Jeffrey P. Emanuel
Perhaps no civilization in history is as associated with the sea as the Phoenicians, whose ships and seafaring ability allowed them to travel, trade, and establish colonies across the Mediterranean. Search and survey operations in the Mediterranean have resulted in the discovery of a limited number of Canaanite, Phoenician, and Punic shipwrecks, which have been found in both deep and shallow water. These assemblages provide valuable evidence of this culture’s critical maritime component, improving our knowledge and understanding of Phoenician and Punic seafaring, while also helping us better understand the written accounts we do possess about these mariners and their activities. Within the last decade in particular, the excavation of the shipwreck at Bajo de la Campana (Spain) has shed new light on Phoenician seafaring and ship construction, while the discovery of the Xlendi Gozo wreck (Malta) has provided new evidence for Phoenician activity in the central Mediterranean. Survey and excavation off the northwest coast of Sicily, in turn, has provided a remarkable material counterpart to the textual evidence for the events at the end of the First Punic War. When combined with the deep-water wrecks off the coast of Ashkelon and the smaller, locally oriented wrecks off the coast of Mazarrón (Spain), a more coherent—albeit still very incomplete—picture of Phoenician and Punic activity begins to take shape.