ABSTRACT

This chapter outlines the general nature of the economic development of Phoenician city-states during their pre-coinage period. Phoenician economic development was based primarily on its skills in international trading and exchange, as well as on its ability to add value to commodities passing through its ports and territories. After commenting generally on the development of international trade in ancient economies, this chapter examines the applicability of economic theories to the development of Phoenician international trade. It is argued that while the Heckscher-Ohlin theories of the determinants of international trade had some relevance among the earlier stages of this trade, it lost its relevance with the passage of time. The changing organization of Phoenician trade is explored, paying particular attention to the eventual establishment of a business class engaging in multinational business activities. Consideration is given to the importance of their relationship with Phoenicia's rulers. As Phoenicia's management of its international trade became more decentralized and “market-oriented”, Phoenician rulers had to adopt new measures to extract a surplus from economic activity. Duties on international trade and taxes were used for this purpose and as a result, “treasures” (such as precious metals) were added to their coffers. Thus, a form of nascent mercantilism emerged. Rulers also participated in joint business ventures with the merchant class.