Treasure from a Phoenician Shipwreck

Treasure from a Phoenician Shipwreck

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For the past couple of weeks I’ve been blogging about the sights of Málaga, Spain, most notably the popular castles of Alcazaba and Gibralfaro. Less well-known to casual visitors is the Ifergan Gallery, a private collection of ancient art collected by local wealthy collector Vicente Jimenez Ifergan.

I’d like to meet Ifergan, because if I ever get to be rich, this is something I’d do — collect ancient treasures from a dozen different civilizations and open a museum to show them off. The museum, while rather small, has some choice finds from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Iran, Mesopotamia, and more. The most interesting room showcases a large collection of Phoenician terracotta votive statuettes from the 9th to 3rd centuries BC.

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They come from a shipwreck discovered in 1958 off the coast of Lebanon near the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. It is believed that the ship was fleeing the approach of Alexander the Great in 332 BC when it got caught in a storm and sank. Ifergan managed to purchase more than a hundred of the figures. Some show deities or mythological creatures, while most are portraits of actual Phoenicians placed in the temple to pray for them. As such they are a remarkable record of how the Phoenicians saw themselves.

Málaga was one of several Phoenician ports on what is now the Spanish coast. Perhaps some day a similar shipwreck will be found here.

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All photos copyright Sean McLachlan courtesy the Ifergan Gallery.


Sean McLachlan is the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and several other titles. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page. His latest book, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, is a neo-pulp detective novel set in Cairo in 1919.

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