zondag 17 mei 2015

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PILLARS I (the monopoly).

What did the classical authors know really about the straits of Gibraltar, which they called the columns of Heracles or FRETUM GADITANUM.  Whatever the case, driven by the desire to acquire new and more remunerative sources of raw materials and to sell their products to markets other than in the homeland, the Phoenicians covered enormous distances, being the first to trace routes to the western Mediterranean and beyond the Pillars of Heracles/Hercules towards the Atlantic coasts of Africa and Europe. The Phoenicians had already founded Gadir in the ocean. To the north they reached Santa Olaia in Northern Portugal and to the south they were present in Mogador in southern Morocco. Probably Hanno had made already his sea-journey along the west-coast of Mauretania or even much further. Himilco could have been already on his way to Western Europe. The Carthaginians had assembled a lot of information of this new world, but they kept strange eyes far away and blocked the straits. The Atlantic trade became a monopoly which the Carthaginians and Gaditans were careful to protect. Their pilots jealously guarded the secrets of the winds, currents and anchorages, while at the same time spreading rumours about the extreme dangers involved in navigation along these routes so as to discourage the opposition. Those who were not so easily deterred, and who actually dared to follow in the wake of the Carthaginian or Gaditan ships, were taken a great risk, since their masters did not hesitate to kill, if necessary, in order to keep curious eyes at a safe distance. Nevertheless some information began to reach the Greek world.
{texts from Aldo Massa, The Phoenicians, 1977, p.77; P.Bartaloni, I Fenici, 1988, p.72}.

Euctemon 5th century BC
He talks about two islands near the pillars and not so much about the straits. The islands seem to be more important. This could be attached to the story that foreign ships had to wait by these islands in order to get the approval of going on. The Phoenician sailors went ashore in Gorham’s cave, a sanctuary on the Mount Gibraltar in order to get a save passage through the Straits.

Apart from the much quoted Homer, whose heroes probably entered Libya, another important reference is Herodotus, offering a picturesque account of Carthaginian merchants with their vessels loaded with a bounty of assorted goods, and telling how they sailed out past the pillars of Heracles to reach the inhabitans of the Atlantic coastlands and nearby mountains.
{M’hamed Fantar, I Fenici, 1988, p.168}

Herodotus 5th century BC
He provides not much information, despite his efforts to say something. It is a combination of legends (Geryonès, Atlanteans) en real information (Kynesians).
I, 202: “…because the entire sea, which is navigated by the Greeks and the so-called Atlantic sea beyond the Pillars and the Red Sea are actually one sea.”
II, 33: “….The Celts are living beyond the Pillars of Heracles, and border on the Kynesians which from all those living in Europe live furthest to the west.”
IV, 8: “….Geryonès however lived outside of Pontos and did so on the island named by the Greeks Erytheia at Gadeira beyond the Pillars of Hercules to the Okeanos.”
IV,42: “…..so they fetched a compass after two years in the third year of the pillars of Heracles and again came into Egypt.”-> The Phoenician sailors of Necho!
IV, 185: “To which Atlanteans I can enumerate the names of the people who live in the sand strip, but no further. In any case, the strip passes to the columns of Heracles and even beyond.”