It turned out that the basin, located in the ancient city of Motya to the Phoenicians in Sicily and thought as an artificial military port for many years, was a religious temple built by aligning with the stars.
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Striking new data has been released regarding new findings regarding the ruins of the ancient city of Motya, located on the west coast of Sicily.
Motya was a bustling port during the first millennium BC. Here, the enclave of temples and shrines was frequented by Phoenician residents traveling from Lebanon to the Mediterranean. Although Motya has been researched for a century, new secrets of the ancient settlement are being revealed.
But a rectangular basin long believed to have functioned as an artificial harbor to protect naval ships and participate in trade turned out to be something else entirely: a temple built perfectly aligned to the stars.
Larger than an Olympic swimming pool, the basin was rebuilt in 550 BC with Motya after it was destroyed in the attack of Carthage, another Phoenician colony in Tunisia. The city was later abandoned during the Roman period. Since its discovery in the 1920s, the pool was thought to be a "kothon", an artificial military port.
Ania Kotarba, a senior lecturer in archeology at Flinders University, says the kotho is quite common in the Mediterranean.
Recent excavations and decades of research led by archaeologist Lorenzo Nigro of the Sapienza University of Rome and published this month in the journal Antiquity have uncovered clues that suggest the pool is the heart of a sprawling religious site. Nigro says perceptions of watersheds "have changed drastically" since his team's research. It is stated that this settlement, which was thought to be a port for centuries, could soon be interpreted as “a sacred pool at the center of one of the largest cult complexes of the pre-classical Mediterranean”.
“Storms are sailors' worst enemies, and the god of storms can disrupt their voyage,” the researchers wrote. Therefore, it is not unexpected that important temples are dedicated to Ba'al and they are of astronomical significance.” A 3-meter statue of Ba'al once stood in the center of the pool. its body was discovered in a nearby lagoon in the 1930s, and blocks of stone used for its feet were found at the edge of the pool.
The re-exploration of the basin began 12 years ago, when archaeologists discovered the remains of a temple to the god Ba'al where they hoped to find port-related items. The widely used Semitic word Ba'al, meaning "Lord", is often likened to the Greek god Orion, who is believed to exist as a constellation among the stars, while Ba'al is associated with the storm god in the Phoenician period.
According to the news of The Guardian, archaeologist Nigro, quoting Leonardo da Vinci, says, “The only good mirror in ancient times was water,” adding: “It became clear that the function of the basin was a pool made for watching the stars, reflecting them like a mirror.”
After mapping the site, the research team also found Motya's star-aligned configuration. Accordingly, important works were aligned with the constellations. The temple of Ba'al aligns with the rise of the constellation Orion at the winter solstice.
“We cannot use current science to understand this ancient science,” Nigro said. But they can teach us that there is diversity in science. There may be solutions for us in it. The Phoenicians colonized and built cultures and civilizations. They built roads, they crossed seas, but they never destroyed their environment,” he says, adding: “We are the only civilization that destroys the environment. We have to ask, are we the ones with more science or are they?