QUESTION: What were the tangible and intangible commodities spread by the Hebrews and the Greeks? What is the role of trade when it comes to the dissemination of ideas?
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2.1 [Discussion] Trade and Ideas
Both the Hebrews and the Greeks shared multiple tangible and intangible resources when it came to trade between
civilizations and cultures. For instance some tangible resources the Hebrews shared were natural materials from
wool, wood and crops. As for intangible resources the Hebrews would often record their lives, moral principles and
their own beliefs such as the Old Testament (Hebrew bible). Which has continued to be used within Judaism and
Christianity. Some of their beliefs are also found within the Mosaic Law (laws found within their every daily lives) and
the Ten Commandments (contains moral laws). Although these beliefs aren’t exactly the same as other cultures, they
did influence their own beliefs.
While the Greeks tangible resources include wine, olives, pottery and more. These items were used for trade
amongst other civilizations in exchange for precious metals, timber and grains. Not only did their trade between other
civilizations have an influential impact but they were able to expand and improve their livelihoods. A few intangible
resources the Greeks shared were their traditional skills, artworks, philosophy, medicine and astronomy.
2.1 [Discussion] Trade and Ideas
When we look at different civilizations we can see their form of communication with other cities is through trade. Often
speaking in different languages, receiving gifts such as luxuries, or tablets filled with knowledge such as religion.
Although as we look at the Hebrews from what we can gather in the modules and text that it provides us. We can see
that the Hebrews put great importance on their religion and code. Spreading their knowledge and ideology to other
civilizations through markets so they can trade knowledge, works of art, books, or text to other civilizations. As we
can see their forms of commodities rely on both aspects of word of mouth and scriptures of their ideologies. One form
of tangible commodities that the Hebrews possessed were scriptures filled with scriptures called the Torah. And with
the trade of these scriptures also came with the knowledge of their culture and the wealth they had possessed. while
it can be said the same for these scriptures is the knowledge of their religion and praises over their influences in
Monotheism, Old Testament, and Moral Principles.
On the other hand when we look at the culture of the Greeks whose influence had spread far and wide in terms of
architecture, entertainment, government, works of art, mathematics, and literature. We are drawn to their
commodities as they had many different artifacts that were left behind for us to discover. Such as their sculptures and
architecture. But when it comes to trade the Greeks had things such as dyes, pottery, scriptures, and their own form
of the alphabet to use commodities. But what makes these commodities stand out is the imagery that is shown on the
works of art or the books that the Greeks wrote. For example, artwork such as pottery depicts warriors fighting and
showing their forms of prowess against the enemy or shows imagery of the gods that govern their civilization and
show off their power. Another example would be the stories that were written by Homer. Such as the Odyessy telling
many tales of heroism, mythos, and overall drama.
From Chaos Mi
The tangible commodities spread by the Hebrews were some foodstuffs, wood, wool, and cattle, mainly raw products
in the early days, and later on, with the development of productivity, they began to export some precious metals such
as gold and silver, which were of high value and easy to carry. The intangible goods were their Biblical Old and New
Testaments, as well as the Ten Commandments. these imposed moral restraints on the conduct of their lives. They
believe that Moses and Jesus created Monotheism and religion that belonged to the Hebrew culture. The Hebrews
were the first culture to insist on a single and just God, punishing evil and rewarding good. These intangible goods
have had a tremendous impact on Western culture.
The tangible goods spread by the Greeks were some wines, olive oil, or manufactured goods such as pottery. The
most important intangible goods disseminated by the Greeks were the Homeric epics, is the Iliad, and the Odyssey.
As well as the scientific and philosophical ideas of the Greeks. They emphasized nature and reason and focused on
knowledge and logic.
In the spread of ideas, trade could increase the exchange between different peoples or countries, and the ideas of
each nation would collide and influence under this exchange. The greatest role of trade is to gather the ideas of these
different civilizations. When one idea collides with another, new ideas are created and have an impact on each other’s
religion or culture.
LA 171 – OL1: Western Civilization
MODULE 2: JUDEA, PHOENICIA, AND ARCHAIC GREECE
In this module, we will cover the Minoan civilization. We will examine the major developments in the
history of the ancient Hebrews and assess the influence of their culture. We will study the impact made by
the Phoenicians through trade as well as the origins of the ancient Greeks.
Discuss the impact faith makes in the history of the Israelite people.
Demonstrate an understanding of how the Greeks fused myth and philosophy.
Examine how geography affects the development of boundaries between cultures.
Utilize the knowledge of Israel and Greece to analyze modern societies.
