There is a remarkable sarcophagus that many tourists mistake for an elaborate ancient Egyptian creation. The perception is understandable as this kind of burial is often related to the rulers who lived near the Nile River. But the Tabnit sarcophagus is actually one of the most fascinating artifacts from the mysterious Phoenician culture.
The sarcophagus dates to the 5th century BC. Tabnit, the man who was buried inside it, was a priest of Astarte (Ashtoreth) and a ruler of Sidon. He was an influential king in the period when Egypt was ruled by the 26th Dynasty. The pharaohs of Egypt were already legendary and they inspired many other rulers. Civilizations like the Phoenicians were powerful and rich through trade, and they likely received many cultural ideas from abroad. However, their story still consists many gaps for modern researchers.
The Phoenicians were one of the most mysterious civilizations to live near the Mediterranean Sea. Their territory fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for a very long time and discoveries of Phoenician archaeological sites started a bit later than those of Egypt.
Cross-section of the Ayaa Necropolis. The Tabnit sarcophagus is at the bottom left. (Public Domain)
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