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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Levantine States

 

Sidon (Canaan)

In the mid-third millennium BC, city states began to appear in Syria as people benefited from interaction with Sumer and from improvements in irrigation. Within five hundred years, around 2000 BC, the same process was happening farther south and west, in the Levant, along the Mediterranean coast. Semitic-speaking Canaanite tribes occupied much of the area, creating a patchwork of city states of their own. The Phoenicians (more Canaanites) also occupied parts of this region, eventually founding their own mighty seaborne trading empire.

Inhabited from about 4000 BC (and perhaps as early as the Neolithic period in 6000 BC), the name of this coastal city means 'fishery'. Claimed by many to be the oldest of the Canaanite or Phoenician cities, it actually vies with Gebal for that honour. It became prosperous in the second millennium BC, quite possibly due to Egypt's strong trading contacts with the entire Canaan region. It is mentioned frequently both by Homer and the Old Testament. By the time the various first millennium BC great empires had handed control of much of the Near East to Rome, Sidon was already famous for its purple dyes and glassware.

The city is located in modern Lebanon, about forty kilometres to the north of Tyre and the same distance south of Beroth. Thanks to industrial development it is now the country's third-largest city, a busy port whose ancient name has been corrupted to Saydah (Ṣaydā, or Saida). For the reason that it is still occupied, archaeological research of the Canaanite city is very difficult. Its history has largely been pieced together from what records remain, plus whatever digs can be carried out during any rebuilding or construction projects.

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald Redford (Princeton University Press, 1992), from Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations, A H Sayce, from The Amarna Letters, William L Moran, 1992, from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (Gen Ed, 1986), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Hélène Sader (SBL Press, 2019), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

c.2000 - 1800 BC

Egypt maintains a trading presence in the region following links which date back a further millennium. To the north, the Canaanite city of Gebal is overrun and burned by Amorites during the period of disturbance which follows the collapse of Sumer. However these incomers quickly settle down, rebuild the city, and resurrect trade. Little information is available on the earliest kings there or in Sidon, save their names.

Map of Anatolia and Environs 2000 BC
At the start of the second millennium BC, a series of small city states in Anatolia which had existed for perhaps a millennium now began to emerge from obscurity (click or tap on map to view full sized)

18th cent BC

Zimrida / Zimredda / Zimr-Edda (I)

King?

1453 BC

The Egyptians conquer Canaan and Syria again and establish three provinces in their conquered territories which are named Amurru (in southern Syria), Upe (in northern Canaan), and Canaan (in southern Canaan). Each one is governed by an Egyptian official.

Native dynasts are allowed to continue their rule over the small states, but have to provide annual tribute. Records of these dynasts, though, is extremely limited. The city of Sarepta is a vassal of Sidon by this time.

Ruins of Sarepta in Lebanon
The modern town of Sarafand sits immediately alongside the two-thousand year-old Roman ruins of Sarepta in Lebanon

1348 BC

FeatureAkhenaten institutes monotheism in the fourth year of his reign of Egypt with the sole worship of the sun god Aton (see feature link for more). In the following year he founds a new capital at Amarna. During this period the Amarna letters are written - diplomatic correspondence with Assur-Uballit I of Assyria, the Kassite rulers of Babylonia, plus Mitanni, the Hittites, Alashiya, Arzawa, and the city states of Syria and Canaan.

The letters also include descriptions of the disruptive activities of the habiru, and how the Amorites and Arvad are teaming up to disrupt Egyptian possessions in Syria. Zimr-Hadda, the 'mayor' of Sidon, is mentioned in several letters. He teams up with Aziru of Amurru to attack pro-Egyptian Tyre.

fl c.1340s BC

Zimr-Hadda / Zimrida (II)

'Mayor of Sidon' (in effect, king). Named in Amarna letters.

1300s BC

Iab-nilud

Nothing known other than a name.

c.1200 BC

The entire Near East is hit by drought and the loss of surviving crops. Food supplies dwindle and the number of raids by habiru and other groups of peoples who have banded together greatly increases until, by about 1200 BC, this flood has turned into a tidal wave.

