Subscribe to Archaeology

Island Pool May Have Been Sacred to the Phoenicians

Monday, March 21, 2022

ROME, ITALY—According to a Science News report, a new study of a rectangular pool built some 2,550 years ago on the island of Motya, which is located off the western coast of Sicily, suggests it was fed by springs and was sacred to the Phoenicians. It had been previously thought that the pool might have been connected to the sea with a channel and used as an artificial inner harbor or as a dry dock. Lorenzo Nigro of Sapienza University said that although Greek invaders eventually dug a channel from the pool to a nearby lagoon, the Phoenicians situated the body of water in the center of a religious compound. The complex was aligned with celestial bodies associated with Phoenician gods on particular days of the year, such as the summer and winter solstices. The surface of the water, Nigro explained, would have reflected the night sky. Positions of the stars may have been marked in the pool with poles, he added. A statue of the Phoenician god Ba’al is thought to have stood on a pedestal in its center, he added, based upon the discovery of a stone block with remnants of a large sculpted foot, and a dedication to Ba’al found in one corner. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Antiquity. To read about Phoenician ceramic figurines recovered from the seafloor off northern Israel, go to "Offerings at Sea." 

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement