I am not a historian my self, but I like to read history, ancient history. I am reading now about Phoenician civilization.
I noticed in Wikipedia :

the Phoenicians were the major naval and trading power of the region.

then I saw this picture Assyrian Warship
in this picture, were they referring the fishes as their food while they are sailing(hunting fishes) or what ?
then my question is, while the Phoenician were strong naval civilization and sailed to really far places(I heard that they reached america, though not sure about it, I am still reading), how did they eat then while they were on a trip?

  • 6
    Just as a point of fact, according to wikipedia this is an oar-powered Assyrian warship, not a sail-driven Phonecian trading vessel. It could have had sails too, but we can't tell that from this fragment.
    – T.E.D.
    May 21, 2013 at 21:26
  • Whatever he was fed.
    – Oldcat
    Oct 7, 2015 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


The ship depicted in the relief is a warship, not a trading vessel. Notice the soldiers positioned on the upper deck. The round things are shields.

I think the fishes and the crab are not there to suggest the sailors were eating those things. They are decorations meant to indicate the sea. It is common for scenes involving the sea to depict various sea creatures.

Any kind of mission-oriented ship, whether a warship or a trading vessel will not dally to fish. They must carry all the food and water for their journey. When they need more food, they must put into port to buy it. If the ship is in some unknown land the normal procedure is to put ashore and try to find local people with whom to barter for food and water.


I believe I can answer my question. After some Google search I found this:

It is my understanding that it is difficult to fish on a sailing ship. Many fish won't bite a worm or other bait swimming 12-15 knots through the ocean - this isn't a natural mealtime option for them - the bigger fish may (marlins, tuna), but these are very large fish requiring a fishing operation, not a simple sailor fishing for his afternoon cup of chowder. The option then would be to take down the sails, stopping the vessel for a few hours to allow the men to fish (and fish populations tend to be much more plentiful near the coasts, rather than in the shipping lanes of the deep sea), which could take a lot of time and resources and leave the men on the high seas (where weather was their worst enemy) for a longer period of time. Conversely, they could travel nonstop to the nearest port of safety simply by storing food in some of their holds. Read more

So maybe this picture for the Phoenician trade route explains that they tried to stay on the coast so they can either take food from nearby villages or hunt fish on the shore. On the long trips, they probably had to count on corn because such food lasts longer (but a trip to Sicily, for example, seems like it took more than a month, how they were able to survive such trip).

Phoenician trade routes

Perhaps the picture I included in my question means they hunt fish on the shores because there is a crab included on the stone. I guess most of the fishing for the sailor was on the coast. However in the sea, they had to count on hard tack and corn meal because it could last longer

  • "but a trip to Sicily, for example, seems like it took more than a month, how they were able to survive such trip" including a sub-question in an answer isn't exactly great.
    – o0'.
    Dec 11, 2013 at 15:14
  • They may have had something akin to hard tack, but nothing like corn meal because corn wasn't introduced to Europe for 2,000 years after Phonecia was captured by Cyrus the Great.
    – scw
    Feb 13, 2018 at 16:15
  • Everywhere but the US, the English word "corn" is generic for any hard grain -- more generally any small hard, round object. Here in the US, maize was so important the generic word took on a specific meaning. Apr 3, 2018 at 19:41
  • Oh, another thing -- between navigation and sea-worthiness, the ancients preferred to pull ashore each night. They could gather food from the sea or hunt inland -- or buy from locals, because places they landed frequently would certainly end up with communities. Apr 3, 2018 at 19:45

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