Habu relief at Medinet
Attacks by the Sea Peoples gathered momentum during the last decade of the thirteenth century BC, quickly reaching a peak which lasted about forty years

Already decaying, the Hittite empire is now looted and destroyed by various surrounding peoples, including the Kaskans and the Sea Peoples (and perhaps even selectively by its own populace). Unlike Gebal, Sidon, and Tyre, Arvad is sacked, but recovers. However, Sidon's prominent harbour does lose a good deal of its profitable trade for a time as a short dark age grips the region.

Phoenician Sidon

City states began to appear in Syria in the third millennium BC. By the start of the second millennium BC the same was happening in the Levant, along the Mediterranean coast. Semitic-speaking Canaanite tribes created a patchwork of city states of their own, while the later-appearing Phoenicians (more Canaanites) also founded their own mighty seaborne trading empire.

Although concentrated more in Syria and extending down into Mesopotamia, the Amorites also occupied areas of northern Canaan. They founded the island state of Arvad around 2000 BC. They also invaded and gained control of Gebal, dominating other small cities along the coastal strip which forms modern Lebanon, while other cities such as Sidon remained free of Amorite influence.

Disaster struck in the form of the social collapse at the end of the thirteenth century BC. Climate-induced drought and famine triggered large-scale population movements in the Near East, along with wholesale looting and raiding, principally by the Sea Peoples. Descended from the Canaanite inhabitants who formerly dominated the entire Levantine region, the post-collapse Phoenicians still thought of themselves as Canaanites, and they still occupied the Levantine coastal strip. Their language was very closely related to ancient Hebrew, demonstrating the likelihood that both they and the Israelites largely shared origins.

Sidon of the first millennium BC was for a long time highly influential. It was partly responsible for creating the great commercial empire which operated from the Lebanese coast. It was also from Sidon that a party had gone out to found the city of Tyre. The two later became rivals, with each of them claiming to be the mother city of Phoenicia, and with Tyre later gaining ascendancy. All of the Phoenician cities were great seafaring merchants with technically improved ships which had a large loading capacity. They sailed the length of the Mediterranean and beyond, establishing colonies in North Africa and Iberia from the tenth century BC onwards.

It was the Greeks who coined the name Phoenicia ('phoinikes', meaning 'purple people', from the famed purple dye they produced from the shells of the Murex shellfish). That production was Sidon's most important industry alongside glass-making, which was conducted on a vast scale. The Greeks also knew Sidon as the home of the Princess Europa, whom Zeus supposedly abducted while disguised as a white bull. Unfortunately, one technological advance during the city's greatest independent period was the use of parchment and papyrus instead of clay tablets for records-keeping. These are highly perishable, and few have survived.

Phoenicians shifting cedarwood from shore to land

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F Unger (1957), from Easton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew George Easton (1897), from Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald Redford (Princeton University Press, 1992), from Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations, A H Sayce, from The Amarna Letters, William L Moran, 1992, from the Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, Geoffrey Wigoder (Gen Ed, 1986), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Hélène Sader (SBL Press, 2019), and from External Links: An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BC), Josette Elayi (Trans 32, 2007, available in English at DigitOrient). and Encyclopædia Britannica, and Bible Atlas.)

c.1050 BC

A weakened Egypt loses its remaining imperial possessions in Canaan, partially at least to the empire-building Assyrians. The country's political fragmentation had begun during the same drought and famine which had destroyed so much in the Near East, and the 'Third Intermediate' would continue that process with a number of dynasties of Libyan origin ruling.

Book of the Dead for the Chantress of Amun Nauny
The papyrus 'Book of the Dead' formed part of the burial for Nauny, a chantress of Amun, around 1050 BC, who died in her seventies as Egypt was suffering a low point due to the recent onslaught of droughts and attacks

c.955 BC

According to the Old Testament, the First Temple of Jerusalem is completed in Israel, apparently by craftsmen from Sidon. Soloman also enters into a matrimonial alliance with Sidon, but Sidon's influence is already waning as Tyre gains pre-eminence in Phoenicia, and it may well be the case that it is already controlled by Tyre. Any list of rulers for the city in this period invariably shows names of kings who are based in Tyre.

