I was always fascinated with the Kon-Tiki expedition led by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947. He wanted to prove that people from South America reached Polynesia way before Columbus. A raft was constructed using the same procedures used in those days. He sailed across the Pacific Ocean and successfully reached the shores of Tuamotu Islands, after 101 days!
At LAU on Friday, January 13, through the collaboration of the Tyre Foundation, Captain Philip Beale, who belonged to the British Royal Navy, gave a presentation on an expedition he plans to embark on September this year. He will travel across the Atlantic and reach America in an authentic replica of a Phoenician ship. Captain Beale, who belonged to the British Royal Navy, is going to attempt to cross the Atlantic from Gibraltar on the “Phoenicia”, an authentic Phoenician ship. The reason for this expedition is two-fold. It will prove that the seafaring Phoenicians could navigate all the way to America. This endeavor will, also, help raise awareness of the ancient Phoenician’s culture and history.
With the help of sponsors and institutions such as the Tyre Foundation, the “Phoenicia” was built for the historical purpose of proving that an Phoenicians could have indeed travelled to the coasts of Africa and elsewhere. At first, the vessel was to be built by both, Lebanese and Syrian craftsmen. 2005, unfortunately, was a tumultuous year in Lebanon, so they ended up building it in Tartous, Syria. They made an authentic replica of a Phoenician sea vessel using cedar, pine, and other local woods which were available in ancient times.
Captain Beale explained that the Phoenicians didn’t build their boats like today, their boats by building the ribs and keel first. They would start as if they were building a canoe. Later they would add the skeleton and keel to the structure, making them stronger. They were the first to use 10 centimeter iron nails to reinforce the ribs to the boats. This all made their ships far superior to all the seafaring vessels at the time. In addition, the Phoenicians were able to navigate at night. They used the Polaris star, which pointed north, as their guide. Thus, they were able to travel long distances by sea.
In 2009, Captain Beale and his crew took a year circumventing the African continent in this ancient ship proving that the Phoenicians could have indeed sailed around Africa. They reached the shores of Sidon in 2010.
When asked why did he embark on expeditions. He said that at the age of seventeen, he was privileged to be in an historical expedition from Indonesia to Madagascar. He never forgot the experience. This time, he wants to give the same opportunity to two young Lebanese. So if any one of you wishes to embark in this historical expedition and join the crew, this is your chance! They are still looking for more sponsors and donors who would want to launch this expedition.
For more information go to any of these sites:
Facebook/Phoenicians before Columbus