Connections to Assyria AND the West
Phoenicians, Greeks and Egyptian Soldiers in Assyrian Employ
The Etruscans, Phoenicians and Tartessos by Andrew Selkirk
And then there were the Phoenicians who are a story in two parts. The story begins in the late Bronze Age when the peoples of Tyre and Sidon were great seafarers, but in the eighth century they were swallowed up by the Assyrians but managed to achieve semi independence providing they supplied the Assyrians with the metals they needed - copper and silver.
Phoenican art: silver bowl from Amathus
Silver bowl from Amathus in Cyprus, 8th - 7th century BC, now in the British Museum. The decoration shows an extraordinary blend of styles. The outermost frieze shows to the right Assyrian archers and Greek soldiers with their round hoplite shields attacking a city, while to the left, Egyptian soldiers climb ladders up the walls and other Egyptians cut down trees with Aegean double axes.
So first they went to Cyprus, then called in on the Greeks where they brought about an 'Orientalising[' phase, then on to Sardinia and eventually to Spain where they found lots and lots of copper and more particularly silver which is what the Assyrians really wanted. And in the course of their exploration, they also founded at Carthage and when Tyre began to decline in the fifth century, Carthage took its place and we come on to the Phoenicians, part two.
And then we come to Tartessos, in Spain, .... Tartessos sprang up along the River Guadalquivir where there are great deposits of copper and silver - it is known as the Rio Tinto, the red river. A great civilization sprang up called Tartessos which exported the valuable metals through Phoenician trading stations along the coast, and everyone grew rich on the trade. But then the Assyrians were conquered by the Medes and Persians and the Medes were not interested in silver, so the trade collapsed and so did Tartessos.
The Assyrian and Phoenician Alliance
Tyre and the other Phoenician city-states
Tyre can certainly be seen as the motor of the westward expansion, and this close ally of Assyria benefited from the treaties between the two states which guaranteed Tyre privileged access to all harbours under Assyrian control and gave it an invaluable advantage over its competitors, including the other Phoenician states. One of these treaties survives in the original, albeit in a very fragmentary state (SAA 2 5), and from this document drawn up between Esarhaddon of Assyria (681-669 BC) and Ba'alu of Tyre we learn that this privilege came at the price of admitting the Assyrian ambassador (q pu) to all Tyrian bodies of political decision-making.
Such an arrangement was already in place during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC), as shown by some letters from the king's correspondence with the governor of imirra, the Assyrian province bordering on the territory of Tyre (NL 13 = SAA 19 23, NL 21 = SAA 19 24). Another letter (NL 12 = SAA 19 22) highlights that the Assyrians monitored and taxed Tyre's and Sidon's trade and controlled access to the Lebanon wood supplies, outlawing any timber deliveries to the Philistines and the Egyptians ...
In exchange for accepting Assyrian interference, Tyre and the other allied Phoenician city-states were in a position to ask their overlord to support them against their enemies. Hence, Sargon II (721-705 BC) provided troops to Tyre in 715 BC in order to fend off Ionian pirates who were threatening its maritime network, and again in 709 or 708 BC in order to regain control over its local vassal rulers on Cyprus. These troops were shipped aboard the Tyrian fleet, as Assyria did not maintain a navy of its own. But these first experiences of naval warfare clearly left a lasting impression and the use of Phoenician ships in the wars in the marshes of southern Babylonia during the reign of Sennacherib (704-681 BC) can be seen as their direct result.
Na'aman, 'Tiglath-pileser III's campaigns against Tyre and Israel', 1995.
Na'aman, 'Sargon II and the rebellion of the Cypriote kings against Shilta of Tyre', 1998.
Radner, 'Assyrische Handelspolitik', 2004.
Yamada, 'Qurdi-Assur-lamur: his letters and career', 2008.
1. PHOENICIANS IN SCANDINAVIA
The E-shaped boat, inscribed to the right of the ZQQ ('to be refined') inscription, resembles the later Viking and Venetian vessels, and more significantly it may be compared with the Uluburun shipwreck from the Mediterranean and the Bronze Age. It was carrying a cargo of metal (copper and tin ingots).
I already have a collection of Canaanian syllabic inscriptions from Syria-Palestine (the oldest from the Early Bronze Age), Sinai, Egypt, Trieste, Jamaica (a copper cup with an inscription including the words "a copper cup"), and here we see inscriptions and pictorial evidence from the region now known as Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden).
It is said that the Phoenicians went to Britain (Cornwall) for tin, and it now emerges that Mediterranean seafarers went northwards up the Atlantic Ocean as far as Scandinavia in the Bronze Age, and also westwards on the same route that Columbus took 3,000 years later.
Phoenicians in Southwest Spain
The Phoenicians and the Ocean: trade and worship at La Caleta, Cadiz, Spain
Aurora Higueras-Milena Castellano
The Ten Tribes were exiled in the 700s BCE. We have shown how a portion came to the west shortly afterwards. The notes below mention Phoenician settlement beginning in this time in the area facing the Atlantic Ocean and the British Isles.
The area of La Caleta, north-west of Cadiz, is a key location for studies of the relationship between the Phoenician city of Gadir and the ocean. The port channel and the small islets that characterize the area was one the busiest sectors of the city, and there are abundant underwater remains attesting to past commercial activities. The area also had an important religious role: two sanctuaries were located at the western end of the rocky promontories that surround the channel, and many items identified as offerings have been found.
According to certain literary and historiographic traditions, the Phoenician foundation of Gadir occurred during the early stage of Phoenician expansion in the Western Mediterranean. From the start the city appears to have been one of the main places of settlement for Eastern colonists who were endeavouring to open new routes towards the Atlantic Ocean.
Archaeological research carried out in the Bay of Cadiz over the past few decades has confirmed the important role played by the Phoenician presence on the islands of Cadiz.from Cadiz itself to the area of Sancti Petri, and at the mouths of the main rivers. Also, both archaeological and Classical literary sources indicate that the city was from its earlier stages intimately connected with the sea, through activities such as fishing, salt extraction, and maritime commerce. This relationship became stronger over time until it reached its peak with the Balbo family during the Roman-Republican and the Early Imperial periods.
The evidence available for Phoenician settlement in the bay and for its maritime projection is still incomplete, although it seems clear that the northern area of the island of Cadiz was occupied by a small settlement, and that its southern end was chosen for the construction of a sanctuary devoted to Melqart. Probably, the Phoenicians also contributed and populated fortified settlements... at the mouths of the rivers, and rapidly extended their economic and commercial activities upriver into the main valleys (Fig. 1a). The Orientalization of the material culture and the settlement patterns in the bay is obvious by the 7th century BC (Niveau, 2015). At the same time, maritime activity geared towards the Atlantic and other Western Phoenician settlements intensified. It seems that in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, Gadir was consolidated as a political and economic centre, gained control over the hinterland, and grew in international prestige, wealth and influence as a result of a strategy of increased maritime commerce. The bay thus entered a period of expansion, the archaeology of which remains only partially known (Botto, 2014).
During the Punic period, between the late 6th and the early 3rd centuries BC, the bay underwent substantial demographic and economic growth. In the 5th century BC the city's salted fish became internationally known; the archaeological and written sources indicate that it was in high demand in Greece (Zimmerman-Munn, 2003). In contrast with the renown of these preserves, the information available concerning harbour facilities, shipyards and fleets is scarce (Fig. 1b). In any case, these must have been substantial, as the whole city was sea-oriented, even the sanctuaries, and commerce was its key activity throughout the 1st millennium BC. The town was annexed by Rome in the aftermath of the First Punic War (206 BC), and this marked the beginning of a period of renewed economic growth and increased exports to the Mediterranean markets.
Some possible Phoenician/Punic names in Britain and Ireland
by R. Caitlin
The Isle of Thanet, Kent, Tanatus, Tanatos, Tenet, Tanet, originally probably *Tanit or similar. ... a Phoenician/Punic island-name 'Y TNT, meaning the 'Isle (of) Tanit', the chief goddess of the ancient Phoenician mercantile power of Carthage, a name also seemingly applied to the island on which the Phoenician Atlantic colony of Cqdiz was built (said by Pliny, Natural History, IV.36, to have been called by the natives the 'Isle of Juno', i.e. the 'Isle of Tanit', given that the Roman goddess Juno corresponded to the Phoenician Tanit under the interpretatio Romana). ... the really quite exceptional concentration of Carthaginian coins in eastern Kent. ... the Isle of Thanet in Kent has recently been independently identified as a potential key strategic 'Late Bronze Age trading centre' lying at a mid-point on a trade route between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, acting as a 'transit centre' for metalwork from other parts of Europe as well as 'providing local tin ore' to these traders, a scenario strongly supported by both the presence of multiple people who grew up in North Africa and in Scandinavia within a ninth- to third-century BC cemetery discovered at Cliffs End, Thanet, and the recent isotopic analysis of a pure tin ring-ingot from c. 950-700 BC found at Vardinge, Sweden, which revealed that the tin in question did indeed come from Cornwall.(10)
Rame Head, Cornwall. Rame in 1086 and thereafter. ... the Semitic height-word *r m, compare Ramat Gan, Israel, and Ramallah, ... especially as it is the name of a conspicuous conical headland guarding the western entrance to Plymouth Sound.(11) Interestingly, not only is Rame Head located in Cornwall, an ancient tin-producing region, but a major excavated Late Bronze Age and Iron Age trading site, Mount Batten, lies within Plymouth Sound itself, just to the north-east of Rame. Barry Cunliffe has argued that this trading site can be plausibly identified as the pre-Roman British tin-trading centre of Ictis, mentioned in the fourth century BC by Pytheas of Massalia (via Diodoros), and it is especially intriguing in this context to note that Plymouth Sound itself has actually produced a potentially Punic trapezoidal lead core from a Mediterranean Type IIa wooden anchor of the fifth to mid-second century BC too.(12)
Sark - Sargia, Serc, Serk.... the Proto-Semitic root * rq, redden; rise (as of the sun); east, compare Modern Arabic sarq, 'east', which would give good sense as Sark is the easternmost and outermost island of the Guernsey group.(13)
Echri (Flat Holm, Severn Estuary) The Welsh name for this island in the Severn Estuary, Echri, is apparently unexplained via insular languages, but a solution is possible if it is an island-name involving Proto-Semitic *a-ch-r, 'behind, back,' meaning the 'rearmost island' or similar, which would be topographically appropriate given that Flat Holm is the last usable island encountered as one journeys up the Severn Estuary from the sea.(14)
Isles of Scilly - Early spellings include Sylinancim, Sully and Sullia. No good etymology in insular languages, ... a Proto-Semitic root *s-l-, meaning 'rock, cliff', as found in Hebrew sela' (note, the -c- in the modern name is a post-medieval innovation). Alternatively, Richard Coates also compares the Punic site Zilis, modern Asilah, Morocco, which has been interpreted as meaning 'fishery'. Interestingly, the Atlantic Kassiterides, or 'Tin Islands', mentioned by Strabo and others have often been credibly identified with either the Isles of Scilly or Cornwall, with Strabo stating that 'in former times it was the Phoenicians alone', from their southern Iberian colony of Gades (Cadiz), 'who carried on this commerce'.(15)
The Solent - Soluente in 737 and 890. ...the Proto-Semitic root *s-l- (cf. Hebrew sela) meaning 'rock, cliff' would also potentially work, as Vennemann and Coates note, giving a topographically not-implausible meaning of 'place of cliffs' or, more likely, 'the prominent cliffs'.(16)
Uist - Scottish Gaelic Uibhist. Richard Coates... identical in origin to the Mediterranean name Ibiza (Catalan Eivissa, Ebusos/'Ebousos in Pliny and Diodorus Siculus), a Phoenician island-name possibly meaning 'island of some fragrant plant, e.g. balsam or pine', implying lush vegetation, with a final /t/ gained under influence from Old Norse.