Navigation of the Phoenicians – 1700 BC


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Changing the pace a bit today, we’re covering an article all about early maritime navigation and its history.  The article below is an extract from one of the earlier books in our library called Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich published in 1858.

Navigation of the Phoenicians

It is now generally conceded that the date of the maritime enterprises which rendered the Phoenicians famous in antiquity must he fixed between the years 1700 and 1100 before Christ. The renowned city of Sidon was the centre from which their expeditions were sent forth. What was the specific object of these excursions, or in what order of time they took place, is but imperfectly known: it would appear, however, that their adventurers traded at first with Cyprus and Rhodes, then with Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, Gaul, and the coast of Spain upon the Mediterranean.

About 1250 B.C., their ships ventured cautiously beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, and founded Cadiz upon a coast washed by the Atlantic. A little later they founded establishments upon the western coast of Africa. Homer asserts that at the Trojan War, 1194 B.C., the Phoenicians furnished the belligerents with many articles of luxury and convenience; and we are told by Scripture that their ships brought gold to Solomon from Ophir, in 1000 B.C. Tyre seems now to have superseded Sidon, though at what period is not known. It had become a flourishing mart before 600 B.C.; for Ezekiel, who lived at that time, has left a glowing and picturesque description of its wealth, which must have proceeded from a long established commerce.

He enumerates, among the articles used in building the Tyrian ships, the fir-trees of Senir, the cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the ivory of the Indies, the linen of Egypt, and the purple of the Isles of Elishah. He mentions, as brought to the great emporium from Syria, Damascus, Greece, and Arabia, siiver, tin, lead, and vessels of brass; slaves, horses, mules; carpets, ebony, ivory, pearls, and silk; wheat, balm, honey, oil, and gum; wine, wool, and iron. It is about this periods – 600 B.C – that the Phoenicians, though under Egyptian commanders, appear to have performed a voyage which, if authentic, may justly be regarded as the most important in their annals, a circumnavigation of Africa.

Excerpt from Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich – 1858


Further Reading and External Links

Phoenician Ships, Navigation and Commerce

The Phoenicians