853 BC

An alliance of states is formed which includes Ammon, Arvad, Byblos, Damas, Edom, Egypt, Hamath, Kedar, and Samaria (seemingly despite recent conflict between Damas and Samaria). Together they fight Shalmaneser III of Assyria at the Battle of Qarqar which consists of the largest known number of combatants in a single battle to date, and is the first historical mention of the Arabs from the southern deserts.

FeatureDespite claims to the contrary, the Assyrians are defeated, since they do not press on to their nearest target, Hamath, and do not resume their attacks on Hamath and Damas for about six years (see feature link).

Map of Canaan and Syria c.850 BC
When the Neo-Assyrian empire threatened the various city states of southern Syria and Canaan around 853 BC, they united to protect their joint territory - successfully it seems, at least for a time (click or tap on map to view full sized)

738 - 734 BC

All of the Phoenician states become vassals of Assyria, including Sidon, but local arrangements for governance are left in place. In 734 BC the cities of Sumur, Arqa, and Gebal are all seized, while Tyre is forced to pay tribute and suffer partial deportation. Akko is assaulted before being reduced to ashes, while the territory of Naphtali is annexed. The Philistines are next.

This is the century for which the first archaeological evidence for Utica's existence can be dated, showing that the colony becomes a permanent settlement by a date of 700 BC at the very latest.

722 - 721 BC

The Assyrian assumption of dominance over Phoenicia in 738 BC is clearly not enough to fully conquer the land. The last king of Hiyawa throws off the shackles of Assyrian domination which triggers an Assyrian invasion. Hiyawa is defeated, although the date of this event is uncertain and may even take place at the very start of the reign of Sargon II. However, more certain is Shalmaneser's invasion of Phoenicia, which allows Tyre to gain possession of Sarepta, while Shechem is destroyed.

704 - 701 BC

With the death of Sargon II of Assyria, many of the former subject states rebel. It takes the Assyrians until 701 BC to get around to quelling Judah and the Phoenician states. Tyre and Sidon fall without a fight, and the cities in their orbit surrender.

Port of Sidon
The modern port of Sidon, which has been one of the principal ports on the Phoenician coastline for at least three thousand years

c.685 - 677 BC

Abdi-Milkuti

Last-known Sidonian king under Assyria. Rebelled.

676 BC

Assyria is forced to conquer all of Phoenicia yet again. In Sidon, once the rebellion of Abdi-Milkuti has been put down, subject kings may be allowed to remain in power, at least during the later stages of Assyrian rule. Unfortunately no names are known. However, as Tyre appears to lose its ability to control events in the city, it seems likely that the two cities no longer share the same rulers.

c.612? - 539 BC

The Assyrian empire collapses with the fall of Kalakh and Ninevah to Media and Babylonia, supported by Egypt and groups such as the Scythians, who divide the spoils between them. With the seeming loss of imperial control over Phoenicia, Tyre appears to restore its own control of Gebal but not Sidon. However, in 573 BC Babylonia quickly establishes its own imperial control over Phoenicia.

Oxus Treasure chariot
The Oxus Treasure contains this Persian model of a Median war chariot, although it is only pulled by two horses rather than the customary four.

539 BC

Sidon - and all of Phoenicia - is submerged within the Persian empire. The new masters of the region appoint governors to control the Phoenician cities as Vassal Kings.

Persian Vassal Kings of Sidon (Phoenicia)

Like the other Semitic-speaking Phoenician cities, at its height Sidon had founded colonies along the western Mediterranean coastline, especially in North Africa and Iberia from the tenth century BC onwards. The city lies about forty kilometres north of Tyre and the same distance south of Beroth. Independence ended in 738 BC when Assyria invaded and conquered the Levant. Local arrangements for governance were generally allowed to continue however, setting a pattern for subsequent domination by Babylonia, Achaemenid Persia, and the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. One of the main reasons for this, especially under the Persians, was that it was the Phoenicians who made up much of the empire's naval forces, both building and manning the ships.

