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This document is a Google translation of an article by Luana Monte in which she identifies Thera with the biblical Tarshish. I have removed text that was triplicated and inserted paragraphs to which Italians seem particularly averse. 

Journal of Archaeology Online

Luana MONTE: Thera, the island of many names, is perhaps the legendary Tarshish?

Thursday, August 24, 2006 00:00 |                        



In the Aegean Sea, just north of Crete, is Thera , the southernmost of the Cyclades Islands, so named for being arranged in a circle, greek Kyklos , around Delos , birthplace of Apollo. In the configuration of Minoan Thera was shocked by the terrible volcano that dominated and “contemporary Thera is no longer an island, but a group of several islands, formed after the eruption of the mid-second millennium BC and the Next: Thera, Therasia Aspronisi and around the caldera, Palaea Kameni and Nea Kameni in the center thereof. If the original was round and dominated by the mountain, now its main feature is precisely this caldera, on the walls, which rise vertically from the sea for over 200 meters, is almost impressed, thanks to the layers that are followed, the whole geological history island ”

(1). Thera is today better known as Santorini , the name derives from the Venetians, who avendovi found a small chapel built in honor of St. Irene, would spend the whole island to Santa (Santa Irini, a name now then over time Santorini). Men, over the millennia, they called this island in different ways. In ancient times was called Strongyle , ie “round”, a name that is well suited to a volcanic island, and that was also given today’s Stromboli in the Aeolian islands, also a volcanic Mediterranean

(2). Another name given to the island in antiquity, the beauty of its scenery, was Kalliste or Calliste , ie “beautiful”, as Apollonius Rhodius and Pliny testify: ” the island called Calliste, or beautiful, sacred nurse of the sons of Euphemus “,” Tera called the Beautiful, when came out of the sea

(3). Herodotus tells us that, subsequently, it was named of Thera Thera or a Spartan hero, a descendant of Cadmus, who was colonized with the companions: ” During those days, Tera, son of Autesione … started from Sparta to found a colony. This Tera, race Cadmea … stated that he would remain in Sparta, but it would put to sea to reach the people of his race … In fact, the island now known as Tera had landed the son of Agenor Cadmus, in search of Europa, we had landed and … I had left some Phoenicians, including Membliareo that belonged to his family. They inhabited the island called Calliste for eight generations before the arrival of Tera from Sparta … Tera went with three pentecontere to reach the descendants of Membliareo … The island of Calliste was then called Thera after its colonizer

(4). This narrate the sources, but the tablets found at Knossos, on which are given to religious texts in Linear B writing Mycenaeans

(5) They deny this version: In fact, some of them (Fp1, 6, 5.1, 6.2, 13.2, 14.2, 48.2) dating back to XV-XIV sec.aC about, among the names of deities addressed offerings, we read the name q-ra-si-ja (in Fp.16.2 is qe-ra-si-jo ). In the tablet Fp1, for example, have noted the offers of a month, which consisted of various amounts oil to be assigned to the sanctuaries of Zeus Ditteo of Amnisos, the Daidaleion, to all the gods, to Qe-ra-si-ja

(6). Some people associate the name, qe-ra-si-ja to Tiresias , the famous seer, who to a god of the hunt

(7). Indeed, many think that Qe-ra-si-ja is a deity purely Cretan, Mycenaean, and then passed into the pantheon that his name is connected to an ethnic Thera / Therasia . “… That a local goddess of the island of Thera was also worshiped in Crete is certainly possible given that the Minoans were in close contact with the island, as is proved by the excavations at Akrotiri … Repeated eruptions have made ??them sensitive to the constant looming threat the Volcano ”

(8). A cultic use of pumice from Thera , placed in conical cups, to be offered to the deity (eg documented archaeologically. to Zakro to Nirou Chani), persisted over time, after the great catastrophe which befell the ‘Minoan empire around 1500 BC, and that there were traces even after two hundred years. And ‘reasonable suporre that “the deity worshiped by offering heaps of pumice originally from Thera was nothing but the same q-ra-si-ja . In Crete the cult begins … at the end of the sixteenth century … ”

(9). In short qe-ra-si-ja would be a source word pregreca “associated with the name Thera / Therasia and the ethnic Therasios . It is argued that ‘qe-ra-si-ja’ was a local goddess who was worshiped at Thera and Crete that was worshiped by offering heaps of pumice. His real name was apparently unknown to the Minoans, who called it simply ” the Thera “from the name of his island”

