The original inhabitants of Phoenicia were probably nomads, who wandered along the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, and settled in Phoenicia. They developed into a nation of traders, soon learned what their neighbors were doing, and, profiting by experience, surpassed them in development and utilized their products in commerce ; they became the commercial people of the early ages and pioneers of the sea ; they established colonies in Asia Minor, Crete, Lydia and Greece as early as 1500 B. C., and later in Rhodes, Sicily, Sardinia and Spain (where they built the city of Cadiz) ; their vessels sailed to the Scilly and British Isles, and into the North Sea. It is even said that they circumnavigated Africa.
In 1440 B. C., the Israelites from Egypt settled as neighbors in Palestine, and brought with them their arts and its influences. During Solomon’s reign the first voyage to Spain was made, and the vessel returned laden with gold, iron, silver, tin, lead, etc. About 555 B. C. Cyrus broke the Assyrian rule, and they passed under the Persian yoke. About 330 B. C. Alexander with his Macedonians conquered Persia and Phoenicia, and in 65 B. C. the Romans subjugated them.
Some writers claim that the common pottery of Phoenicia was primeval with that of Egypt. At first the Phoenicians made a very simple unglazed and undecorated pottery, gray in color, and copied nature or drew upon their imagination for forms. Later they ornamented this same pottery with rings and other geometrical lines in black or red. About this time Egyptian influence began to show itself, and very soon glazes were applied. A lustre seems to have been produced by them at an early period. A pottery decorated with black figures on red ground and red figures on black ground was made from about 500 B. C.., after which date Phoenician potters made no progress, their country became a prey to the invaders and internal dissension, and art was lost or forgotten.