The Phoenicia, a replica 600 BC Phoenician merchant ship, sailed gracefully into Marsamxett harbour today on one of the final legs of an expedition covering 17,000 miles around Africa.

The 20m long vessel, built using traditional methods, arrived from Carthage.

It is recreating the first circumnavigation of Africa achieved some 2,600 years ago.

Malta was an important trading outpost of the Phoenician people, who at the time were regarded as 'rulers of the sea'. They occupied what is now Lebanon and the coastal parts of Syria and Palestine.The Phoenician sphere of influence spread throughout the Mediterranean and their trading activities reached as far as Cornwall for tin, and Indian and China for spices and precious goods.

Greek Historian Herodotus had told how, in 600 BC, Phoenician mariners achieved the first circumnavigation of Africa, a voyage into unknown waters previously considered too dangerous to attempt.

Led by Philip Beale, the British Captain and Adventure Travel Director and an international crew of 11, Phoenicia is attempting to show how Phoenician mariners could have achieved the first circumnavigation of ancient Africa 2,500 years ago.

The replica 600 BC vessel was constructed in Arwad, Syria, using information from a 6th century Mediterranean wreck, its only concession to the present being modern navigation equipment.

The Phoenicia is berthed at Manoel Island and leaves on Monday.

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