Culture, Beliefs and Commercial Dealings in Ancient Sidon
Joint BM/PEF – Evans Memorial Lecture
Thursday 4 December 2014, 16.00 BP Lecture Theatre Free – booking essential
Claude Doumet Serhal, British Museum
The British Museum in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Lebanon has been excavating in Sidon for the past 15 years. This city state, 30km south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was one of the most important ancient Canaanite and Phoenician coastal cities. However, like other places in modern Lebanon, most of what we knew of its history until now came from contemporary Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Greek records. Events of ritual activity that involve shared food and drink consumption can be identified in Middle Bronze Age Sidon from funerary assemblages as well as from “ritual breakage and burning” of pottery. Prestige items and ritual paraphernalia are also found in the Late Bronze Age reinforcing the Sidon excavation as a reference site for substantiating Middle Bronze Age communal feasts, a fundamental aspect of Levantine archaeology. An important network of maritime traffic with Sidon started in the third millennium BC which then progressed, from as early as the 12th dynasty, through the exchange of Egyptian, Cypriot and Aegean pottery. In the Late Bronze Age, the elites from Sidon exclusively obtained open vessels linked to ceremonial and ritual activities. The Tawosret vessel is one of the first of these dedicated items to illustrate an aspect of international communications not directly linked to religion or trade. All of the above irrefutably adds to a better understanding and a broadening of our knowledge of Levantine archaeology.