Ancient Phoenician Boat Craft

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Next up in our ancient history studies is Ancient Phoenicia (Chapter 15 in Story of the World, if you’re following along).  The ancient Phoenicians lived in Canaan, what is now modern day  Lebanon.

They were accomplished traders for their time, sailing their boats around the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, establishing settlements and trading goods such as salt, dyed cloth, cedar wood, clay jugs for wine, glass, horses and more.

The Creek Kids had a great time making and playing with our Phoenician Ship. and playing a Phoenician Trading Game.  For this, we had some help from my niece, Night Owl, who is in her senior year of college as an art major. This is a major advantage when you need someone to fashion you a Phoenician ship out of stuff you have just lying around the house.

We used this picture as our model:

This is from the book The Phoenicians:  Mysterious Sea People, by Katherine E. Reece.

Night Owl made our ship from a large piece of upcycled cardboard, trimmed to look like a ship with the head of a horse at it’s bow.  She turned a kid-size wooden table upside down, wrapped the cardboard around it and fastened it with a combination of string tied to the table legs and packing tape/painters tape to hold the cardboard to the upturned table.

Night Owl and Firefly painted the inside of the ship, covering up the original writing/pictures that were on the cardboard.  The Queen Bee decorated the outside of our ship with markers and bejeweled stickers (why not?).

They made a sail out of paper-covered cardboard, attached to a mast made of an empty wrapping paper roll.  Two more wrapping paper rolls served as the oars, poking out of holes made in the sides of the ship.

Here’s what the inside of the ship looked like when it was finished:

Lastly, we placed the completed ship on top of a wheeled dolly. This enabled us to push it easily on the wood floor of our kitchen.

Once the ship was finished, we played a Trading Game.  Much like the Phoenicians had done, we sailed around the Mediterranean (our kitchen/dining area) trading items in some of the  countries that the ancient Phoenicians sailed to (we chose four:  Canaan, Tunisia, Sicily and Cyprus). Each location had items to trade:

Trading supplies, clockwise from top left: Cedar trees (sticks), horses, purple dyed cloth (purple yarn), salt, glass (flat glass beads) in clay bowl.

The kids took turns sailing the boat from port to port (we hung signs with the name of each country around the kitchen) and working in the ports.  I explained the idea behind trading: Each person shows the other what they have to trade and then they agree on how much of one item they will exchange for another.  We had looked at the area extensively on the map and globe so they would have a visual picture of what we were re-creating.

They loved this game.  I thought they would all want to be in the boat the whole time but it turned out that they all loved working in the “ports” and trading their goods to each other.

We’ll be saving the cardboard shell of the ship and it’s mast and sail for future projects. Maybe we can modify it when we study Vikings?

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