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Selma Abdelhamid

Phoenician Shipwrecks of the 8th to the 6th century B.C.

Overview and Interim Conclusions
Recent study of Phoenician shipwrecks offered significant insights into Iron Age exchange patterns, attesting to a multiplicity of small and large networks conditioned by diverse ship types, routes, markets and goods.
The studied period namely the 8th to the 6th century B.C. was a crucial phase in the construction of
the Mediterranean. Phoenicians and Greeks progressively settled in the West, laying the groundwork for
later power- and exchange relations. However, the scarcity of Phoenician seafaring testimonies and in particular shipwrecks strongly limited the research possibilities: until 1989 merely the wrecks in Rochelongues in
France and Bajo de la Campana in Spain were known.
It is only later that the discovery of further ships in Spain
and then the Eastern Mediterranean as well as the recent work resumption on the Bajo de la Campana wreck
breathed fresh air into the study of Phoenician seafaring,
turning it into an up to date topic within maritime archaeology itself. On the basis of six known shipwrecks,
a comparative study was made possible for the first time.
Conceived as an introduction to the topic, this paper will give an overview of these shipwrecks, starting
from east to west with Tanit and Elissa off Ashkelon,
then the Mazarrn ships and Bajo de la Campana in
Spain and finally the wreck in Rochelongues in the
South of France. The last part will be dedicated to a
comparison of the ships and their cargo1.

Ships in the Eastern Mediterranean: Tanit and Elissa

The coast of Ashkelon is characterized by a rough
sea and a bad climate, in particular during the rise of
the khamsin-wind in spring and autumn. Nevertheless,
the city of Ashkelon turned into the most active harbor
of the region in the Late Bronze Age, benefiting from
its position at the junction of several land- and sea
routes between the Levant, Mesopotamia and Egypt2.
In 1997, a team looking for a submarine lost at sea 50
years ago by chance discovered the ancient shipwrecks
Tanit and Elissa at a depth of 400 m, 33 sea miles off
the shore3. The first scientific study was carried out in
1999 by means of remotely operated vehicles. Both
ships are clearly visible on the generated photomosaic,
their contours being outlined by their amphora cargo.
The remains of Tanit extended over 4,5 x 11,5 meters. 385 amphoras could be counted; in addition 2 pots

and a bowl found close to one another are interpreted

as the crews belongings and might indicate a cabin or
kitchen at the stern of the ship. In the center, several
rows of amphoras are still standing upright; the majority,
however, have toppled over. Bathymetrical data shows
that, when referring to an artificial baseline, the height of
the amphoras increases about approximately 1 meter towards the center of the ship. Given an average amphora
height of 68 centimeters, it is therefore theoretically possible to assume 2 layers of amphoras at this point.
The strikingly similar remnants of Elissa extend
over 5 x 12 meters. 396 visible amphoras are completed by further elements probably indicating kitchen and
stern, namely cooking pots, a mushroom-lipped decanter, a small amphora, an incense stand, and a mortarium. The Eastern area in particular is up to 1 meter
higher than the rest, a situation induced either by a double amphora layer or by topographical reasons, the ship
having originally drafted on a slope.
On the basis of the discernible cargo, the sizes of
the ships were reconstructed to 6,5 x 14 meters for
regarding Tanit, and 7 x 14,5 meters for Elissa. They
thus present dimensions similar to the ships at Ulubu1

This paper relies on a magister thesis submitted in April 2009

at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universitt Heidelberg. Exhaustive information, amongst others references to objects comparable
to items found on the ships, cannot be entirely reproduced
in this summary. The full text is available at the address:
2 A. Faust E. Weiss, Judah, Philistia, and the Mediterranean
World: Reconstructing the Economic System of the Seventh
Century B.C.E., BASOR 338, 2005, 78; L. E. Stager J. D.
Schloen, Introduction: Ashkelon and its inhabitants, in: L. E.
Stager J. D. Schloen D. M. Master (eds), Ashkelon 1. Introduction and overview (19852006). Final reports of the Leon
Levy Expedition to Ashkelon 1 (Winona Lake 2008) 3. 11.
3 L. E. Stager, Phoenician shipwrecks and the ship Tyre (Ezekiel 27), in: J. Pollini, Terra marique. Studies in art history and
marine archaeology in honor of Anna Marguerite Mc Cann
(Oxford 2005) 238254; L. Stager, Dos pecios fenicios en alta
mar de la costa norte del Sinai, in: Pea et al. 2004, 179193;
L. E. Stager, Phoenician Shipwrecks in the Deep Sea, in: N. C.
Stampolidis V. Karageorghis, PLOES Sea routes... Interconnections in the Mediterranean 16th 6th c. BC; proceedings
of the International Symposium held at Rethymnon, Crete,
September 29th October 2nd 2002 (Athens 2003) 233247;
R. D. Ballard L. E. Stager D. Master et al., Iron Age Shipwrecks in Deep Water off Ashkelon, Israel, AJA 106, 2002,

Selma Abdelhamid

run(15m), Maagan Mikhael (13,4 meters) and Kyrenia (15 m)4. Similarly to the latter, their tonnages are
estimated at 25 tons which is much less than examples
known from literary sources. One text found in Ugarit
could indeed indicate that Canaanean ships around
1200 B.C. carried up to 450 tons5; for the first millennium B.C., maximal cargoes are thought to have taken
100 to 500 tons6. Furthermore, sources like the Old
Testament cite specific vessels like the Tarshish ships7,
which were cargo ships employed for trade with the
still unidentified Tarshish, a half-mythical El Dorado
on the edge of the contemporary sphere of action. Attempts to definitively locate Tarshish have failed, suggesting that it might not have been a single spot but
rather a mental construct to which were, over the centuries, attributed several distant market places8. Likewise, it is not clear if the moniker Tarshish referred only
to the destination, or to a particular naval architecture.
To the contrary, ships called gauloi9 from the early Iron
Age onward referred to a certain cargo ship type10,
which is often equated with depictions of the early 7th
century B.C. in the palace of Sennacherib in Ninive11.
Nevertheless, no evidence allows us to identify Tanit or
Elissa as a Tarshish ship or a gaulos, since we do not know
anything about their building technique.
The amphoras recovered from both ships are of
the same type and present a cylindrical, slightly concave
body and a sharp shoulder. They are often termed Storage Jar 5 after Bikai12 or Type 2 after Sagona13. Further
designations are class Levantine 114, Iron Age Jar15, crisp
ware16 or torpedo-shaped amphora17. The type is mainly
known from Northern Palestine and Lebanon and was
found in Hazor18, Sarepta19, Megiddo20, Tyre21 and even
Carthage22. Very few were unearthed in Spain, for instance in Castillo de Doa Blanca23 and Toscanos24. In
the Levant, these amphoras are mostly dated to the second half of the 8th century B.C. and become rare after
700 B.C. As states Stager, they were built specifically
for maritime shipping: with a shape that allows them
not only to be stacked [] but also to be recognized as
a container from Phoenicia, with a consistent capacity,
and with special handles too fragile for lifting or pouring but just right for guide ropes used to secure the
stacked amphoras25. Chemical analysis attested that

e. g. . Yalin, Ein Schiff macht Geschichte, in: . Yalin

C. Pulak R. Slotta, Das Schiff von Uluburun. Welthandel vor 3000 Jahren. Katalog der Ausstellung des Deutschen
Bergbau-Museums in Bochum vom 15. Juli 2005 bis 16. Juli
2006 (Bochum 2005) 21; M. Moity M. Rudel A.-X. Wurst,
Master Seafarers. The Phoenicians and the Greeks (London
2003) 50. 122.








RS 20.212, also published in S. Wachsmann, Seagoing Ships

and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant (London 1998)
341; J. Nougayrol, Nouveaux textes accadiens de Ras-Shamra,
Comptes-rendus des sances de lAcadmie des Inscriptions
et Belles-Lettres 104, 1, 1960, 165; C. M. Monroe, Vessel Volumetrics and the Myth of the Cyclopean Bronze Age Ship,
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient,
50(1), 2007, 118 (doi:10.1163/ 156852007780323977).
M. E. Aubet, The Phoenicians and the West. Policits, colonies
and trade (Cambridge 1993) 147 f.
1 Kings 10, 22. 2 Chr. 8, 18. 2 Chr 9, 21. 2 Chr 20, 36. Isaiah
60, 9. Ez 27, 25.
For an overview of the different theories refer to B. TreumannWatkins, Phoenicians in Spain, The Biblical Archaeologist, 55,
1, 1992, 3234.
L. Casson, Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (Baltimore 1995) 66.
Athenaeus 7.320. 11.500 f.; Aristophanes, Birds 598; Herodotus 3,136. 6,17. 8,97; Scylax, Per. 112.
L. Basch, Le muse imaginaire de la marine antique (Athens
1987) 310 fig. 654.
P. Bikai, The pottery of Tyre (Warminster 1978) 47 pl. 2, 19;
pl. 3, 15; 4, 46.
A. G. Sagona, Levantine storage jars of the 13th century to the
4th century B.C., OpAth 14, 1982, 7578 fig. 1, 25.
R. F. Docter, Archaische Transportamphoren, in: H. G. Niemeyer R. F. Docter K. Schmidt B. Bechtold (eds), Karthago. Die Ergebnisse der Hamburger Grabung unter dem decumanus maximus 2 (Mainz 2007) 644.
Z. Gal, Lower Galilee during the Iron Age (Winona Lake
1992) 68.
J. W. Shaw M. C. Shaw, Kommos 4. The Greek Sanctuary,
part 1 (Princeton 2000) 310.
L. E. Stager, Phoenician shipwrecks and the ship Tyre (Ezekiel
27), in: J. Pollini, Terra marique. Studies in art history and marine archaeology in honor of Anna Marguerite McCann (Oxford 2005) 241
Layers VI and V, possibly only V. Consult, for instance, Y. Yadin, Hazor 2. An Account of the Second Season of Excavations, 1956 (Jerusalem 1960) pl. 72. 73. 90. 91. For the appurtenance of the type to layer V (760732 B.C.) refer to Bikai, see
above n.12, 49.
Areas E and F dated to the late 9th or the mid-8th century B.C.:
J. B. Pritchard, Sarepta, A Preliminary Report on the Iron Age
(Philadelphia 1975) 92 f. pl. 26, 7; 26, 9.
Layers VI to I, from the 9th century B.C. on and mainly during
the second part of the 8th century B.C.: A. G. Sagona, Levantine storage jars of the 13th to 4th century B. C., OpAth 14,
1982, 76; R. S. Lamon G. M. Shipton, Megiddo 1: Seasons
of 19251934, Strata IV (Chicago 1939) pl. 16, 81.
Mainly in layer II dating to the end of the 8th century B.C.:
Bikai, see above n. 12, 47. 67 pl. 4, 5.
M. Vegas, Eine archaische Keramikfllung aus einem Haus am
Kardo XIII in Karthago, RM 106, 1999, 395. 430 f. fig. 21,
195199; M. Vegas, Archaische und mittelpunische Keramik
aus Karthago. Grabungen 1987/88, RM 96, 1989, 256 f.;
Docter, see above n. 14, 644.
D. Ruiz Mata, Castillo de Doa Blanca (Puerto de Santa
Mara, Prov. Cdiz). Stratigraphische Untersuchung einer
orientalisierenden Ansiedlung, MM 27, 1986, 96. 94 fig. 4, 89.
G. Maa-Lindemann H. Schubart H. G. Bachmann,
Toscanos: Die Westphnikische Niederlassung an der
Mndung des Ro de Vlez: Grabungskampagne 1971 und
die importdatierte Westphnikische Grabkeramik des 7./6.
Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Berlin 1982) 64 f. 114 f. pl. 17, 678681.
Stager, see above n. 17, 245.

Phoenician Shipwrecks of the 8th to the 6th century B.C. Overview and Interim Conclusions

the amphoras retrieved in Ashkelon contained wine. In

two cases blue wool fibers were found, but they presumably got into the amphoras once their seals had
been washed away26.
Given that the amphoras were probably loaded in a
Levantine harbor, it is assumed that the ships were on
their way to the southwest, maybe to Egypt. Carthage
has also been suggested as a possible destination. A
route even further to the West, however, seems highly
implausible because this amphora type is seldom found
there. Moreover, literary sources attest to long-existing
exchange relations between the Levant and Egypt, as
seen in the Report of Wenamun in the 11th10th century B.C.27, Ezekiels Prophecy of Tyre28, Herodotus29
or the Ahiqar scrolls which relate the activities of an
Egyptian harbor during the Achaemenid period30. In
the Early Iron Age and archaic times, this commercial
route was used for the transport of various goods, such
as cedar wood. An essential commodity, however, was
wine, which was collected from the whole of the Near
East and even Anatolia, and brought to Tyre in pithoi
using land routes. There it was filled in transport amphoras and shipped to Egypt. It seems probable that
Tanit and Elissa were part of this traffic. That they
were found quite close to one another could even indicate that they belonged to a fleet and sank at the
same moment.

Ships in the western Mediterranean: Mazarrn-1

and -2, Bajo de la Campana and Rochelongues
A strongly differing image is given by the ships
found in Spain. The coast between Cape Gata and
Cape Palos is a succession of sandy beaches and natural harbors, but at the same time it is known for its high
risks due to wind, cliffs, and sand banks31. The region
is rich in metals, mainly lead, iron, copper, and silver,
which were all extracted since the Bronze Age32. In
Mazarrn in particular there are three important mining districts, which seem to have been exploited since
Phoenician times33. There are indeed many Phoenician
remains, for instance in the shallow waters of the Playa
de la Isla, where a huge amount of ceramic was collected. More than 50% of these are Phoenician, which
attests to intensive maritime traffic from the 7th century
B.C. onward34. Due to geomorphologic phenomena,
the area between island and beach silted up in the second half of the first millennium B.C. Two shipwrecks
were conserved under the sediment until the 1980s,
when the construction of a harbor changed the local
marine dynamics and induced the uncovering of the
remains. Thanks to regular surveys conducted by the