After reading this module you will complete the following:
2.1 [Discussion] Trade and Ideas
Please read the following:
Western Civilization: A Brief History, Volume I to 1715, pp.29 (Begin with “The
Hebrews…”) -40 (end before “The Persian Empire”), 46-57 (end before “The High
Point of Greek Civilization”)
Class participation in the Discussion is required and makes up a significant part of your learning
experience. Click on the Discussion link in the top toolbar to enter the Discussion.
Progress Questions, Quizzes, and Exams
You must answer all Progress Questions before proceeding to the following module’s content. If this
module contains quizzes or exams, these links will be listed on the Outline page.
Languages of the Mediterranean and the
The geographic pattern of the use of languages provides a living provenance, documenting cultural
influences, trade patterns, military conquests, and voluntary migrations. We will take note of languages in
this course for what they show of historical events that have shaped our world.
Linguists—specialists in the study of language—analyze sounds, interpret their meanings, and compare
languages. They classify related languages into distinct families on the assumption that these languages
probably evolved from one common (usually unrecorded) parent tongue. Linguists have classified most of
the languages of the Middle East and Europe as either Semitic or Indo-European.
The chief Semitic languages of the ancient Middle East were Babylonian, Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic,
and Assyrian. (The Semitic family of languages takes its name from the apocryphal assumption that the
ancient peoples speaking these languages were descended from a single ancestor of the Old Testament:
Shem, son of Noah.)
The Indo-European family of languages ranges over a vast area, from Northern India in the East, to Spain
and Britain in Western Europe. Indo-European tongues of the ancient Middle East included Lydian, Hittite,
and Persian. Most of the languages of Europe are classified as Indo-European: Greek, Latin, French,
Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, and English. The languages of India—Sanskrit, Bengali, and
Hindi—are also Indo-European.
This is an example of early Minoan writing called Linear A.
This Phoenician stone carving shows sailors rowing a type of warship called a bireme.
The Mysterious Minoan Civilization
On Crete, an island near Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean, a notable civilization developed. We know
it today as the Minoan civilization; we do not actually know what this nation called itself.
This Minoan fresco from the Palace at Knossos pictures a dancing woman.
The reference is to the Greek myth of King Minos, himself the son of the god Zeus and the goddess
Europa. According to legend, King Minos warred with Athens and, in victory, extracted tribute in the form
of Athenian children. These he fed to a captive monster, the Minotaur, having the form of a large man with
the head of a bull. Ultimately, the Athenian hero Theseus journeyed to Crete and killed the Minotaur.
Archaeologists are actually unsure as to whether Minos was the name of a historical figure, or if instead
“Minos” is a dynastic title, like “Pharaoh” or “Czar” (which itself derives from “Caesar”).
This map shows Crete’s location in the Mediterranean, in line between Greece and Egypt. This location
facilitated the role of the Minoans as cultural intermediaries between the Greeks and the Egyptians.
The Minoans, influenced by poor soil and good harbors, became seafaring merchants. Their rulers, the
“Sea Kings of Crete,” controlled the prosperous Eastern Mediterranean trade. By carrying Egyptian and
other Middle Eastern learning to the Aegean islands and the Greek mainland, Crete served as a cultural
This fresco was unearthed in the 1980s from the ruins of Akrotiri, a Minoan settlement on Thera (Santorini). It is the
only extant imagery of Minoan nautical design. The city shown is thought to have been located on the Libyan coast,
just west of Egypt on the south shore of the Mediterranean.
The End of the Minoans
Our knowledge of Minoan civilization derives chiefly from excavations of the palace at Crete’s leading city,
Knossos. These ruins were unearthed starting in 1900 by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. The
Minoans devised excellent plumbing systems using drains and tiled pipes. They enjoyed such sports as
boxing and leaping over bulls. They made superb clay vases, bronze daggers decorated with enamel,
gold cups, ivory carvings, and wall paintings. The Minoan civilization collapsed around 1400 BCE. One
theory is that the city of Knossos was destroyed by the invading Hellenes. A competing theory depends
on recent archaeological discoveries that place the eruption of the volcano on the island of Thera at about
This reconstruction of the Palace at Knossos shows its multi-story design and central courtyard where the bull-leaping
fresco was discovered.
Ruins of Akrotiri, a Minoan city on Thíra (Santorini) that was
buried in volcanic ash.
This Minoan fresco from a home on the island of Thíra
(Santorini) expresses a celebration of nature.
Street of Thera
This tunnel, tens of feet below the surface, follows the path of an ancient street on the island of Thera.
Spring blooms mural
An ancient Minoan fresco, showing lilies and swallows. Terra cotta vessels lie in the foreground, as they were found.
