Rewriting history: Phoenician ‘harbour’ revealed to be religious site that aligns with the stars Off the west coast of Sicily lies the remains of the ancient city of Motya. There, a compound of temples and shrines offers a window into the life of Phoenicians settlers who journeyed from Lebanon across the Mediterranean in the first millennium BC.
While it has been studied for a century, the site is still giving up new secrets. Earlier this month a rectangular basin, long-believed to have served as an artificial harbour for protecting naval ships and participating in trade, was revealed to be something else entirely – a religious site, designed and constructed to perfectly align with the stars.
The basin, larger than an Olympic-sized swimming pool, was rebuilt in 550 BC along with Motya after it was destroyed in an attack by Carthage, another Phoenician colony from across the sea. The city was then abandoned in Roman times. (read on)