Philip Ball in Nature:
Thanks to political tensions easing in Lebanon, archaeologists have finally managed to locate the sites of ancient Phoenician harbours in the seaports that dominated Mediterranean trade thousands of years ago.
By drilling out cores of sediment from the modern urban centres of these cities, geologists have mapped out the former coastlines that the sediments have long since buried. From this they have pinpointed the likely sites of the old harbours, and have marked out locations that, they say, are in dire need of exploration and conservation.
The modern cities of Tyre and Sidon on the Lebanese coast were once the major launching points of the seafaring Phoenicians. They were to the ancient world what Venice, Shanghai, Liverpool and New York have been in later times: some of the greatest of the world’s ports, and crucial conduits for trade and cultural exchange. From the harbours of the Phoenician cities, ships carried precious dyes and textiles, soda and glass throughout the Mediterranean and beyond.