Tarshish

Legend or real.  The hunt for Jonah's hiding place of Tarshish.

Roman Mosaic, fish eating man - Barbo Museum Carthage

The Bible makes numerous references to a place called Tarshish, most notably in association with the account of Jonah and the big fish End Note 12.  A survey of written material on possible positioning of this location is literally all over the map. A non-exhaustive list of cited possibilities includes:

  1. Fictional (not really on the map)

  2. India
  3. Great Britain
  4. Southern Spain
  5. North Africa (modern Tunisia)
  6. The Island of Sardinia (modern autonomous Italian territory)
  7. Asia Minor (modern Turkey)

It's rare in archaeology to find ancient signs definitively identifying a location by name, especially in the pre-Roman period.  During the Roman era, surviving stone monuments commemorating benefactors or politicians sometimes include place names.  For earlier locations, sites are commonly fixed based on a combination of evidences ranging from fragmentary inscriptions to surviving ancient literature.  Clues from these textual sources combined patterns of trade, composition of trade goods, jewels, and metals all provide identifiable geographic indications. Occasionally a location must be revised as new evidence is discovered or old evidences are reevaluated.

This article pinpoints Tarshish's location by reconciling Biblical passages and textual clues with on-site examination of key sites in association with historical extra-Biblical sources.  I believe the sum of evidence best identifies one specific site, one that has been commonly overlooked. Apart from discovery of additional archaeological evidence (perhaps that elusive ancient "welcome to Tarshish" sign), I'm persuaded the following evidences best point to one Phoenician candidate: Utica (in modern north Tunisia).

The deduced necessary Biblical parameters governing this place-search were as follows:

  1. Tarshish was a coastland site. 

    • The location bears the name of a son of Javan, a grandson of Noah, founders of the ancient "coastland peoples." (Genesis 10:1-5)
    • Research into the descendants of Javan show migration into coastal areas from Asia Minor across the Mediterranean to especially Greece and Macedonia and westward from Spain to Sardinia and perhaps north and south along the Atlantic coast, from England to Africa. (Tower of Babel, Bodie Hodge, 2013, pg. 165)

  2. Tarshish must have been established prior to the 10th century BC.

    • Trade existed from this location in the time of King Solomon (ruled circa 970-931 BC) and the Phoenician king Hiram. (1 Kings 10:21)

  3. Tarshish remained a viable and identifiable location for many centuries, until at least the 6th century BC.

    • Jonah sought to go there in the reigns of King Uzziah, who ruled circa 792-740 BC, and Jeroboam II, who ruled 793-753 BC. (Jonah 1:3)
    • Isaiah wrote of this place in the 8th century BC. (Isaiah 23:1-12; 66:19)
    • Jeremiah wrote of this place shortly after 627 BC (Jeremiah 10:9)
    • Ezekiel wrote of this place shortly after 593 BC (Ezekiel 27:12)

  4. Tarshish had to be a source of, or viable location for trade in, gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks.

    • King Solomon imported these from Tarshish (1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 9:21)
    • Tarshish was especially known for silver, gold seemingly not native to the place or area - meaning it was likely acquired elsewhere for trade. (Jeremiah 10:9)
    • They were known for silver, iron, tin and lead in Ezekiel's time. (Ezekiel 27:12)

  5. Tarshish was a destination a considerable distance away from Israel.  Round trip trading took three years - remembering ship travel was limited to non-winter months.

    • This may mean travel one direction during seasonally prevailing winds, about one year to amass the items, and return the following year during the opposite seasonally prevailing winds. (2 Chronicles 9:21; 1 Kings 10:21)
    • It could also mean one season's travel on each end, with a full two years to acquire the items (implying some trade items may have come from a great distance from Tarshish).

  6. Tarshish was likely Phoenician End Note 1, or a location very favorable to the Phoenicians (especially to be able to acquire highly valued silver and gold).

    • Early scripture references tie this location and its ship with Hiram, a prominent king of the Phoenicians at Tyre from circa 969-935 BC (1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 9:21)

      Coastline of ancient Tyre (Lebanon)

    • Israel's ships accompanied ships manned by and owned by Phoenicians (1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 9:21)

      Phoenician Gold

  7. Tarshish would have potential access from ships going to Ophir from the Red Sea port of Ezion-geber.

    • Ships being built by Israel at Ezion-geber to access Ophir were also planned to go to Tarshish (1 Kings 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36-37)
    • One of Tarshish's sources for gold may have been Ophir. These later kings of Judah and Israel, Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah, may have been planning to mimic know earlier voyages and trading routes used in Solomon's era. 

