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Treasure trove of ancient Phoenician artifacts uncovered in Lebanon

Treasure trove of ancient Phoenician artifacts uncovered in Lebanon

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Archaeologists have unearthed a treasure trove of ancient Phoenician artifacts at an archaeological site in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, according to a news report in The Daily Star of Lebanon. The findings included a 4-foot-high statue of a Phoenician priest dating back more than 2,500 years. According to the excavation leader, it is the most unique find for Lebanon in decades.

The Phoenicians were the direct descendants of the Canaanites of the south Syrian and Lebanese coast who, at the end of the second millennium BC, became isolated by population and political changes in the regions surrounding them. The name derives from the Greek, Phoinikes, referring to the purple coloured dye which the Phoenicians extracted from the murex shell, and with which they produced highly prized textiles.  Phoenicia was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean and pioneered the development of multi-tiered oared shipping throughout the region.

A Phoenician Gall

A Phoenician Gall.

The discovery of the Phoenician artifacts was made at the Freres College site, which has been under excavation for 16 years. The most significant finding was the statue of a priest dating back to the 6 th century BC, depicted with a pleated kilt, known as a “shenti,” with a pendant flap from the waist to the kilt’s hem. The left hand is in a closed fist and holding an unknown object, believed to be either a scroll or a handkerchief.

“Nothing comparable has been found in Lebanon since the early 1960s, and only three other examples originating from Sidon, Umm al-Ahmed and Tyre are housed in the Beirut National Museum,” said head of the excavation, Claude Doumit Serhal.

In addition to the statue, researchers found a bronze symbol representing the Phoenician goddess Tanit, Roman-era figurines of Osiris, three new rooms in a third millennium B.C. public building, along with a 200-kilogram deposit of charred wheat called einkorn, 160 kilograms of broad bean and 20 burials belonging to both adults and infants from the second millennium B.C.

Featured image: A worker shows one of the statuettes found at the Freres College excavation site in the southern city of Sidon, Credit: The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari

By April Holloway

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