As part of the Achaemenid empire Sidon was one of the four Phoenician vassal 'kingdoms' to be established and controlled by sub-kings in the name of the Persian king. This took it out of the control of the shoftim of Tyre (if indeed hat city had been able to apply any control after 573 BC), and gave it more independence and influence than it had enjoyed for centuries.

Sidon became prominent in the region until the revolt of 358 BC, although not to the point at which it could dominate the other major Phoenician cities. It did command some smaller ones though, such as Dor and Sarepta. Overall, Achaemenid-era Phoenicia formed part of a large satrapy which was commanded from Babirush (Babylon) and which included Ebir-nāri (Syria). Later Achaemenid Syria and Phoenicia seem to have been established as a single satrapy in their own right, away from oversight by Babylon. Ebir-nāri dominated this arrangement, with a capital which was probably at Damascus or Sidon.

The political system for cities under Persian rule can only be reconstructed at its most basic level, so there are still many unanswered questions about this period. Even the chronology for the city's kings has undergone much rewriting in the past few decades as new evidence has been unearthed. Previously, King Eshmun'azar II was placed around the 490s BC, while now a date around 525 BC seems more realistic. Sidon's kings kings dressed in Persian style, issued coins with the head of the Persian king on them, and rebuilt the royal palace in the Persian style. They also supplied the Persian navy in various campaigns, along with Egyptians, Cypriots, and Ionians, especially for campaigns in Mudrāya (Egypt) and Greece. When Greek domination of the region arrived in 332 BC in the form of Alexander the Great, Sidon welcomed him without offering any resistance.

Persians & Medes

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from Alexander the Great, Krzysztof Nawotka (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), from Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from Alexander the Great, I Worthington (Routledge, 2004), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and the Nabonidus Chronicle, contained within Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, A K Grayson (Translation, 1975 & 2000, and now available via Livius in an improved version), and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Ancient History Encyclopaedia, and The Role of the Phoenician Kings at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC), Josette Elayi (Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol 126, No 3 (Jul-Sep 2006), pp 411-418, available via JSTOR), and An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BC), Josette Elayi (Trans 32, 2007, available in English at DigitOrient).)

c.575 - 550 BC

Eshmunazzar / Eshmun'azar I

Dynasty founder. Known from the Sidon necropolis.

c.549 - 539 BC

Tabnit I

Son. Married sister, Amoashtart. Predeceased son's birth.

c.530s BC

Amastoreth / Anysus

Son? A brief reign is suggested.

c.530s BC

Some modern lists place Amastoreth here without supplying possible dates. However, prevailing understanding is that Tabnit rules for a relatively short time, dying before the birth of his son, Eshmun'azar II. His sister-wife then supplies a short regency period in which she rules alone prior to her son's arrival, and then acts as his regent until he reaches majority. Therefore the Amastoreth shown here could in fact be Amoashtart, the queen and regent.

Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great freed the Indo-Iranian Parsua people from Median domination to establish an empire which included the Phoenician coastal towns of today's Lebanon (from 539 BC)

c.530s - c.525 BC

Eshmun'azar / Eshmun'azar II

Brother. 'King of the Sidonians'. Vassal to Persia.

c.530s - c.525 BC

Amoashtart / Amashtart / Amastarte

Queen mother and regent during Eshmun'azar II's minority.

c.525 BC

An otherwise unknown ruler of Sidon in this period, amongst a series of almost entirely obscure kings, the (originally Egyptian) sarcophagus of Eshmun'azar II is discovered in AD 1855, with the inscription 'King of the Sidonians' on the lid and a comment that his mother had been a priestess of Ashtart, 'the goddess of the Sidonians'. The inscription also confirms that both his parents are the offspring of his grandfather. He is around fourteen years of age at his death (during the reign of Cambyses of Persia), ruling almost entirely under the regency supplied by his mother.

The Persians conquer Mudrāya (Egypt) in 525 BC, creating the 27th Dynasty (the Behistun inscription of Darius the Great uses the name Mudrāya). With a navy which has been bolstered with Phoenician vessels, they add Cyprus to the empire in the same year, along with a host of Greek islands which are known collectively to the Persians (as recorded on the Behistun inscription) as Yauna (Ionia to the Greeks).