The palace at Knossos from the air
Unearthed at the turn of the century, the palace complex at Knossos appears to have been the center of Minoan power
and centerpiece for Europe’s first great metropolis, which had a population of perhaps 80,000.
Marked on modern maps as “Santorin,” the island was almost obliterated in a cataclysm that is estimated
at four times the size of the famous eruption that sank the Javanese island of Krakatoa in 1883. The
Minoan cities on Thera were inundated by lava and ash. Subsequently, Minoan coastal cities around the
Aegean Sea may have been destroyed by tidal waves, set off by the complete collapse of the center of
the island. The result of this geologic catastrophe is a 1,300-foot-deep bay, too deep for modern ships to
Eruption of Thera
In an extraordinarily savage eruption, Thera rains destruction upon fleeing Minoan refugees. It is thought
that the residents were given warning by precursors to the blast; most people of the island escaped with
their lives and some valuables.
Whatever the cause of the decline of Minoan civilization, it appears certain that refugees fled north into
Greece, and that Minoan culture seeded Greek culture in its early centuries.
This embossed gold cup depicts a Minoan sport—athletes
hurtling over a bull. Archaeologists have speculated upon connections between this Minoan
pastime and the myth of the half-man, half-bull, Minotaur.
A fresco in the Palace at Knossos depicts bull-leaping.
According to Minoan tradition, it is likely that the red figure is a man and the white figures are
Young people performed bull-leaping, in which they would leap over the backs of bulls in motion. It is
thought that they would somersault over the heads of the bulls, grabbing the horns and mounting the
backs of the animals before flipping again, over the rears of the bulls, and landing on the ground. In
frescoes, bull-leapers appear noble, in rich attire. Some think bull-leaping was religious. The Minoans
considered the bull a sacred animal.
The Hebrews: With and Without a
Kingdom (1400 BCE–70 CE)
From 1400 to 1200 BCE, Semitic-speaking Hebrews from the Arabian desert gradually invaded and
settled in Palestine. One of these migrations coincided with movement of Aramaean groups, and another
was a migration from Egypt. The latter migration (according to the Old Testament) was led by a figure
named Moses. Just as they have debated the term “Minos,” archaeologists have also debated whether
“Moses” is the name of a historical figure or a title given to a series of leaders.
Artist’s conception of the Temple of Solomon. Erected by King Solomon, the Temple of Jerusalem had ten-foot-thick
stone walls, allowing it to serve as a fortress during a siege. This feature was typical of temples of the period. The
Temple was a focus of Jewish faith for about four hundred years.
Egyptian-conquered territories and prisoners from the time of Ramses II: This detail shows the subjugated towns in
Syria and Palestine written in the ovals, each with a prisoner’s torso coming out of it.
For about 500 years, the Hebrews maintained their independence. The city of Jerusalem was founded in
about 1004 BCE, under King David. His son, King Solomon, supervised the construction of the Temple of
Jerusalem. This temple was the spiritual heart of the Hebrew nations for a thousand years, until its
destruction during the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Following Solomon’s death, the Hebrew
kingdom was split into two parts: Israel to the north, and Judah to the south. In 722 BCE, the Assyrians
conquered the Kingdom of Israel, in northern Palestine. In 586 BCE the Chaldeans (heirs to the Assyrian
empire) overran the Kingdom of Judah to the south and exiled many of the inhabitants to Babylon. In 539
BCE, the Persians captured Babylon and allowed the Hebrew exiles to return to their homeland. (This can
be seen as part of a pattern of humane treatment of conquered peoples by the Persians, to avoid revolt.)
Later, Palestine was controlled by the Greeks—except for a 100-year period of independence, beginning
in the 2nd century BCE with the victorious revolt of the Maccabees. Still later, the region was ruled by the
Romans. In 70 BCE the Roman armies under Titus suppressed a Hebrew revolt for independence,
destroyed Jerusalem, and drove most of the people from the land. This expulsion partly explains why the
Hebrews, or Jews, are presently scattered throughout the world. (Since the founding of the independent
Jewish state of Israel in 1948, many Jews have returned to the Palestine region in recent years.)
Jericho, in present-day Israel, is the human settlement with the longest record of continuous habitation, dating back
to 9000 BCE.
The Influence of the Hebrew Culture
This tablet describes the capture of Jerusalem by King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The date referred to in the passage is March 16, 597 BCE.
Despite the history of invasions and conquests, the small and scattered Hebrew people were able to
maintain their cultural unity. There are several components of their culture which have influenced Western
civilization to an extent that is out of proportion to the small size of their ancient nation:
Monotheism: The Hebrews were the first persistent culture to pursue a belief in a single, just God that
punished evil and rewarded good. (The Egyptian experiment with monotheism, sponsored by the Pharaoh
Amenhotep IV in the 14th century BCE, was brief and did not worship a God founded on moral authority.)
Old Testament: The Hebrews recorded their history, moral principles, and religious beliefs in the Old
Testament, the Hebrew Bible. The first five books of the Old Testament form the Jewish Torah (also
known as the Pentateuch). A document of durable historical and literary interest, the Old Testament also
constitutes the first part of the Christian Bible.
Moral Principles: Judaism, the religion of the Hebrews, embodies precepts of ethical behavior that were
remarkable for the ancient world. Judaism set moral standards for relationships among peoples. The 8th
century BCE saw a Hebrew God named Yahweh (an antiquated form of Jehovah) who had been
endowed with characteristics unlike any other contemporary deity. The prophet Isaiah told of a vision of a
world of peace, in which “wolves shall dwell with lambs,” and envisioned a time when nations “shall beat
their swords into plowshares.” The prophet Jeremiah emphasized personal responsibility as opposed to
group responsibility. One was responsible for one’s own soul, he preached.
The Mosaic Law is found in the Pentateuch. This Law of Moses teaches “love they neighbor as thyself.” It
includes the Ten Commandments. Some of these commandments are: “Remember the Sabbath day, to
keep it holy”; “Thou shalt not kill”; “Thou shalt not steal”; “Thou shalt not bear false witness”; and “Honor
thy mother and thy father.” These injunctions had a powerful influence on Western culture.
This papyrus is a record of a request to the Persians for assistance in the rebuilding of a Jewish temple at
Elephantine that had been damaged in an anti-Jewish riot in 407 BCE.
The essence of Judaism, as summed up by the first century CE teacher Hillel, who lived at about the time
of Jesus, is the rule of conduct “What is hateful unto thee do not do unto others.”
In its emphasis on monotheism and moral principles, Judaism was the foundation of Christianity and of
the Western world’s declared code of ethics, sometimes referred to as Judeo-Christian ethics.
The Trading Phoenicians (1200–727
Phoenician figure of a temptress, in an Egyptian style. This Phoenician ivory carving depicts one of the harlots of the
temple to the goddess Astarte. Although Phoenician in origin, the carving depicts a woman in an Egyptian-style wig.
The piece dates to the 8th century BCE, and was recovered 500 miles east of Babylon.
The Phoenicians flourished on the Mediterranean coast, north of Palestine, from 1200 to 800 BCE. They
spoke a Semitic language and had two major cities: Tyre and Sidon. The Phoenicians, highly skilled
shipbuilders and navigators, were seafaring merchants. They traded throughout the Mediterranean and
even ventured to the Atlantic coasts of Europe and Africa. They established many overseas colonies—the
most important, located in Northern Africa, was Carthage (present-day Tunis), founded in 814 BCE.
Through trade, the Phoenicians became the chief agents of civilized life throughout the Mediterranean.
Every colony that they developed was independent, yet linked by culture and trade with the principal
city-states. The Phoenicians are known to have reached the Atlantic Ocean and even to have
circumnavigated Africa during the 6th century BCE. This was already a century after their principal cities
had come under Assyrian occupation. It is possible that Phoenician ships made their way to the British
Map of Phoenician-controlled areas.
This map shows some of the more important Phoenician settlements and colonies around the
Mediterranean. Carthage is located on the African coast, near the lower center of the picture.
From a species of shellfish, the Phoenicians obtained their trademark: a purple dye known as Tyrian
purple. It became the favorite color of royalty.
Themes in History: Trade and Ideas
This third-century BCE coin was minted by
Phoenicians, in the style of Greek currency. The horse and palm tree shown were symbols of the Phoenician colony of
This Phoenician gold jewelry is from Kition, Cyprus.
Just as the Phoenicians spread culture through the Mediterranean by ship, the Aramaeans spread culture
through the Middle East by caravan. The Aramaeans were Semites, occupying present-day Syria from
the 12th century to the 8th century BCE. Because Aramaic merchants and diplomats traveled, the
Aramaic language had international currency throughout the Middle East for over 1,000 years. Jesus was
among its millions of speakers.
Phoenicians switched from the cuneiform alphabet, of about of 550 characters, to a simpler, phonetic
alphabet of 22 letters. This alphabet made trade-related record keeping easier. The Greeks modified this
alphabet by adding characters for a handful of vowel sounds. This Greek alphabet is similar to the
alphabet used today in the West.
