Chronicle 26. IBERIAN CROSS-CHECK
/ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ/ Χρονικό 26. ΙΒΗΡΙΚΗ ΔΙΑΣΤΑΥΡΩΣΗ (ΣΤΟΙΧΕΙΩΝ)
● Naucratis ● Adolf Schulten and Dan Stanislawski ● The Trojan War Odysseys ● Metal Attraction ● Cassiterides ● Balearics ● Arganthonios ● Graeco-Tartessian Friendship Against Phoenicians and Punics
ALTHOUGH DAN STANISLAWSKI accepted there were Contacts Between the Ancient Civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and Iberia,(1) he was against the idea of any Aegean presence in the peninsula, and remained faithful to the mainstream scholarly favouritism towards Phoenicia. Commenting on the “claims that there was contact” between Iberia and Crete, he conceded it is “a seductive idea… a reasonable hypothesis”, but “as yet there is no convincing evidence that the Mediterranean island route to the west was used” by Minoans.
- (1) See the beginning of Chronicle 21 with the first paragraph of Chapter 7 from Dan Stanislawski’s Study in Historical-Political Geography: The Individuality of Portugal (1959). His other studies on Portugal are: Portugal’s Other Kingdom: The Algarve (1963), and Landscapes of Bacchus: The Vine in Portugal (1970).
Such tangible, “convincing evidence” in the hands of archaeologists, i.e. a load of Egyptian trade items found in Spain, is of “a somewhat later period”, after the fall of the Minoans, c. 1400-1200 BCE. Although we cannot rule out the possibility of “Phoenician intermediaries”, we must have in mind that in this “somewhat later period” (late Bronze Age), especially in Occidental Mediterranean, sea trade was in the hands of those who brought about the fall of the Minoans, meaning the Mycenaeans – who, strangely enough, are not even mentioned by the American professor! Therefore, his assertion that the Egyptian trade items found in Spain “almost surely may [!] be associated with Phoenician intermediaries”, is anything but scientific.
Besides, the Aegean presence in Egypt, i.e. the origin of these trade items, dates back to at least the Mycenaean times, and possibly further back into the Minoan age, when a trade settlement was founded in the Nile Delta under the aegis of the pharaohs, namely Naucratis (Ναύκρατις). It was the first and, for much of its early history, the only permanent Hellenic colony in Egypt, acting as a symbiotic nexus for the interchange of Egyptian and Grecian trade items, art and culture. When a historian “forgets” the Mycenaeans and Naucratis, it means he’s wearing “Phoenician myopic glasses”!
● Naucratis is located in the Nile Delta, on its westernmost branch, c. 70 km southeast of its mouth, where Alexandria later rose; it was not only the first Greek settlement in Egypt, but also its most important harbour in antiquity until the rise of Alexander’s city. Its first period is obscure, due to the collapse of Mycenaean civilization and the ensuing “Dark ages” (1100-750 BCE). A cultural “renaissance” during the 8th century brought about renewed Hellenic contacts with the Orient and its two important river civilizations of the Nile and Mesopotamia. Herodotus writes that a shrine known as Hellenion was a co-operative enterprise financed by nine Greek poleis: four Ionian (Chios, Clazomenae, Teos and Phocaea), four Dorian (Rhodes, Halicarnassus, Cnidus and Phaselis), and one Aeolian (Mytilene). Miletus, Samos, and Aegina had their own separate sanctuaries. This means that the natives of at least twelve cities of Hellas worked in a collaboration that was not only rare but proved to be lasting.
● The sister port of Naucratis was the harbour town of Heracleion or Thonis, Egypt’s main seaport to Greece, which was only discovered in 2000 by a French underwater archaeologist, Franck Goddio. Its ruins are located 2.5 km off the modern coast. The city was built on some adjoining islands connected with bridges and intersected by canals. It submerged into the sea in the 6th or 7th century CE, probably due to major earthquakes and floods. The “Stele of Naucratis”, with a pharaonic decree, describes Heracleion as a “harbour in the Sea of Hellenes”, referring to the Mediterranean.(2) Its twin “Stele of Heracleion” was recovered in 2000. The city’s Grecian name is linked to a large temple of Khonsu, whom the Greeks identified with Heracles. It is believed the city was visited by the great hero, or even by Paris and Helen on their flight from the jealous Menelaus, before the Trojan war. Heracleion’s mythic wealth was lauded by Homer, as well.
- (2) The Egyptian pharaohs, let’s remind each “spectacled” historian, described the Mediterranean as “the Sea of Hellenes”, not as “the Sea of Phoenicians”!
● A celebrated Thracian hetaera, who lived in Naucratis in the 6th century BCE, was Rhodōpis. According to Herodotus, she was a fellow-slave of the fable teller Aesop, with whom she had a secret love affair. Charaxus, Sappho’s brother, who had gone to Naucratis as a merchant, fell in love with her, and ransomed her from slavery with a large sum of money. Sappho accused Rhodōpis in a poem of robbing her brother of his property. Other lovers – insist Diodorus and Pliny – erected… even a pyramid for her! Rhodōpis (rosy-cheeked), or Doricha, was the model for the original version of the Cinderella story recorded later by Strabo.
● Athenaeus, born in Naucratis, flourishing in the late 2nd – early 3rd centuries CE, was a Greek rhetorician, grammarian and gastronomist. His books have been lost, but a 15-volume synopsis of his 30-volume Deipnosophistae (Banquet Connoisseurs) mostly survives. It is an immense store-house of information, on matters linked to dining, music, songs and dances, games, courtesans, and luxury. Guests included wealthy persons, patrons of art, and scholars, jurists, musicians, and others, as well, who described the lifestyle, the arts and scientific knowledge of the Greeks. In the course of discussing classic authors, they made quotations from nearly 800 writers and 2,500 works, many of them unrecorded. Thus we are entrusted much valuable information about the ancient world and many authors that would be otherwise unknown. (We have consulted Deipnosophistae repeatedly in our Chronicles).
● An Athenaeus’ contemporary, a bit older, was Julius Pollux (Ἰούλιος Πολυδεύκης), also born in Naucratis, flourishing in the late 2nd century CE and living a long life of more than 80 years. He was a grammarian, sophist, scholar and rhetorician, whom Commodus appointed a professor-chair of rhetoric in the Athenian Academy – due to his melodious voice, according to Lives of the Sophists by Philostratus. No work of his rhetoric has survived. His valuable extant work is Onomasticón (Ὀνομαστικόν), a thesaurus, or a dictionary, of Attic synonyms and phrases in ten books, arranged not alphabetically but according to subject-matter. It supplies in passing plenty of rare information on many points of classical antiquity – objects in daily life, the theatre, music, politics – and quotes numerous fragments of lost works. Thus, Pollux became invaluable for William Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1842). (We have repeatedly consulted Pollux in our Chronicles, as well).
● Under the circumstances, Stanislawski, an expert on Portugal, a scholar whom we described as wearing “Phoenician myopic glasses”, cannot be suspected of pro-Hellenic bias in his narrative about those fateful events in Iberia, related in three Chronicles (21, 22, and 25). At the same time, we’ll be able to cross-check the accuracy of our own testimony. But before that, let us give the floor to the German historian and archaeologist Adolf Schulten, who will give an answer to the question concerning the contacts between Iberia and the Aegean. Schulten (1870–1960), who also studied in Greece, dedicated his life to Spain, where he conducted extensive research and excavations; therefore, he is considered a key influence on Spanish archaeological studies. Among others, he searched – but, unfortunately, with no success – to find Tartessos in 1924 and Maenaca in 1948. Very popular in Portugal and Spain are his biographies on two great figures of the struggle of the Lusitanians against the Romans: Viriathus (1927) and Quintus Sertorius (1926).
● The great Lusitanian hero, Viriathus, started fighting after a massacre committed by the Romans in Lusitania with 30,000 victims. He was assassinated in his sleep, in 139 BCE, by the three men he had sent for peace talks with the Romans, who bribed them instead. When the conspirators asked for their prize, the Romans said: “Rome does not pay traitors who kill their chief”! Big talk to avoid payment, since the same tactic was used again in the next century to get rid of Sertorius, whose aim was to create an independent Iberian Republic. He was a Roman statesman and general, opponent of the dictator Sulla during the Roman civil wars. His popular, pro-Iberian policy had displeased many Roman aristocrats, and was eventually assassinated, also by traitors, during a feast, in 72 BCE. When his will was read, they saw he named as his chief beneficiary the… chief conspirator! The next year, the “victorious” Pompey, returning from Iberia to Italy, helped in the suppression of the gladiators’ insurgency led by Spartacus, with whom Sertorius was in contact.
Schulten made a thorough examination of the Mediterranean Spanish coast in 1919, preparing a critical edition of Ora Maritima (Sea Coast), by Avienus (hence of the Massaliote Periplus, as well), a study that led him to Tartessos.(3) Excavating in the current Doñana National Park, close to the mouth of the Guadalquivir, he found a Roman town in Cerro del Trigo, which he believed was located on the remains of the legendary city. But, despite all his efforts, he found no trace of it. The result of his excavations, among others, was the publication of a study in 1924. A second edition, greatly improved and expanded, followed in 1945, and reissued in 2006. It was entitled: Tartessos – Contribution to the Oldest History in the Occident:
- (3) We followed the same route in Chronicle 22: An Iberian Periplus Revival.
TARTESSOS: CONTRIBUTION TO THE OLDEST HISTORY IN THE OCCIDENT
THE MOST ANCIENT REFERENCES
“BY ALL ACCOUNTS, AN ORIENTAL PEOPLE that, before the Phoenicians, sailed along the coast of Spain were the Cretans, the people of Minos, the oldest maritime power in the Mediterranean… Cretan toponyms are found even in Corsica. In Sardinia we encounter Cretan copper bars. In the Balearics, Aegean vases and bull heads similar to those of Crete have been discovered. Oriental ornaments of ivory, turquoise, or amethyst, have been found on the southeastern coasts of Spain… It seems that the Iberian alphabet contains eight Cretan graphemes… According to Egyptian monuments, the Keftiu, i.e. the Cretans, had large amounts of silver. This silver could have come from Spain… In Falmouth of Cornwall a tin bar has been found with the characteristic shape of Cretan copper bars, i.e. the double swallowtail. This fact could be an indication of exchange between Crete and Tartessos, as the Tartessians traded with the Oestrimni [see Chronicle 21, Legendary Odyssean Lisbon], who sailed to England… Further proof that the Cretans were sailing to Spain can be found in the name of Tartessos itself. The termination in -essos is primitive pre-Hellenic of Asia Minor, mainly of southern Asia Minor. It is very widespread in the regions of Caria and Crete. Thus, perhaps the name of Tartessos does not come from the Phocaeans, but from the Cretans and the Carians. The toponyms ending in ‘-essos’ spread to the Occident, as is evidenced by their appearance in Sicily (Herbessos, Telmessos). If the name of Tartessos is Cretan, then we need to examine whether the Phoenician ‘Tarshish’ is derived from ‘Tartessos’, rather than the indigenous toponym”…
“Hispanic [Iberian] daggers of copper and silver of the 3rd millennium have been found in Crete… Where did the silver and tin that the ancient 3rd-millennium-BC Oriental empires used come from?… It is reasonable to suppose that in the 3rd millennium BC, the Orient extracted silver and, above all, tin, from Andalusia and that the Cretans or Carians were probably the agents of this trade, as were later the Phoenicians”…
TARTESSOS AND THE PHOENICIANS
“Geryon, considered as the personification of the Tartessos [Guadalquivir] River, does not pertain to Gades, as later ignorance would have it, but to Tartessos. And the island Erytheia, his dwelling, which took his daughter’s name (Pausanias), could not have been the island of Gades, but the island formed by the Tartessos Delta, in front of which his castle rose. But when Tartessos disappeared, confusion made the figures of Geryon and Erytheia to be mistakenly transferred to Gades. However, the most ancient mythographers clearly place Erytheia on the Delta of the Tartessos River. Stesichorus says that Erytheia ‘faces’ the sources of the river, i.e. its mouth. Pherecydes asserts that Heracles went to Tartessos, and, therefore, places Erytheia here and not at Gades”…
TARTESSOS AND THE PHOCAEANS
“There is another testimony on the Phocaean trips to Tartessos: the Ionian names of islands and coastal sites that are found all along the way, on the Italian coast, in Sardinia and Spain, way down to Tartessos. These are several toponyms ending in –οῦσα [-ussa], widespread in Ionian regions on the coast of Asia Minor, and their presence in the Occident undoubtedly reveals the passage of the Ionians, of the Phocaeans. On the Italian coast we can find: Πιθηκοῦσα [Pithecussa] (Ischia), Ἀνθεμοῦσα [Anthemussa], Σειρηνοῦσα [Seirenussa, Sirenuse] (islands in the Gulf of Salerno). In Sardinia: Ἰχνοῦσα [Ichnussa] (the Ionian name of the island). On the eastern Spanish coast: Μηλοῦσα, Kρoηοῦσα [Melussa, Croeussa] (Mallorca and Minorca?), Πιτυοῦσα, Ὀφιοῦσα [Pityussa, Ophiussa] (Ibiza, Formentera). On the southern coast: Πιτυοῦσα [Pityussa] (Cape Sabinal), Καλαθοῦσα [Calathussa] (in the Bay of Huelva?), Κοτινοῦσα [Cotinussa], old name of the island of Gades. On the southwestern coast: ἄκρα Ὀφιούσης (prominens Ophiussae, Avienus), Cape Roca – the extreme toponym indicating the limit of the Phocaean sphere. We know from this old [Massaliote] Periplus that the neighbouring estuary of the Tagus was linked to Tartessos through a Phocaean commercial road”…
THE TARTESSIAN CULTURE
“Could perhaps Tartessos be a colony founded by some Oriental people of those that were part of the Aegean civilization, e.g. of Crete?… There are reasons to support this hypothesis: the ancient culture of the pre-Tartessians, the numerous coincidences with the Orient and the older oriental nations, the possibility that primitive navigators have founded a colony in Andalusia, as later the Tyrians founded Gades. And besides all this, the name itself of Tartessos alludes to the Orient. If Tartessos were a colony of Aegean navigators, e.g. of Cretans or Carians, this would at once explain its ancient and high culture, as well as the coincidences with Crete in metallurgy, writing, the bull cult, etc. As an Aegean colony, Tartessos would have been founded around the 3rd or 2nd millennium BC, and certainly before the Tyrian voyages. Thus the Tyrians would have invaded the maritime domain of the old Aegean navigators, both in the Occident and in the Orient. A Cretan Tartessos could only be founded before the fall of Cretan power (in 1200). Thence, the ruin of Crete would have influenced the Occidental colony, explaining thus the scarce resistance of the Tartessians against the Tyrians. The possibility that Tartessos is an ancient Aegean colony must therefore be studied.”
All the more so, because the Minoans apparently imported tin from Tartessos at the mouth of the Guadalquivir. At any rate, what strikes me is that in Schulten’s text, too, the Mycenaeans are… conspicuously absent! “The fall of Cretan power” did not take place “in 1200”, when the Bronze Age collapsed, together with the Mycenaean power, but c. 1450 BCE, when the Mycenaeans took over Crete. Then they inherited not only the Minoan Thalassocracy, but the network of the Cretan colonies and emporia, too. The Bronze Age collapse coincided with the Trojan War that was followed by a westward “exodus” of Trojans and Hellenes:
Odysseys in the Aftermath of the Trojan War: Colonization of Iberia
THE TROJAN WAR, in the time when it was fought, was not a heroic war. It was accompanied by the eastward movement of the Sea Peoples, and the westward “exodus” of both Hellenes and Trojans. For sure, the latter were in search of a new homeland. As for the Greeks who managed to survive, after a long, ten-year absence, with the spoils not rewarding enough, as Strabo says, were not welcome back home (see Chronicle 20, The Luwian Civilization: The Missing Link in the Aegean Bronze Age), and either had a tragic end (e.g. Agamemnon), or were forced to follow the life of pirates. Such fate awaited “heroes” such as Aeneas, Antenor and Opsicella; or Diomedes, Menelaus, Menestheus, Odysseus and Teucer – for whom “later poets sang”…
Aeneas is linked to Rome, while Antenor and Opsicella founded cities in the Italian North, with the latter ending up in Biscay. Among the Greeks, Diomedes, son of Tydeus, arrived in Lusitania and Galicia, where he founded Tyde (today’s Tui), an Aetolian city, as Silius Italicus writes. Menestheus, the leader of the Athenians in the Trojan War, was expelled from Athens by Theseus’ sons, and set ashore with his entourage in Andalusia, at the mouth of the river Criso (Guadalete), where he founded a colony and an oracle in his name: it was Portus Menesthei, today’s El Puerto de Santa María (see Chronicle 22). Odysseus founded and walled Lisbon (see Chronicle 5, Odysseus and Calypso in Odyssey-Lisbon and Chronicle 21, Legendary Odyssean Lisbon), while Teucer arrived in Lusitania and Galicia, where he founded Pontevedra (see Chronicle 20, Teucer-Teucrus of the Troad and Salamis), having previously passed from Mastia (or Massia, the later Carthago Nova, today’s Cartagena in Murcia). Some include Aveiro among the cities supposedly founded by Greeks in Lusitania. That’s why, they add, the women there are so beautiful!
Silius distinguishes the Aetolians from the Grovii (or Gravii in Latin), who lived in the coastal northern Lusitania, spreading also into Galicia.(4) However, Pliny states “Helleni, Gravii, Castellum Tyde, graecorum sobolis omnia” (Hellenes, Grovii, the Castle of Tyde, they are all Greeks).
- (4) Pomponius Mela stated that all the tribes were Celtic, except for the Grovii, who worshipped gods different from the Celts. Pliny also rejected that the Grovii were Celts; he considered them to be of Greek stock. They cooperated with the local Gallaeci tribes in the aftermath of Viriathus’ death, in order to take revenge for his assassination. So, they attacked the Roman settlements in Lusitania, gaining momentum with the support of other tribes along the way, and reaching the south of the Peninsula, near Andalusia, thus endangering Roman rule in Hispania (Iberia).
Teucer and his companions, says Strabo, founded some peoples in Galicia such as the Hellenes and Amphilochians. Something similar happened in Cantabria with certain Spartans. Relevant information is given by Pompeius Trogus, who translated into Latin the stories of the world from Hellenic literature. Justin, who compended Trogus’ work, points out that the Galicians claim they are of Greek descent (Gallaeci graecam sibi originem asserunt). This may be explained by the origin of the Celts who, according to Herodotus, might have come from Thrace, speaking perhaps also Hellenic (see Chronicle 20, Thracian and Celtic Coincidences).
Isidore of Seville (Híspalis), citing Latin writers, stated that, due to their Hellenic origin, “the Galicians are endowed with great ingenuity”. While Jerome couldn’t agree more: “… almost all islands, rivers, lands of the entire orb neighbouring the sea, are occupied by Greek inhabitants, who, as we have already said, owned all the maritime places from the Amanus [Nur] and Taurus Mountains [Asia Minor] to the British Ocean.”
According to Strabo, all the Northern highlanders in general – Galicians, Astures, Cantabrians, Basques – made hecatombs ritu graeco and married more graeco. In Cantabria, one could also meet Messenians and even Trojans, except for the Spartans, who expanded as far as the Douro’s mouth, leading a Laconic life.
Homer’s Odyssey is unique, but the Trojan War’s Odysseys were too many, from both belligerents, eventually enriching the Western Mediterranean – mainly Italy and Iberia – with “new blood”.
● When scholars like Stanislawski “forget” the Mycenaeans (not to mention the Minoans), they end up… uttering bubbles, such as: “Greek colonization to the West was very late, especially if we compare it with the Phoenician.” In fact, the Phoenicians were last in line, and their western colonization came even later. Let’s move now to Stanislawski’s text, Contacts Between the Ancient Civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and Iberia:
CONTACTS BETWEEN THE ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS
OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN AND IBERIA
A WESTWARD MOVEMENT
“THE EARLIEST PASSAGE of Phoenician ships through the Straits of Gibraltar was probably made during the general period of time when the Central European farmers and pastoralists were first entering the Cantabrian region. These events preceded the 1st millennium BC. Later, Greek exploration and trade grew, following the example given by Phoenicia, perhaps as early as the 9th century and certainly by the end of the 7th century BC. Such contacts can be equated in time with the acceleration of the East-West movement of peoples and cultures which took place in the North with the advent of the Celts, who may have appeared in Iberia as early as 900 BC, and the main force of which was felt by the 6th century. Between the 6th and the 3rd centuries BC, while the lands of the western Mediterranean were developing under the influence of active and aggressive Greeks and Carthaginians [Punics], northern Iberia was changing under the influence of Celts of later arrival from beyond the Pyrenees. However, there was a difference between the early contacts along the Mediterranean coasts and those of the Central Europeans with northern Iberia. It was not opportunity for settlement that drew men along the southern coasts, but trade… It was the attraction of metals that drew the early Greeks beyond the Straits of Gibraltar and along the western coasts of Spain.”
CONTACTS WITH THE WEST COAST OF IBERIA
“It is possible that the early merchant wayfarers sailed up the west coast to trade directly with Galicia. But if they did, the coast of present Portugal represented a gap in their interest, for there is almost no record of them there.(5) It would seem that Portugal was then, as through so many periods of time before and after, apart from the main stream of events. It possessed no great source of silver such as the mines of Andalusia, nor of copper or tin (with slight exceptions in both cases).(6) With her metals, Spain was a magnet for the early traders, whereas Portugal attracted casual traders at most”…
- (5) There are slight exceptions; e.g., there is the Egyptian scarab of the 7th century BC that was found in a pre-Celtic level at Alcácer do Sal. (D. Stanislawski)
- (6) There is no record e.g. of Carthaginian exploitation of the copper of the Alentejo, which Romans later mined at Aljustrel. As all of southern Portugal is poor in tin, silver, and gold, there was little there to distract them from their preoccupation with such places as Andalusia and Murcia. (D.S.)
HOMOGENEITY OF THE IBERIAN MEDITERRANEAN REGION
“At the time of their first contacts with the west, the earliest Phoenicians and Greeks encountered a culture area with fundamentally similar characteristics throughout. It extended along the Mediterranean coasts, slopes, and adjacent interior valleys, from the Pyrenees to the Guadiana River… With their usual perspicacity, the Greeks recognized this area as being essentially homogeneous and sharply different in culture from the Celtic territories of the interior and of the north and west peripheries”…
EARLY POLITICAL GROUPS AND CONFUSION OF NAMES
“Indisputably, one of the important Iberian groups was that of the Tartessians, wealthy farmers and traders in metals. It was their knowledge of the sources of metals that first brought them in touch with the Phoenicians and Greeks. They knew the coasts to the west and northwest of their home, for the tin and gold that they traded came from Galicia. They were also able to furnish silver, copper, and lead, which came to them from the Guadalquivir River basin. It appears that tin was the product of greatest importance at the time. The early centuries of the pre-Christian millennium were times of great opulence along the coast of Galicia. That this wealth was due to tin may be inferred from the fact that the Greeks used the term Cassiterides to identify the area. However, the question as to the ultimate source of tin is moot. In spite of the lack of archaeological evidence it seems likely that, in the earliest years of trading, it came from alluvial deposits along the river banks of Galicia. There is a possibility, however, that Bronze Age connections with French Brittany and with the British Isles had continued and that the Galicians were merely purveyors of tin from those places. This basic necessity of bronze-users was scarce in the other parts of the Phoenician and Greek world. There was no tin in all of North Africa, Asia Minor, Caucasia, Cyprus, mainland Greece, and the Greek islands. The mines of Tuscany were small. It is no wonder that both Galicia and the Tartessians were prosperous and that the Phoenicians and Greeks were attracted to the area.”
“Tin was the product of greater importance. This basic necessity of bronze-users was scarce in the Phoenician and Greek world.” (Dan Stanislawski)
● “The Cassiterides are ten in number, and lie near each other in the ocean toward the north from the haven of the Artabri [A Coruña, Galicia].(7) One of them is desert, but the others are inhabited… Of the metals, they have tin and lead, which, with skins, they barter with the merchants for earthenware, salt, and brazen vessels. Anciently the Phoenicians alone, from Gades, engrossed this market, hiding the navigation from all others. When [other navigators] followed a certain [Phoenician] shipmaster, that they might discover the market, the jealous shipmaster willfully stranded his vessel on a shoal, misleading those who were tracking him, to the same destruction. Escaping from the shipwreck by means of a fragment of the ship, he was indemnified for his losses out of the public treasury.” (Strabo)
- (7) According to Strabo, the Artabri (or Arrotrebae) were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the extreme NW of modern Galicia, about Cape Nerium (Cabo Prior), outskirts of the harbour city of Ferrol. In Magnus Portus Artabrorum during Roman times (1st century BCE, even before), they traded in metals (like silver, gold, tin and iron), or even wild horses. The port was located on a turbulent, unpredictable sea, in the bay of Ferrol, and the rias of Ferrol, Betanzos and Coruña, with the Tower (lighthouse) of Heracles. Ptolemy refers to the Galaeci Lucenses and their capital town, Lucus Augusti (now Lugo).
● “The islands called Cassiterides, situated in the open sea approximately in the latitude of Britain, lie opposite to, and north of, the Artabrians… They that inhabit the British promontory of Belerium,(8) by reason of their converse with the merchants, are more civilized and courteous to strangers than the rest. These are the people that make the tin… They beat it into four-square pieces the size of dice, and cart it to a British island, near at hand, called Ictis…(9) For at low tide, all being dry between them and the island, they convey over in carts an abundance of tin in the mean time. But there is one thing peculiar to those islands, which lie between Britain and Europe; for at full sea they appear to be islands, but at low water for a long way they look like so many peninsulas… Hence the merchants transport the tin they buy of the inhabitants to France, and for thirty days’ journey they carry it in packs on horses’ backs through France to the mouth of the river Rhône.” (Diodorus Siculus)
- (8) Belerium, or Bolerium, now Land’s End: a headland on the western tip of Cornwall, the most westerly point of England. Diodorus’ text is very often connected with St. Michael’s Mount.
- (9) Ictis, or Iktin: an island described by Diodorus as a tin trading centre, somewhere off the coast of southern England, with its exact location unknown; candidates include St. Michael’s Mount, or Looe Island, off the Cornish coast, also known as St. Michael’s Island, or St. George’s Island.
● “There are two kinds of lead, the white (plumbum album) and the black (plumbum nigrum). The white is the most valuable; it was called by the Greeks cassíteros; and there is a fabulous story of their going in quest of it to the islands of the Atlantic, and of its being brought in barks made of osiers, and covered with hides. It is now known that it is the production of Lusitania and Gallaecia… White lead was held in esteem in the days even of the Trojan War – a fact attested by Homer, who called it ‘cassíteros’… It is extracted with great labour in Hispania [Iberia] and throughout all the Gallic provinces, but in Britannia it is found in the upper stratum of the earth in such abundance, that a law has been spontaneously made prohibiting anyone from working more than a certain quantity of it.” (Pliny)
GREEK EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT
“The earliest Greek ventures may perhaps be dated as of the 9th or the 8th century BC. Possibly Rhodian and Chalcidian sailors were in the western Mediterranean at this time… The line of Ionian names stretching along the islands and coasts of the western Mediterranean and to the Atlantic coast of Portugal – the names with the –ussa termination – can probably be ascribed to this early period. These names are important in dating the arrival of the Greeks in western waters. They mark the island route of the early Greek navigators. Starting from Syrakoussai [Syracusae] in eastern Sicily, they may be followed through Ichnussa (Sardinia), Melussa (Menorca), Rornyussa (Mallorca) and Pityussa (Ibiza). The latter three, even now, are identified on maps as the Balearics or Pityusas. The -ussa names extend westward to the Straits of Gibraltar and up the Atlantic coast of Portugal to Ophiussa, in the region of Lisbon, and the general area of Portugal plus Galicia may have been vaguely termed Ophiussa.”
● The Balearics comprise two island groups: the Gymnesians (Mallorca and Minorca) and the Pityuses (Eivissa or Ibiza and Formentera). The term “Balearic” derives from the Grecian Βαλλιαρεῖς or Βαλεαρεῖς (from βάλλω, meaning “to launch”), referring to the islanders who were skilled slingers and served as mercenaries for the Hellenes, Punics, and Romans. However, Strabo regarded the word as of Phoenician origin, as similar to lightly armoured soldiers the Hellenes called γυμνήτας, hence Gymnesiae (from γυμνός, meaning naked). This does not mean they fought naked, but that they used much lighter armament than the hoplites. Anyhow, according to Lycophron’s poem Alexandra, the toponym refers to shipwrecked Boeotians who were cast nude on the islands (a story obviously invented); or to the islanders themselves who were often nude (because of the year-round benevolent climate). In the Gymnesian Isles there are megalithic stone monuments (naveta, taula and talaiot) which speak of a very early prehistoric human activity. They are similar, but not necessarily related, to the nuraghe of Sardinia and torri of Corsica. One of the earliest cultures on Minorca was influenced by other Mediterranean civilizations, including the Minoan. Those islanders e.g. may have imitated those inverted plastered timber columns found at Knossos (such evidence is probably not “convincing” enough for Stanislawski). There is also a tradition that the Balearics were colonized by Rhodes after the Trojan War. The Pityusic Islands (from Grecian πιτύα, pine tree) are sometimes informally called in English as the Pine Islands, which is identical to the Hellenic name Πιτυοῦσαι, i.e. “pine-covered islands”. In antiquity they were listed in Claudius Ptolemy’s Geography under the names Ophiussis and Ebyssus, which had a town of the same name. It is the port Ibossim founded by Phoenicians in 654 BCE, later known to Romans as Ebusus, hence Eivissa (in Catalan) or Ibiza (in Castilian). The population of the two largest islands (Gymnesians) is stated by Diodorus at 30,000.
THE PHOCAEAN GREEKS
“Herodotus said that it was Greeks from the city of Phocaea in Asia Minor who were first to navigate in the western Mediterranean waters. It may seem temerous to question the facts of the father of history, but Antonio García (A. G. y Bellido, Hispania Graeca [Hellenic Iberia]) does so convincingly. The Phocaeans, says he, arrived late upon the scene, profiting by earlier maritime contacts. Nor does he accept the statement that the important voyage of Colaeus, the Samian, was a voyage of discovery of Tartessos for the Greeks. This widely heralded 7th century journey was, to him, merely one – although perhaps the most profitable and spectacular up to that time – of many such voyages that had been made by Rhodians, Chalcidians, Samians, and others.(10)
- (10) Another point of view is expressed by H. R. W. Smith in his review of García’s Hispania Graeca. Smith does not deny the thesis of García but says that he can find no reason to believe that the Phocaeans reached Tartessos prior to the time of Arganthonios, the Tartessian king friendly to the Greeks, or before the voyage of Colaeus. (D.S.)
“Whatever the dating may be – and the archaeological inquiry has far to go – the Phocaeans certainly became the most active and effective Greeks in the area. Their colonization had energy and breadth and was the only one in the western Mediterranean with lasting results… There is no specific evidence that this activity was connected with the decay of Tyre, but there is such a coincidence in time. Tyrian decline had begun by the end of the 8th century BC and was notable during the following century. This was the time of the voyage of Colaeus, the Samian (650 BC), the founding of the Phocaean colony of Massalia, present Marseille (600 BC, or approximately then), and the founding of Alalia in Corsica (640 BC, or approximately 40 years prior to Massalia). Some time before the end of the century, Mainake [Maenaca], the most westerly of Phocaean colonies, was founded near Málaga.(11)
- (11) Within 20 miles to the east, says García; Smith suggests that it might even be at approximately the outskirts of present Málaga. (D.S.)
● Some dates are different here. The difference in Colaeus’ voyage is not important (650, not c. 640 BCE); but the dating of the founding of Alalia is almost one century earlier (650 instead of 566 BCE). Was it initially a temporary seasonal settlement?
“This century was one of intimacy between Phocaeans and Tartessians. The reign of Arganthonios of Tartessos began in the 7th century BC. The ancient sources spoke of his 80-year reign but probably, in typical Greek fashion, they dramatized a dynasty or a period by creating a mythical longevity for a single ruler. Whether this represented one ruler or several does not alter the fact that there was frequent and close contact between Tartessos and Phocaea. This was the period of the Phocaean maritime dominance during which the Tartessian king lent money to the Phocaeans to build their fortifications against the threat of the Persians.”
● Arganthonios is a name apparently based on the Indo-European word for silver, hence money. Tartessos was very rich in silver. Similar names appear in inscriptions of the Roman period and on silver coinage in Gaul. Arganthonios, the “Silver Man” (c. 670–550 BCE), ruled Tartessos for 80 years (c. 630–550) and lived to be 120 years old. The idea of great age and length of reign may result from a succession of kings using the same name or title. Nevertheless, one could retort he died… quite young, if we take under consideration that, as the Bible says, “all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine [969!] years”: he supposedly lived almost one thousand years and became a symbol of longevity…
● The weird thing is that no one dares to say: fairy tales! Even more funny is that so many well-intentioned (and a few… bad-intentioned) people try hard to interpret the uninterpretable, although it is well-known that “you better stay away from the Bible’s dates”! It’s weird, so let’s have fun: “such mistakes are made by copyists or translators; are mistaken attempts to correct mistakes; deliberate extensions of the patriarchs’ ages by the ‘Seventy’ [Jews who translated the Old Testament into Greek], multiplying by 5 or 10, for the patriarchs to ‘fit’ with the Flood ‘myth’; confusion between ‘months’ and ‘years’; or between solar and lunar years; or between Sumerian and new numbers; the names do not refer to individuals, but to ‘dynasties’,” as in the case of Arganthonios. We also have fundamentalist interpretations: “a water vapour canopy protected the earth from radiation before the Flood; early humans had a better diet; or the more we sin, the less we live: the humans were originally to have everlasting life, but sin was introduced into the world by Adam and Eve, its influence became greater with each generation, and God progressively shortened human life, particularly after the Flood”… Amen!
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GREEKS AND PUNIC
PEOPLES IN THEIR RELATIONS WITH IBERIA
“The period of the decline of Tyre was not only important for the Ionian Greeks, but also for the Tyrian colony of Carthage. During the time of Phocaean colonization, Carthage too was expanding. As early as 653 BC, it had established the colony on Ibiza of the Balearics, which lay athwart the Greek island route to the west. After 573 BC, when Tyre fell to the Babylonians, Carthage showed increasing independence. Competition for western metals was growing between the two great rivals, Carthage and Greece. It is reasonable to assume that the friendship of Arganthonios (or that of his dynasty), through almost a century of time, was more than mere affection and amiability. It probably represented a form of alliance in which the Tartessians aided the Phocaeans in their struggle against the threat to their mother city. In return, Greeks supported the Westerners against the growing aggressiveness of Carthage and the Punic colony of Gadir, which threatened the area of Tartessos. Almost from the time of their founding of Gadir the Phoenicians showed their expansionist tendencies. It was not long before they were using the island as a base of attack against the mainland and the Tartessians.
“Graeco-Iberian friendship: an alliance against Carthage and Gadir’s aggressiveness. From the beginning the Phoenicians used the island as a base of attack against the Tartessians… Graeco-Iberian contacts: history of amity; the Iberian hospitality toward Greeks was proverbial… Friendship and mutual support against the common enemy served both.” (Dan Stanislawski)
“The Greeks were usually neither pacific nor friendly neighbors when the prospect of gain was apparent. In this they differed little from the Phoenicians. However, in their relations with the Tartessians they had no desire, it would seem, for control of land or people, but merely wanted to trade their products, especially olive oil and wine,(12) for Tartessian metals. In fact, the history of Greek contacts with Iberians is one of amity, and the hospitality of the Iberians toward Greeks was proverbial. The purposes of both peoples were served by friendly intercourse and mutual support against the common enemy, especially after the increased importance and the expanded ambition of Carthage. A major clash for complete dominance of the area was inevitable. This was speeded by events in the eastern Mediterranean area”…
- (12) Pierson Dixon, The Iberians of Spain, and Rhys Carpenter, The Greeks in Spain, state that the olive tree and the vine were introduced into Spain by the Greeks. Olive oil was exported from Greek Akragas [Agrigento] to Carthage in the first half of the 1st millennium BC. No doubt the Greeks traded in wine with Iberia. Wine made from grapes is very old in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean, and the Phoenicians were famous merchants of wine… (D.S.)
THE ALALIA COLONY AND ITS EFFECTS
DAN STANISLAWSKI, IN THIS PART of his story, turns his attention to the historic developments in Asia Minor: in 546 BCE, Cyrus conquered Lydia and Ionia, causing “a mass migration of perhaps half of the population of Phocaea to their Corsican colony of Alalia… All the men in this city of probably 5,000 to 7,000 people had gone. This population figure suggests the large number of available vessels, and points to the commercial importance of the city at that time”. The Battle of Alalia took place “sometime between 540 and 535 BC”, with its disastrous impact on the Hellenes and, even more, on the Tartessians.
“Carthage may then have sealed the Straits of Gibraltar, as Carpenter suggests. More likely, the Straits had been largely sealed for a long time, but after the battle the land route between Mainake and Tartessos was also blocked. Mainake itself was destroyed by the Carthaginians toward the end of the century, to end its traffic and its competition with the Carthaginian settlement in the location of present Málaga”…
ECONOMIC CHANGES IN THE WEST
“As Carthage had inherited the western empire of Tyre, so did Massalia fall heir to that of her mother city, Phocaea. Greek trade became centered here, with the end of Phocaean maritime enterprise in the West of the Mediterranean. Trade through France to Brittany and beyond had been undoubtedly important to the Massaliotes previous to this time, but the record had been obscured by the greater drama of the struggle on the Mediterranean. During the last half of the 6th century BC, during which time Carthaginians grasped complete power in the West, the prosperity of Galicia – presumably based upon tin – declined. This decline may have been due to the change from the sea route, by way of the Straits, to that from Massalia, via the French rivers, to the northwest and ultimately to Britain”…
“Galicia’s decline due to the change from the sea route, via the Straits, to that from Massalia, via the French rivers, and ultimately to Britain.” (Stanislawski)
Stanislawski offers four possible explanations for the Galician decline; probably the second one is the most important:
“More likely, the Galicians had for some time been not producers, but purveyors, of tin from French Armorica or the British Isles. If this were true, the direct land route from Massalia would have skirted the Carthaginian barrier and eliminated Galician middlemen… At approximately the same period of time there was an increased interest in silver… by the avidity with which the Greeks of Asia Minor sought it for coinage… Perhaps the richest of ancient silver mines was that of Mastia (or Massia), a region second only to Tartessos in commercial importance. The ancient prosperity of the region and of its most important city, also named Mastia (or Massia), the later Cartago Nova, and probably the site of the present Cartagena, was based upon silver mining through several centuries. Great amounts were mined under the direction of Hannibal in the 3rd century BC, and it was still a large operation at the time of Polybius in the succeeding century.”
CARTHAGINIAN DOMINATION OF THE WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN
After the battle of Alalia, “Greek commercial activity in Iberia was ended and Carthage was less inhibited in the spread of its control. Tartessos, which had feared the Carthaginians and had allied itself with the Greeks, was left without support and was destroyed.(13) In the following century, probably 20,000 Iberian mercenaries were fighting in Sicily for the Carthaginians… Celts were also serving as mercenaries in the Carthaginian forces.
- (13) If there was no city of that name, it is not important to the larger fact that the area as a whole was put under the control of the Carthaginians of Gadir (Carpenter, The Greeks in Spain). (D.S.)
“There was an increasing reliance upon mercenaries from the peninsula, not only from the fringes but from deep within the interior as well. In the late 3rd century BC, Hannibal’s army included Celtiberians from the northern interior, Galicians from the extreme northwest, Lusitanians from Middle Portugal, Vettones from the middle Tagus drainage – and these do not complete the list. Such troops, however, were something other than pure mercenaries; many had been forcibly impressed into service… During earlier centuries no general antagonism in Iberia seems to have been engendered by the Carthaginians. Locally there may have been antagonism, such as probably existed between the Carthaginians and the Tartessians, but for the tribes of the interior the Carthaginians may have had a friendly appeal. They offered an opportunity to fight with pay. It was later, when the Carthaginians had expanded their power and increased their need for troops that their tactics changed with regard to these tribes of the interior, which had long served as a source of manpower. When Hannibal, in desperate need for troops and under economic pressure, forcibly impressed some of them into his armies, the others reacted in bitter opposition. The tribes of the interior were a bellicose lot. An opportunity to fight for pay was not distasteful to them but a demand that they submit to enslavement was another matter. According to Strabo they resisted Hannibal as they later did the Romans for somewhat the same reasons.
“Nevertheless, tens of thousands of mercenaries were introduced to new lands and cultures of the middle and eastern Mediterranean. Since this process had been going on from as early as the 6th century BC and many men had returned to the peninsula, the effect upon attitudes of the peoples of the Meseta [‘Plateau’, in the heart of Iberia] and even some of the remote western coasts may have been considerable.”
● In relation with her mercenaries, Carthage had already had a war in her… liabilities: the Mercenary or Libyan War (240-237 BCE), immediately after the First Punic War. It was a rebellion of her mercenaries, with Libyan support, due to her inability to pay them, since she had to pay first the huge war indemnities to Rome. She confronted a “Foreign Legion”, consisted of Iberians and Celt-Iberians, Celts, Baleares, Greeks and others. Bilateral negotiations were fruitless due to lack of confidence, but also to the multilingualism of the mercenaries, making it impossible to find a compromise. Very soon, hostilities broke out and the mercenaries captured Tunis. Threatened directly, Carthage had no choice but to capitulate to the demands of the mercenaries. The latter, with their strengthened bargaining position, started asking more and more, as e.g. that the Libyans, who were neither mercenaries (they were recruited), nor citizens of Carthage, should be paid, together with the Numidians, or the escaped slaves who were fighting on their side. Once again the Punics had no choice but to agree…
The conflict would have ended there if two of the mercenary commanders, Spendius, a Campanian slave, and Mathos, a Libyan Berber, had not persuaded the Libyans of the army that Carthage would take revenge for their part in the revolt as soon as the foreign mercenaries were paid and sent home. They were joined by many towns and villages of Libya, as the people there were fed up with the Punic yoke, and finally, by all the mercenaries. What had started as a simple “labour dispute”, exploded into a full-scale revolt threatening an empire… Outmatched in every aspect – men, money, and supplies – and unprepared, Carthage “staggered” as long as Hanno the “Great” was in charge. The generalship was eventually given to Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal’s father, who managed to defeat, in 237 BCE, those who he once commanded in Sicily, fighting against the Romans. He cleverly used the “psychological war”, won over a part of his opponents, and annihilated the rest in the decisive “Battle of the Saw” – that was not even a battle: he blockaded the mercenaries in a steep ravine, until they starved to death. The barbarities and atrocities were far too many in this “relentless”, “truceless war”, according to Polybius, with no rules of conduct – the “most impious war in history”. Mutilations and crucifixions on both sides shocked everyone then.
A smaller mercenary revolt in Sardinia was put down with Roman help. Rome, in this war, was an ally of Carthage, so she could continue paying the indemnities! Besides, the Romans would soon occupy both Sardinia and Corsica. Losing the two islands, the Punics had only Iberia to “milk” in order to get back on track. If Thucydides were alive, he would have much to write about… We can act accordingly; drawing parallels between the Carthage-and-her-mercenaries relation and that of the USA with their own mercenaries (Osama, Taliban, the Islamic State, etc.). Or about Carthage’s racist disadvantage, as Punic citizenship was an exclusive privilege; so, they refused to give political rights e.g. to the Libyans, and consequently were obliged to rely more and more on mercenaries. That was Rome’s advantage in the second Punic War, when Hannibal, despite his victories in Italy, was unable to break the ties of Rome with her allies. Or even about how many “Great” men, like Hanno, the “pacifist” – because of his personal interests, i.e. money – are finally so small. The only ones from all those I mention in these Chronicles, who really deserve this epithet, must be Alexander and Cyrus.
DAN STANISLAWSKI, I REMIND YOU, was the one who had rejected the possibility of a Minoan presence in Iberia; the one who had “forgotten” the Mycenaeans, attributing the role of the transporters of the Egyptian archaeological finds in Spain to the Phoenicians – and, indeed, during a time of Mycenaean domination in the Mediterranean (1400-1200 BCE); he was the one, in addition, who had “ignored” the Hellenic emporia in Egypt, mainly Naucratis; the one I accused he was “spectacled”, wearing “Phoenician myopic glasses”!
For all the above we can appreciate even more his own personal “view” of Iberia, since it’s anything but biased in favour of the Greeks. All the more so, when we realize that his story is almost identical with the historical panorama in our three “Iberian” Chronicles (21, 22, 25): Ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι, as Euclid would say, or quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D), or “what had to be demonstrated”. There is just one last Chronicle left: we shall be dropping anchor at emporia or touring palaces in the Near East, to come full circle back to our starting point, in a voyage full of surprises, as on the way we’ll be meeting itinerant artisans, artists, and masters, “members of the Architects’ and Painters’ Guilds”, whose writing, nevertheless, in Linear A, would puzzle the renowned archaeologist Leonard Woolley…
Next Chronicle 27. AN ARCHAEOLOGIST’S WATERLOO ● Emporia in Egypt and the Levant ● Leonard Woolley’s Waterloo ● Itinerant Minoan Artists ● Creto-Egyptian Ties ● Differences Between Minoan
and Pharaonic Society and Art