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History of Phoenicia by George Rawlinson

Hence the trade with the Cassiterides was constant


Outside

the Pillars of Hercules the Phoenicians had only savage nations to deal with, and with these they seem to have traded mainly for the purpose of obtaining certain natural products, either peculiarly valuable or scarcely procurable elsewhere. Their trade with the Scilly Islands and the coast of Cornwall was especially for the procuring of tin. Of all the metals, tin is found in the fewest places, and though Spain seems to have yielded some anciently,[9102] yet it can only have been in small quantities, while there was an enormous demand for tin in all parts of the old world, since bronze was the material almost universally employed for arms, tools, implements, and utensils of all kinds, while tin is the most important, though not the largest, element in bronze. From the time that the Phoenicians discovered the Scilly Islands--the "Tin Islands" (Cassiterides), as they called them--it is probable that the tin of the civilised world was almost wholly derived from this quarter. Eastern Asia, no doubt, had always its own mines, and may have exported tin to some extent, in the remoter times, supplying perhaps the needs of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. But, after the rich stores of the metal which our own islands possess were laid open, and the Phoenicians with their extensive commercial dealings, both in the West and in the East, became interested in diffusing it, British tin probably drove all other out of use, and obtained the monopoly of the markets wherever Phoenician influence prevailed.
Hence the trade with the Cassiterides was constant, and so highly prized that a Phoenician captain, finding his ship followed by a Roman vessel, preferred running it upon the rocks to letting a rival nation learn the secret of how the tin-producing coast might be approached in safety.[9103] With the tin it was usual for the merchants to combine a certain amount of lead and a certain quantity of skins or hides; while they gave in exchange pottery, salt, and articles in bronze, such as arms, implements, and utensils for cooking and for the table.[9104]

If the Phoenicians visited, as some maintain that they did,[9105] the coasts of the Baltic, it must have been for the purpose of obtaining amber. Amber is thrown up largely by the waters of that land-locked sea, and at present especially abounds on the shore in the vicinity of Dantzic. It is very scarce elsewhere. The Phoenicians seem to have made use of amber in their necklaces from a very early date;[9106] and, though they might no doubt have obtained it by land-carriage across Europe to the head of the Adriatic, yet their enterprise and their commercial spirit were such as would not improbably have led them to seek to open a direct communication with the amber-producing region, so soon as they knew where it was situated. The dangers of the German Ocean are certainly not greater than those of the Atlantic; and if the Phoenicians had sufficient skill in navigation to reach Britain and the Fortunate Islands, they could have found no very serious difficulty in penetrating to the Baltic. On the other hand, there is no direct evidence of their having penetrated so far, and perhaps the Adriatic trade may have supplied them with as much amber as they needed.

The trade of the Phoenicians with the west coast of Africa had for its principal objects the procuring of ivory, of elephant, lion, leopard, and deer-skins, and probably of gold. Scylax relates that there was an established trade in his day (about B.C. 350) between Phoenicia and an island which he calls Cerne, probably Arguin, off the West African coast. "The merchants," he says,[9107] "who are Phoenicians, when they have arrived at Cerne, anchor their vessels there, and after having pitched their tents upon the shore, proceed to unload their cargo, and to convey it in smaller boats to the mainland. The dealers with whom they trade are Ethiopians; and these dealers sell to the Phoenicians skins of deer, lions, panthers, and domestic animals--elephants' skins also, and their teeth. The Ethiopians wear embroidered garments, and use ivory cups as drinking vessels; their women adorn themselves with ivory bracelets; and their horses also are adorned with ivory. The Phoenicians convey to them ointment, elaborate vessels from Egypt, castrated swine(?), and Attic pottery and cups. These last they commonly purchase [in Athens] at the Feast of Cups. These Ethiopians are eaters of flesh and drinkers of milk; they make also much wine from the vine; and the Phoenicians, too, supply some wine to them. They have a considerable city, to which the Phoenicians sail up." The river on which the city stood was probably the Senegal.


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