These two examples, the Phoenicians and the Aramaeans, show how contact between cultures can not
only spread ideas, but actually be an active force in the evolution of ideas. The concise Phoenician
alphabet was a solution that arose in response to a high volume of commerce.
Phoenician ship, 2nd century BCE
Throughout the course, we will see this pattern again and again: cultures that have a high volume of
interaction with other cultures see ideas spread, and quite new ideas appear which otherwise wouldn’t
have. This can happen when people are on the move for any reason—as refugees, as traders, or as
soldiers in an army. For obvious reasons, trade is the most conducive of these to the cross-pollination of
The Origins of Greece (1500–750 BCE)
Detail of Greek krater (large-mouthed vase) depicting
chariots in a funeral procession, Geometric period, 8th century BCE.
● Art as historical document
The Hellenes—Indo-European-speaking nomadic tribes of Eastern Europe—migrated south to seek
richer grasslands. They conquered Greece, Crete, and many Aegean islands. The Hellenes intermarried
with the natives and evolved into a new people: the Greeks.
Much of our knowledge of the early Greeks derives from two long epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey,
both attributed to the blind Greek poet Homer. (For this reason, the period of about the 10th century BCE
is sometimes referred to as Homeric Greece.) The Iliad relates the adventures of a Greek military
expedition against the city of Troy—on the coast of modern Turkey—facing Greece to the west, across
the Aegean Sea. The Odyssey describes the wandering of the Greek hero Odysseus, returning home
from the Trojan War. The modern world considered much of Homer’s work to be fantastic or
mythological—until the ruins of Troy were uncovered in the 1870s by the archaeologist Heinrich
Portrait of Schliemann
Spurred by his trust in the Greek poet Homer, German-born Heinrich
Schliemann followed his 1873 discovery of troy in Asia Minor with the
excavation of spectacular gold artifacts at Mycenae in Greece—thus giving
first substance to the writings of Homer.
This early Greek statue depicts a priest carrying a calf to sacrifice. This
simple style of sculpture from the Archaic period was later supplanted by the more detailed, realistic Greek Classical
style exemplified by artists such as Praxiteles and Phidias.
Geography and Greece
An understanding of Greek culture and the role it ultimately took in history should be considered in light of
● Location: Greece is a peninsula in the northeastern Mediterranean within easy sailing distance of
the Fertile Crescent and Egypt. The Greeks learned about writing, navigation, and other
achievements of these earlier civilizations mainly from Cretan and Phoenician merchants.
Deep Harbors: Because Greece has numerous good harbors on its irregular coastline, many
Greeks turned to the sea. They became merchants and traders who sailed the Black, Aegean,
and Mediterranean seas. The Greeks exported wine, olive oil, pottery, and metal implements;
they imported foodstuffs, timber, hides, and metal ores.
Insufficient Farmland: Since Greece lacks sufficient farmland, between 750 and 500 BCE, many
Greeks established colonies on the shores of the Mediterranean and Black seas. (Greeks also
emigrated to escape oppression by the nobility.) They founded important colonies at Byzantium
(later called Constantinople) at the mouth of the Black Sea, Naples in Italy, Syracuse in Sicily, and
Marseilles in France. These colonies became important as centers of Greek population, trade,
Mountains: Greece is a land of high mountain ranges enclosing fertile valleys. These valleys
were isolated because transportation over the mountains was hazardous. Such geographic
barriers led the Greeks to organize many independent city-states instead of a central
government. Because the mountains contributed to political disunity, the first loyalty of the people
was not to Greece as a nation, but to their own city-states.
Wreck of a
4th-century Greek merchant ship known as the Kyrenia ship
In this module, we can see how several civilizations extended the influence of their culture beyond their
borders and the duration of their existence. In the case of the Minoans, their ancient Aegean culture was
spread by refugees who might have fled invasion, natural cataclysm, or both. In this way, Greek
civilization can be seen as a later development of Minoan civilization. Like the Minoans, the Phoenicians
were traders. As they traded, they spread not only goods, but the technology of their concise, flexible
alphabet. The Hebrews, like the Minoans, were dispersed across the region as a result of adversity. In
their case, invasion and conquest sent them into contact with many other peoples, who were, as a result,
exposed to the Jewish faith. The impact on the foreigners that they lived amongst was exposure to the
Jewish faith. The impact on the Jews was the development of a culture that carried safeguards to insulate
it from change. Because of this last unique characteristic, the Hebrews were the one people, of these
three, who were not assimilated into anonymity among the nations that gave them refuge.
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