We are studying ancient history this year so I was rather excited when I found that a lifesize model of a Phoenician ship was moored in St Katharine's Dock, London.
The Phoenicians came from the Lebanon area and were great sailors and merchants. They are mentioned in the Bible for their alliances with Kings David and Solomon and brought materials for building of Solomon's Temple in their boats. They are also responsible for the first known circumnaviagtion of Africa which is said to have been commissioned by the Egyptians in 600BC and recorded by the Greek historian, Herodotus over a hundred years later.
The replica ship, the Phoenicia, uses construction techniques from a wreck of a Phoenician ship. Despite the wreck, the Phoenician construction, using carpentry joints, was apparently much better than the ships of other nations of the time who used ropes to hold their ships together.
Just to prove this really worked, the replica has been sailed all round Africa and then onto the UK. Quite impressive-they had a few modern features: a compass and an engine for getting into ports but generally, the ship used sail power.
The crew are enthusiastic and keen to show people round both the ship and the exhibition in the bows where the cargoes would have originally been stored. They had a few amphorae around to demonstrate.
The boat isn't large but worth seeing. The day we visited tours were free but according to the website there usually is a charge. The exhibition is only open until 30th September 2012. For people on the other side of the Pond, there are plans to sail over and tour the Americas in 2014. I haven't found any details of where the ship will dock.
Just to add to our day out, there was a Chinese junk also moored in St Katharine's docks. We were able to go on board-a fun reminder of Ping.