The story of the largest known sacred pool in the Mediterranean

According to scientists, this ancient rectangular basin on the island of Motya was used by Phoenician sailors to Harbor interior artificial or of wedge dried about 2550 years ago. For Lorenzo Nigro, archaeologist from Sapienza University in Rome, he would be the more big Bowl sacred known to world Mediterranean antique. He reports in the magazine Antiquity that Phoeniciansculturally influenced by many Mediterranean societies during their sea voyages, would have placed the basin at the center of a complex religious.

He discovered that the basin and three nearby temples were aligned with the positions of specific stars and constellations on key days of the year, such as the summer and winter solstices. Each of these celestial bodies was associated with a particular Phoenician god.

Nigro suspects that the basin’s reflective surface was used to make comments astronomical by marking the position of the stars with poles. The discovery of objects associated with astronomy in a corner of the pool supports this possibility.

An archaeologist first described the Great Basin about a century ago as a Harbor connected to the sea by a canal.

This proposal has been upset by the excavations and radiocarbon dating carried out since 2002 by Nigro and his collaborators.

“The pool has no not could to serve of Harborbecause it was not connected to the sea”, explains Nigro. He and his team temporarily dried up the basin and discovered that it was fed by sources natural. He explains that it is onlyafter a battle which ended in 396 BC following the conquest of Motya by the Greek invaders that a channel was dug between the basin and a neighboring lagoon.

Through their research, they found a block of stone with the remains of a large carved foot at the edge of the basin suggesting that the pedestal in the center of the basin once supported a statue of Ba’al, a primary Phoenician god.

The Phoenicians had the ability to integrate the deities other peoples in their own religion. Ba’al, for example, was a close counterpart to the divine hero Hercules in Greek mythology. According to archaeologist Susan Sherratt, it is this ability that “was probably one of the keys to their success throughout the Mediterranean”.

The Phoenicians lived in cities in the eastern Mediterranean founded over 3000 years ago. They settled from Cyprus to the Atlantic coast of Spain. Some researchers think they had no not identity cultural Where ethnic unifying.

Nigro disagrees. He suspects these sailors of having created cultures hybrids via of interactions with the groups native. Moreover, the excavations of Myota indicate the creation of a culture Phoenician distinct by these new arrivals.

Much is still unknown about political and social life in Motya, but its Phoenician founders maintained a certain tolerance cultural which lasted at least 4,000 years.


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