      Author, Brent MacDonald, at site of Red Sea Ezion-geber port

  8. Tarshish was readily accessible to ships departing from Joppa (modern Tel-Aviv) in Israel, specifically the Mediterranean Sea.  

    • Jonah paid passage on a ship already heading to Tarshish from Joppa (Jonah 1:3)
    • East winds were particular dangerous to ships on the Mediterranean Sea (Psalms 48:7)

      Modern breakwater at site of the ancient port of Joppa

  9. Tarshish was sufficiently wealthy to have its own ships, "ships of Tarshish."

    • In Solomon's time (1 Kings 10:21)
    • In the Psalmist's time (Psalms 48:7) 
    • In Isaiah's time (Isaiah 23:1)

  10. Tarshish's name itself is quite generic. There are many places in the ancient world using a form of the name, including "Tharsis," "Tarsis," "Tarsus," "Tharros," or "Tarshish."  All are based in the Semitic root word "to smelt." This implies Tarshish was at least initially a smelting town, refining metals. Because of widespread use of similar naming, other parameters are of utmost value in determining the specific Biblical location. 

    • There was a Tarsus in Cilicia, Asia Minor
    • There was a Tartessus on the Bay of Gibraltar (now Carteria)

  11. The name Tarshish, a smelting place, and Scriptures imply a specific location or city versus a region.

    • Consider Isaiah, when identifying the region of Cyprus, he clearly used the clarifying word "land" (Isaiah 23:1), yet the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon don't have this clarification.  Isaiah likewise references Tarshish in the same manner as those cities. (Isaiah 23:1-2).

I narrowed the search from the broadly offered possibilities using the following procedure and reasoning for my exclusion or inclusion:

  1. Tarshish is fictional (not really on the map)

    • This idea is readily dismissed as we have Biblical sources and ancient literature citing it as a widely known location. 
    • An inscription on a stone stele from the island of Sardinia, called the Nora Stone, references it as a then current place and power. This stele, found on the southern coast, is at earliest late 9th century or more probably 8th century BC.

  2. Tarshish is in India

    • There's absolutely no evidence other than conjecture claiming this as a place to source some of the Biblically mentioned trade items.  It was relatively accessible to Red Sea ports but not Joppa.  Too many direct associations of Tarshish with the Mediterranean region make this suggestion readily dismissible. 
    • The Neo-Assyrians, who loosely ruled the Phoenicians, claimed Tarshish as part of Mediterranean lands.  Consider an inscription of Esarhaddon End Note 2, who ruled circa 681-669 BC, which states "All the kings from the lands surrounded by sea - from the country Iadanan (Cyprus) and Iaman (Ionia in Asia Minor), as far as Tarsisi (Tarshish), bowed to my feet and I received heavy tribute." 

  3. Tarshish is in Great Britain

    • There is folklore and little physical evidence that the Phoenicians sourced metals, especially tin, in this area. End Note 3
    • There is no evidence for any permanent Phoenician settlement.
    • Any trade in this area appears to be late.  The earliest mentions we have of its possibility are Strabo (lived circa 63 BC - 23 AD) and Diodorus Siculus (writing circa 60-30 BC), both writing during a time when Rome most certainly was trading there. End Note 4
    • Many who embrace this Bristish possibility do so because of their interpretation of end-times prophecy (such as Ezekiel 38), wanting Tarshish to be a reference to Great Britain. End Note 5

  4. Tarshish is in southern Spain

    • Only in the 4th century AD was Cadiz in southern Spain (G?d?s in Latin) offered as a possibility End Note 6. Popular literature spread this idea in modern times: for example, Herman Melville's Moby Dick End Note 7.
    • In 1646 AD a French Protestant pastor and scholar, Samuel Bochart, associated Tarshish with Tartessos in southern Spain End Note 8.
    • Greek and Roman legend has Cadiz being founded circa 1110 BC by the Phoenicians End Note 9. A first century AD Roman historian, Velleius Paterculus, cites that Cadiz was founded a few years before Utica, but provided no source for this assertion and may be only reflecting the earlier legends End Note 10.
    • Spain has become a modern favorite in many Bible commentaries and dictionaries.  
      • Consider this quote from as early as 1863: "Probably Tartessus, a city and emporium of the Phoenicians in the South of Spain... In the absences of positive proof, we may acquiesce in the statement of Strabo, that the river Baetis (now the Guadalquivir) was formerly called Tartessus, that the city Tartessus was situated between the two arms by which the river flowed into the sea, and that the adjoining country was called Tartessis." End Note 11


         

        1. The positioning of this legendary region is questionable by early sources, perhaps legendary.  Aristotle (4th century BC) refers to Tartessos as a river, claiming its source in the Pyrene (Pyrenees) Mountain, flowing to the sea outside the Pillars of Hercules (modern Strait of Gibraltar). Yet, no such river traverses the Iberian Peninsula!  According to Pytheas (circa 325 BC), as reported hundreds of years later by Strabo End Note 13, the Turduli occupied the area that was Tartessos which was the Baetis (Guadalquivir) River (in Spain).  Later still, Greek Pausanias mentioned the river and giving reported details of the location of the city: "They say that Tartessus is a river in the land of the Iberians, running down into the sea by two mouths and that between these two mouths lies a city of the same name. The river, which is the largest in Iberia and tidal, those of a later day called Baetis and there are some who think that Tartessus was the ancient name of Carpia, a city of the Iberians End Note 14."
        2. This Tartessus/Tartessos is considered to be a "lost city," some even think it may be Atlantis.  A news headline from September 8, 2015 fueled this speculation: "2,500-year-old city buried under flood sediment may belong to lost civilization in Spain." To be clear, they have no direct evidence there's even a city under that sediment, merely enhanced satellite images showing some possible outlines (which may have other explanations). End Note 15
        3. Recent archaeological finds at Huelva, Spain, about 100 km/62 miles from Cadiz, show the area had trade with the Phoenicians from the late 10th to early 8th century BC.  Finds include Phoenician, Greek, and some local made potteries. End Note 16
      • This region of southern Spain had early Phoenician trade and subsequent settlement as a Phoenician city, namely Cadiz, but the latter only following the establishment of Carthage.  If this was the place, there would have been a land of Tarshish but not a city Tarshish in Solomon's time. And it wouldn't have been under Phoenician control. While there is linguistic evidence from inscriptions of a possible regional language (that some call Tartessian End Note 17), there's no direct evidence of any such port city. All we know comes from fifth and fourth century BC writers, such as Herodotus and Ephorus of Cyme End Note 18 - both citing earlier legends.
    • Analysis of precious metals of early Phoenician origin, specifically silver, show that it could have come from this region or Sardinia. End Note 19

      Hacksilber hoard from Tel Dor.
      (From the Jul/Aug 1998 BAR, courtesy of Ephraim Stern)

    • While southern Spain, including Cadiz, is a serious contender, I dismiss it for the following reasons:

      • There is no physical evidence for a settled Phoenicians presence in Cadiz, or the nearby region, before the 8th century BC - far too late. End Note 22
      • Cadiz was the Phoenician city and harbor in the claimed area of Tartessos. Some hold that Tartessos had its own city or port nearby (based on Herodotus) but it wouldn't have been under Phoenician control for them to have built another major city close by.

      • Metals acquired by the Phoenicians don't imply anything more than certain early trade with this region (or with peoples who did have trade with this region). These seafarers regularly traded with lands and cities they had no foothold or cities in.  It was really only from the 8th century BC onward that they began to rigorously establish trading cities and control entire regions.

      • If it's the nearby region, and not Cadiz, there's no actual city "Tarshish." A generic region or river basin doesn't have the wealth or means to construct ships.  It's not a specific base of trade. Broad geographic areas are seldom referred as specific trading destinations in this early era. End Note 20
      • Cadiz's Phoenician name is well known from their inscriptions - it has always been "a Gadir" or "Agadir" meaning "The Wall," "The Compound," or "The Stronghold" End Note 21.  This is sometimes rendered as "Gades." Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, and even Arab sources continued to use variations of this ancient name. This known name is never associated with Tarshish.  Even if the site predates Utica (a dubious proposition), it was never known as Tarshish and certainly not of great importance and power until centuries later.
      • By the time of Isaiah (late 8th century BC), Jeremiah (late 7th century BC), and Ezekiel (early 6th century BC), it would be odd to use the name Tarshish for a faraway destination, with then well-known Cadiz built virtually next to it and now the prominent port in that area.

  5. North Africa (modern Tunisia)

    • Many Phoenician cities and outposts were planted along the Tunisian coast.  Perhaps the most significant was Carthage which functioned as an early base (perhaps the Phoenician's most important base over the centuries). End Note 22

      Author, Brent MacDonald, exploring Phoenician graves at Kerkouane

    • The Septuagint (LXX) manuscripts of the Old Testament, in several passages, translate Tarshish as Carthage, followed by some manuscripts of the early Vulgate.  The Jewish Targum of Jonathan (circa 50 BC) does the same using the term "Afriki" for Carthage.  As a Greek translation of Hebrew Scriptures a few centuries before Christ, the translator's choice of wording in the LXX, together with the pre-Christian Targum, show Egyptian and Israeli understanding that Tarshish was in North Africa. End Note 24

    • Unfortunately, Carthage wasn't founded until the late 9th century BC or mid-8th century BC, again too late for serious consideration End Note 26.  If founded earlier, this city would easily be the best candidate based on the evidences.  It certainly was a centralized base from which African exotic goods could be gathered along with metals from nearby islands such as Sardinia (only 140 kilometers/87 miles) and even southern Spain to the west. 
    • All this led to further personal investigation, beginning in Carthage, leading to a nearby site that does meet conditions for serious consideration. While almost all Phoenician cities along the coast were founded after Carthage, one came before it: Utica (examined in the next section). End Note 25

      Author Brent MacDonald and wife, Angie, at Utica 2017

  6. The Island of Sardinia

    • This relatively new suggestion rests solely in an interpretation of the Sardinian Nora Stone speculating as to its missing first lines.  One interpretation adds two starting lines to the eight showing, having the stela referring to a local battle fought and won, making Tarshish a refinery town on southern Sardinia at Nora or nearby. Some have tried to specifically pinpoint Tharros, also a late 8th century Phoenician settlement, mostly because of slight similarity in the names. End Note 27
      • While the stone certainly refers to Tarshish as a place, nothing definite in the inscription actually places Biblical Tarshish on Sardinia.

        Nora Stone with Tarshish Inscription 

    • Analysis of precious metals of early Phoenician origin, specifically silver, show that it could have come from this region or southern Spain. End Note 19

      • Metals acquired by the Phoenicians don't imply anything more than certain early trade with this region. These seafarers regularly traded with lands and cities they had no foothold or cities in.  It was only from the 8th century BC onward that they began to rigorously establish trading cities and control entire regions.
    • There's no physical evidence that the Phoenicians were settled on Sardinia prior to the 8th century BC, making this site far too late for serious Biblical consideration as Tarshish. End Note 28

  7. Asia Minor (modern Turkey)

    • This is a late conjecture by the first century AD historian Josephus, based on similarity of place names (Tarsus & Tarshish) End Note 29. While Phoenicia certainly traded in this region, too many other passages and references place Tarshish to the west of the Mediterranean.

Why Utica is the best solution for the location of Tarshish:

  1. Utica was established in the 11 century BC End Note 30. It was a port city positioned at a key Mediterranean location on a trade route leading to the Straits of Gibraltar.

    • Classical writers place it in this early time frame.  This includes Aristotle who wrote Utica was established 287 years before Carthage, plus historians Pliny the Elder and Velleius Paterculus. While some claim this dating legendary (as with Cadiz), other evidences support their assertions that Utica predated Carthage significantly. End Note 31
    • A pre-Christian era writer, Menander of Ephesus says that Hiram I (969-936 BC) of Tyre put down a rebellion from its colony Utica in his reign. This implies the city had already existed long enough to gain enough resources to believe it could successful rebel against the major power of Tyre. End Note 32

  2. Definitive physical evidences from before the 8th century BC are scarce on-site (although, to be fair, most of the site is not yet excavated End Note 33), yet...

    • The city's name itself is also proof of antedating Carthage. The name Utica means "Old [City]." Carthage, which came after Utica and slowly superseded its predecessor, means "New City." End Note 34
    • Carthage was founded about 40 km from Utica with better coastal positioning; modern Tunis is about halfway between.  Merging Carthage, Utica (Tarshish), and Tunis has a long history: A 15th century AD Portuguese scholar described Tarshish as "the city known in earlier times as Carthage and today called Tunis." End Note 35

      Ancient Carthage Settlement and Port

    • Utica was situated alongside the estuary of a coastal river, the Macaras (now called Mejerda or Majardah) that had a bad flooding and silting problem.  The current archaeological site is 12 kilometers from the sea and a significant distance from this meandering river, which at times has flowed on opposite sides of the city. End Note 44

      Utica: Showing the depth of Phoenician graves below Roman street level (top left)

      Utica: Phoenician grave and occupant, which included grave goods at foot.

  3. The city's later generic name, or nickname, speaks also to the city's prominence and widespread knowledge of the city.  To refer to it merely as "the city" or later "the old city" shows that it was the major city of the region - or the major city of the people doing the naming.  It's like saying "I'm going to the city" when in New York State - you'd immediately think of "New York City," without using the full or official name.

  4. Utica was wealthy and powerful, retaining political and economic autonomy from Carthage until at least 540 BC.  The city thrived through to the late Roman period.  It split with Carthage and sided with Rome in the third Punic War, in 150 BC., who then made it the capital of Rome's new province of Africa End Note 36. It was captured by the Vandals in 439 AD and continued to decline until finished off by the Arabs around 700 AD.  The Roman level in the site is a full 20 feet above the Punic level, with earlier Phoenician preceding this, showing how much reconstruction had taken place over the centuries. End Note 33

    • This ancient city would have had the resources to fund ships and expeditions.
    • This city had the positioning, as with later Carthage, to trade in the region and acquire metals from Sardinia and/or southern Spain.
      • Without controlling the lands from which the metals came, it's likely these traders initially transported ore to this key site for refining.  One of the reasons the Phoenicians would later want to control other areas was the obvious advantage of smelting local to where the ores were mined. The Phoenicians ultimately controlled 300 cities on the west coast of Africa and 200 hundred in southwestern Spain. End Note 37

  5. We don't know the original name of Utica, unlike Cadiz.  It obviously wasn't called the "Old City" when it was founded, this name would have gradually taken over after the founding of the nearby "New City," Carthage.  End Note 38

    • This also explains why Egyptian translators of the LXX would associate Tarshish with Carthage, seeing the new city as an extension or replacement of the original (as it had become by their time).

  6. We have evidence that the Phoenicians entered the Atlantic to follow the coasts. In specific we have evidence of their contacts along both the western and eastern shores of Africa. End Note 39

    • Going to the Rea Sea - perhaps Ophir in the Arabian Peninsula - was not out of the question for these master mariners.  Greek historian Herodotus claimed the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa, leaving from the Red Sea and returning through the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) in the third year. End Note 40
    • I find it interesting that this interval lines up with the duration of Solomon's trading expeditions - perhaps showing that it took this long to replenish gold from places such as Ophir and then return from Utica to Israel, still within that third year.  Herodotus also specifically said the Carthaginians continued to make this voyage following the earlier Phoenicians End Note 41. Their actions continued to tie Carthage to the earlier Tarshish of Phoenician Utica.

  7. The Bible uses Sheba and Tarshish as representative destinations for faraway lands, sometimes in the same passage End Note 42, to represent distant lands to the west (Tarshish) and to the east (Sheba).  Of course, Sheba wasn't directly due east.  It was east by way of sea (specifically southeast as there was no sea immediately to the east).  Tarshish (Utica) wasn't due west either, but also slightly north and west.

    • For those who argue Tarshish must be farther away to be considered a far western sea destination, consider this: The best candidate for Sheba is in Yemen End Note 43, a distance from Jerusalem of approximately 2000 km or 1250 miles by air.  Tarshish (Utica) is approximately 2350 km or 1450 miles by air. As such, they are roughly equal distance mariner destinations.  (Cadiz in Spain, for perspective, is roughly 5100 km or 3150 miles).

In summary, apart from new evidence being discovered, I can safely say that Utica (in modern Tunisia) is the best candidate for being ancient Tarshish. It's my hope that further and more extensive excavations at Utica will confirm this.

--------------------------------------------------------------

End Note:

1. Ancient Phoenicia was a loose confederation of city-states arising around 3000 BC continuing until about 146 BC (when Rome utterly destroyed their final capital city of Carthage). The Phoenicians were initially located in the area of modern Lebanon. Their culture was known for seafaring commerce and trade, and subsequently colonizing.  A 22-character alphabet, that became the basis of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman script, is considered the greatest legacy of the Phoenicians.

For a great overview of known Phoenician cities and colonies, and the source of this map, see http://phoenicia.org/colonies.html (Mar 2017):

We don't know where the Phoenicians came from before they arrived in the Levant around 3000 BC.  We also don't know what they called themselves; some oldest inscriptions, dating back to the 15th century BC refer to them as Canaanites.  This matches Genesis 10:18 which show Canaanites spreading from Sidon to Gaza along the coast. Their major city, to start, was Sidon, so these Phoenicians were also called Sidonians in Bible (see Deuteronomy 3:9; Joshua 13:4, 6; Judges 3:3). Tyre soon surpassed Sidon in influence. Phoenician colonies, like their original cities, were often built on rocky promontories and islets with a view over harbors in highly defensible positions.

Author, Brent MacDonald, at temple of Eshum, Sidon (Lebanon)

The Phoenicians traded in the available resources of their homeland, including their rich forests (consider cedars of Lebanon, but also pine and cypress). It was as traders that they were best known. Other desired exports included textiles and glassware.  Phoenicians were noted for rich purple colored cloth, pigments coming from the snail in murex shells. Small hills of these discarded shells, several meters high, have been found in Sidonian excavations. Phoenicians glassware was often clear, though they also made colorful glassworks. Some believe they invented glassblowing. As importers of metals, from far away sites, they also were known for their art in metal working.

The following map shows how their trade area spread westward over time.  Notice the key location of Utica which made it a strategic location for an early colony:

2. Esarhaddon Inscription: Assur Babylon E.

3. For example: http://phoenicia.org/britmines.html (April 9, 2017)

4. Professor Timothy Champion, writing on Diodorus Siculus's comments on tin trade, states that "Diodorus never actually says that the Phoenicians sailed to Cornwall. In fact, he says quite the opposite: the production of Cornish tin was in the hands of the natives of Cornwall, and its transport to the Mediterranean was organized by local merchants, by sea and then over land through France, well outside Phoenician control." (Timothy Champion, "The appropriation of the Phoenicians in British imperial ideology", Nations and Nationalism 7 [4]: 451-465)

5. For example: http://www.oxfordbiblechurch.co.uk and http://www.prophecydepotministries.net (both April 9, 2017)

6. Rufus Festus Avienus (lived circa 305-375 AD), a Latin writer, first suggested Cadiz in southern Spain (Gades in Latin).

7. Chapter 9 of Herman Melville's 1851 Moby Dick has Father Mapple claiming Spanish Cadiz as Tarshish.

8. Samuel Bochart (lived 1599-1667 AD) associated Tarshish with Tartessos in southern Spain in his two-volume Geographia Sacra seu Phaleg et Canaan, published in 1646.

9. This legend is part of the legends of Hercules (Heracles). See Herodotus Histories 4.8 (lived circa 484-425 BC) and Diodorus Siculus 4.18.2 (lived circa 90-30 BC).

10. Roman historian, Velleius Paterculus (lived circa 20 BC - post 30 AD), in his Roman History, cites without source that Cadiz was founded a few years before Utica. It's likely he was echoing earlier legends.

11. Smith's Bible Dictionary, 1863, Entry on Tarshish

12. Jonah 1:1-3 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.  (ESV)

13. Greek explorer Pytheas of Massalia (lived circa 350-285 BC) is quoted by the Greek writer Strabo (1st century AD): see Geographica or Geography 3.2.11.

14. Greek explorer Pausanias (lived circa 110-180 AD) wrote in the time of Roman emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius.  For his mention of Tartessus, see Description of Greece, 6.19.3

15. See http://www.ancient-origins.net  or http://beforeitsnews.com/science-and-technology (both April 10, 2017)

16. See http://www.uhu.es/pablo.hidalgo/docencia/registro/archivos/ljsanchez/ also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartessos, section "Archaeological discoveries" (both April 10, 2017)

17. See http://www.historyireland.com/pre-history-archaeology/ (April 10, 2017)

18. See Herodotus' (lived circa 484-425 BC) Histories 1.163 and Ephorus of Cyme (lived circa 400-330 BC).  Ephorus' preeminent Universal History is only known through later citations and not the original works.

19. The analysis was done using lead isotope ratios. Biblical Archaeology Review: Tarshish: Hacksilber Hoards Pinpoint Solomon's Silver Source, 01/06/2017 and "Survey of Archaeological Research on Tartessos," American Journal of Archeology 91 (2), Javier G. Chamorro, 1987.

20. This would be like the Phoenicians saying ships of Phoenicia (or Lebanon, in modern terms) instead of stating a ship of Tyre or a ship of Byblos.  Though these cities were part of a loose confederacy they were independent and under defined local control (typically hereditary rulers), providing competition and desired specific prestige among them.

21. See http://www.bernardsmith.eu/Cadiz/Cadiz.html for an article citing some of the evidence for Cadiz' early name, including Phoenician coins.

22. The earliest Phoenician sites in North Africa (modern Tunisia) show very strong contact and intermingling with early Greek peoples. Pre seventh century BC Greek artifacts are commonplace, including at Carthage.

Another sea coast Phoenician site, Gigthis (later a Roman city)

Coastal Kerkouane was very advanced, with a water system and bathtubs

23. See the book: The Phoenicians in Spain: An Archaeological Review of the Eighth-sixth Centuries B.C.E. : a Collection of Articles Translated from Spanish, edited by Marilyn R. Bierling, Seymour Gitin, Eisenbrauns, 2002.  The writers recognize "Tartessian sites" and "Phoenician colonies" and claim that finds confirm Strabo and Velleius Paterculus on the founding of Cadiz and early dating, yet admit the earliest physical evidence, "the beginnings of the Phoenician presence in the southwestern Peninsula based on the results of recent excavations," is 8th to 6th centuries BC.  (See especially pages 262-267 covering Cadiz and Huelva).

24. In the Septuagint (LXX), see Isaiah 23:1, 10-14 and Ezekiel 27:12; 38:13.  In the Jewish Targum of Jonathan, see 1 Kings 22:48; Jeremiah 10:9.

25. Phoenician Sousse (Hadrumetum), founded in the 9th century BC, though earlier than Carthage, still wasn't early enough and much stronger evidence supported Utica. For more on Sousse see Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places edited by Trudy Ring, Noelle Watson, Paul Schellinger, 1996 (Entry "Sousse" Page 649)

26. Tradition from Greek writer Philistos of Syracuse (lived circa 432-356 BC), in his multivolume History of Sicily claims a very early foundation date for Carthage - around 1215 BC (specifically before the fall of Troy in 1180 BC).  Physical evidence (or lack of early physical evidence) combined with knowledge that Carthage was the new city to Utica both show that he was wildly wrong.  Later Greek historian Timaeus of Tauromenium (modern Taormina in Sicily), who lived circa 345-250 BC, in his work Histories provides a much more probable date of 814 BC (specifically 38 years before the first Olympiad).  This better fits physical archaeological evidence showing mid-8th century BC (see the book Carthage: A History, by Serge Lancel, 1995, pages 21-31 and web articles: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/37, April 2017 and "History of Carthage" http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab91, April 2017).  Most now use a date of circa 814 BC for Carthage. 

27. Frank Moore Cross' speculative interpretation of the 3.5 foot high, 2 foot wide, Nora Stone has him adding two starting lines to the eight showing, with the stela referring to a local battle fought and won.  The stone does make reference to Tarshish, but whether the Tarshish of Scriptures, as the name is common, is even in dispute.  See http://cojs.org/the_nora_stone-_c-_831-785_bce/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Stone (both April 2017)

28. "It can be safely assumed that in the eighth century BC the Phoenicians founded their first settlements in Sardinia."  (See http://www.tharros.info/ViewText.php?id=1104, April 2017).

29. Titus Flavius Josephus, lived circa 37-100 AD, Antiquities of the Jews 1:127 or 1.6.1

30. Some use the specific date of 1101 BC, making it technically the late 12th century BC. (For example: The Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/place/Utica-Tunisia, April 2017) 

31. Aristotle, lived 384-322 BC, de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus 100.146.  Pliny the Elder, lived 23-79 AD, Natural History.  Velleius Paterculus, lived 19 BC-31 AD, Roman History 1.2.3.

32. Menander of Ephesus (wrote in the early 2nd century BC, his writing was preserved by first century AD historian Josephus, see Against Apion 2:18 and Antiquities of the Jews)

33. Personal observation March 2017 - the little that is excavated is mostly from the Roman era, and only a very small portion of the much lower Phoenician level has been exposed (mostly some necropolis areas).  Grave goods in the exposed sections date to as early as the 8th century BC (attested to on site by Tunisia's Institut National du Patrimoine / National Heritage Institute). There's a lot to uncover. At its Roman era peak, Utica encompassed 40 hectares (100 acres): see Romano Africano Tunisia, Edition 3, produced by Tunisia's Ministry of Culture, Page 14, 2002.

34. The modern name for Utica is Utique. The name Utica is from the Phoenician "Utih" or "Attiq" (similar to the later Arabic "Uttayqah").  It was also known in early literature, translating from Hebrew ("Atiq"), as Atica ("the ancient city") - see the book: Travels or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant, Thomas Shaw, page 162, 1808; citing Protestant biblical scholar Samuel Bochart (lived 1599-1667 AD), Geographia Sacra seu Phaleg et Canaan (1646). The name Carthage is from the Phoenician "Kart-Hadasht" or "Qart-Hadasht."

35. Quote from the Commentaries of Jewish-Portuguese scholar, Bible apologist, and statesman Isaac Abravanel (alt. Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel or Abravanel), who lived 1437-1508 AD.  For someone who lived close southern Spain, he saw no merit in identifying Tarshish with nearby Huelva or Cadiz.

36. Augustine of Hippo, lived 354-430 AD, made Utica renown due to his mention of it in The City of God (written circa 412 AD).  He believed a giant molar tooth he saw on the shore of Utica was evidence of a race of giants before the flood of Noah's day (Book 15, Chapter 9).    

37. Details from Greek historian Strabo, lived circa 63 BC-23 AD, Geographica.

38. Others recognize that calling a city "Old City" means Utica had a different original name: http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsAfrica/AfricaUtica.htm, April 2017.

39. http://www.ancient.eu/article/881/, April 2017

40. Greek historian Herodotus, lived 484-425 BC, Histories 4.42. This occurrence was during the reign of Pharaoh Necho II in Egypt, circa 600 BC, and commissioned by him.

41. Herodotus (lived circa 484-425 BC) Histories 4:43.

42. For example, see Psalms 72:10 and Ezekiel 38:13.

43. https://www.britannica.com/place/Saba-ancient-kingdom-Arabia, April 2017

44. In the early to mid-1700s, when searching for the site of Utica using ancient descriptions of its location, they focused the search on the shore line, little suspecting the major siltation that now placed the site many kilometers inland.  They later speculated that silting may have placed the location inland "three or four miles from the sea shore" which appeared "to be an acquisition of the continent" by the "copious addition of mud that is left at every inundation by the Me-jerdah (river)... by frequently shifting its channel." They were only halfway to the actual 7.5 miles.

    "As then all of them agree (Pliny the Elder, Strabo, etc.) that Utica was a maritime city, situated betwixt Carthage and the Promontory of Apollo (at the western end of the Gulf of Tunis), we are to search for it upon the interjacent sea coast. But here are no ruins at all to be met with in this situation; there is no eminence, under which Utica is said to have been built; there is no promontory, which lay at a small distance to the E. or N.E. and formed the harbour. (...) Utica therefore cannot be found upon the sea coast, according to the present shape and fashion of it, by any of those tokens and characteristics that are left us of it by the ancients."  (Travels or Observations relating to several parts of Barbary and the Levant by Thomas Shaw, page 161, 1808 - a corrected update to his published 1757 edition. His first edition dates to 1738).


Article by Brent MacDonald, (c) 2017
CC Discipleship Training Institute & Lion Tracks Ministries
As posted on www.NotJustAnotherBook.com
Non-profit duplication permitted - a courtesy email is appreciated