(10) The Minoan Crete, due to its geographical position it was in an ideal condition for maritime and in fact was the center of a dense network of routes, who put it in communication with the various countries of the Mediterranean: departing from Amnisos , could be reached through the Cyclades to the Greek mainland, from Zakro or Palekastro, in the east, it sailed for the Levant, Rhodes, Cyprus and Egypt, from Kommos on the south coast, you could fly to Libya and Egypt. Next in Crete, the island of Thera , was the crossroads of international trade, as evidenced by the materials found there, imported from Egypt, Greece and the Orient: “The existence of a large natural bay, which is currently covered by a mantle of scoria, made ??of Akrotiri a great stopover point on the routes between Crete and other islands, mainland Greece and Asia Minor. Experience the seafaring island of the Cyclades … offered the opportunity to Minoan Crete to establish international business relations, based on the exchange of surplus agricultural products with esotici.Gli Cycladic island thus became the most experienced sailors prehistoric Aegean, offering their services in exchange for material goods. The city of Akrotiri with its discoveries and perhaps the best proof of these trading activities. The exceptional wealth, reflected in the elegant residences, in the murals and rinvenimenti can be explained satisfactorily only by recognizing at Akrotiri on the role of the center’s primary international maritime trade: more than half of the lead weights and about half of the oldest anfore bracket (the most common container for transporting wine and oil) have so far found throughout the Aegean area, come from Akrotiri and indicate in whose hands they were, at that time, trade and shipping. Finds from Crete and mainland Greece, Egypt and Syro-Palestinian coast confirm the international character of these commercial activities ”

(11). Around the middle of the second millennium BC, the Minoan sailors, merchants of Crete, Thera, of the islands, then, perhaps, not yet called the Cyclades, but were described as Therasie , named after the most illustrious of them, sailed the length and breadth of the central-eastern Mediterranean on their agile and fast boats, touching the ports of Greek coasts, Syro-Palestinian, Egyptian, exchanging different goods: precious metals, ivory, craft products, oil, wine, fruits of the earth, spice, spices, wool, pottery, jewelry. The appearance of Minoan wall paintings in style , both for the technique that iconography, at Avaris , in Egypt, to Alalakh, in Anatolia, in Qatna , in Syria, Kabri, in Israel, shows the arrival, in those places, not only of artists from the Minoan world, but also of officials and wealthy merchants are able to accept and appreciate those decorations. Frescoes of Akrotiri show us “tall, elegant ships but also reliable and fast, able to challenge the open sea”

(12), perhaps in these other places were depicted boats and boats that celebrated the power and wealth which was based on the Minoan trading empire and that, in the heart and stories of those who had traveled, is transfigured, becoming a legendary and fabulous connotation. Maybe that the most agile and fast boat that Minoan Crete, were associated with Thera and the neighboring islands and that, even after the eruption of the volcano of Thera , and the advent of the Mycenaeans, things have not changed: in this case it would have been called the ship of Thera, Therasia, boat Therasios . In Semitic languages ??the vowels are not written, therefore, probably along the Syrian coast-Palestinian sources in place of Therasios , they noted Trss , you could read TarshishTarshish is a name repeated several times in the Bible, and from time to time, identifies a person (son of Javan; descendant of Benjamin, counselor of the king of Persia) a location (the fleet .., the king’s ships went to ..; the king of ..), a type (Jehoshaphat built ships of Tarshish to go for gold ..)

(13). The first mention occurs in respect of the sons of Javan, son of Jafeth, third son of Noah: “The sons of Javan: Elisa Tarshish, Kittim, and those of Cyprus Rhodes “( Genesis, 10, 4); “Sons of Greece: Elisa, Tarshish, Kittim, and those of Cyprus Rhodes” ( Chronicle , 1, 1, 7). In relation to the type, Then, the ships of Tarshish are certainly suitable for large ships sailing the high seas: “Because the king had at sea a navy of Tarshish, beyond the fleet of Hiram: every three years came the navy of Tarshish brought loads of gold and d ‘ silver, ivory, and apes “(1 Kings, 10, 22);” Then Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel …. to build ships capable of reaching Tarsis .. “( Chronicles 2, 20, 35-36); “.. there will be a day of the Lord of hosts against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all luxury boats” ( Isaiah , 2, 12-16); “ships in the front row of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar, with silver and gold “( Isaiah, 60, 9). The prophets Isaiah (eighth century. BC.), Jeremiah and Ezekiel (both of the VII-VI century . BC), frequently appoint Tarshish: “Let the lament, ships of Tarshish, for your refuge has been destroyed! While returning from the land of Kittim, it was given them news … Switch to Tarshish, make lamentation, inhabitants of the coast … Nurture your land like the Nile, O daughter of Tarshish, the port does not exist anymore …. “( Isaiah , 23, 1-10). “Wrought silver and laminate brought from Tarshish, and gold of Ophir, work as an artist and hand jewelery, purple and scarlet is their role: all the work of talented artists ..”. ( Jeremiah , 10, 9). “Tarshish traded with you, for your riches of every kind, exchanging your goods with silver, iron, tin and lead .. The ships of Tarshish traveled, bringing your merchandise “( Ezekiel , 27.12 to 25). From biblical quotations given, it is evident that Tarshish must also be a location relatively distant from Israel, and Jonah “went on his way to escape to Tarshish, away from the Lord “( Jonah , 1.3). The affirmation of Psalm 48, “there trembling seized them, as labor pains of giving birth, like the east wind that pierces the ships of Tarshish” (7-8) , has me thinking that, since vessels propelled by an east wind, you dirigessero west, and then you find that Tarshish in the far West. And in the West, unknown place, so beautiful, prosperous and happy, where the Greeks projected their hopes and dreams

(14), Greek sources put Tartessos, mysterious locality mentioned by various authors, assimilated to Tarshish . Stesichorus (600 BC) speaks in Gerioneide , of which there are few snippets: “Almost opposite the famous Erythia, with the myriad sources, from the roots of silver, the river Tartessos ( fragment 6 – a ). Herodotus (fifth century BC) says that when they reached Focei Tartessos, “made friends with the king of Tartessii, whose name was Argantonio; Tartessos he ruled for eighty years and lived one hundred and twenty … “(I, 163, 2). Even Coleo of Samos, according to Herodotus, came to Tartessos (IV, 152, 2). Apollodorus (second century BC) Tartessos appointment in relation to the story of Heracles and Geryon (2.5, 10). Pausanias (second century .. C.), in his Description of Greece (6,19,3) reports that “tell the Tartessos is a river in the land of the Iberians, who throws himself into the sea with two branches, and that between these two mouths lies a city with the same name … ”

(15). Many authors and scholars, ancient and modern, have sought to understand how you should place known or could identify the Biblical Tarshish, the Tartessos of the Greeks. There has been much speculation: Tarso , in Cilicia (Josephus), Carthage , Rhodes or Cyprus ; Tarrha , ancient city on the island of Crete; Tharros in Sardinia; Tartessos in Spain, a settlement related to the activity of mining and processing of metals (Tarshish is etymologically approached furnace, refinery ). We have not much news around the first millennium before Christ, and the port city of Tarsus in Cilicia, Rhodes and Cyprus are clearly named in the Bible , from the archaeological data available to us , does not seem to Carthage, or Tarrha or Tharros or Tartessos existed in the tenth century BC (indeed the Iberian Tartessos has not yet been identified with certainty with a real site), or in Greek or Phoenician ships that date must be pushed with regularity to the Iberian coast (the first settlement “Western” in that land are dated around the eighth century BC). In summary, Tarshish : there is far from the Lord , far from the coast of Palestine, located in the West, as the east wind will pierces the ship; is between the peoples Greeks, being mentioned in Genesis and Chronicles along with Rhodes and Cyprus, among the sons of Javan, Ionia, Greece. Its ships are part of the fleet of King Solomon (tenth century BC); fly like clouds, like doves , that are nimble and maneuverable, and suitable for navigation on the high seas, carrying gold and silver, ivory, apes, baboons, and exchange the goods of Tyre with silver, iron, tin and lead. A cuneiform inscription in the era of the Assyrian king Assurheddon (681-668 BC) appoint a Tarsisi , together with Cyprus and Javan: “All the kingdoms (islands) of the medium sea, the land of Tarshish Iadanan and Iaman up to have bowed to my feet. ” The kingdoms of the middle of the sea very much reminiscent of Psalm 72, 10: The kings of Tarshish and the islands will , together with the fact that this quote the personification of the locality, Tarshish, is called the son of Ionia or Greece, suggesting that it may be of Thera and the Cyclades, located on the west coast of Palestine, west of Cyprus, Rhodes, far away, but not so much (as it would be Spain), it can not be considered tax Assyria. In fact, Thera satisfies all the conditions attached to Tarshish : it is to the west, but close enough to Assyria, is linked to other islands, is quoted from the Bible that Assyrian inscription, has large ships able to sail the seas, trading with the Syro-Palestinian coast

