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Phoenicia / Sarras

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 Phoenicia / Sarras

      Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Historical Stuff

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Phoenicia was the name given to the city-states of the narrow coastal strip that corresponds roughly to northern Lebanon from 1200 BB onwards. Their chief cities were Byblos, Tyre and Sidon. During the later Roman epoch Byblos became associated with Egypt in myth and ritual when the city became a centre for the cult of the Egyptian deities Isis and Osiris. This cult is attested to by Lucian in 'The Syrian Goddess'. He reports that he personally had seen the head which miraculously floated from Egyptr to Byblos every years.

The Phoenicians.."...started going beyond the Pillars of Hercules to the sea called the Ocean. And shortly built a city called Gadirus on the peninsula in Europe, close to the strait situated at the Pillars..." Diodor of Sicily in his "Historical Library"  (The Greeks used the name of Gadirus for the city which was situated where modern Cadiz now stands: on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula near Gibraltar.)

" The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians expanded all across North Africa and western Europe. They pushed past the Straits of Gibraltar and founded the city of Gades (present day Cadiz) in Spain. While active in Spain, these Phoenician/Carthaginian descendants are called 'Celtiberians' by archaeologists. Later, some sailed away from Spain and colonized the British Isles, where they are simply called 'Celts' by archaeologists. In their migrations throughout the Mediterranean, these Celts picked up a number of different languages and alphabets. These languages and writing systems were in use by different Celtic groups at different times. Memories of some of these scripts were retained up until the medieval period in Ireland. The Book of Ballymote, believed to have been composed about 1200 A.D., gives an alphabet, described as 'African'. Until recently, scholars considered that this 'African' script was some sort of cryptic monkish secret alphabet, or maybe just gibberish, but since 1960 this alphabet has been shown to be an actual ancient North African one in use about 1000 B.C." - Michael Bradley, Holy Grail Across the Atlantic

When Phoenicia came under the protection of Rome in 65 BC there seems to have been a resurgence of trading activity. as the ships of Phoenicia traded from port to port all over the known world with less danger than at any other time.

'Mela (de Situ Orbis, i, 12) speaks of Sidon in the second century after Christ as 'still opulent'. Ulpian, himself a Tyrian by descent (Digest Leg. de Cens, tit. 15), calls Tyre in the reign of SEPTIMUS Severus 'a most splendid colony'. A writer of the age of Constantine says of it (Exp. totius Mundi in Hudson's Georgr. Minores,iii, 6), 'The prosperity of Tyre is extraordinary. There is no state in the whole of the east which excels it in the amount of its business. Its merchants are persons of great wealth, and there is no port where they do not exercise considerable influence.' 'St. Jerome (Hieronymous, Comment. ad Exek, xxvi, 7), ....end of 4th. c., Tyre 'an emporium for the commerce of almost the whole world'. (Rawlinson's Phoenicia p.551).

'Professor Rawlinson writes:- 'Tyre and Sidon were great commercial centres down to the time of the Crusades, and quite as rich, quite as important, quite as flourishing commercially, as in the old days of Hiram and Ithobal.'




The Phoenicians picked their settlements on the basis of trade,  headlands with a sheltered bay or else offshore islands for their settlements. Which gave both easy access to the hinterlands and a secure base for their trade goods. (There are several such sites on the North coast of Cornwall; St. Ives, Gwithian, Tintagel, Lundy island where although evidence for the Phoenicians has not been identified, evidence has been found of later trading with the Mediterranean.)

‘ Phoenician and Carthaginian sea ports grew up around an off shore island. Here could be found a temple dedicated to the Phoenician god Melquart, who in Greek tradition was associated with Hercules’ --Gateway to Atlantis -  Andrew Collins.

"Mention...of both the gens Hiernorum and the insula Albionum suggest that Himilco [c. 425 BC] did not stop at Brittany - the Oestrymnian promontory as he calls it - but passed on across the channel, and in effect led the way for Carthage to take part in the Cornish tin trade, which we may assume was already being exploited by Mediterranean traders via the overland route. There is, unfortunately, no direct archaeological evidence of Phoenician contacts with Britain at this period to support the Himilco story, though a number of Iron Age finds in Cornwall indicates Iberian contacts." - Donald Harden, The Phoenicians

'There is scarcely a spot in Cornwall where tin is at present found that has not been worked over by the 'old men', as the ancient miners were always called;.... upon whatever spot the old miner has worked there we are told the Phoenician has been or the Jew has mined. The existence of the terms 'Jews' houses', 'Jews' tin', 'Jews' leavings', 'atall' and 'atall Saracen', prove the connection of these strangers with the Cornish mines'  from 'Romances of the West', Hunt.

'The Jews appear to have called themselves or were called by the Britons of Cornwall 'Saracens'. 'from the supplement to Polwhele's 'History of Cornwall' (Falmouth, 1803) 

"The Vulgate Lancelot mentions as Kings of Sorelois- Lohoz, his son Gaher, and Galahot. - the welsh Llwch or Lloch, his son Gwair, and a solar epithet. Galahot king of Sorelois suggeste strong identification with Galaad, king of Sarras. Another king of Sarras, Evalake and his law Seraphe. When we are introduced to Evalach in the land of Sarras we find him enthroned in the temple of the sun. the 'Estoire' says of Sarras 'This people established the sun and the moon and the other planets to worship.' When Joseph of Arimathea and his disciples arrived they passed through the city till he came to the temple of the sun, the most beautiful in the city. The Saracens held it in greater honour than the rest because it was the temple of the sun, which is the highest of all the planets. In the court of the temple Joseph and his companions found the aged king Evalach the Unknown, so called because his birth was a mystery". from 'Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance.'

quoting from Malory the narrative (bk. xiii, cap. 10) brings Joseph and his son to "Sarras', where the 'Saracens' under 'Tolleme la Feinte', are fighting against the Britons under King Evelake. King Tolleme the 'Saracen' is said to be the cousin of Evalake.


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