Search form

About The Blogger

Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
Back to Blog

Using the News to learn about History - Phoenician Ship Discovered

The Phoenicians (1550 BC-300 BC) were the first known sea traders in history and developed the first known alphabet. They also created a purple dye that became famous around the known world! When the sea traders sailed to regions near the Mediterranean Sea, they shared their alphabet and purple dye with those they met.

In the News. 2023

An Archaeological team found what is considered to be a 2500 year old Phoenician ship in the waters off of Spain. The shipwreck, found in the area of Murica was buried in sediment, in the Mediterranean Sea, for thousands of years. Construction in the area changed sea currents and the ship was released from its hiding place. Archaeologists are studying the ship , called the Mazarron 11, to see if it can be raised as it is only about 6 ft. under the water. If all goes well, a retrieval of the Phoenician ship is possible later this year.

Learn more and see a video clip:

Did You Know?

1. A lower jaw was found to have evidence of braces suggesting the early Phoenicians had knowledge of dentistry.

2. The Phoenicians raised elephants.

3. Evident suggests that Phoenicians may have gotten as far north as Cornwall, Great Britain searching for tin to bring back for the making of bronze.

4. There is evidence that the Phoenician sea traders went as far north as the current country of Spain.

5. The famous queen, Cleopatra ,is said to have had a purple sail on her ship.

6. The Roman emperor Nero passed a law permitting only him, the emperor, to wear the color purple! 

7. Archaeologists have found evidence of homes dating back 7000 BC in the Phoenician city of Gebeil. This may be the world’s oldest city.

8.The Phoenicians may have used the North Star for navigation.

9.Squeezing a gland of the murex, a spiral shellfish, they got a few drops of a yellowish liquid. When exposed to the sun, the liquid turned a bluish-red. It took an estimated 10,000 murex to make ONE piece of clothing. Called Tyrian Purple, it was very expensive to own any fabric in this color! 

10. Hanno, the Navigator, was a Phoenician explorer(@480 BCE) who may have sailed into the Atlantic Ocean from the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea and down the western coast of Africa.

11. The first alphabet, of 22 letters, came from then Phoenicians. The Greeks added 4 more letters.

12. The Phoenicians became known for glassblowing and traded their glass products with those they met.



1. The Phoenician liked to share stories of sea monsters that lived in the Mediterranean Sea. One such creature was the hippocamp (hippocampus). It was said to have a head of a horse and the long tail of a fish. Why do you think the Phoenicians talked about sea monsters with people they met?

2. Check out this recipe to make purple dye:

3.Try writing something using the Phoenician alphabet:


4. When different cultures meet, ideas are exchanged. Can you think of examples of idea and things that were exchanged through “Culture Contact”?

Other resources on the Phoenicians:

1. Phoenicians, a webquest : This resource will be a positive addition as an introduction/review to the first sea traders of the ancient world. The Phoenicians developed an alphabet which they shared to other cultures in their travels around the Mediterranean Sea. They developed the color purple and were skilled in glassmaking. Their sea traders may have traveled as far as Britain and down the coast of Africa, in a time when there were no navigational tools.

2. Purple Game: The Phoenicians were the first to use the color purple: 1. Need a fun activity that involves kids finding answers that have PURPLE in it or are the color PURPLE? THERE are 17 statements in the complete PURPLE Game Activity. You can do this activity in one class, over a couple of days if being used as a end of the period activity or over a couple of days, if you wish to do the extension activities:

3. Hannibal, a Reading Activity: With this biographical reading passage, students will learn about Hannibal, the famous general of ancient times. Studying the Phoenicians? Studying Ancient Rome and the Punic Wars? This resource would be a great addition! There is a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions, map activity and a teacher page with extensions and links and the key:

4. Phoenicians, A Mini Unit: This mini unit with notes and activities and links covers an introduction to the Phoenicians and their contributions to the world.

5. BUNDLE on Phoenicians: (Webquest is not included in this bundle)

6. Learn about Hanno, the Phoenician Sea Explorer:


By Gail Skroback Hennessey     

FREE Download: Using the News to learn about history: Learn about the Phoenicians


Illustrations with permission from