Phoenician Navigation

Phoenicians: First in Celestial Navigation, Using Polaris, the North Star

Ousoôs and Hypsouranios:  Sailors of Tyre connected East and West
  • Two brothers, native of Tyre.
  • Ousoôs: construction of the first Tyrian ship – first sailor!

Celestial Navigation is the art and science of navigating by the stars, sun, moon, and planets, and is one of the oldest of human arts. A few people have excelled as seafarers, among them: the Phoenicians from Tyre, Leader city of Phoenicia commonly known under the name of queen of the seas.

The Phoenicians were particularly adept sailors and learned to voyage further and further away from the coast in order to reach destinations faster. Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters by observing the sun and the North Star (Polaris) to navigate away from the sight of land and to sail at night. This constellation, called by the Greeks “Phoeniké” and by the ancient writers the “Phoenician Star” and now known as Polaris or the North Star. 

The history of this time period is mainly a history of Tyre.  Tyrian merchants ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and found its colonies spread around the Mediterranean and Atlantic such as on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the Aegean Sea, in Greece, in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus, even beyond the pillars of Hercules at Gadeira (Cádiz)", on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage,  Iberian Peninsula, Portugal and other places bringing to the city of Tyre a flourishing maritime trade. 

This is beginning of the phase of civilization known as the Iron Age and thought to have helped to bring about a renaissance of culture and international trade that corresponded with the spread of the Canaanite alphabet. Herodotus credits ( Phoenician prince, son of Agenor, and the king of Tyre) for bringing the Phoenician alphabet to Greece.