Museo-Centro Cartagena, both ships were discovered

and protected before their disintegration35.
The remains of the ship Mazarrn-1 extended over
5,50 x 1,30 meters. It was only partly preserved, but
26 Stager, see above n. 17, 245. 247 f.
27 e. g. B. Schipper, Die Erzhlung des Wenamun. Ein Literaturwerk im Spannungsfeld von Politik, Geschichte und Religion
(Fribourg 2005); H. Goedicke, The Report of Wenamun (Baltimore 1975).
28 Ez 27.
29 Herodotus 3, 6.
30 A. Yardeni, Maritime Trade and Royal Accountancy in an
Erased Customs Account from 475 B.C.E. on the Ahiqar
Scroll from Elephantine, BASOR 293, 1994, 6778; P. Briant
R. Descat, Un registre douanier de la satrapie dgypte
lpoque achmnide, in: N. Grimal B. Menu (eds), Le commerce en gypte ancienne, Bibliothque dtude 121, 1998,
31 J. Pinedo Reyes, Inventario de yacimientos arqueolgicos subacuticos del litoral murciano, Cuadernos der Arqueologa Martima 4, 1996, 59 f.; J. Mas Garca (ed.), Historia de Cartagena
(Murcia 1986) 166; A. Schulten, Iberische Landeskunde. Geographie des antiken Spanien (Baden-Baden 1974) 222.
32 M. M. Ros Sala, Minera y metalurgia de la plata en el asentamiento protohistrico de Punta de Los Gavilanes (Mazarrn,
Murcia) I. Estudio arqueolgico, in: R. Arana Castillo A. M.
Muoz Amilibia S. Ramallo Asensio et al. (eds), Metalurgia
en la pennsula ibrica durante el primer milenio a. C. Estado
actual de la investigacin (Murcia 1993) 208 f.
33 M. M. Ros Sala, Asentamiento protohistrico de Punta de los
Gavilanes, in: R. Arana Castillo A. M. Muoz Amilibia S.
Ramallo Asensio et al. (eds), Metalurgia en la pennsula ibrica durante el primer milenio a. C. Estado actual de la investigacin (Murcia 1993) 251; S. W. Meier, Blei in der Antike.
Bergbau, Verhttung, Fernhandel (Zug 1995) 58; C. Correa
Cifuentes, Presencia fenicia en la transicin Bronze Final Reciente Hierro Antiguo en el entorno de la Rambla de las
Moreras. Mazarrn (Murcia), in: A. Gonzlez Blanco G.
Matilla Siquer A. Egea Vivancos (eds), El mundo pnico:
religin, antropologa y cultura material; actas II. Congreso Internacional del Mundo Pnico, Cartagena 69 abril de 2000
(Murcia 2004) 485.
34 I. Negueruela J. Pinedo M. Gmez et al., Descubrimiento
de dos barcos fenicios en Mazarrn (Murcia), in: M. E. Aubet
M. Barthlemy (eds), Actas del IV Congreso Internacional
de estudios fenicios y pnicos. Cdiz, 2 al 6 de Octubre de
1995 (Cdiz 2000) 1672.
35 I. Negueruela J. Pinedo M. Gmez et al., see above n. 34,
16711679. Publications referring to Mazarrn-1: C. Gmez
Gil Aizpurua J. L. Sierra Mndez, Extraccin y tratamientos del barco fenicio (barco 1) de la Playa de la Isla (Puerto
de Mazarrn, Mazarrn), Cuadernos de Arqueologa Martima
3, 1996, 217225; I. Negueruela J. Pinedo M. Gmez et
al., Seventh-century BC Phoenician vessel discovered at Playa de la Isla, Mazarrn, Spain, IJNA 24, 3, 1995, 189197; I.
Negueruela, Continan las excavaciones en el barco fenicio
de Mazarrn, RAMadrid 165, 1995, 63; B. Roldn Bernal J.
Perera Rodrguez J. Santos B. Frutos et al., El fondeadero de
la Playa de la Isla. Avance preliminar, in: A. Gonzlez Blanco
J. L. Cunchillos Ilarri M. Molina Martos (eds), El mundo
pnico: Historia, sociedad y cultura (Murcia 1994) 503516.
Publications referring to Mazarrn-2: I. Negueruela R.
Gonzlez Gallero M. San Claudio et al., Mazarrn-2: el barco
fenicio del siglo VII a. C. Campaa de noviembre 1999/maro
2000, in: A. Gonzlez Blanco G. Matilla Siquer A. Egea

Selma Abdelhamid

provided precious information about the building technique, which was surprisingly advanced. In contrast to
contemporary or even later ships, whose hulls were
sewn, the planks of Mazarrn-1 are joined with pegged
mortises and tenons. The frames, although lashed, no
longer function as support; they appear to be rather a
technological holdover than a necessity. Furthermore,
it has been observed that several wood types were employed according to functional requirements, as is described in literary sources like Ezekiel36 or Theophrastus37: the keel, as the core of the ship on which the
mortise-and-tenon joints conferred all kinds of interactions like water pressure, wind or weight of the cargo, was made of hard cedar wood. The resistant tenons
were made of olive, which was both sturdy and easy
to carve. The planks were made of pine-tree and the
frames of fig-tree, a wood so fragile that it is not even
used for furniture. That it was employed on Mazarrn-1
again underscores the idea that the frames were placed
in a decorative and traditional manner rather than for
reinforcement. As regards the findings, ropes were
found on board the ship and identified as made of esparto grass, a plant growing in different parts of the
Western Mediterranean, and also in Mazarrn. More
problematic are the ceramics, which collected over the
years in the bay of the Playa de la Isla. Despite almost
20% of them being Roman or modern, the excavators
consider the Phoenician ceramics as coming from the
Mazarrn-1 ship and use them for its dating and reconstruction of its route: Dado que la estructura de
la embarcacin que denominamos B-1 apareci muy
incompleta, abierta, e prcticamente sin cargamento,
trabajamos con la hiptesis de que todo o gran parte
del material cermico proceda de esta embarcacin38.
Therefore, they take for granted that a ship must have
had a cargo, which must have spread over the seabed
during the wrecking and is thus retraceable. They do
not take into account that the ship could also have been
empty while lying at harbor, unloaded while navigating, or that the ceramics could be the cargoes of other
ships that have yet to be discovered or perhaps that the
ceramics represent remains of jettison, that is, cargo
discarded by ships in danger of sinking. However, the
discovery of the second ship demonstrates that the bay
was an area frequented in Phoenician times, in which
more than one wrecking had taken place, and makes, in
my opinion, the identification of the ceramics with the
cargo of Mazarrn-1 quite likely. These pieces, which
are of multiple forms, can at best give general indications about the harbor Mazarrn in a period when it
had commercial relationships with southern Spain.
Indeed, the amphoras belong to the type Trayamar-1

named after Trayamar in Spain, or R1 after Rachgoun

in Algeria, which is the characteristic amphora of Western Phoenicians from the 8th century B.C. onward. It
is, however, often found in contexts of the 7th century
B.C.39. Although there are several production centers,
the specimens found in Mazarrn are most similar to
amphoras made in the south of Spain. All in all, most
of the findings are dated to the 7th or 6th century B.C.
The ship was probably used on a regional scale, as suggested by its small proportions. It probably sunk when
it ran aground on a sand bank.
Mazarrn-2 was discovered only 50 meters away in
1994. It is almost completely preserved. The building
technique and its size of 8,15 x 2,25 meters are similar
to Mazarrn-1. A small part in the west had been plundered; the rest was left untouched and revealed 2800kg
of concreted lead ingots. These might have been produced near Mazarrn, a hypothesis reinforced by the
metals whitish color, which was also noted by M. M.
Ros Sala when describing scoriae collected at near-by
Punta de los Gavilanes40. In addition, a fluke anchor
was situated next to the bow and identified as the earliest known anchor of this type. Next to the mast were
found the fragments of a Trayamar-1 amphora, for
which petrographic analysis indicates a production in
southern Spain. Further findings were an esparto-grass
basket and ropes, the imprints of two organic containers, a wooden handle, and a stick with the attached remains of a rope, as well as a grinding stone and animal
bones. The ceramics recovered on board, along with
the radiocarbon data, point toward a date in the second
half of the 7th century B.C.
A few kilometers further to the northeast lay the
remains of a ship at Bajo de la Campana, next to the


Vivancos (eds), El mundo pnico: religin, antropologa y

cultura material; actas II. Congreso Internacional del Mundo
Pnico, Cartagena 69 abril de 2000 (Murcia 2004), 453483;
I. Negueruela, Hacia la comprensin de la construccin naval
fenicia segn el barco Mazarrn-2 del siglo VII a.C, in: V.
Pea C. G. Wagner A. Mederos, La navegacin fenicia: tecnologa naval y derroteros; encuentro entre marinos, arquelogos e historiadores (Madrid 2004) 227278.
Ez 27, 56.
Theoph. h. plant. 5, 7, 23.
I. Negueruela J. Pinedo M. Gmez et al., see above n. 34,
For an overview refer to V. M. Guerrero Ayuso B. Roldn
Bernal, Catlogo de nforas prerromanas (Cartagena 1992)
M. M. Ros Sala, Asentamiento protohistrico de Punta de los
Gavilanes, in: R. Arana Castillo A. M. Muoz Amilibia S.
Ramallo Asensio et al. (eds), Metalurgia en la pennsula ibrica durante el primer milenio a. C. Estado actual de la investigacin (Murcia 1993) 223.

Phoenician Shipwrecks of the 8th to the 6th century B.C. Overview and Interim Conclusions

Isla Grosa at the entrance to the lagoon Mar Menor.

The archaeological artifacts were discovered in the late
1950s by workers dynamiting a reef to retrieve steel
belonging to modern shipwrecks. Roughly studied
in 1972 and then 198841, the site is now investigated
since 2008 by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology,
the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology and
Texas A&M University42. It has yielded the remains of
one Phoenician, one Punic, and at least one Roman
shipwreck. The Phoenician findings include ceramics,
one of which is an ovoid amphora of the type Ramn
T-, which is a characteristic type for the central
Mediterranean in the second part of the 7th and the
first part of the 6th century B.C.44. Prominent findings
are ivory tusks, some of which bear inscriptions.

which surely existed in the mining region. Possibly, the

ingots could have then been carried to the south coast
on a larger ship.

These three ships can be placed into a general context in southern Spain, which has important Phoenician settlements. Gadir on the Atlantic Ocean was an
essential stopover on the Iberian silver and copper
route. Once mining and smelting had been carried out
by locals in exchange for items such as Levantine olive
oil and wine, the metals were shipped to Tyre, Greece,
and other centers of the Mediterranean. Even though
the southeast coast of Iberia never became as important as the region of Gadir, it contained several mines
and specialized centers like Morro de Mezquitilla in the
8th century or Toscanos in the 7th century B.C. Apart
from the island Ibiza, the coast near Murcia had been,
until a few years ago, not much considered in Phoenician archaeology45. Later, however, it was suggested
that a Phoenician settlement existed in Guardamar del
Segura46, and furthermore, a multitude of new findings
have proven that Phoenicians had commercial relationships in this area, as is visible from the late 8th century
and early 7th century B.C. in Los Saladares (Orihuela),
La Pea Negra (Crevillente), and Monastil (Elda)47. Indigenous settlements in turn demonstrate that foreign
influences adapted to the local life way, as is visible in
the ceramics production. The needs of metal processing seem to have been answered by a restructuring of
the region creating large free spaces. Most obvious evidence for contact with Phoenicians is the import of
ceramics, which can be divided into an initial phase of
intermittent trade and a later period characterized by
regular exchange. The findings in the bay of the Playa
de la Isla correspond to this scheme. In addition, the
shipwreck Mazarrn-2 shows that lead from Murcias
mining area was shipped. It certainly had a pre-defined
destination, and that the ship was so small and heavily
loaded makes a short trajectory realistic. It could have
been on its way to a local stocking and smelting center,

41 A. Mederos L. A. Ruiz Cabrero, El pecio fenicio del Bajo de

la Campana (Murcia, Espaa) y el comercio del marfil norteafricano, Zephyrus 57, 2004, 263281; B. Roldn Bernal A.
Miano Domnguez M. Martn Camino, El yacimiento arqueolgico subacutico de El bajo de la Campana, in: A. Mano
Domnguez M. Martn Camino (eds), Actas del 21. Congreso
nacional de arqueologa, Teruel, (Arragn 1995)
965764; B. Roldn Bernal M. Martn Camino M. A. Prez
Bonet, El yacimiento submarino del Bajo de la Campana (Cartagena, Murcia). Catlogo y estudio de los materiales arqueolgicos, Cuadernos de Arqueologa Martima 3, 1995, 1161.
42 Directors and Friends visit the Excavation in Spain, INA
Quarterly 35, 2, 2008, 5; M. Polzer, Spain. Bajo de la Campana.
Phoenician Shipwreck Excavation, INA Quarterly 35, 3, 2008,
14; INA Projects. Spain. Bajo de la Campan Phoenician Shipwreck Excavation, INA Quarterly 36, 1, 2009, 8; M. Polzer,
Hard Rocks, Heavy Metals. A Report from Bajo de la Campana, INA Quarterly 36, 3, 2009, 10; INA Projects, Spain. Bajo
de la Campana Phoenician Shipwreck Excavation, INA Quarterly 37, 1, 2010, 8; M. Polzer J. Piedo Reyes, INA Projects,
Spain. Bajo de la Campana Phoenician Shipwreck Excavation,
INA Quarterly 37, 23, 2010, 20.
43 J. Ramn Torres, Las nforas fenicio-pnicas del Mediterrneo
Central y Occidental (Barcelona 1995) 56 f. (3.2.79) 178. 515
fig. 152, 77.
44 B. Roldn Bernal M. Martn Camino M. A. Prez Bonet,
El yacimiento submarino del Bajo de la Campana (Cartagena,
Murcia). Catlogo y estudio de los materiales arqueolgicos,
Cuadernos de Arqueologa Martima 3, 1995, 14.
45 For an overview of the Phoenician history on the Iberian Peninsula refer to M. E. Aubet, The Phoenicians and the West.
Politics, colonies and trade (Cambridge 1993).
46 A. M. Poveda Navarro, Primeros datos sobre las influencias
fenicio-pnicas en el corredor del Vinalop (Alicante), in:
A. Gonzlez Blanco G. Matilla Siquer A. Egea Vivancos (eds), El mundo pnico: religin, antropologa y cultura
material. Actas II. Congreso Internacional del Mundo Pnico,
Cartagena 69 abril de 2000 (Murcia 2004) 489502.
47 M. Martn Camino, Colonizacin Fenicia y Presencia Pnica
en Murcia, in: A. Gonzlez Blanco J. L. Cunchillos Ilarri
M. Molina Martos (eds), El mundo pnico: historia, sociedad
y cultura (Cartagena, 1719 de noviembre de 1990) (Murcia
1994) 293395
48 A. Bouscaras, La cargaison des bronzes de Rochelongues
(Agde, Hrault), RStLig 33, 1967, 173184; A. Bouscaras,
Lpave des bronzes de Rochelongues, Archologia 39, 2,
1971, 6873.

The shipwreck at Rochelongues in the south of

France is also related to metallurgy, although indirectly48. It was discovered in a depth of only 8 meters
during prospection work in 1961. Over a period of 9
years, 1700 artifacts and 800 kg of copper ingots were
collected. They were spread over a rectangular surface
of 25 x 14 meters and organized into groups, so that
it is assumed that they were originally stored in perishable containers. Moreover, an unknown number of
tin and lead tablets as well as galena were recovered.

Selma Abdelhamid

Even though some artifacts are comparable to objects

known from Spain49, they generally constitute a large
assortment of bronze objects which could be found
in settlements and necropolises of southern France,
from tools to weapons and jewelry. The tools especially
were interpreted as personal possessions of a blacksmith, who at the same time was assumed to have hired
the ship to collect scrap metal from all over the coast.
There is, however, no evidence for any special treatment of these metal processing tools: probably were
they on board because of their material value, having
been collected like the other things.
In this part of France, metallurgical processing
seems to have started in the 8th century B.C. There is
evidence for the collecting of scrap metal, which was
traded like a raw material50. Settlements were located
next to the copper mines in the hinterland and soon developed exchange relations to the coast, where bronze
objects and smelting tools are attested. From the second half of the 6th century B.C. onward there appeared
the dpts launaciens, a series of hoards which mainly
contained copper and bronze, and amongst which were
found items made of recycled metals51. It is unclear
which merchants were involved in the metals trade. For
a long time, the idea of Phoenicians in southern Gaul
had been disputed because of missing evidence. There
are, however, clear indications for exchange relations
between southern Gaul and Spain, since Gaulish objects have been found in the Ebro valley and next to
Ampurias52. Most of these items date to the 6th century B.C., while some are older, so it can be assumed
that this connection was established at least in the 7th
century B.C. On the Languedoc side, a strong Iberian
influence can be noted during the following 200 years
via the ceramics, weapons, and craftwork, thus demonstrating that this was a two-way exchange53. The involved merchants probably were locals, Phoenicians
and Greeks. Etruscans can be excluded from regular
trade given the rarity of Etruscan objects in Spain.
Nevertheless, they were present in the south of France,
which is underscored in particular by the Etruscan
shipwreck found near Antibes54. The vessel at Rochelongues is also sometimes referred to as Etruscan.
However, there is more evidence for a link with Phoenician Spain, since the recovered Iberian items indicate
that it passed by the Iberian coast, which could have
been the starting point of the journey. Perhaps it was
related to the Phoenician metal trade, and its cargo destined to some collecting center in Catalonia, possibly
on the south coast. Nevertheless, uncertainties remain
and the shipwreck has been interpreted only on the basis of the recovered artifacts. In the future, analysis of

the metals and ingots in particular could provide valuable information.

The presented shipwrecks differ by type, size,
cargo and route. However, recurrent elements can be
First of all, a series of objects which were found
on all ships, with the exception of Rochelongues, are
assumed to have been used by the crew, in particular
ceramics and above all coarse wares. The cases of Tanit
and Elissa, on which few utilitarian ceramics were found
in the presence of a huge quantity of similar amphoras, are particularly obvious: it is highly improbable that
these rare and often unique objects were destined for
exchange. Use wear is not reported but would, if noted,
underscore this aspect. Even though the basic data is
limited, a few preliminary hypotheses can be proposed.
First, it is interesting that cooking pots were found on
Tanit and Elissa while they are missing in Mazarrn,
where there were only ceramic and organic containers. This might advance the supposition that the cargo
ships had a cabin or kitchen and went for long journeys
without having to go ashore, whereas the smaller boats
undertook short trips which did not require cooking
on board. In addition, a few items which were repeatedly found could indicate that they belonged to basic
ship equipment: not only anchors and ropes, but also
mortaria and grinding stones55 recovered on at least
49 For instance fibulae similar to a type of the mid-6th century
B.C. known from Agullana, Spain: P. de Palol, La necrpolis
hallstttica de Agullana (Gerona) (Madrid 1958) 73 fig. 3. 213.
50 J. Ruiz de Arbulo Bayona, Santuarios y comercio martimo en
la pennsula ibrica durante la poca arcaica, Quaderns de Prehistria i arqueologia de Castell 18, 1997, 520.
51 D. Garcia, Le territoire dAgde grecque et loccupation du sol
en Languedoc central durant lAge du fer, in: P. Arcelin M.
Bats D. Garcia et al. (eds), Sur les pas des Grecs en Occident Hommages Andr Nickels. Collection tudes massalites 4 = Travaux du Centre Camille-Jullian 15 (Paris 1995)
52 O. Arteaga J. Padr E. Sanmart, La expansin fenicia por
las costas de Catalua y del Languedoc, AulaOr 4, 1986, 303
53 For instance B. Dedet, Le premier ge du fer dans le Languedoc mditerranen, in: J.-P. Mohen (ed.), Le temps de la prhistoire 1 (Dijon 1989) 456.
54 C. Albore Livadie, Lpave trusque du Cap dAntibes, RstLig
33, 1967, 300326.
55 The same remark can be made for later ships, for instance of
the Roman world, and on which grinding stones are very often
found. Sometimes, however, they can be interpreted as trade
items, like on the shipwreck in Kyrenia. H. Wylde Swiny M.
L. Katzev, The Kyrenia Shipwreck: A fourth-century B.C.
Greek Merchant Ship, in: D. Blackman (ed.) Marine Archaeology (London 1973) 342.

