Geoscience rediscovers Phoenicia's buried harbors

January 5, 2006

The exact locations of Tyre and Sidon's ancient harbors, Phoenicia's two most important city-states, have attracted scholarly interest and debate for many centuries. New research reveals that the ancient basins lie buried beneath the medieval and modern city centers.

A network of sediment cores have been sunk into the cities' coastal deposits and studied using high-resolution geoscience techniques to elucidate how, where, and when Tyre and Sidon's harbors evolved since their Bronze Age foundations. In effect, ancient port basins are rich geological archives replete with information on human impacts, occupation histories, Holocene coastal evolution, and natural catastrophes.

Dateable archeological and organic remains provide a chronology for this 8000-year-old story. Analyses identify various stages of harbor evolution from natural sheltered coves during the Bronze Age to human modified environments from the Phoenician period through Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine times.

After the sixth and tenth centuries A.D., tectonic collapse, tsunamogenic impacts, and relative commercial decline meant that the harbors were no longer properly maintained, gradually buried beneath thick tracts of coastal sediment and lost until now. These findings have far-reaching implications for our understanding of Phoenician maritime archaeology and call for the protection of these unique cultural heritages.

Source: Geological Society of America

Explore further: Archaeologists discover shipwrecks, ancient harbor on coast of Israel

Related Stories

New wave of planning for coastal zones

November 24, 2010

Among the traits they share in common -- proximity to the coast, popularity among tourists, renowned, painterly light -- Venice, Italy, and San Diego also share one all-too-disturbing similarity: They are both in considerable ...

Recommended for you

After a reset, Сuriosity is operating normally

February 23, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential ...

Study: With Twitter, race of the messenger matters

February 23, 2019

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the ensuing debate took traditional and social media by storm. University of Kansas researchers have ...

Researchers engineer a tougher fiber

February 22, 2019

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a fiber that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal, resulting in a tougher material that could be incorporated into soft robotics, packaging ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.