First, give yourself three minutes to read this article:
The Phoenicians were an ancient civilization that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean around 1500 BCE. They were known for their seafaring skills and played a significant role in trade and commerce. While some historians have suggested that the Phoenicians may have circumnavigated (sailed all the way around) Africa, there are several compelling reasons why this is unlikely.
Firstly, the Phoenicians mostly used their ships to trade along coastal areas. While they were skilled sailors, their ships were not designed for long-distance voyages in the open ocean. They were small and made of wood, with limited room for cargo and navigational equipment. It is doubtful that these ships could have withstood the powerful currents and storms that would have been encountered on a voyage all the way around Africa.
Secondly, the geography of the African continent would have presented significant obstacles to any sailors attempting to navigate it. The Cape of Good Hope, located at the southern tip of Africa, is notorious for its strong currents and unpredictable weather. Even modern-day ships must be very careful when passing through this region. Given the limited navigational equipment available to the Phoenicians, it is unlikely that they would have attempted to cross these dangerous waters.
Finally, there is no real historical evidence to suggest that the Phoenicians ever completed this journey. All surviving records from the era indicate that they were primarily interested in establishing trade routes and colonies in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. There are no surviving records or artifacts that clearly prove that the Phoenicians ever attempted to circumnavigate Africa.
Next, listen to the following lecture:
You have twenty minutes to answer the following question. You can refer to the article as you write your essay. You may not listen to the lecture again.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose specific points made in the reading passage.
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Here is a sample essay:
The article and the lecture are about whether or not the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa. While the author of the reading argues that the Phoenicians could not have undertaken such a voyage, the lecturer believes that they were capable of completing this journey.
First, the author argues that the Phoenician ships were small and made of wood, and lacked navigational equipment. The article states that they would not have been able to withstand the powerful currents and storms of the open ocean. However, the lecturer’s counterargument is that the Phoenician ships were surprisingly sturdy and well-equipped for long voyages. Their wooden hulls were reinforced with metal plates that made them extremely durable, and Phoenician sailors were skilled in repairing and maintaining their ships while at sea.
Secondly, the author argues that the Cape of Good Hope, located at the southern tip of Africa, is well-known for its strong currents and unpredictable weather, making it a challenging region for navigation. In contrast, the lecturer argues that the Phoenicians were skilled navigators who were able to use the stars and other natural landmarks to navigate the open ocean. Additionally, since the Phoenicians set up trading posts along the West African coast, they could have learned about the local geography and currents from residents.
Finally, the article notes that there are no surviving records or artifacts that clearly prove that the Phoenicians ever attempted to circumnavigate Africa. However, the lecturer points to indirect historical records like ancient Egyptian drawings that seem to depict Phoenician ships passing along the coast of North Africa. He also mentions texts by ancient Greek historians that refer to Phoenician sailors completing a voyage around the continent.
This was featured in my YouTube video: