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Document Details :

Title: 'She Who Treads on Water'
Subtitle: Religious Metaphor in Seafaring Phoenicia
Author(s): RICH, Sara A.
Journal: Ancient West & East
Volume: 11    Date: 2012   
Pages: 19-34
DOI: 10.2143/AWE.11.0.2175876

Abstract :
Using iconographical and textual analyses, this paper proposes that Phoenician merchant vessels bore the embodiment of the Canaanite goddess Asherah, ‘She who treads on water’, in the form of the ships’ masts. Masts were constructed exclusively of cedar wood, as were the physical substitutes for the goddess Asherah, asherim. It is suggested that sailing masts shared a common physical form and metaphysical function with ‘Asherah poles’ of the Old Testament. The metaphorical presence of the goddess in the ship’s mast-asherah empowered sailors to control better the unpredictable forces of the water and sky upon which seafaring Phoenicia was so dependent.

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