Phoenicians, or "Fenicians" as the Early Irish Called
The Odyssey Revisited
Perhaps of interest to students of both history and literature is a book about Homer’s The Odyssey, written by Dr. Christine Pellech. She makes the claim that Odysseus sailed around the world before returning home from the battle at Troy. Her contention is as follows:
Later in this same chapter, we will show a similar belief by Gawler regarding the Grecian Hercules, both indicating generic Phoenicians rather than specific persons.
More Phoenician Evidence
Although not as numerous or famous as the Michigan shafts, many inexplicable mining pits are scattered along the rivers and tributaries of America’s Northeast, with personal amulets and inscribed stones surrounding these copper, iron, and lead mines. The writing system of these inscriptions has been found to be Celtiberic, an offshoot of the Carthaginian Punic, itself an offshoot of Phoenician, whose parent language we know to have been Hebrew.
Trento says Herodotus (ca. 480 BCE) told of Phoenician trading customs beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Avienus (ca. 450 BCE) mentioned the journeys of the Carthaginians Himilco and Hanno. Plato (ca. 400 BCE) wrote dialogues of Atlantis and other continents beyond [italics added]. Aristotle (ca. 360 BCE) said the country outside the Pillars of Hercules was fertile, well-wooded, fruitful, and had navigable rivers. Diodorus (ca. 21 BCE) described a great country many days’ voyage through the Atlantic, with navigable rivers, big houses, forests, and fruits. He said the Phoenicians had discovered the country long ago but had kept its whereabouts a secret. Much later, Plutarch (70 CE) wrote that, "Far west in the ocean in the latitude of Britain lie islands, beyond which stretches a great continent. Greek language is spoken there." Pausanias (ca. 150 CE) said that west of the Atlantic are a group of islands whose inhabitants are red skinned and whose hair is like a horse. Aelianus (ca. 200 CE) reported that among the Phoenicians of Cadiz it was common knowledge that a huge "island" existed out in the Atlantic. Finally, Proclus (ca. 440 CE) claimed that the new land had stones and pillars erected by Egyptians and that inscriptions often found on the pillars told of the history of the people.24
Barry Fell identified the language of some of the Algonquian Amerindians as Greek, and he translated many other petroglyphs in America as Phoenician, Punic, Celtiberian, Celtic, Greek, and Roman, as well as Coptic, Semitic, and Arabic. Most of these languages are Israelite-based, or Hebrew. Gawler said, "The Phoenician language was identical with the Hebrew."25
More about Phoenicians in America is in another chapter.
Phoenician Sea Power
Were these Phoenicians really capable of sailing across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to trade and plant colonies on other continents?
Phoenicians had early on settled in Iberia and founded the city of Tartessos, also known as Gades. Avienus referred to Gades, saying, "Here is the town of Gadir, earlier known as Tartessus." The city of Gadir was known as Gades [Cadiz] and as Gadir, probably receiving those names after the Patriarch Gad or the place-name "Gadir" in Israel. It was an Israelite city in the territory of Simeon. Davidy says that in the region of Gades, ceramics from the Middle East of the late Bronze Age have been found.
The Iberian Peninsula was named after the Hebrew Israelites, Hebrew and Iberi meaning the same. The word "Hebrew" comes from the root "Aber" or "Iber." The appellation "Iberi" was later given to natives of North Africa who entered Spain as a result of Carthaginian policy. However, an already existing ethnic definition of another people known to the Greeks by that same name preceded these North Africans. After giving their name to it, these early Hebrews passed on into Gaul [France] and the British Isles. The root "Eber" [or "Iber" or "Heber"] is frequently found in the Celtic nomenclature of these areas. Irish and Scottish mythology says that Galatae who settled in Gaul and the British Isles arrived via Spain and called themselves "Hiberi" or "Iberi," and are so named on Ptolemy’s map of Britain.
