Carthage and the Atlantic Ocean

Do you think Carthage had a presence in the islands of the eastern Atlantic Ocean?

  • No, Carthage never had a presence there.

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Carthage probably had an economic presence in Azores, Madeira, and/or the Canary Islands.

    Votes: 13 81.3%
  • Carthage probably controlled Azores, Madeira, and/or the Canary Islands

    Votes: 2 12.5%

  • Total voters
    16
Jun 2013
6,337
USA
#1
Carthaginian coins have been found in Azores (and apparently as far as Nova Scotia but that's much more debatable) and it begs the question if Carthage perhaps had control of certain islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Do you think it's possible that Carthage perhaps controlled Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands? Or do you think they merely traded there occasionally?
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#2
Well, according to the "Portuguese Association of Archeological Research [APIA]" someone from Carthage built temples to the Goddess Tanit. This could indicate some kind of permanent settlement, but also that convoys from Carthage used Azores to take a pause during the long travel towards the Northern mines of tin an other [British Isles].

Carthaginian temples found ? Azores | Portuguese American Journal
 
Jan 2014
1,905
Florida
#3
I find it unlikely that the Carthaginians directly controlled any Atlantic islands. First of all, coins are in and of themselves no evidence of settlement. They are merely evidence of economic activity. Secondly, the Carthaginians were much more concerned with their lucrative Mediterranean trade. Why would they waste the time and resources on far off outposts that provide little profit relative to the more lucrative options closer to home? Could they have been used as outposts? Certainly. But more direct control I find harder to believe.
 

kazeuma

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
2,365
#4
The problem with Carthage having contact with the New Word is keeping up the trade route. Ancient Carthage ruled somewhere between BCE 814 and ended its rule in BCE 146. Carthage had more immediate problems than crossing the Atlantic (though it is possible to cross it without a compass, and it is possible to just swim across the Atlantic) - the immediate problem is of the Roman Republic's expansion. Men, ships, and material would be better used to fight Rome than crossing the Atlantic.

Now before someone says that some Carthage general could take refugees out and establish a colony somewhere safe from the Roman threat, the navy would have to get past the Roman one, cross the Atlantic, and not get massacred by the natives in the Americas.

Most people (sic - Racist Euro-centrist pricks) who want Carthage (or Phoenicians) to cross the Atlantic want them to become the founding fathers of the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, etc. - because it is inconceivable in their minds that the natives themselves could ever create their own civilization independent of outside influence.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#5
I find it unlikely that the Carthaginians directly controlled any Atlantic islands. First of all, coins are in and of themselves no evidence of settlement. They are merely evidence of economic activity. Secondly, the Carthaginians were much more concerned with their lucrative Mediterranean trade. Why would they waste the time and resources on far off outposts that provide little profit relative to the more lucrative options closer to home? Could they have been used as outposts? Certainly. But more direct control I find harder to believe.
Absolutely, coins are clues of trades and commerce of some kind [clues ... also in Iceland they have found Roman coins, but probably Vikings carried them there]. Anyway in the case of the coins from Carthage found near Bristol, it seems they are genuine clues of commercial activity in that far age.

2,300-year-old coin reveals Mediterranean trade route dating back to the Iron Age | Daily Mail Online
 
Jan 2014
1,905
Florida
#6
Absolutely, coins are clues of trades and commerce of some kind [clues ... also in Iceland they have found Roman coins, but probably Vikings carried them there]. Anyway in the case of the coins from Carthage found near Bristol, it seems they are genuine clues of commercial activity in that far age.

2,300-year-old coin reveals Mediterranean trade route dating back to the Iron Age | Daily Mail Online
I'm not surprised that Carthaginians traded with Britain. The Phoenicians traded with them before Carthage and it would only seem logical that with its location Carthage would have a stake in the British trade, even if only indirectly through Spain and Gaul.
 
Nov 2018
1
Wisconsin
#7
Kaz your own arrogance clouds your judgement. Even if that reasoning was sound you’d be proposing that people solely belive in a Carthage-American evacuation because of some desire for it to relate to later Native civilizations. Except you neglect the fact that even if anyone believed that they’d have to by extension believe that the Natives met the Carthaginians, only to adopt their ideas of civilization more than 1000 years later, around 1000 AD. Its stupid to write off a theory because of baseless assumptions about the reasons behind the theory. Carthage probably didnt control the Azores but coin activity meant they sure as hell knew they existed. Thats half of the Atlantic already covered. If there really were coins discovered in Vinland and those were actually from ancient history and brought their during the period, specifically before Lief Erikson’s expeditions, then that is undeniable proof the Carthaginians had knowledge of the new world. However even still any refugee efforts probably would have followed the coastlines rather than run out perpendicular into the vast ocean...
The Carthaginians wouldnt have been slaughtered by Natives upon arrival though. If there were enough refugees then they would have been able to sustain civilization quite easily against a bunch of primitive hunter-gatherers. Disease would bite at both sides but the Carthaginians would definitely have the edge to form a colony. The idea that them forming a refuge in the Americas is impossible is ridiculous. However given current archeological evidence it seems obvious no such thing ever existed in the USA, at least. Perhaps discoveries in the Carribean could shed more light.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#8
Kaz your own arrogance clouds your judgement. Even if that reasoning was sound you’d be proposing that people solely belive in a Carthage-American evacuation because of some desire for it to relate to later Native civilizations. Except you neglect the fact that even if anyone believed that they’d have to by extension believe that the Natives met the Carthaginians, only to adopt their ideas of civilization more than 1000 years later, around 1000 AD. Its stupid to write off a theory because of baseless assumptions about the reasons behind the theory. Carthage probably didnt control the Azores but coin activity meant they sure as hell knew they existed. Thats half of the Atlantic already covered. If there really were coins discovered in Vinland and those were actually from ancient history and brought their during the period, specifically before Lief Erikson’s expeditions, then that is undeniable proof the Carthaginians had knowledge of the new world. However even still any refugee efforts probably would have followed the coastlines rather than run out perpendicular into the vast ocean...
The Carthaginians wouldnt have been slaughtered by Natives upon arrival though. If there were enough refugees then they would have been able to sustain civilization quite easily against a bunch of primitive hunter-gatherers. Disease would bite at both sides but the Carthaginians would definitely have the edge to form a colony. The idea that them forming a refuge in the Americas is impossible is ridiculous. However given current archeological evidence it seems obvious no such thing ever existed in the USA, at least. Perhaps discoveries in the Carribean could shed more light.
It's a long time we took part to this brief thread, personally I would stop the Carthaginian presence no more West than the Azores. They were great navigators and if Vikings were able to cross the ocean with their ships Carthaginians were in the conditions to do the same with their ones. But ... our planet is a spheroid and so More North you are and less far America and Europe are. Furthermore leaving the British Isles, navigating West, you can rely on the presence of Iceland and Greenland as not so far coasts of reference.

At the latitude of the Mediterranean Sea the Atlantic Ocean is well wider and there are no available coasts of reference. In the age of the Carthaginians to have a coast to reach was pivotal [in fact, until the Age of Exploration the so called "coastal navigation" was the predominant one].

So, it's possible they found the Azores taking an odd route to avoid a storm, but I don't think they went more West than that. There was no reason to do it and it was too dangerous for them.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,083
Portugal
#9
Kaz your own arrogance clouds your judgement.
I see that is your first post! Welcome, Sladky! But maybe these are not the better entrance words! But from what I understood I can agree with some parts of the rest of your post.

Well, according to the "Portuguese Association of Archeological Research [APIA]" someone from Carthage built temples to the Goddess Tanit. This could indicate some kind of permanent settlement, but also that convoys from Carthage used Azores to take a pause during the long travel towards the Northern mines of tin an other [British Isles].

Carthaginian temples found ? Azores | Portuguese American Journal
Hi AlpinLuke,

I know that this post of yours has a couple of years, but I saw it now and I want to make some comments.

First the APIA is an association of archaeologists but it is not the AAP (Associação de Arqueólogos Portugueses / Association of Portuguese Archaeologists) – the main association of the sector, and sometimes it seems that the APIA name just appears to give some credibility to the findgins.

As far as I know until today there are no evidences of the presence of the Phoenicians in the Islands of Azores as there is no evidence of their presence in America. The possibility exists but we have no evidences.

The Carthaginian coins found in Azores were found out of context and can raise the possibility but aren’t a evidence.

The so called temples to Tanit found by two APIA archaeologists, Nuno Ribeiro and Anabela Joaquinito, soon were quite controversial and are most likely constructions from the 16th to the 17th centuries. They advanced with the thesis, that to me seemed more a wishful thinking, but soon even the president of the Historical Institute of the Island Terceira, Francisco Maduro Dias, came to the press stating that those were military shelters and the sinks were to collect water for the near garrison, stating that APIA’s thesis was a fantasy:

Here one of the news that came to the press at the time (2011): Descoberta de 'templos' gera polémica nos Açores

One thing seems certain there were no objects in the excavated caves that could give us any link to Phoenicia or Carthage. And in this case Francisco Maduro Dias in his position would jump in happiness if a great discovery was found in his island, where he is the president of the Historical Institute. Everyone in the small island would welcome a wave of historical tourists and researchers.

Than we have a practical issue: What could the Azores offer to the Phoenicians/Carthaginians?

As you said their navigation was mostly coastal, their ships weren’t the best for the Atlantic, so the probability that they used the Azores because of the winds, like the Portuguese, was quite low, anyway they didn’t had many commerce in the Atlantic coast of Africa, south of the Bojador, a difficult cape. And they didn’t need Azores to travel north, to the British Isles, even if they did it directly, which is not a certainty.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,083
Portugal
#10
Carthaginian coins have been found in Azores (and apparently as far as Nova Scotia but that's much more debatable) and it begs the question if Carthage perhaps had control of certain islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Do you think it's possible that Carthage perhaps controlled Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands? Or do you think they merely traded there occasionally?
This thread is old, and I already addressed the issue of the coins in Azores.

But for raising thesis we must have some ground, if we don’t have some evidence we can even raise the possibility that the Carthaginians reached Japan or the Moon.

There is no archaeological or written evidence that the Carthaginians reached the Azores Islands and they were uninhabited when the Portuguese arrived there.

The Madeira Islands were also uninhabited when the Portuguese arrived there but they were possibly known in the Antiquity, the references are unclear. Anyway there are no archaeological evidence of the presence of the Carthaginians or any other people previous to the Portuguese colonization.

The question of the Canary Islands is quite different. They were certainly known in the antiquity. They were inhabited at least since the Neolithic by peoples (usually referred as Guanches) linked with the Berbers from North of Africa. When the European arrived there in the late of the Middle Ages they had lost the major capability to navigate even from island to island (and they can be seen by eye).

As such, there are many ancient human constructions in the islands, but as far as I know, none to the date was identified as Phoenician/Carthaginian. But since the islands were known and were inhabited they are probably the best shot among the three archipelagos to find some Phoenician/Carthaginian remains.

But even if we find those Phoenician/Carthaginian remains we would prove that they knew the islands, had posts, made trade, but not that they control the islands.

So, to answer to the questions: “Do you think it's possible that Carthage...?”:

Possible? Yes. Likely (with our present knowlege)? No.
 

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