of ancient explorers traveling to the new world does exist, and more than
a single anomaly.
by kind courtesy of Mr. Roy A. Decker. All comments regarding this particular
article publication should be addressed to Mr. Decker.
The legendary mines of
King Solomon made him the wealthiest ruler of his time (900 BC). The
exact location or even the existence has been hotly debated, however the
Bible itself is fairly well proven in historical data, moreover there is
no mention of "King Solomon's Mines" - rather it states flatly that he contacted
his friend and ally to the north, King Hiram to hire his men to build and
man his fleet of vessels. Hiram was ruler of Tyre in Phoenicia, whose
sailing men were renowned for their wide ranging travels. The fleet
left from the Red Sea port of Ezion Geber, and returned to Joppa and Tyre,
ports on the Mediterranean. The voyage took three years, each time
returning laden with silver, gold, ivory, gems, spices and incense, and
rare "almug" wood. The fleet had gone to the fabulous lands
of Tarshish and Ophir, which are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible as being
rich in precious metals and other trade items. Tarshish is situated
in southwestern Spain, and was known to the Greeks as Tartessus. The book
of Jonah in the Old Testament provides further proof of the location of
Tarshish, since Jonah fled to Joppa where he boarded a "ship of Tarshish"
to flee there, so it is evident that voyages could depart in either direction,
east or west from the Levant. Ophir has not been found, but the name
itself is a clue to its origins. The Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians
rarely (if ever) used a name for a city or town ending in "IR" - while the
Phoenicians did - for example Agadir in Iberia, or Rusaddir on the north
coast of Africa. Tarshish was a Celt-Iberian city, destroyed by Celts
in the pay of Carthage in about 500 BC. Carthage soon became the pre-eminent
sea power in the western Mediterranean, up to the disastrous wars with Rome.
Josephus, a first century AD Hebrew historian who served the Romans thought
that Ophir was merely Sophir, or India and that the "golden chersonessus"
was also India. The Greeks proved that idea false, as little gold
was found there by them and in fact most gold there was imported as well.
Furthermore it would have been cheaper and faster to travel there overland
rather than risk the lengthy 3 year sea voyage, a ridiculous length of time
if the ships were merely traveling from the Red Sea to India and back.
After several disastrous
conflicts with the Assyrians, Pharaoh Necho (700bc) searched for a new way
to defeat his dangerous enemies to the north. His first project was
to construct a canal to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, which
would enable him to move his forces by sea with great rapidity and perhaps
defeat his foes. During the construction, he had a nightmare, and
when he turned to his soothsayers for explanation, they told him that the
canal would indeed function as a highway for armies and navies - FOR HIS
ENEMIES! He immediately scratched construction on the canal (which
would not be completed for centuries!) and turned to the possibility of
moving his armies around the continent of Africa by sea to outflank his
enemy. He turned to those renowned sailors of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos
(Phoenicia) and contracted a fleet to sail from the Red Sea around the continent
of Africa. The fleet set sail and took three years to complete the
voyage, returning in the third summer*. One of the participants stated
they had the Sun on "their right hand" as they rounded the tip of southern
Africa. Herodotus took this as "proof" they were lying, as that was
considered impossible! Today we know that is proof they did in fact
travel south of the Equator. The voyage took too long to be much use
for moving armies rapidly so the idea was forgotten.
*Herodotus also notes
that the feat of circumnavigation of Africa was soon duplicated by the
set out from their homeland on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean
to trade, explore and to found colonies. They had competition from
the Greeks, but managed to set colonies on most of the islands in the
Mediterranean, along the north coast of Africa (including one named Carthago,
Carchedon to the Greeks, or Carthage - from the punic Qart-Hadasht meaning
"New Town") and along the coast of Spain (then called Iberia by the Greeks).
They built small trading settlements through the Sahara desert and scattered
through the middle east. They were able to navigate by the stars,
unlike their Greek and Roman counterparts who without any compass were
forced to sail within sight of land at all times.
