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02-Jan-2019 12:08

The Persian king wanted to put his multi-national fleet through their paces and so organized a sailing race, which the sailors from Sidon won.Herodotus also mentions that Xerxes always made sure to travel on a Phoenician ship whenever he had to go anywhere by sea.Driven by their desire for trade and the acquisition of such commodities as silver from Spain, gold from Africa, and tin from the Scilly Isles, the Phoenicians sailed far and wide, even beyond the Mediterranean’s traditional safe limits of the Pillars of Hercules and into the Atlantic.They were credited with many important nautical inventions and firmly established a reputation as the greatest mariners in the ancient world.

Warships had a convex stern and were propelled by a large single-masted square sail and two banks of oars (a ), had a deck, and were fitted with a ram low on the bow.They perhaps had higher sides too in order to permit the stacking of cargo on deck as well as below, and they had both a convex stern and bow.Their cargo capacity was somewhere in the region of 450 tons.A fleet might consist of up to 50 cargo vessels, and such fleets are depicted in reliefs being escorted by a number of warships.

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A third type of vessel, also for trade use, was much smaller than the other two, had a horse-head at the bow and only one bank of oars.

Hemmed in by mountains, then, when the time came, perhaps from the 12th century BCE, the natural direction of Phoenician expansion was not inland but the sea.

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