Darius the Great of Persia
The central relief of the North Stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis, now in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran, shows Darius I (the Great) on his royal throne (External Link: Creative Commons Licence 4.0 International)

c.525 - 515 BC

Bodashtart / Bodastart (I)

Cousin to Eshmun'azar II.

c.520 BC

As a prolific builder and restorer of existing buildings in Sidon, Bodashtart leaves at least thirty inscriptions. Later examples in his reign carry the name of his son and chosen heir, Yaton Melik.

c.515 - 486 BC

Yaton Melik / Yatonmilk

Son.

c.486 - 480 BC

Anysos

Generally unknown apart from at Salamis in 480 BC. Killed?

480 BC

FeatureInvading Greece in 480 BC, the Persians subdue the Macedonians and the Thracian tribes (except for the Satrai, precursors to the Bessoi). Then the vast army of Xerxes makes its way southwards and is swiftly engaged by Athens and Sparta in the Vale of Tempe (see feature link). The Persian army is held up long enough for the Athenians to prepare their navy for a seaborne engagement with the Persian fleet.

Athens, as the leader of the coalition of city states known as the Delian League, fights the Persian navy at the battles of Artemisium and Salamis, the latter being a resounding Greek victory. Tetramnestus, son of Anysos is present - along with Anysos himself (the Greek form of his name - the Phoenician form is unknown).

Battle of Thermopylae
The Spartan stand at Thermopylae in 480 BC, along with some Greek allies, stopped the Persian advance in its tracks and provided a rallying call for the rest of the free Greek cities to oppose the Persians

Other leading Phoenicians are also there, such as Mattan IV of Tyre and Merbalos of Arvad - but the battle leaves much of the Persian navy destroyed and Xerxes is forced to retreat to Asia, leaving his army in Greece under Mardonius. The fate of Anysos is unknown, but it is possible that he is killed in one of the battles.

c.480 - 479 BC

Tetramnestus / Tetramnestos

Son. Also at Salamis in 480 BC. Removed? Died?

c.479 - 450 BC

There is an important gap here in the succession which cannot be rectified by adjusting the dates for either Tetramnestus or Ba'al Sillem (the same gap exists in Tyre's chronology). Sidon starts minting its coinage shortly after 450 BC (the Group III coinage of archaeological finds), while a new king appears roughly around the same time in the form of Ba'al Sillem (or Baalshillem). Group I and II coinage cannot be assigned to any king or kings with any certainty, but they do seem to represent two earlier dynasties. Presumably (but not proven) these cover Eshmunazzar I to Yaton Melik, and Anysos to Tetramnestus respectively.

Who rules Sidon in between the first two groups and the third is still a puzzle. A possible solution is provided by the fact that Sidon seems to serve for at least part of the Persian period as the capital of Ebir-nāri. With the satrap based here, the need for a king of Sidon may be seen as irrelevant, and seemingly so for the course of an entire generation.

Sidon coin of the mid-fifth century BC
Shown here are two sides of a coin which was minted in the mid-fifth century BC, which would make it one of the first such mints, under the reign of Ba'al Sillem I, first king of a new Sidonian dynasty following a period of interregnum

c.450 - 423 BC

Ba'al Sillem I

His reign begins a different genealogy. In Tyre too?

fl c.423? BC

Abdamon / Avdimon

Son. In Salamis (c.415 BC), Sidon & Tyre.

c.423 - 401? BC

Baana

Son. Known from numismatic evidence.

401 BC

Cyrus, satrap of Asia Minor, attempts to revolt, mobilising an army and ten thousand Greek mercenaries to attack his brother the Persian king. The king of Sidon is one of those who is responsible for mobilising naval forces for the subsequent campaign. Defeat for Cyrus leads to his death in October 401 BC at the Battle of Cunaxa. Fortunately Ba'al Sillem II begins dating his coinage from year thirty of his reign, in 372 BC, making the timeline here much more certain.

