The Phoenician Ship Exhibition

Event details

16th June - 30th September 2012
Phoenicia ship, St Katharine Docks

About the event



Even if the Olympics and Jubilee don’t float your boat, there’s another once-in-a-lifetime celebration to experience in London this summer. Lovers of history and the high seas can climb aboard the world premier of an exhibition that’s been seven years in the making. “The Phoenicians: The GreatestAncient Sailors”,is set onboard a replica Phoenician sailing vessel, that, like her counterparts 2,500 years ago, has circumnavigated Africa, with a crew of as little as six at times - and lived to tell the tale.


Passing under Tower Bridge on the 30th May , with the trademark striped single sail, Phoenicia will be moored at St Katherine’s Dock for Summer 2012. Visitors will experience life on board an authentic replica Phoenician ship from 600BC and learn more about the Phoenicians – a population ahead of their time. The exhibition will feature historic artefacts, and media coverage of Phoenicia’s historic circumnavigation of Africa from 2008-2010 re-enacting  Herodotus’s account of the Phoenicians’ making such a voyage in 600 BC. Suitable for all ages it promises to inspire, challenge and educate people from far and wide.


The exhibition tells the story of why the Phoenicians can reasonably claim to be the greatest of all ancient sailors –a coastal race of people from modern day Lebanon and Syria renowned as explorers, traders and innovators. The Phoenicians developed the earliest form of maritime insurance and pioneered trading from one continent to another, which formed the basis of their international wealth and power. They introduced wine and olive oil to western Europe and were major buyers of silver and tin from the Iberian peninsular.

Exhibits  include an example of a mortise and tenon joint (known to romans as the Phoenician joint) and iron nails, still used in construction today, but developed by the Phoenicians, to make robust seaworthy ships, capable of withstanding the worst of the elements.

Those excited by pirates and treasure can gaze upon over 30 ancient, iron, silver and gold coins – and hear tales of how the recent replica expedition has triumphed over Somali pirates and treacherous storms. One crew member recalls, ““As we pulled the attached rope taut, Phoenicia groaned to a sudden halt. We had stopped ten meters from a line of razor sharp rocks that would have sliced through her hull like a knife.”

Exhibition boards bring facts and figures to life. Phoenicia’s construction began in 2007 and since setting sail to circumnavigate Africa  in 2008, she has visited 24 ports in 15 countries, covering over 20,000 nautical miles. The largest number of crew on any leg of the journey was  15 and the total crew numbers were 53, from over 14 countries.


The man behind this epic project is British adventurer, Philip Beale. Philip’s world of adventure started in 1979 when he participated as a teenager in John Blashford-Snell’s Operation Drake followed by stints in the  Royal Navy and the City of London. In 2003-04 he successfully completed the “Borobudur Ship Expedition”, building an 8th century BC Indonesian ship that he sailed to West Africa – illustrating Asian influence on Africa  for which he was awarded Indonesia’s highest honour by President Megawati for services to Indonesian Culture.


 “We are very  excited to bring Phoenicia to the UK  commented expedition leader, Philip Beale. “Visitors to Phoenicia and the The Phoenicians the Greatest ancient Sailors Exhibition will have the opportunity to climb on-board and learn more about Phoenician culture as well as the expedition from 2008-2010.. The journey has been long, the challenges were great, but the rewards have proved inspiring and unforgettable.”


The Phoenicians: The Greatest Ancient Sailors exhibition will be open daily from June 16th  2012 from 10am to 6pm and will cost just £6 per adult, £3 per child and £12 for a family ticket. Special rates are available for schools and educational organisations. Please visit to purchase tickets with discounts for online bookings and for more information.