Skip to comments.So How Far Did The Phoenicians Really Go In The Region?
Posted on 02/23/2004 8:55:51 AM PST by blam
So how far did the Phoenicians really go in the region?
In one of the early adventures of Asterix and Obelix, a Phoenician trade ship takes the worlds funniest Celtic warriors from the Gauls last village free from Roman rule to Queen Cleopatra in the land of the Nile. Now, of course this is but an image in a comic book, but still, is it possible that the Phoenicians, generally known as the greatest seafarers of antiquity, actually reached Brittany, or even further?
Theres no doubt that Phoenicians were well established all over the Mediterranean. Archeological remains prove they lived in a vast network of cities at Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Spain and the African coast, where Carthage became the powerbroker of the western Mediterranean till the rise of Rome.
Archeological finds take us even further, past Gibraltars Pillars of Hercules, to Phoenician settlements on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and Portugal. But thats it. So far no physical proof of any further exploits has been found. However, there are some spectacular written sources.
First of all, there are two Latin texts that relate of the journey of Himilco, who in the 5th century BC sailed from Carthage around Iberia (Spain) to northern Europe. According to these sources, Himilco did not go ashore in Brittany to pick up any Celtic warriors, but crossed the Channel to Great Britain.
Its a story not that unlikely, said Helen Sadr, professor of Archeology at the American University of Beirut. The Phoenicians always had a keen interest in precious metals and Britain was renowned for its tin, which was already traded over land. Whats more, finds in Britain prove close contacts with Iberia, which for centuries was a colony of Carthage. Combine that with the Phoenician settlements found in Portugal and a journey to England is not that far-fetched.
A second story about Phoenician exploits stems from the Greek father of history Herodotus. In a chapter on the worlds (three) continents in Histories, he writes that as for Libya (Africa), we know it to be washed on all sides by the sea, except where its attached to Egypt. This discovery was made by Necos, the Egyptian king, who sent to sea a number of ships manned by Phoenicians, with orders to make it to the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) and return to Egypt.
According to Herodotus the Phoenicians sailed south from the Red Sea. Every autumn they went ashore, sowed corn and waited till it was ripe to set to sail again. It took them three years to get back to Egypt. On their return, Herodotus writes, they declared I for my part do not believe them that in sailing around Libya they had the sun upon their right hand.
It should be noted that Herodotus, who was born in the 5th century BC, is also known as the father of lies and indeed some of his stories, such as on the man-sized desert ants of Persia, are just fables. He himself said that my business is to record what people say, Im by no means bound to believe it. What furthermore speaks in his favor, is that no one believed his accounts of Amazons and a man-made canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, until archeologists proved both actually existed.
To the Greek historian the changed position of the sun in the southern hemisphere was just too much to believe. It is precisely for that remark, said Sadr, that most scholars believe the story is probably true.
Third, theres the journey of Hanno, which stems from a Greek text of the 10th century AD. Thats a bit late for a trip that took place some 1,500 years earlier, yet what makes the text plausible are the incredible details described, which were not generally known in 1,000 AD. According to the text, which is said to be a translation from a much older Phoenician tablet, Hanno set sail from Carthage with 60 ships.
After sailing beyond the Pillars of Hercules, Hanno founded several cities on the coast of todays Morocco. They passed a river called the Lixos, took translators aboard and sailed for days along a large desert coast until they reached a small island called Cerne, which was situated in the mouth of a large river.
According to Hanno, Cerne was as far from the Pillars as is Carthage.
Most scholars agree that the description fits Somalia, and several other texts confirm that the Phoenicians used to trade with Cerne. Sailing onto the river, Hanno and his men saw mountains crowded with savages clad in skins of wild beasts and reached a second big river teeming with crocodiles and hippos.
They returned to Cerne and sailed further south. Passing the coast, which is described as mountainous, clad with trees and inhabited by Ethiopians they reach a large bay where they went ashore. By day we could see nothing but forest, but by night we saw many fires burning and we heard the sound of flutes and the beating cymbals and drums, and a great din of voices. Fear came upon us and our soothsayers bade us to leave.
And so they did. Further south they reached a fiery coast with great streams of fire and lava pouring down into the sea. The dubbed the volcano Chariot of the Gods and continued their journey, till they reached another bay with an island full of savages.
By far the greater number were women with shaggy bodies whom our interpreters called gorillas. They were unable to catch any of the men, but caught three women, who bit and mangled those who carried them off. Hannos men decided to kill them and take but their skin to Carthage.
The lively description of the green African coast most probably refers to Cape Verde and Gambia, while the volcano can only be in Guinea or even Cameroon. Again, seeing the settlements in Morocco, and the many existing references to Cerne, most scholars believe the story is true. If so, the many Lebanese living in West Africa are perhaps but following in the footsteps of their ancie- nt ancestors.
Unfortunately, as both Tyre and Carthage were destroyed to the ground, the main sources of Phoenician civilization were forever lost to mankind. We can only imagine what our view of history would be, if the Greek and Romans had done a less thorough job. Some say, the Phoenicians also sailed to India and even reached America.
Now, the latter is most probably a bit too far-fetched, but fact is, that even if only half the stories above is true, the history and map of the world, both of which are predominantly European, may have to be reviewed considerably. So, the Street of Magelaen, named after the Portuguese explorer, south of the African continent may have to be called Phoenician Street.
Peter Speetjens is a Beirut-based freelance writer
Have you heard anything about descendants of these "Celtic laborers" wanting reparations from descendants of the Phoenicians?
Okay...keep in touch.
He says, that whenever you see a man from the Mediterranean region, whether from Lebanon, or Greece, or Italy, or France, Spain, Egypt etc. If he is short, pudgy and bald, "he is one of us", says my friend.
It's kinda funny, but it may be true.
"Scientists and engineers estimate that it would have required 10,000 men 1,000 years to develop the extensive operations carried on throughout the region. It is estimated that 1.5 billion pounds of copper were mined by these unknown people."
That does not fit my image of Phoenicians...
Nashville, where they made that album.
So, what does it mean?
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this ping list.
Archeologists proved that Amazons existed? Great Hera!
Yes; and the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 also mentions a number of nations on the trade route between the Red Sea and India. Josephus comments on this in Book I Chapter 6 of his Antiquities of the Jews, where he mentions, "Shem, the third son of Noah, had five sons, who inhabited the land that began at Euphrates, and reached to the Indian Ocean." Also, Herodotus mentions this interesting fact about the Phoenicians in the opening sentences of Book I of his History:
According to the Persians best informed in history, the Phoenicians. . .had formerly dwelt on the shores the Erythraean Sea [Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf], having migrated to the Mediterranean and settled in the parts which they now inhabit, began at once, they say, to adventure on long voyages, freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria. They landed at many places on the coast, and among the rest at Argos, which was then pre-eminent above all the states included now under the common name of Hellas [Greece].
Poor souls really t'd off some feminazis.
Hannos men decided to kill them and take but their skin to Carthage.
They obviously knew how to put these NOW/NAG initiates in their place.
Could you please point out those similarities? My knowledge on South American tribes is pretty sketchy, but what you've said sounds very very interesting.
I was thinking of North and Central American tribes moreso than South, though that might also make for interesting comparison. I'm afraid I don't have my notes on this handy, so I will need to look up some things to get the details accurate, but off the top of my head for the sake of discussion, it seems like the similarities I noticed were in things like dress/fashion, warfare customs (incl. dress/fashion related to warfare customs like warpaint--I believe warpaint was one of the first things I noticed that got me thinking about this subject), burial customs, and certain religious elements. I'm trying to find a good link right now that sums up some of this stuff. This link isn't precisely on that subject, but it includes some relevant information:
Ancient Tatooed People of Central Asia
TATTOOED MUMMIES OF CENTRAL ASIA
Mummies have been found in Central Asia! Though these curious Caucasian mummies in the deserts of western China were first discovered by Western archaeologists in the early 20th century, they were considered anomalies---perhaps just ancient travelers or immigrants. Over the past thirty years Chinese archeologists have unearthed hundreds more of these mummified Caucasoids (as well as abundant skeletal remains amounting to thousands of ancient individuals) in the Tarim basin of Central Asia. The Tarim is in the huge Taklamakan desert in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, formerly known as eastern Turkestan.
Today the ancient Chinese texts which speak of legendary tall people with red hair and green eyes (formerly denigrated as mere "myths") are being reinterpreted. They are not just imaginary tales as has been assumed until recently, but they tell of the very real Tocharian-branch Indo-European people, relatives of the Celts and Scythians, who possibly controlled the Silk Road during Middle and Egyptian New Kingdom times, and down to the Classical Greek era. They certainly would have been involved in the transmission of technology and culture between East and West at a very early date.
The time span of the Central Asian Caucasoids is from 2500 BC to 400 B.C. The location is within a few hundred miles of the Altai "Scythian" burials which date from approximately 500-300 BC. There is definitly some connection here. There is also a connection between the Taklamakan people and the Crimean Scyths, the Celts and the Picts. They likely influenced the "indigenous" tattooing of the tribal peoples of India, and possibly are antecedent to the Jomon culture of Japan (ancestors of the tattooed Ainu). There is credible evidence that some of the tattooing tribes of northern Asia migrated eastward to become certain tribes in the Americas as well.
Compare that with this:
But in interpreting these comments, it must be understood that the classical "anthropological" tradition involved a great deal of repeating and interpreting the claims of earlier writers, and extremely little direct observation and eye-witness report. An example of the pseudo-history repeated by Bede claims a Scythian origin for the Picts, but this seems no more than an attempt to connect them with another people described in classical writings as "Picti". Other pseudo-histories carefully list wanderings and emigrations of "the Picts" that would connect them with every place or ethnic name resembling "pict" (such as the Pictones of Gaul, whose name became modern Poictou) and every mention of skin-painting or tattooing. A great deal of the material repeated by Isidore and Bede and similar writers is demonstrably false. Other parts can be corroborated by archaeological methods. But any use of this sort of material must involve several large grains of salt. Of all the early writers that mention "painting", only Caesar seems to have been an eye-witness, and his observations would have been concerned with the inhabitants of southern Britain, the Celtic peoples that he explicitly calls "Britanni".
That's just one example I happen to have handy. I will need to collect my notes on some others. Here's one other I happen to have at hand which is on a slightly different aspect of this. I was relating this to some of the discussion of ancient American runes in Barry Fell's work:
When Bisop Wulfila made his translation of the Bible into fourth century Gothic, he rendered St. Mark's "the mystery of the kingdom of God" using "runa" for "mystery.
Eight centuries earlier, when Greek historian Herodotus traveled around the Black Sea, he encountered descendants of Scythian tribesmen who crawled under blankets, smoked themselves into a stupor, and cast marked sticks in the air and "read" them when they fell. These sticks were used as Rune sticks.
There is no firm agreeement among scholars as to where and when runic writing first made its appearance in Western Europe. Before Germanic peoples possessed any form of script, they used pictorial symbols that they scratched onto rocks.
By 100 AD the Runes were already becoming widely known on the European Continent. They were carried from place to place by traders, adventurers, and warriors, and eventually by Anglo-Saxon missionaries.
So the Phonecians made it all the way to the SF Bay Area...
But I think that was with Dido. Everyone knew she was easy.
And as a result, because Dido was so easy to catch, within two centuries of the Phoenicians landing in the New World, the Dido became extinct. Today the Dido is only seen in museums, and bad music videos.
The Phoenicians were also able to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Not their local bulk cruisers, mind you, I'm talking about the big Corellian ships now.
Naw, only made it to Arizona where to this day the city of Phoenix they founded still stands ;-)
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