The Route to the Tin-Islands(16a)
by Karl Juergen Hepke
The West coasts of
1. Here were rich deposits of tin, which was necessary for the production of bronze.
2. Far more in the North were the coasts of amber, an in the Mediterranean area high estimated material for jewelry.
The seafaring people, who were, after the sinking of the Atlantian empire in 1250 B.C., further interested in these treasures were in chronological sequence of their activity: Phoenicians, Greek and Karthagaeans , who are also called Punians.
The Phoenicians founded after the desaster of Tharsis in the catastrophe of 1250 B.C. about 1100 B.C. an own station of commerce, named Gades (Cadiz) in front of the weakened country to take the important commerce with metals in own hands. As it was usual at them, they left no written reports about their activities in this region.
Archaeological finds are known until now only from
their establishments in
After the breakdown of the supply with tin through
Tharsis and the decline of the Atlantian empire, in the course of which the
Greek broke completely with the Phoenicians and had no chance as competitor and
possible enemy to be supplied by them with raw metals, the production of new
metal materials was nearly impossible in
The "Greek" who made these voyages for
scouting, which were also combined with the foundation of settlements in the
As it may be, in
Rufus Festus Avienus, a Roman poet of the 4th century
B.C. uses a report of a "Greek" seafarer from Massalia (Marseille, a
foundation of the Phokaeans) from the 6th century B.C. in which is said, that
the inhabitants of Tartessos made regular voyages to the Kassiteriden and
Oestrymniden (Places of tin commerce at the west coast of Iberia). There is
also a description of the British islands in which is said:" From
Britannia (probably Britanny) needs a ship two suns to reach the "holy
But the most known and most famous report of the
antiquity is coming from Pytheas, an astronom and geographer also from
Massalia. This report marked for a long time the quarrels of the knowledge of
the old world from the coasts northern of
Pytheas was a recognized astronomer and mathematician and his astonishing exact calculation of distances and size of the visited countries are showing today, that he has really made this journey himself.
For reason of the only fragmentary tradition of the
report is number and size of the used ships unknown. But one can suppose by the
successful accomplished journey , that he used ships of sufficient size and
good sails and more than one ship. Also unclear is, how could be passed the by
Karthago strongly controlled coast of South-Iberia at this time by Greek ships.
There are data to the time for the voyage along the west coast of
For, respecting the knowledge of Pytheas and the start
from Massalia , is probable, that he used the old, kept secret way from Atlantian times through
South-France and than down the
Anyhow, two weeks after he had left Massalia he
reached the ocean and sailed North. In the report of Timaios of Tauromenion,
basing on the report of Pytheas, are mentioned the mouth areas of
The Greek reached Lands End, the utmost western point
of Cornwall, which was called in
Through Diodorus of Sicilia details of the nature of
the island are handed down, from which is supposed, that they originally came
At the route to North through the stretches of water,
separating Great-Britain from
A landing in
Diodorus of Sicilia has handed over quite a lot of
details, probably found out by Pytheas. After that is the island of the Albions
The second cape, Belerion, is distant four day tours from the continent and is extending into the ocean. The length of the sides of the triangle are 7500 stadions, 15000 stadions and 2000 stadions. The whole island has a circumference of 42500 stadions. The North point of Scotland is after the calculation of Pytheas 1700 Km distant from Massalia and is with a difference of only 100 Km astonishing exact calculated.
The inhabitants are natives and have kept their old customs. In war they use still chariots like the Greek at Troja. The houses are built from wood and reed. The cereals are harvested by cutting off of the ears and so stored. The daily requirement is pulled out of the ears. The customs are simple and widely distant from the deviousness and corruptness in the Mediterranean area. The population is numerous, the climate cold. They have a lot of kings and rulers but mostly they live in peace with each other. Archaeological finds from this time have confirmed all these data.
After Plinius the Older the seafarers sailed along
Britannia into the sea in front of
From the last visited island Berrike the Greek sailed
after calming of the weather in direction North, to reach the
They sailed obviously in an extended low pressure area
without sight to sun and stars and with that for fixing of their position.
After a six days voyage they reached a country under which is today seen
The bees, living in this country and supplying the
honey for the "Hydromeli", "mead of water", the "drink
of the gods" are pointing to the South of Norway and not to
Because right behind "
After Strabo, who has this copied from Timaios, they
followed the northern coasts and reached "Skythia" and the river
"Tanais." With "Skythia" is possibly meant the north-german
lowland or Denmark and with "Tanais" the mouth of the Elbe or the
"mouth" of the Baltic Sea with the three arms Little Belt, Store Belt
and Sound. "Skythia" extended for the geographers of the antiquity
from the steps of
If Pytheas has also travelled around the
After new insights is probably meant Helgoland, that with its deposits of copper and amber and with its impressive red rock in the midst of the sea had a special roll in the Atlantian age of bronze and was regarded as "holy island".
After Polybios Pytheas returned "from the river
Tanais" along the coast of
The report of Pytheas was in the time, from which it
came, a real sensation. No seafarer before him had until than reported so rich
of details about the coasts of the
So in the beginning Roman empire nothing was known
about the coasts and sea routes of the
Pytheas, the astronomer of Massalia, was soon called by the geographers of the antiquity ,like Platon with his Atlantis report, " an inventor of fables", because his report was unique and not confirmed by further reports. He would have come to complete oblivion , if not the critical and partly devaluing assessment of the posterity had not, at least in parts, handed him down.
From the time,when Karthago gained the maritime
supremacy of the western Mediterranaean is coming the second report, not so
rich of details, of the voyage to the tin islands. It was also handed down
indirectly by Greek and Romans to the posterity. Plinius the Older and Avienus
tell from a scouting tour of the Karthagaean Himilkon, that took place about
480 B.C. Both are using for that a Greek translation of the report which
escaped the destruction of all cultural products by the Romans in the library
of the king of
After Himilkon had left the
From these details one can conclude, that Himilkon had no information about the sea route from Greek or Phoenician side and was collecting it himself for the Karthagaean shipping. This was obviously the only purpose of the journey. He reached finally the Armorican and British tin islands with their wealth of tin, lead and gold. Data about the density of population of the islands, that were archaeologically confirmed, can be a proof, that he was really there.
Otherwise the report of Avienus is more paltrey. Himilkon has certainly only reported the most important for the route to the islands. At least his voyage reached its aim to scout out the route to the tin islands for the Karthagaean ships and to point out possibly occurring difficulties and problems.
This only purpose orientated scouting tour of Himilkon, which is much more better known and found its way into our general knowledge of history, can hardly compete with the real expedition of Pytheas.
Read to this, (for the moment only available in German language) :
GESCHICHTE VON ATLANTIS, der vergessene Ursprung unserer Kultur
by Karl Juergen Hepke
TRIGA - DER VERLAG, D 63584 Gruendau-Rothenbergen, Germany, 2nd Edition, Hardcover, 268 Pages, EUR 22,00, ISBN 978-3-89774-539-1 ,