What Did the Phoenicians Trade?

Early in their history, the Phoenicians' advanced shipbuilding technology enabled them to trade glass, wood and Tyrian purple with the Greeks. As their power and influence in the region grew, they traded products such as spices, textiles, wine, hunting dogs and precious metals across extensive sea and land routes.

Made from snail secretions, Tyrian purple was an expensive dye used to color textiles. The product became an important source of wealth and power for the Phoenicians, and it enabled them to establish strong trading links across the Mediterranean. As the Phoenicians’ power in the region increased, they expanded their trade networks. Phoenician ships carried wine and cedar logs to Egypt in exchange for Nubian gold, and they transported silver from Spain, tin from Britain and copper from Cyprus.

Phoenician cities such as Byblos, Sidon and Tyre were important centers for commerce and the production of dyed cloth, linen and embroideries, which were traded for a variety of goods, including horses, ivory, ostrich eggs and papyrus. Phoenicia became an important trade hub for goods brought across land by Arabian caravans from the east. Exotic goods such as incense, perfumes and spices were traded with the Phoenicians, who would then transport them across the Mediterranean to markets in Greece and elsewhere in Europe.