What  did the Phoenicians look like? Since they preferred to keep their private affairs strictly private, the Phoenicians made almost no pictures of themselves, whether as sculpture, paintings or on their highly-prized metalwork. Therefore we primarily rely on the many people who came in contact with the Phoenicians to obtain images of them.

Above is the visual record of gifts given to the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II when he came to the Mediterranean shore in 870 BC to open trade routes for his people. The Phoenicians, ever ready to increase their trade opportunities, gave the king gifts of gold, silver, copper, tin, fine linen garments, and two monkeys. This last gift was so rare and exotic that the king commemorated it on the wall of his royal palace at Nimrud, in what is now called Iraq. The image above shows a Phoenician merchant bringing the two monkeys for the king. 

In rare images created by the Phoenicians themselves, the sarcophagus of King Ahiram was found in his city of Byblos, where it had been buried in the 13th century BC. The sides were decorated with carvings of Phoenician citizens offering homage to the king, as shown below. It will be noted that there are some similarities as well as some differences between the dress and appearance of these people compared to the merchant above.

King Ahiram sarcophagus

Coins do not have room for much detail, but they can still convey some idea of physical appearance and fashion. The gold coin shown below was minted in Carthage between 260-240 BC. It shows a young woman with her hair styled into many curls and held by several accessories. This does not portray a Puritanical society but rather one that knows and practices enjoyment of life and fashion.

Carthage coin

Carthage coin

So we have many hints of how the Phoenicians appeared, their styles, and how they dressed. The Phoenician Secrets book explores a number of ancient paintings and descriptions that fill in more of the picture of the Phoenicians' appearance, and details of their fascinating society. 

Phoenician Secrets:

Exploring the Ancient Mediterranean

Contents of This Site


Origin of the Phoenicians

Ancient Ships and Sea Trade

Carthage, Hannibal

Punic Wars, Peace

Ancient Mediterranean

Egypt, Pyramids & Cedar

Sea Peoples

The Minoans

Solomon's Temple

Templars in Lebanon



Phoenicians Images

Cedars of Lebanon

Byblos, Sidon and Tyre




Adonis Legend

Aphrodite Legend

Isis and Osiris Legend

Europa Legend

Elissa Legend

Phoenicians Home Page

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