The Phoenicians were a tranquil society that chose a lifestyle of peace and mutual wealth over war and conquest; a trait that was out of place in the violent and war-stricken ancient world, but one that undoubtedly lead to their ultimate success and prosperity. The Phoenicians were a unique and diverse culture that made many developments and advancements in the ancient world, particularly in the development of sea travel – creating ships that could travel farther and faster than any other ships of the time period – craftsmanship in the form of specialty dyes using advanced techniques as well as the creation of blown glass, and the advancements in the trade system by mainly exporting products that were created with an intended buyer in mind.
Of the many advancements the Phoenicians made in the ancient world, the most well known and prolific was the development and enhancement of sea travel. Although they did not reach the height of their power at sea until after 1000 B.C.E.,1 over five hundred years after the true beginning of the Phoenician empire circa 1550 B.C.E.,2 it is obvious that the Phoenicians were the true power at sea in the ancient Mediterranean. They were best known for their cargo ships, which were spaced so as to carry more goods at a time,3 and by 600 B.C.E., the Phoenicians had advanced the classic cargo ship so it no longer had one, but two masts which supported a square sail that was intended to make the steering of the ship easier.4.
Although largely a peaceful society, the Phoenicians were in the possession of long, narrow warships that were powered by oarsmen called galleys.5 These galleys were often equipped with two rows of oarsmen on each side of the ship, as well as a large, sharp point at the front of the ship that would be used for ramming enemy ships in battle.6 .
Although the Phoenicians constructed and were in possession of warships, most of their time spent at sea was spent in exploration and trade.