401 - 366 BC

Ba'al Sillem II 'the Ship-Owner'

Son. With a nickname coined by Greeks.

c.415 BC

The Phoenician ruler of Salamis is killed by Abdemon, who subsequently rules both Salamis and Tyre. Evagoras, who is a Cyprian Greek, is forced to leave the island at the same time, heading into exile on Soloi. Abdemon's role in Sidon seems brief, although the dates are far from conclusive. Possibly he hands the throne to his son in exchange for his own larger domain across the eastern Mediterranean.

Coins issued by Evagoras
Shown here are the two sides of a silver coin which was issued by the Cyprian Greek King Evagoras during his Athenian-supported rebellious reign of Salamis

365 - 352 BC

Abdashtart / Abdiashirta / Straton I

Son. Related in some way to Eshmun'azar II. In Tyre?

after c.365 BC

Justinus gives an account regarding a revolt of Tyrian slaves who seize power and then establish a King Abdashtart (Greek Straton) on the throne there. It is tempting to relate this event to the monetary series bearing Ṣ- / ṢR- for Tyre and the ☾ initial of the name Abdashtart (☾BD☾ŠTRT), the king chosen by the slaves. It cannot be a coincidence that Sidon already has a King Abdashtart (I) at this time.

359 BC

At the end of a long revolt against Artaxerxes II, mainly by Phrygia, Khilakku, and Katpatuka, Abdashtart decides to rebel himself. He is supported by Takhôs, pharaoh of Egypt, who has already sent substantial support to the other rebels only to see them fail with the final Persian suppression of the satrapal revolt in this very year, 359 BC. The outcome of Abdashtart's own efforts is unclear, but they are probably minor as he remains on the throne.

351 - 347 BC

Tabnit II / Tennes

Son or relative? Rebelled against Persia. Put to death.

346 BC

Satraps Mazaeus of Khilakku and Bēlsunu of Ebir-nāri lead fresh contingents of Greek mercenaries to put down the revolt in the Levant. Phoenicia is attacked first (principally involving Sidon), but both satraps are repulsed. The Persian king himself is forced to follow up with a more direct intervention.

Archers of the Royal Guard of Darious
These archers of Darius' Royal Guard were on display in the Hall of Artaxerxes II, whose continued efforts to break a long-running rebellion against him involved attempts to re-invade Egypt

Tabnit (or Tennes to the Greeks) is leading the rebellion in Sidon - which includes the use of the city's naval fleet, which is normally at the disposal of the empire for external actions - but it is crushed in the same year and the city razed, partially thanks to Tabnit taking fright at the Persian response and betraying his own city (a stray Babylonian tablet speaks of the arrival in Babylon and Susa in late 345 BC of Sidonian captives and women for the palace).

A replacement king in the form of Abdashtart has to rebuild the city, but it loses its regional pre-eminence and is militarily occupied for four years.

c.346 - 343 BC

Bodashtart / Bodastart II

Invented through a misinterpretation of an inscription.

c.346 - 343 BC

Evagoras (II)

Former king of Salamis. Persian vassal ruler.

c.346 BC

The appearance here of Evagoras II former king of Salamis, is due to the abbreviation used on new coins in this period. The presence of Bodashtart II has been established as a misreading of an inscription by a single scholar and the name dismissed.

Assigning Evagoras as the issuer of the new coins is far from certain at present, but he seems a very likely candidate. Presumably he is brought in by the Persians to act as military governor following the execution of Tabnit II for rebellion (Satrap Mazaeus of Khilakku and Ebir-nāri mints his own coins in Sidon during 353-333 BC).

342 - 333 BC

Abdashtart / Abdiashirta / Straton II

Son of Ba'al Sillem II. Deposed for being a friend to Persia.

333 - 332 BC

In 334 BC Alexander of Macedon launches his campaign into the Persian empire by crossing the Dardanelles. Much of Anatolia falls by 333 BC and Alexander proceeds into Syria during 333-332 BC to receive the submission of Ebir-nāri, which also gains him Harran, Judah, and Phoenicia (principally Byblos and Sidon, with Tyre holding out until it can be taken by force).