The New Town
Carthage had two beautiful
harbors, an inner and outer, her location (in modern day Tunisia near Tunis)
was excellent for seagoing trade and she prospered. The mother country (Phoenicia)
fell to conquerors, but Carthage grew in strength. Around 500 BC,
she sent out explorers (Hanno and his brother Himilco) to explore and colonize
the Atlantic coast of Africa and the coast of Spain, France, and reached
England, which they called the "Tin Isles" for the metal they traded for.
Tarshish had become a rival, and Carthage got her Celtiberian allies to
utterly destroy the city about this time. She came into conflict
with the expanding Greeks over possession of Spain, Marseilles, France and
crucially in Sicily. The wars lasted 200 years with Carthage emerging
the victor inspite of heavy losses. Massalia (today Marseilles France)
and Syracusa remained Greek but the other areas became Carthaginian or Punic.
(Punic is the term used by the Romans to refer to the Carthaginians, from
Phoinike, as the Greeks called them.) Carthage had a good working
relationship with the numerous Celts who populated Spain, France, and the
British Isles, often hiring them as soldiers. (In fact almost a third
of Hannibal's army were Celts who were readily trained and equipped.)
We should keep in
mind that the history of Carthage was written by her enemies, who painted
them as evil avaricious greedy people, more concerned with money and deceit
than honor. To a large degree this is undeserved - even Herodotus records
them as trading "with perfect honesty" and any success on their part in
outsmarting an enemy was described as "deceit". Almost nothing
remains of their literature and culture, though it is known that some
must have been of high quality. Some modern scholars state that Carthage
had no body of literature, but this I find doubtful since the Phoenicians
originated the alphabet! King Juba of Mauretania referred to the
Punic books on geography, as did Sallust. On the fall of Carthage,
several libraries of Punic books were given to the princes of Numidia
for their part in the war by the Romans. A treatise on agriculture written
by Mago (probably the youngest brother of Hannibal who was named Mago,
but there were several others with that name) was highly esteemed by the
Romans who eventually published a number of copies. There seems to have
been a Punic or rather Phoenician style of architecture too, for even
King Solomon hired Phoenicians to build his temple. A horseshoe
style or semi-circle seems to have been popular. (*see below) Furniture
and metalwork of Carthage was highly esteemed by her trading neighbors,
and their glass products (including trade beads) were very popular. Raisin
wine, a speciality of Carthage was especially prized by the Romans.
Jewelry manufacture was important, and one type of semi-precious stone
was even called after Carthage, the Carbuncle. Trade was most important
though and Carthage was very involved in the spice trade as well as virtually
every other commodity one can think of in ancient times including exotic
goods like billets of ebony wood, ivory, bulk metals in ingots such as
copper and all-important tin - vital for production of bronze - as well
as perfumes, incense and horses as well as slaves. The sea trade was only
one part of her trading empire though, it is often forgotten that overland
caravans beat a steady path to Carthage from deep in sub-Saharan Africa
and as far away as Persia and Aethiopia.
When Alexander completed
his conquest, Carthage sent letters of congratulations and gifts - although
fortunately for them Alexander didn't turn his attention to them.
Alexander was apparently planning on an expedition against Carthage and
Italy, but died of a fever before completing his preparations. The
question of whether or not he could have been successful is moot, however
it would have been a different sort of war than the Persian conquest.
Carthage would not likely collapse after a defeat or two, Alexander was
short on manpower (he was forced to reorganize his phalanxes with only
the front three ranks being Macedonians, the remainder Persian and other
levees) and how the naval conflict would resolve is unknown. Rome
and Carthage were allied at this time, and the Romans were fond of saying
that if Alexander had gone west instead of east he would not be known
as "The Great".
When Tyre fell to
Nebuchadrezzar in 576 BC, Carthage gained ascendancy over the other Phoenician
colonies, including Utica and Gades (or Agadir, today modern Cadiz) even
though they were older, becoming a de-facto capital of what remained of
the Phoenician empire. Carthage was protector and trading
partner for these numerous colonies, and she sent out colonists to establish
new cities and in some cases to re-establish them where former Tyrian
colonies had failed or been conquered. Allying with the Etruscans of Italy,
the Carthaginians were able to exclude the Greeks from further expansion
into the western Mediterranean and after the fall of Tarshish, Carthage
held the straits of Gibraltar closed to any foreign vessels.
Other than the scant
record from the periplus of Hanno, whatever records of exploration and
colonization were lost when Carthage was utterly destroyed by Rome in
146BC. However, several of the early treaties between Rome and Carthage
still exist (in the latin) and one fact does stand out from them - that
Carthage specifically did not want any foreigners to travel or do business
beyond the Pillars of Hercules (today Gibraltar) - at least not without
the permission of the Carthaginian Senate and an official of the government
must be present.
Early Drug Use
Recently tests were run
on ancient Egyptian mummies, that came up with astounding results.
Evidence of their use of cocaine and nicotine showed up - in spite
of the fact these are New World products! While some scholars are
saying this must be from some African plants that were similar but now extinct
(doubtful, but possible. One plant of particular interest was the
"Silphium" plant, which was cultivated in what is now modern Cyrenaica in
Libya - the plant was esteemed for many uses including medicinal and food.
The plant seems to have gone extinct about the time of the Roman conquest
of the area.) Silphium closely resembles the Anise plant (the licorice
flavor) so may have been related. According to accepted history, China
was not known to the west until the Roman empire yet genuine silk threads
have been found on ancient Egyptian mummies too - proving that contact was
more far reaching and far older than previously thought.
The more likely scenario
is that there was indeed contact between the old world and the new which
involved trade. In my opinion the Egyptians were not particularly
good seamen, but the Phoenicians were! The trade routes
they used were jealously guarded secrets, and their ability to navigate
was well known. When the mother land was conquered, first by Babylonians
and later by Persians and Greeks, most of the trading colonies became
allied with Carthage. Carthaginian traders were quick to duplicate
the navigational feats of their forefathers and to fill the void in providing
trade goods. Thor Heyerdahl's famous "Ra Expeditions" proved that cross
oceanic travel was possible even with the reed boats of Egypt, but navigation
without compass would have been difficult.
It can be argued that
the Egyptians had some method of using the stars for navigation, as the
near perfect alignments of the pyramids could attest. However, it
is my opinion that the Sphinx and certain other monuments ascribed to
the Egyptians are in fact much older (circa 10000 years.) Egyptians did
venture on the seas to the "mythical" land of Punt, a place which can
be identified with Sumatra though theories abound as to its location including
the Great Lakes of North America. A point to consider here is found
in one of the ancient Egyptian inscriptions describing the expedition
of Queen Hatshepsut to Punt - part of the text states "...the Phoenicians..."
but the remainder of the text is missing. It is in a part of the
text which is supposed to be a statement by the King of Punt, pointing
out the secret path to the land and mentioning the "steps of Myrrh".
The Puntese already knew of the Phoenicians by this early date, and to
go a step further the Puntese were also called Puoeni by the Egyptians,
which is a term also used to describe Phoenicians. The Puntese were
most likely Phoenician colonists.
were known to navigate by the stars, and in fact the Romans called the
North star the "Punic Star" because of its use by them for navigation,
but did not understand how. Another navigation tool called the "gnomon"
was used to determine the latitude by the position of the Sun. A Greek
sea-captain from Massilia (now Marsielles in France) named Pytheas learned
the use of it and used it in his exploration of the Atlantic coast of
Europe, noting that the Northern Star is not precisely at the North Pole
as well as other remarkable scientific observations including the midnight
sun at high latitudes and fog banks. On his return to Massilia,
Pytheas was rewarded by his Greek fellow citizens with ridicule and scorn,
an attitude that persists to this day among some scholars.
instrument which probably was in use by Phoenicians was the cross-staff,
a long sighting staff with uprights set at various spots which allowed
the user to determine latitude as well as direction. Furthermore,
some instinctive oceanic navigation skill was very probable among these
sailors - similar to the unerring way Polynesians could find their way
to tiny specks of land in the vast expanse of the Pacific simply by observing
the formations of clouds, the flights of birds and even the way waves
form far from land. A short passage from the Greek book "Argonautica"
describing the man who was to be the navigator for the fictional voyage
- as being able to judge the time for sailing by the wind and the sky,
and the direction to land by the swell of the sea.
Punic Calling Cards
The islands of the Canaries
have stone ruins, the most imposing being a number of 'stepped' pyramidal
structures located right in the middle of a town. Farther out in the
Atlantic, the Azores have turned up with a hoard of Carthaginian coins,
a statue of the 'horse' of Carthage, and a number of pottery fragments that
could be Punic, but cannot be definitely ascribed to them. The official
view? "May have been a ship that got lost." Along the Atlantic
seaboard of the Americas a number of stone "steles" (monuments) have been
found, usually inscribed in (of course) Punic, and many have the name of
Hanno -the admiral sent out from Carthage with the express mission of exploration
and colonization about 500 BC. Oddly, in northeastern Pennsylvania
near the town of Hawley, one of these stone steles was found, inscribed
in Punic ("This monument placed by Hanno, do not deface") of course this
must be yet another "hoax". Some universities are now saying that
the Phoenician seafarers may have been trafficking the entire circumnavigable
coast of Africa and the coast of India as early as 1500 to 1200 BC.
The alphabets of India,
Ceylon and Sumatra all originated from Phoenician - this is eloquent evidence
of far ranging contact.
Inscriptions on stone are found throughout the Americas, and coins of
Carthage have been found in a number of states. Nearly all
have been found close to navigable waters, and oddly all are of the earliest
issues of Carthage, none later than the First Punic war have turned up.
A metal urn with Phoenician themes and likely a Carthaginian trade item
was unearthed near the junction of the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers
in New York.
the odd stone formation off Bimini Island found a shipwreck, that dated
to the 1800's - while searching they found that it lay atop an older shipwreck,
one that is positively Phoenician and dates to approximately 1000BC! Dr
J Manson Valentine of Yale university confirmed the origins of the wreck.
Evidence of other ancient shipwrecks exists, in particular a Punic vessel
located off the coast of Honduras as well as one found "deeply buried
in sand" in Mexico in the 19th century, another which is as yet unidentified
off the coast of Texas as well as what was probably a Roman trading vessel
off Beverly Massachusetts.
have been found in the Americas, as well as weapons, oil lamps, glass
"trade" beads along the St Lawrence river among other "anomalous" finds.
The Syracusan (Greek
100bc) historian Diodorus said the Carthaginians had a "large island" which
was located "far out in the Atlantic ocean" - on which there were "many
mountains" and "large navigable rivers". The land was rich in gold,
gems, spices, etc. He stated that the Phoenicians had found it "by
accident" while founding colonies on the west coast of Africa when some
ships got lost. The Atlantic currents do in fact run straight at South
America from that region so it would be possible for a lost ship to travel
there, and the return voyage would be made easier by following the oceanic
currents north then back east across the ocean. In fact this has happened
in recent years, a small African fishing boat got lost in a storm and ended
up on the coast of Brazil! In 1488 a certain Jean Cousin of Dieppe
France, while sailing down the west coast of Africa was caught in a storm
and blown across to Brazil. (This is four years prior to Columbus's more
famous voyage.) The actual meteorological conditions do support this
as probable. Diodorus said they (the Carthaginians) were "keeping
Other historians (Herodotus
and Polybius) have hinted at its existence, and further explained some
of the other colonies. The coast south of Lixus was described as
"teeming" with Punic trading colonies. One of the colonies founded
by Hanno (500bc) which has not been located correctly was Cerne, (pronounced
Ker-neh) it is my opinion this is today the Canary islands.
When first discovered by the Portuguese, they found light skinned people,
who had "writings" they themselves could not read and asked their Portuguese
visitors if they could. They did not know what had become of their
"motherland" - and this is taken by some authors to be proof of Atlantean
influence, but I believe they were survivors of Cerne. The Portuguese
were unimpressed with the people or their ruins and writings, and killed
them - they also burnt the writings as possible heresy!
One of Plutarch's
(2nd century ad) less known works* also states quite clearly the state
of affairs. He cited a document which was found in the ruins of
the old city of Carthage. He said the Carthaginians knew of a
"true continent" which was located far to the west of Britain. He
added that "greeks" had gone there and intermarried with the local peoples.
The "greeks" who lived there, laughed at the people in Europe, which they
said was a mere island by comparison - while they lived on the true continent
which bordered the whole west side of the Atlantic.
XII, On The Face Of The Moon
It is my opinion that
the "big island" was the Americas! I do not think the Carthaginian
explorers founded big cities in the new world, rather they were more interested
in commerce. There are several arguments against their having contact,
one of which is there is not any ruins of any fort. However, there
are a number of ancient earthwork fortifications scattered through the
Ohio river valley that date to (about) 200bc - the height of the power
of Carthage. Some strange artifacts have turned up in these ruins (called
the Hopewell culture) including one amulet that appears very much Hebrew!
In some of these ruins there are long stone structures that look remarkably
like the 'boat sheds' used by Punic and Greek sailors to protect their
ships during foul weather. Location is a problem, but they are close
to a river even though the river is today too shallow for navigation,
it may well have been deeper then.
Supposedly there are
no written evidence of ancient contact, but in fact there have been a
great number of writings found inscribed on stone scattered throughout
the Americas. A number of them have been studied and deciphered,
many by Barry Fell. (His books America BC and Saga America contain
a good deal on this) Although they are nearly always denounced as "hoaxes"
it is strange that only recently are many readable! Most have been
in an ancient Celtic script called Ogam, and quite a number are Iberian
and Punic, while some are even Egyptian! The seamanship of
the ancient Celts is little respected, yet no less than an authority than
Julius Caesar described their ships as quite large compared to his small
Roman vessels, capable of traveling in the open seas!
The strange ruins
of Mystery Hill in New Hampshire are in fact the remains of a Punic-Celtic
colony. Aristotle mentioned that the Carthaginians had once attempted
a colony in their "secret land" but later withdrew it, blocking others
from attempting it including their allies the Etruscans and even the Tyrians
fleeing the wrath of Alexander. Several other sites in New England are
obviously related as well as a likely connection with the strange stone
walls of southern California and several native American tribes of the
southwest such as the Pima and Zuni.
The true history of
the Phoenician peoples and in particular the remarkable Carthaginians
has never been told, virtually all we know of them is what was written
by their enemies who were trying to paint them in the worst possible tones.
Some of the worst of their practices such as human sacrifice were really
nothing unusual for many cultures of their time. Even the supposedly
civilized Romans buried alive two Gauls in an attempt to fulfill a prophecy
which claimed that some part of Rome must be home to Gauls - not to mention
the slaughter of countless thousands for entertainment! The Carthaginians
may well have been the most accomplished explorers in history.
In conclusion here
are a few collected articles for you to judge for yourself. I am
working on a book to further explain this and present the evidence, if
you are interested drop me a line at email@example.com.
(the old address at USA.NET is discontinued 7/31/01) with your name and
address, I will contact you to let you know when publication begins.
(Please, no spam. It will not be opened or read.) *update,
book project is still unfinished with new information now being added
- anyone who has information and or photos they would like included is
welcome to submit it for inclusion and full credit to sources.
reading: America" link on this Web site.
in this site do not necessarily represent Phoenicia.org nor do they necessarily reflect those of the various authors, editors, and owner of this site. Consequently, parties mentioned or implied cannot be held liable or responsible for such opinions.