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An ancient maritime heritage

An ancient maritime heritage

(DP-News- Poseidon Science)

While many working replicas of ancient ships continue to be made and sailed, perhaps the more recent expeditions on Phoenicia by Philip Beale’s team are a great example of the passion for high seas adventure.

Building a Phoenician ship to validate the ancient story of Phoenicians circumnavigating Africa 3,000 years ago was Philip Beale’s challenge.

Phoenicia (also referred to in Latin as Punic) comprises city states along the coasts of the Mediterranean, from North Africa and extending to Syria today. Its power rested on commerce due to its vast fleet that roamed the Mediterranean basin at will. Because of its naval might and trading power, Phoenician alphabet was adopted by the early Greeks, then by the Etruscans, the Romans and eventually to become part of our modern alphabet. Herodotus, the Greek historian, wrote the story of King Necho II of Egypt who commissioned the Phoenicians in 600 BC to circumnavigate Africa, previously considered an impossible task. Like all mariners, Phoenician mariners rose to the challenge, built the ship in Egypt, sailed it through the Red Sea and eventually returned via the Mediterranean three years later.



Could the Phoenicians have really accomplished it? Since written records were made in papyrus that disintegrated with age, the only way to settle this question is to build a Phoenician ship and sail it around Africa. After assembling his team of ship builders and marine archaeologists in Syria, Philip Beale built a replica based on archaeological artifacts, shipwrecks and descriptions available in the historical records. Last October, the ship, Phoenicia, circumnavigated Africa, returning to dry dock in Syria last October, 2010, finally proving that it can certainly be one.

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