Archive for Red Men

The Sea & Red Men in Africa



by, Harry Bourne,



Beginning this article feeds into something that has long taken my attention. This is the maritime history western parts or Atlantic-facing Europe but most especially that of the maritime Celts. However, on looking for information about what was happening on Atlantic coasts of west Africa, there seemed little to find to find and this triggered my series of papers on the maritime history of west Africa and related matters. They include three on the website hosted by Salim Khalaf.

The Phoenicians are probably the best known of any ancient non-African people to have reached Africa by sea. They are said to have had skin-tones variously described as copper, bronze or red. Various articles include those on the already noted, Who Were the Phoenicians by Nissim Ganor, Wikipedia entries on Canaan plus Phoenicia, etc. Between them, they probably provide most of the clues as to the geography plus sources of the Phoenicians.

On the site called Seafaring in Ancient India there are comparisons of Sanskrit Asura and the Semitic Assyria, Sanskrit Chola and Semitic Chaldaea, Sanskrit Pani and Semitic Phoenician, etc. One meaning of Sanskrit Asura is “those that are drunk” ad that as far away as the western province of Ireland called Connacht, it seems the Pre-Connachta name is Ol’Necmacht (in Irish)/ Nagnatae (in Latin) and it too may mean Drunkards. This would reinforce notions of Asura/Assyria as the name of a people/nation. The written form of the Sanskrit Pani seems close to the Poeni/Puni that is the earliest Latin label for the Phoenicians, but later used for the Phoenicians settled at Carthage (hence such terms as Phoenico/Punic, Punic, etc). Moreover, Puni seems to mean trader and whether seen as Phoenicians, Poeni or other spellings, they too were pre-eminently were traders.

Assyria being entirely Semitic and derived from the god-name of Assur with the related Semitic language of Hebrew giving a meaning for assur as happy, the etymology is purely Semitic owing nothing to Sanskrit. The earliest rise of the Cholas in eastern India at ca. 2300 before Common Era (= BCE = before c. 500 on common era/CE dates) is significant. However, it is far too late for the emergence from the Canaanite of the Phoenicians and the great Chola imperial expansion is very definitely totally far too late to be relevant for the antecedents of the Phoenicians.

If a word meaning drunks can be removed as showing the forebears of one Semitic people, a Sanskrit word meaning thieves as well as traders probably means it too should be removed as marking the ancestry of the Phoenicians. The word of Eskimos derives from a word in a language of neighbours who were a people of the severally named Native Americans, Redskins, American Indians, Amerindians Amerinds or just “Americans” in “The American Discovery of Europe” by Jack Forbes (2007). That Amerind language was Algonquin and in it, Eskimo apparently means thief and it is no surprise the Inuit want to be known by another name. The Pacific islands once named by the Spanish as the Ladrones (= Islands of Thieves) was unsurprisingly renamed by them as the Marianas when the Spaniards established a permanent colony there. So we may well regard it as unlikely that the Phoenicians would want their ancestors to have been called by a word meaning thieves.

For Herodotus (ca. 450 BCE Greek) that homeland was in that he apparently held was called what was called the Red Sea but is now called the Persian Gulf. What for Pliny (ca. 50 BCE Roman) was mainly the Sea of Azania stretching from Sudan to Mozambique has its northern part in what is now the Red Sea. However, telling against the Persian Gulf and Red Sea connection would be genetics placing the Phoenician antecedents in or near what was Anatolia but is now mainly most of Turkey. It is generally agreed the sequence from Canaanite to Phoenician occurred in the Canaan stretching from Anatolia/Turkey to Iraq with what became Phoenicia only a section of that part facing the east Mediterranean.

Flinders Petrie (the Making of Egypt 1939) is followed by David Rohl (in the Test of Time books) in looking for a group from the Persian Gulf. This group goes under the several names of the Square-boat People, Fon/Pon/Pun, the Eastern or Dynastic Race, Proto-Phoenicians, etc. These are among the efforts to regard Phoenicians as having been early non-Africans exploiting Zimbabwean gold via the Biblical mentions of such as Havilah, Sheba, Ophir, etc. A further argument on this came from messrs. Lacroix (Africa in Antiquity 1998) and Chami (The Unity of African Ancient History 2006). Routes north would connect this to Opone (= Hafun, Somalia) and Punt in north Somalia/Djibouti/Eritrea. The end of this Square-boat/Dynastic Race movement was the conquest of Egypt.

My comments are in Africa, Egypt & Prehistory (online) plus Egypt & the Sea in Antiquity (online). There the opinion followed is given that the Dynastic Race, the conquest of Egypt, the Proto-Phoenicians, etc, is wrong.

A more famous example of the Phoenicians in Africa comes from what is written by Herodotus. He wrote that the Egyptian Pharoah Necho/Necos sent a fleet crewed by Phoenicians to circumnavigate all Africa. It would be reinforced if more such roundings of Africa could be shown. Such Classical or Greco/Roman authors as Pliny, Martianus Capella, etc, held that Hanno of Carthage achieved this. Chami (ib.) felt this was shown by the Phoenico/Punic vessel that messrs. Cary and Warmington (The Ancient Explorers 1963) placed at Cape Delgado (Tanzania).

Read more