Archaeology: Before Columbus or the Vikings

Chiseled into a crude stone tablet in the language of the ancient Phoenicians, the mysterious inscription has tantalized scholars for nearly a century. "We are the Sons of Canaan from Sidon, the city of the king," runs the translation. "Commerce has cast us on this distant shore, a land of mountains." The tablet tells of ten Phoenician trading vessels that embarked from the ancient port of Ezion-geber (near the modern Israeli town of Elath) on the Gulf of Aqaba, possibly in the 7th century B.C. Presumably, they sailed through the Red Sea, rounded the tip of Africa, and were...

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