We know that the people who settled the Iberian Peninsula later migrated on into Britain, other parts of Scandinavia, and across the Atlantic Ocean into America. These Danite-Esauite Phoenicians controlled the tin and copper trade in the Mediterranean and built huge ocean-going vessels with two, three, four, and sometimes even five rows of oars on each side. According to Julius Caesar, they were bigger, faster, and more maneuverable than the Roman ships. The only reason Rome destroyed them in the First Punic War was because of the Roman grappling iron. The Hebrew Scriptures imply that the ships of Tarshish were the largest seagoing vessels known to the Semitic world, and that name eventually was applied to any large ocean-going vessel. Foreign maritime commerce was at least as orderly and nearly as complicated in ancient times as it is now.
The Greek-North African connection produced some maritime firsts. Up to 30 CE, the Greek shippers who operated the eastern trade routes for Mediterranean markets required three years for a round-trip voyage to India and back, following the tortuous coastline of Asia. About 30 CE, an Alexandrian skipper named Hippalos discovered how to use the monsoon winds to cross the Indian Ocean in the space of only three months. He returned from India in less than a year, thereby revolutionizing the trade routes. Within a year, upwards of 100 ships were setting out for India each season, to return to Egypt laden with silks, spices, and gems in return for Roman gold. Soon Ceylon and eastern India were added to the trade areas.26
These and other similar voyages did not follow the tedious route of the continental coasts, but struck boldly across the open waters. Monsoon trade winds were used, but what else did these ancient peoples know? In 239 BCE, Erosthenes had calculated the circumference of the world as being about 28,000 miles, an error of excess of only 13 percent. The degree of latitude, then, was mistakenly thought to be some 69 nautical miles instead of 60 miles, its true value. This error was not so great as to forbid successful ocean crossings with a predicted landing point. Longitude was calculated by dead reckoning, a method that continued until long after the time of Columbus. For lack of a magnetic compass, bearings could not be taken in cloudy weather, but the stars and the sun and moon provided data at all other times. The astronomical observations were set into an early type of astrolabe, which, combined with the cross staff for measuring the elevation of the midday sun or other celestial objects at the time of their meridional passage, yielded a direct reading of latitude. By 150 BCE, a mechanical computer had been added to the navigational equipment, which could now perform the operations of an astrolabe merely by cranking bronze gears and matching dials.27
The Phoenician ships were superior even to these Celtic ships. Fell relates how in the First Punic War (260-242 BCE), each Carthaginian ship of the line was a quinquireme. These ships were so large that five rowers to each oar were required because of the length of the oar to reach the sea. There were 50 or more oars. These rowers, with officers plus 120 marines, made a complement of 400 men. In this war, 334 Carthaginian ships were lost.
Sea trade was started by the Phoenicians at least as early as the twelfth century BCE, and likely many centuries earlier. By 900 BCE, they had established a wealthy and secure string of colonies in the Mediterranean ranging from Malta to the Iberian Peninsula. By 500 BCE, Carthage had obtained complete control of the western Mediterranean and destroyed the Greek strongholds in Spain. For the next few centuries up until the Punic Wars, when Carthage was destroyed by the emerging Roman Republic, these Carthaginians and, earlier, the Phoenicians prevented all vessels from sailing past the Straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean.
Maps had to exist for these Phoenicians [sometimes Egyptian-hired] to traverse the globe. Stecchini’s geodesic studies and the cartographic evidence of Charles Hapgood prove that our oldest medieval maps are nothing but copies of copies whose lost originals go far back into antiquity. By modern means, they determined that the originals had been laid out by means of spherical geometry, just like our own modern maps. Paul Tesla’s work in this same area was later checked and approved without qualification by top U.S. military cartographers, which would seem to place its technical aspects beyond dispute.
Checking further on this, researcher Paul Tesla found that the celebrated Piri Reis map has a strange feature. It shows Antarctica in unglaciated condition, a geological event that could have concluded as much as six thousand years ago. The geodesic center of this map is Cyene, Egypt, Cyene being also the marker for other maps. Piri Reis traced his map back to Alexander the Great, thus, by inference, to the scholars of Alexandria (this according to his own notations on the map). Theoretically, even these early Egyptian map makers could have been using much older materials they had preserved, simply modifying them to suit their new geographical circumstances.30
These Phoenician-Israelite-Carthaginian ships planted colonies in the Americas and, quoting Diodorus of Sicily, "The Phoenicians planted many colonies throughout Libya and not a few as well in western parts of Europe." Fell pointed out that they also sailed into the Pacific Ocean and planted colonies, and/or assimilated with, and/or settled some of the Polynesian and Melanesian Islands. Today, some of these same peoples are still nautical powers, including the United States and England.
Steven Collins and Phoenicians
In his book, The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel…Found! (1995), Steven M. Collins makes some interesting points that correspond to, and corroborate, the present author’s views.
"Upon concluding his war with the Assyrians and their allies, King David’s Israel ruled (either directly or via its influence over vassal kings) the entire Mid-Eastern world from Egypt and Asia Minor to the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. 1 Chronicles 19:16-19 records that David’s vassal kings included Syrians (Aramaeans) who lived east of the Euphrates River. Since secular historians note that Assyria was invaded and subjugated by Aramaeans from the west during this time, either the Israelite role in this ‘Aramaean’ force was missed or the Aramaeans turned on the Assyrians and attacked them as vassals of King David."33
Note that the Arabians [Ismaelites, mostly, from Abraham and Hagar’s son and his Egyptian wife] were part of those defeated in the Israelite-Assyrian war. Israel’s hegemony then extended an unknown distance into the Arabian Peninsula. This was a large territory. However, this was only the beginning of Israel’s empire!
The accumulated evidence supports the conclusion that the Phoenicians started out as some of the Esau-ites and some of the Tribe of Dan. They were seafaring merchants who became quite well-known to all the Mediterranean countries and many countries worldwide. When Israel later migrated into the lands of northern Palestine, the Tribes of Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, and Issachar contributed to their navies. Most of the Esau-ites were driven out or killed, in obedience to Joshua’s command to rid the land of the Canaanites, but some assimilation undoubtedly took place. Long before the Golden Age of David and Solomon, the Israelite part of the Phoenicians outnumbered the Esau-ites and was dominant.
They sailed the oceans and seas of the world, planted colonies in many foreign countries, settled in faraway places, and built beautiful citadels and trade centers. Their kingdoms and colonies were far-flung, and they were great empire builders. By the time they "became" the Carthaginians, they were almost entirely Israelites, some of course having mixed blood with their cousins, the displaced Esau-ites and with other nationalities that they came in contact with. Their cultural, technological, mathematical, astronomical, nautical skills cannot be overemphasized. Their greatest contribution was the alphabet. All of this was in accordance with Genesis 12:3, "…in thee [Abraham] shall all the families of the earth be blessed," and in Genesis 28:14, "All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants."
Concerning this alphabet, Collins has more corroborating evidence.
In opening this chapter, Capt was quoted as saying a people known as "Phoenicians" moved to the coasts [of Lebanon] from the east perhaps as early as 1500 BCE. The Israelite Tribe of Dan, with parts of Zebulon and Asher, had settled that area around 1400, right after the Exodus. These Israelite settlers could have driven these people to the coasts, or the Phoenicians could have been Israelites themselves, since the time frame fits that of Capt’s reckoning. The brothers Esau and Jacob might even have settled Tyre and that area before Jacob and his sons later went to Egypt. Alternatively, as some evidence indicates, some of Dan left Egypt early rather than be enslaved and formed a partnership with cousin Esau. There was a Scriptural symbiotic nautical relationship between Dan and Phoenicia. This could have been around 1500 BCE or, at least, as early as 1300 BCE. Finally, perhaps Dan, Asher, Zebulon, Issachar, and Naphtali could have driven these Esau-ites eastward and become, themselves, the Phoenicians, with a few Esau stragglers intermarrying with them.
Mention is made by Colonel Gawler (1880) that the origin of the Grecian Hercules [Heracles in Greek] seems to him to have been in the daring adventures and exploits of the "semi-traders and buccaneers of Tyre and Dan, out of which they formed an ideal [generic] man suitable to that heroic age, and in apparent conformity with the earliest Divine command (Genesis 1:26, 28) to ‘subdue’ and ‘have dominion.’ In Hebrew rakal means to trade and Heracleem means traders. Those who went forth from Argos and subdued other parts of Greece are spoken of as Heraclidae, or descendants of Heracles. For awhile, apparently in the confusion caused by the Trojan War, they were driven Northward out of the Peloponnesus. Some years later they made a re-conquest, which was called ‘the return of the descendants of Hercules’ (see Muller’s History of the Dorians). From these are the Lacedaemonians, whose capital was Sparta. Thus Agamemnon, who was chosen Commander-in-Chief of all the Greeks proceeding to the siege of Troy, was King of Argos and Mycene, and his brother, Menelaus, was King of Sparta, capital of Lacedaemon.
"There is another instance of the kind. The Danaster (Dniester) is sometimes called the Tyras (Herod, IV:51; Strabo VII.I:1), and the people living there are called Tyritae, and it is reasonable to infer that, from the intimate home relations of the people of Tyre with the Dannites of Israel, the names of Tyre and Dan were used indiscriminately."36
That they were part of the same Israelite peoples from whom we trace our descent seems evident. "Nineteenth-Century Britons tended to identify themselves with the Phoenicians, who were, ‘The people who of all antiquity had the most in common with England and the English’ [quoting G. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, 1889]. The Phoenicians were regarded (by British historians) as allies of King Solomon and as Semites.
"There was a perception, on the Continent, of a close relationship between England and the Semites in general, and the Phoenicians in particular (Bernal, p. 342). ‘Consciously or unconsciously, European thinkers saw the Phoenicians as the Jews of Antiquity–as clever "Semitic" traders. Despite the association between the English and the Semites, no one compared the English to the Arabs or the Ethiopians; the Semites they had in mind were Jews and/or Phoenicians.’"37
Whoever they were, they became a great empire, and today almost nobody knows about them. Steven Collins calls them the "Forgotten Empire." They established an international empire that lasted 300 years, between [approximately] 1000-700 BCE. Phoenicia included the entire region on the Eastern Shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Greeks called that area "Phoenicia," and applied the name "Phoenician" to the alliance of people in that region that was headed by the Israelites.
Under Kings Solomon of Israel and Hiram of Tyre, the Israelites and the city-states under King Hiram became virtually one people, with mingled work forces laboring together on huge building projects and with their navies crewed by sailors from both nations. Tyre and Sidon were junior partners to Israelites in that time of worldwide influence. These Israelites became the Carthaginian Empire, among others, while those who remained behind continued to be called Phoenician. They fit in superlatively to the promises of Creator that His chosen people would be empire builders and world leaders.
19 Trento, p. 65.
20 Ibid., pp. 65-70.
21 Collins, Steven M., The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel…Found! p. 26.
22 Ibid., p. 26.
23 Tromel, Fred, "An Ethnologist Looks at The Odyssey," ESOP, 1988, pp. 122-123 [describing Dr. Christine Pellech’s Die Odyssee-eign Antike Weltumseqelung (The Odyssey-an Antique Circumnavigation of the World)], pub. 1983, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin.
24 Trento, pp. 12-13.
25 Gawler, Colonel J.C., "Dan, the Pioneer of Israel," p. 31.
26 Fell, America B.C., p. 109.
27 Ibid., p. 110.
29 Ibid., p. 112.
30 Tesla, p. 165.
31 Collins, p. 75. Collins is quoting Edey, The Sea Traders, p. 9.
32 Ibid., p. 76.
33 Ibid., p. 33.
34 Ibid., pp. 78-79, quoting Harper’s Bible Dictionary, ‘Tarshish.’ p. 1018.
35 Ibid., pp. 58-59.
36 Gawler, p. 12.
37 Davidy, Yair, Ephraim, p. 188. Davidy is quoting Bernal, Martin, Black Athena, the Archaeological and Documentary Evidence, p. 33. Note that "Jew" is meant here as "Israelite."