Phoenician Shipwrecks of the 8th to the 6th century B.C. Overview and Interim Conclusions

2wrecks (Elissa, Mazarron-2), and perhaps amphoras

for drinking water, as it has been suggested that the
amphora at Bajo de la Campana was tied to the mast.
Furthermore, all the ships were mainly used for
carrying freight. The cargoes were homogeneous in
four of six cases, thus indicating a specialization of the
merchant, the planning and organization of journeys
for specific trade items, or possibly even a single initiator and destination. The traded products often were
not Phoenician, which emphasizes the role of these
merchants as middlemen.
In addition, these ships tell us essential information
about their routes. That two similar wrecks were found
in Ashkelon indicate that they were sailing as a fleet,
possibly for better protection against pirates or storms,
or because a large amount of goods had to be delivered
at the same time. Besides, it is certainly of importance
that the three wrecks in Spain were located on the main
sailing route between Tyre and Huelva, which was an
important axis; Tanit and Elissa had possibly taken a
secondary route along the North African coast, which
is also known from literary sources. Only the ship at
Rochelongues was found at an unexpected location,
demonstrating that the old standard route maps are
obsolete. Even though general trends must be noted,
it is important to become aware of the multiplicity of
routes going all around the Mediterranean and also beyond Gibraltar56.
Until today, the organization of Phoenician maritime trade is only partially known. Whereas literary
sources like the Old Testament57, on one hand, cite
kings controlling trade, they on the other hand also
evoke private merchants assembled into corporations58.
Perhaps were there two economic systems operating in
parallel. Possibly the shipwrecks in Ashkelon could be
linked to a centralized structure, under state control
and directly related to the long-distance trade. In contrast, the smaller ships in the western Mediterranean
could be interpreted on the level of micro-economies,
which seem to have existed from Huelva to the Ebro
valley and involved multiple activities from metal extraction and processing until the transport of the metal
to a storehouse and its integration in the redistributive
system. Regardless of the precise interpretation, it is
evident that it is not suitable to speak of the Phoenician trade as a simple and single matter. Diverse routes,
markets, goods and also differences in the means local boat or cargo ship demonstrate a multiplicity of
small and large exchange networks.

Future prospects
Amongst the aspects quickly deserving further investigation, the provenience of raw materials and artifacts is a priority. Indeed, the limits of traditional methods have been reached in the past years. Even though
petrographic analysis, for example, can tell where amphoras were produced, it does not reveal where their
contents came from59 an essential question in particular when relating to Phoenicians who are often attested
to have acted as middlemen collecting their wares from
several places. However, there have been recent innovations in these fields. New methods in molecular biology for instance allow the detection an empty jars
former contents by studying DNA that penetrated into
the clay60. In the field of raw materials, several projects
have been started for the constitution of databases,
thus collecting, for example, information about metal
items and mines61. Indeed, it is most important not
only to study the objects themselves, but also to retrace
their provenience by undertaking extensive geological
surveys and other studies. In the end, traditional and
new methods can be used successfully only if comparative data is available.


I wish to acknowledge the precious help and

constructive suggestions provided by Brbel Morstadt.

56 For an overview of the main routes, refer to M. E. Aubet,

The Phoenicians and the West. Policits, colonies and trade
(Cambridge 1993) 133166. More specifically, Arnaud lists the
routes used in Antiquity: P. Arnaud, Les routes de la navigation
antique: itinraires en Mditerrane (Paris 2005).
57 For instance 1 Kings 9, 26. 1 Kings 10, 11.
58 e. g. the report of Wenamun. Refer to Schipper, see above
n.27, 189191.
59 Concerning general issues about amphora contents, amphora
use and reuse, refer to S. Abdelhamid, Against the ThrowAway-Mentality: The Reuse of Amphoras in Ancient Maritime
Transport, in: H. P. Hahn H. Weiss, Mobility, Meaning and
Transformations of Things. Shifting contexts of Material Culture through Time and Space (Oxford 2013) 91106.
60 This was done for the Chios shipwreck amphoras: B. P. Foley
M. C. Hansson D. P. Kourkoumelis et al., Aspects of Ancient
Greek Trade re-evaluated with Amphora DNA Evidence,
Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 2012, 389398.
61 For example the Corpus rmischer Bleibarren or OXALID.
Z. A. Stos-Gale, Metal provenancing using isotopes and the
Oxford archaeological lead isotope database (OXALID),
Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 1, 3, 2009, 195