‘Ayin: the Phoenician Eye

‘Ayin: the Phoenician Eye

‘Ayin is the sixteenth letter of the Semitic alphabet common to Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic etc. In the Phoenician alphabet the ‘ayin was an eye-shaped letter and the word meant “eye”.This meaning still survives in the modern Semitic languages Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic and Maltese. The ancient Phoenician and Carthaginians ships had always two eyes painted on either side of the bow and they were meant to allow the ship to see the route it was taking. Nowadays this decoration is still largely used by fishermen to decorate their boats such as the Maltese luzzu and the Sicilian guzzu in those areas of Sicily, Trapani and Pantelleria, where the Phoenicians and Carthaginians ruled from the 8th to the 3rd century BC. A simple decoration that reveals strong Semitic influences in Malta and Western Sicily.

 

Gianluca D’Alia, Paesaggio Sicilia Tours

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