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
Alexander the Great crosses the River Graneikos
Alexander the Great crossed the River Graneikos (or Granicus) in 334 BC to spark a direct face-off with the Persians which had been brewing for generations, and his victory in battle near the river sent shockwaves through the Persian empire, while above that is a map showing the route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns, leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across eastern Iran (click or tap on map to view full sized)

The people of Sidon remove Abdashtart II (Straton to the Greeks) from power themselves as he is a friend of Darius. Athura, 'Gaza' (probably Gezer), and Egypt also capitulate (not without a struggle in Gaza's case).

Sidon accepts Alexander, probably with some relief as the Persian retaliation of a dozen years earlier will still be an open wound. With Phoenicia having been taken, the region is governed from Tyre.

Argead Sidon (Phoenicia)

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, Syria and Phoenicia were left in the hands of the Seleucid empire from 301 BC.

It had been the scribes of Semitic-speaking Byblos who had been responsible for developing an alphabetic phonetic script which was the precursor of the modern alphabet in the west. Along with Sidon and Tyre, the city was one of the great trading centres of the first millennium BC, even despite Assyrian and Babylonian encroachments. With Sidon being submerged within the Persian empire in 539 BC, it became one of the four Phoenician vassal 'kingdoms' to be established, with oversight being provided by a regional satrap in Ebir-nāri (Syria).

Once captured by Alexander the Great, Sidon was not formed into a semi-independent governorship of its own as had been the case under the Persians. Instead the region was united under a single governorship which was based in Tyre. Even this quickly proved to be too small a region for any senior level of governance. In 329 BC Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre were incorporated into the satrapy of Syria, and the Phoenician cities would not regain any meaningful level of independence.

Alexander the Great

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Alexander the Great, Krzysztof Nawotka (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), and from External Links: Encyclopædia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

332 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

332 - 329? BC

Abdalonymus / Abdalonim

Satrap of Byblos, Sidon, & Tyre under the Greek empire.

329? - c.89 BC

The cities of Arados, Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre are incorporated into the satrapy of Syria within the Greek empire. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the latter three are largely dominated by Ptolemaic Egypt until 219-217 BC. The fate of Abdalonymus is unknown, with him not being mentioned after 329 BC.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
The route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns are shown in this map, with them leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across the vastness of eastern Iran as far as the Pamir mountain range (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.316 - 287 BC

Little is known about Sidon in this period, or about its ruler. One Philokles, son of Apollodorus, seemingly provides staunch service to Ptolemaic Egypt, always appearing amongst forces which are arrayed in the region against the Antigonids during the Wars of the Diadochi. Despite the Greek-sounding names, both are almost certainly Phoenicians.

Philokles is attested as the 'King of the Sidonians' in an Athenian inscription of 286 or 285 BC. He is also listed as a benefactor - possibly in the late 310s - who has donated very generously towards the rebuilding of the city of Thebes following its having been razed by Alexander. The rebuilding is initiated by Cassander of Macedon in 316 BC. Such availability of funds makes him very important in terms of the Phoenician cities, possible a relative of at least one of the recent rulers.

It may be this Philokles who is responsible for capturing the city of Kaunos (south-western Turkey) in 309 BC for Ptolemy, by treachery, according to the second century AD writer, Polyaenus. The writer also refers to him as a 'general of Ptolemy'.

Battle of Ipsus
The Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC ended the drawn-out and destructive Wars of the Diadochi which decided how Alexander's empire would be divided

The city is very soon lost again to the Antigonids but is again held, now by Philokles as king, from about 286 BC. His career (and reign) would appear to be in their twilight years by the time of his last mention in 279 BC. No details are known of any potential successor.

287? - 279? BC

Philokles / Philocles

King of Sidon & Kaunos under Ptolemaic Egypt.

279 BC

Phoenicia remains largely dominated by Ptolemaic Egypt until 219-217 BC, when the Fourth Syrian War sees Seleucid ruler Antiochus III fighting Ptolemy IV for control of their mutual border. Antiochus recaptures Seleucia Pieria, Tyre, and other important Phoenician cities and their Mediterranean ports, but is fought to a draw at Raphia on Syria's southernmost edge.

The subsequent peace treaty sees all the gains other than Seleucia Pieria relinquished. Seleucid control is probably reconfirmed more permanently in 195 BC and remains in place until the mid-first century BC Roman takeover of the region.

 
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