Old name of Mediterranean sea

Can anyone tell me what the Punic people of ancient Carthage called the Mediterranean sea?

No, but I can tell you that the Romans called it Mare Internum – Inner Sea. And after they had conquered every bit of land around it, they called it Mare Nostrum – Our Sea.

I think the Greeks also called it the Inner Sea but I don’t know the Greek for that.

“Oh, stewardess! I speak ancient Cartheginian Punic!”


“wine-dark” :slight_smile:

I’m not up on my Phoenician, but a quick reading of some sites would indicate that the people were probably Semitic in origin, and that Hebrew has been used to translate some surviving words/texts.

The Latin originally meant “the Sea in the MIddle of the Earth.”

IF a Hebrew scholar could tell you what they called it BCE, then you might get a close approximation of the Phoenician.

The Bible refers to the Mediterranean Sea as “the Great Sea”, in Hebrew “Ha-yam Ha-Gadol.”

That’s the sort of thing I like about this place: a poster asks for comment from someone with particular expertise, like a Hebrew scholar, and in a little while, along comes the requested expert with the info. Interesting thread.

Carthage was in origin a colony of one of the Phoenician cities, and the Carthaginian language was very close to Phoenician (which I think was a dialect of Aramaic; classical scholars, please confirm or correct that). Probably a fair amount of Tuareg vocabulary and idiom affected it in vernacular use, but for all practical purposes it was a typical Semitic language.

Og, I love this board!

Someone poses a question in GQ. It generates:

  1. a tangental answer
  2. a joke answer
  3. a poetical answer
  4. a SDSAB answer
  5. a linguistic answer
  6. a comment on the answers
  7. an historical answer
  8. a commentary on the answering process


Phoenician belongs to the West Semetic language group, close to Hebrew. The language is well understood. Punic (the language of the Phoenician colony Carthage) was probably very similar although, by analogy, we may assume additions to its vocabulary from the Moorish and Berber languages spoken in the region before the arrival of the colonists from Tyre.

Tyrian and Carthaginian expansion spread the language to south eastern Spain, the Algarve, the Balerics, Sardinia, western Sicily, along the southern littoral of the Mediterrenian and Malta.

The extent to which the language was used in Morroco and down the African coast is still being discussed.

Punic Zombies!!!

zombie or no

sooner or later

  1. a zombie answer

Always thought it was the Mediterranean from Spain to Turkey. But after reading about the Balearic islands recently I’ve learned that it is called the Balearic Sea from the coast of Spain the the eastern coast of Menorca.

There’s also the Adriatic Sea (between Italy and Greece) and the Aegean Sea (between Greece and Italy). Think of them all as “sub-seas”.

Finally, a zombie “joke” that makes sense and is somewhat clever. I think that is a first.

They made Volkswagens?

But for the Carthagians… segelvergnügen!

It appears that the word in Phoenician for ‘sea’ is ‘yam’.
The closest living language to Phoenician is Hebrew and the word for ‘sea’ in Hebrew is ‘yom’.

Thus the famous seaman’s saying, “I yam what I yam”.

:smack: :smiley: