La ruta de las Estrímnides

Navegación y conocimiento del litoral atlántico de Iberia en la Antigüedad


Eduardo Ferrer Albelda (ed.)


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Universidad de Alcalá – Universidad de Sevilla 2019



Editorial Committee



José María Candau Morón and Francisco Javier Gómez Espelosín



Antonio Luis Chávez Reino and Encarnación Castro-Páez


Editorial Office:

Jaime Alvar Ezquerra, José María Candau Morón, Virgilio Costa, Gonzalo Cruz Andreotti, Antonio Luis Chávez Reino, Francisco Javier Gómez Espelosín, Francisco J. González Ponce, Arthur François Haushalter, Pierre Moret, Roberto Nicolai


Advisory Board:

Pascal Arnaud, Cinzia Bearzot, Stefano Belfiore, Serena Bianchetti, Veronica Bucciantini, María Pilar Ciprés Torres, Patrick Counillon, Jehan Desanges, Adolfo Domínguez Monedero, Daniela Dueck, Luis Agustín García Moreno, Marco Virgilio García Quintela, Hans Joachim Gehrke, Klaus Geus, Pietro Janni, Eugenio Lanzillotta, Didier Marcotte, Eckart Olshausen, Gabriella Ottone, Irene Pajón Leyra, Francesco Prontera, Richard Talbert, Giusto Traina


Guidelines for Contributors (PDF, 152 Kb)





Presentación, vii

Directorio de participantes, xi





Pedro Albuquerque – Eduardo Ferrer-Albelda, Las Casitérides: discursos historiográficos y apropiaciones de un topónimo errante (c. 1453–1902)

Abstract: This paper will examine the depiction of the Cassiterides Islands in the English and Spanish Historiography between the first Modern Chorographies (c. 1453) and George Bonsor’s archaeological exploration in the Scilly Islands (1899–1902). The exegesis of Classical Sources was critical to the appropriation of this ancient landscape by the authors of each nationality, depending on the main goals of their historiographical project. The objectives of this research are to characterize these discourses and to compare the main arguments of the locations proposed by these scholars (A. Ortelius, W. Camden, J. Cornide, etc.) in Azores and Scilly Islands, Great Britain, and Galicia. The evidence from this study suggests that those discourses are an evident result of their authors’ patriotism.


1. El conocimiento del océano Atlántico en los testimonios escritos grecolatinos


Francisco Javier Gómez Espelosín, La cara oculta del Océano en las descripciones de la ecumene

Abstract: The Atlantic Coasts plays a relatively insignificant part in the classical descriptions of the world. There were a few Greek explorations in these remote regions and the geographical knowledge available was really reduced. These places were indeed the theatre of heroic wanderings, such as Heracles ‘or the Argonauts’ and their echoes maintained its aura along the times. The few literature about these westernmost and northernmost regions has not survived and in this way the historical and mythical focus has mainly concentrated on the eastern and southern part of the World.


Serena Bianchetti, Le rotta delle Estrimnidi: Dallo spazio mitico allo spazio cartografico

Abstract: The geographical concept of the Far West and the mapping of such both vary in relation to the political history of the Ancient Greeks and Romans who, respectively, occupied the Spanish Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. The scientific research carried out by Eudoxus, Pytheas, Eratosthenes and Ptolemy was based on geometry to describe the world: Pytheas, in particular, described the Sacred Promontory and the other Iberian promontories that seem to be aligned on the same meridian i.e. the western meridian of the inhabited world of Eratosthenes. Whereas Pytheas, in his navigation, seems to have identified the Bay of Biscay, and hence his description can be considered the basis of Eratosthenes’ map. The passage of Strabo (3.2.11 C148), which reproduces the criticism of Artemidorus to the description of Eratosthenes, is discussed again here and interpreted as testimony to the two routes followed by Pytheas: one that faced ocean navigation (perhaps on the outward journey), and the other that followed the Celtica coastline (perhaps on the return journey).


Adolfo J. Domínguez Monedero, Conocimientos propios y ajenos. La imagen griega del Atlántico

Abstract: The European coasts of the Ocean were travelled from, at least, the eighth century B.C. by Mediterranean sailors, especially Phoenicians. This article analyses the literary information and the main archaeological evidence that witness these trips and explorations from the most ancient moments to the fourth century B.C. The written sources also allude to explorations carried out, at least on one occasion, by Carthage (Himilko). The travel of Pytheas of Massalia (late fourth century B.C.) took place thanks to all this previous knowledge to which Pytheas could have accessed. In the article all these data are combined to show what kind of information Pytheas could have used to facilitate his travel, which had, above all, a scientific purpose.


Eduardo Ferrer-Albelda – Pedro Albuquerque, El conocimiento del extremo Occidente en la Grecia arcaica: las Casitérides y la geografía de los recursos

Abstract: The Cassiterides (or Tin) Islands were mentioned for the first time by Herodotus and were depicted by the ancient authors until the Late Antiquity, who located this group of islands in the Ocean or, more precisely, off the North-western coast of Spain. The scope of this paper is to know the possible sources of Herodotus (let alone his scepticism about the knowledge of far western territories), mainly the periegetic work of Hecataeus. To accomplish this goal, we analyse the Greek historiography (5th Century BCE) to search among the Archaic Literature the origin of what we call “Resources’ Geography”. It is considered here that the Greek community established in Onuba was responsible for providing this knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean.


Francisco J. González Ponce, Los restos del periplo de Himilcón en el contexto de la literatura grecolatina

Abstract: The few remains of the supposed Periplus attributed to Carthaginian Himilco, have reached us almost exclusively through the Latin poet Avienus, who offers a triple quotation of its content in his geographical poem Ora maritima. All these remains inform us about a very complex oceanic navigation presumably destined for the Nordic and enigmatic tin islands. The enormous difficulties offered by these waters, infested with monsters and abundant in other very adverse natural features for navigation, are insisted on. From the traditional point of view, the data have been taken for good and real, and have been interpreted as proof that Himilco engaged in a tiring journey, perhaps to that area of the Atlantic known as the “Sargasso Sea”. A review of these data from the point of view of their contextualization in Greco-Latin literature can demonstrate that, regardless the degree of veracity that legitimizes it, this information responds, above all, to the defining characteristics of a literary topic on ecumenical extremes, widely used in the Greco-Latin context. Such an interpretation can even justify with more solvent reasons postulates that have always been accepted by the supporters of the traditional explanation.


Pierre Moret, Eratóstenes y la figura geográfica de los extremos atlánticos de Europa

Abstract: At the end of the third century BC, Eratosthenes of Cyrene created the first comprehensive cartographic image of the Atlantic edge of Europe. However, the attempts to reconstruct the western part of his map that have been made over two centuries present great variations, reflecting different interpretations of the passages of Strabo’s Geography that summarize and discuss the description of Eratosthenes. Here we try to synthesize the information on the dimensions and the form of the far West of Europe found in the fragments whose attribution to Eratosthenes is beyond any doubt.


Gonzalo Cruz Andreotti, La perspectiva histórica de la geografía sobre Gallaecia

Abstract: Galicia’s territory was defined in cartographic terms before the Roman period as one of the limits of the known world. But in order to acquire a historical-geographical dimension it will require authors such as Strabo and Pliny, who will give a good insight into the process.


Manuel Álvarez Martí-Aguilar, Conquistas en los confines del mundo: Melqart y César, de Gades a Brigantium

Abstract: The chapter addresses a review of the episode of the naval expedition commanded by Julius Caesar in 61 B.C. on the Atlantic coasts of the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, which ended with the conquest of Brigantium, in the Bay of A Coruña. It is an episode that culminates the military activities of his mandate as governor of Hispania Ulterior, and in which both economic and symbolic components have been identified. This contribution delves into the symbolic aspects of Caesar’s initiative, within the framework of his relationship with the Balbii, with the city of Gades and with its patron god, Heracles-Melqart, whose sanctuary he visited in 68 B.C., during his quaestorship in Hispania Ulterior. Gades’ contribution to the expedition would not be restricted to the fleet transporting Caesar to Brigantium, but would extend to the Phoenician conceptions of the western boundaries of the world, and the role of Brigantium as an extreme and singular place in the Phoenician geography. Furthermore, we propose a valuation of Phoenician components as key inspiration for the Caesarean feat, linked to the mythology of the Herakles-Melqart of Gades as a god who defeats the forces of chaos in the confines of the world.


Arthur Haushalter, La géographie de Ptolémée et l’image de l’ Atlantique à l’époque des Antonins

Abstract: This study intends to describe the paradoxical image of the Atlantic Ocean in the IIth century AD. The positive knowledge increased considerably, in connection with the Roman presence in the Iberian Peninsula, in Gaul and particularly in the British isles. But this did not disrupt the common geographical outlines, inherited from the Hellenistic geographers’ oikoumene, which were based on the opposition between the Mediterranean Sea and the Ocean, essentially estranged to one to another; at least it did not generate any normalization of this zone, except maybe in Ptolemy’s Geography. It does not necessarily mean that the representations remained exactly the same: new information became integrated into the geographical structure, at least partially, but did not wipe out the previous traditions.


2. Los testimonios mudos: investigación arqueológica y fenicios en el Atlántico septentrional


Emmanuelle Meunier, El estaño del noroeste ibérico desde la Edad del Bronce hasta la época romana. Por una primera síntesis

Abstract: Here is a first synthesis of the available data about the ancient production of tin in north-west Iberia. Since Greek and Latin authors to the reports of contemporary mining engineers, passing by the enlightenment treaties, the information is very diverse. Archaeological data are the less abundant. The catalogue of tin mines obtained from the bibliography makes us realise the potential of this region to produce tin between the Bronze Age and the Roman period. The scarcity of precise chronological data shows however that more field investigation is needed. We finish with a proposal about the paper that this production could have in the societies of the north-west Iberia, based on the data collected.


Marisa Ruiz-Gálvez, La medida del mundo: diásporas mercantiles y navegación atlántica en los umbrales de la colonización fenicia

Abstract: The current paper suggests that over the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age there was not an Estrimnides route. Nevertheless, there were local and later on Mediterranean routes to the SW. tin and other ores. These routes match with the finding of Mediterranean weights in local and very old contexts. Models taken from the European trade to the Guinee Gulf from 15th century on are used to try shedding light on the variety of different ways of contacts among locals and foreigners.


José Luis López Castro, La navegación fenicia en la ruta de las Estrímnides. Del Mediterráneo al Atlántico

Abstract: The Phoenicians opened a navigation route to the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC from their colonies in the South to access the tin trade. This route initially reached Cape Arvio mentioned in Avienus Ora Maritima and identifiable with current Cape Mondego. The data on the duration in days of the voyages that the Ora Maritima transmits to us is coincident with the theoretical estimations on navigation, reinforcing its value as a historical source. The meteorological conditions were different from the current ones between 3000 and 1000 BP according to the studies that measure the “oceanic reservoir effect” in C14 marine samples. This made possible the Phoenician navigation in North direction with downwinds during the Antiquity in a route in which the colonial settlements were arranged in natural anchorages and mouths of rivers for the protection of the boats. From the 5th-4th centuries B.C. the Phoenicians of Gadir extended the navigation route and increased their presence in the Northwest, as well as commercial relations. This route was strategic for the interests of the gaditans who favored the Roman conquest of the Northwest from which their trade benefited at the beginning of the imperial era.


Ana Margarida Arruda, Portugal na rota das Estrímnidas: evidências marítimas

Abstract: Recent chemical analyzes done in the context of the studies of the “reservoir ocean effect” have brought important data about the oceanographic conditions of the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula during the Iron Age. These, with direct implications in the navigability of the Portuguese coast, allow to discuss, with more acuity, the Eastern presences in the territories of the Far West. On the other hand, naval iconography, detected mainly in the sites of the Tagus Estuary, can be read with the incorporation of these new data, also taking into account the types of vessels that are represented.


Javier Rodríguez-Corral – Carlos Rodríguez Rellán, Rutas a las fuentes del estaño: movilidad y conectividad entre el sur y el noroeste de Iberia durante el primer milenio a.C.

Abstract: The archaeological evidence, as well as the geographical and geological features of northwest Iberia, allow us to think that its coasts correspond to the place mentioned by the classical sources to which the Phoenicians navigated to establish commercial relations with local communities and to obtain tin. The coastal inlets and their insular and peninsular areas gave them access to the resources of the extensive western tin belt of Iberia whose sources, however, were already exploited and the tin exchanged in a suprarregional level much earlier. During the Late Bronze Age, procurement had been made from south Iberia through land routes, within a frame of relations and mobility controlled by the elite and under gift economies. The reason why the Phoenicians navigated to this coast, therefore, was not the discovery of a land rich in tin, but the opening of a new direct route, and with the advantages of maritime transport, which gave access to the northernmost sector of the sources of said metal. This new form of access was due, firstly, to the collapse of the land exchange routes and, secondly, to the disconnection, from the 5th century BC, of the settlements in the estuaries of the center of Portugal to the circle of the Strait.


Josefa Rey Castiñeira, Cultura castrexa. Territorios, tiempos y aculturaciones

Abstract: Within the framework of the Estrimnides project, we believe that to understand the commercial interactions between the Northwest and the South of the Iberian peninsula it is interesting to know the chronological and geographical order of the local and how they interact with the outside, with the south of the Peninsula, specifically.


Gabriel Rocha Pereira, Artefactos, encuentros e ideas: reflejos meridionales en la Protohistoria del noroeste de Portugal

Abstract: The evolution of Iberian Atlantic façade’s coastline due to geomorphological causes and eustatic variations throughout the Holocene is a key-point to enable any ancient settlement analysis. Actually without an essay, even hypothetical, of former coastline reconstruction according to the the geomorphological available data, one cannot really understand the littoral location of some settlements and its relationship with rivers, back then way more open to the Ocean then nowadays. Thus, set upon some of the published information, the article discusses regional proto-historic settlement, focusing in particular some coastal sites and pointing out the import and circulation of some prestigious goods, like certain ceramic, metal and glass objects. Albeit those cultural and commercial
dynamics link this Western European’s finisterra to the Mediterranean as well as to the Atlantic consumption and distribution roots, this article refers only to meridional contacts.


Elisa de Sousa, O comercio na costa atlântica portuguesa durante a segunda metade do 1º milénio a.C.

Abstract: During the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC, the Portuguese Atlantic coast presents itself as a mosaic of different cultural traditions. The coast of Algarve and the Tagus, Sado and Mondego estuaries exhibit, in each case, specific characteristics in the framework of its evolution during the so-called II Iron Age. All these regions, however, present evidence of commercial contacts with the Gibraltar Strait area, which naturally assume different rhythms and intensities, which are probably related to geographic and cultural factors, as well as to specific historical conjunctures.


Daniela de Freitas Ferreira, Cerâmica grega no norte de Portugal

Abstract: In this study we have analyzed sixty-two fragments of Greek vases, representative of the contacts established between the eastern Mediterranean and the north of Portugal. We will discuss the geographic distribution of these fragments, its chronology of arrival and their representativeness in the exogenous and endogenous material culture identified in this territory. The aim of this paper is to clarify the cultural and chronological parameters of the human occupation of NO Peninsular, particularly between the VII and IV centuries a.C.


Emilio A. Abad Vidal – Francisco J. García Fernández, IDEPATRI (ide Arqueolóxica da Idade de Ferro en Galicia): posibilidades y aplicaciones al estudio del comercio púnico con el Noroeste

Abstract: The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in archaeology is now widespread. Different thematic areas or cultural periods are treated by means of spatial analysis methodologies for the approach and resolution of hypotheses with a marked geographical component. In this document we approach the use of GIT (Geographic Information Technologies) and SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructures) as a natural evolution of the use of GIS, which allows us to propose new perspectives for the global treatment of archaeological information. The current state of the implementation of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) in Spain, and the bases on which the Estrimnides project is based as a tool for creating and accessing archaeological data on trade of Mediterranean origin with the Northwest of Iberia, are presented as examples of the meaning and possibilities opened up by the modelling and processing of archaeological data through GIT, as well as their distribution through international standards established in the SDIs.


Antonio M. Sáez Romero / Francisco J. García Fernández / Eduardo Ferrer-Albelda / Javier Rodríguez-Corral / Josefa Castiñeira Rey, Proyecto Estrímnides: resultados preliminares

Abstract: The chapter focuses on the review of the accumulated archaeological evidence and scientific literature on the trade and consumption of Mediterranean products in the Galician “castros”. Also, the objectives of the Estrímnides Project and the methodology are examined, and above all, we will discuss in depth the results of the study of the material culture found in some selected sites and deposits (Alcabre, Toralla, Vigo, Torres de Padín, Fozara, Chandebrito, Montealegre, A Lanzada, O Achadizo, Castro Grande de Neixón, Elviña, Ría de Arousa and Bahía de la Coruña). With these new data, the authors propose a revised periodization for the distribution of these products towards the northwest of Iberia during the Late Iron Age, divided in three main phases: 1) end of the 5th century to mid 2nd century BC; 2) mid second century BC to mid 1st century BC; 3) mid 1st century BC to the early Imperial period. In addition, discussion is extended to the type and provenance of the products transported and consumed (wine, olive oil, salted fish, glass unguentaria, quality ceramics) and as well to the intermediary role played by Gadir/Gades in this Atlantic maritime route. Finally, the impact of trade and the usage patterns of the imports among the local communities is considered.




Index locorum

Index nominum

Listado de figuras y créditos de las imágenes