Friday, 12 February 2010

Another non-rowing ancient ship 're-enactment'

I have been riveted by the Phoenicia expedition, a re-enactment of the fabled circumnavigation of Africa by the Biblical voyagers who sailed as far as Cornwall to trade for tin. They have now reached Beira, and their blog is a wonderful evocation of the way sailors on long passages become obsessed with food.
But from a rowing perspective it has been a bit of a disappointment. The replica ship has 20 rowing positions, but the crew is too small to row her at all. And they have an engine, which is an invitation to idleness. As a result, the ship has been becalmed for months at a time. It can't be called an accurate re-enactment because they are operating in an entirely different way to the Phoenician mariners who would have rowed out of any difficulty.
It is just as academically worthless as the recent re-enactment of the Hatshepsut's ship that brought myrhh trees back from the land of Punt.
And the project has become mired in the madness of Levantine politics, of course. The Lebanese, who regard the Phoenicians as their personal heritage, are insensed that the Phoenicia was built in Arwad in Syria, despite the fact that Arwad (Aynook) was just as Phoenician as Tyre or Sidon. They have a rival project, the Europa, which they hope will tour the Med this summer.

No comments: