocky graves, among which the false vault ones clearly show the Mycenaean influence and provide proof of the funerary architecture. In this regard also the tophet testimony is interesting. Only little is left of the great statuary; however it reveals Egyptian origins, while the small plastic of the copper statuettes unveils Anatolian influence prior to the appearance of Egyptian features, also standing out in the relief.

Ceramics resumes Aegean ornamental shapes and patterns, while the glyptics refers to Mesopotamian traditions. The Phoeniciams distinguished themselves in the so called lesser Arts through an eclectic and casual production, but technically perfect: in the glass art, of which they were considered inventors, and in the special technique of the galssblowing; in the toreutics (art of hot-work) and in the jeweller’s art, in which they made use of the embossment, engraving, granulation techniques; in woodcut, and, above all, ivory carving, to such an extent that, the ivories intended for furniture or other household furnishings decoration,together with the metal vases, were among the most requested and well known Phoenician products. The Phoenician fabrics and the purples (after which this population was named) were equally renowned, no matter if with interweaved decorations or just embroidered.

From the VIII century BC, following to the Assyrian domination, a political decay led to a fast decline of art, which suffered from the influence of the Greek art and thus undergoing an ellenization process.