(16). Some verses from ‘ Ippolito of Euripides, “Ship cretica, white wings, and for the resonant ocean waves traghettasti my sovereign from affluent homes ..” which describes a vessel sailing in the Aegean, with its white sails as wings white, reminiscent in a unique way the quote from Isaiah: “Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? There are ships that gather for me, the ships of Tarshish in the front row … “( Isaiah 60, 8-9). The easterly winds that tear the ships of Tarshish , mentioned in Psalm 48, 7-8 , could be the Etesian winds that blow in the Aegean in the summer and, especially offshore, can blow so hard as to cause storms. Cyclades, then, are rich in metals: “The gold mines of Sifnos and Taso, those of silver Kimolos, Sifnos by, Siro and Laurion, at the eastern tip of Attica, the people attracted to the Aegean where the search for raw materials has always represented a problem of vital importance. Besides gold and silver, the inhabitants of the Cyclades have used arsenic to copper Kitno of Sifnos or, again, of Laurion .. ”

(17). The name passed from Greek sources, Tartessos recalls of placenames pregreci the Aegean, as Knossos, Tilisso, Lissos … Tarshish, with the expansion of geographical knowledge and the progress of colonization suffered the fate of many other names: “In fact, the Greeks ribattezzavano with the same names, cities and regions posed as the most distant from the mother country, so often, when the source is mentioned only the name of a locality, without further information of historical or geographical reasons, not easy to identify exactly which site it is … ”

(18). The same happened with the name of Hesperia, the land of the sunset , “the first name that is assigned to the eastern coast of Italy, the most easily accessible, the nearest, and later when the geographical horizons were extended further, also came to designate Iberia “(ibid. p. 56). Thus, in all likelihood, the biblical Tarshish , from the Aegean was first moved to Sardinia, in the River Tirso, then in Iberia, in the area of the Guadalquivir. As long as Thera, as recounted the classical sources, it was derived from the homonymous Spartan colonist, son of Autesione and a descendant of Cadmus, was difficult to associate the Aegean island of Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre, who lived in the tenth century BC: too little would be time, because it turning in a highly civilized and has a fleet and trade relations with all countries in the East. The discovery, decryption and interpretation of the Linear B tablets of Knossos, bringing the q- ra-si-ja , which predates the name Thera / Therasia even the Minoan, we can now put the Aegean island in connection with the legendary Tarshish / Tartessos and formulate a new exciting hypotheses. things have not changed, in which case it would have been called Ship of Thera, Therasia, boat Therasios . In Semitic languages ??the vowels are not written, therefore, probably along the Syrian coast-Palestinian sources in place of Therasios , they noted Trss , you could read TarshishTarshish is a name repeated several times in the Bible, and from time to time, identifies a person (son of Javan; descendant of Benjamin, counselor of the king of Persia) a location (the fleet .., the king’s ships went to ..; the king of ..), a type (Jehoshaphat built ships of Tarshish to go for gold ..)

(1) Monte L.. Atlantis The Mysterious Island , Genoa, 2004, p. 100.
(2) “In this island [Lipari] and Sicily it is another, called the first Terasia now Iera, why sacred to Vulcan in it is a hill that spews flames at night. The third island, 6 miles east of Stromboli Lipari [Strongyle], site of the palace of Aeolus … “Pliny, Natural History , III, 93-94.
(3) Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica , IV, vv. 1757-1758; Pliny, Op cit., IV, 70.
(4) Herodotus, Histories , IV 147-148. And Apollonius: “Tera, the good son of Autesione, took them to the island Calliste which he gave his name Thera. But that came well after the time Euphemus “, Ibid, IV, vv. 1760-1764. In Sparta “There is another sanctuary of Athena … was dedicated, he says, from Thera, son of Autesione … when he led her to found a colony on the island now called by his name, Thera “Pausanias, Guide of Greece 3.15.6
(5) In the mid-second millennium BC, the Minoan empire was at its peak and at its maximum extension, but the forces of nature unleashed the terrible eruption of the volcano Thera, upset this view: the Mycenaean warriors taking advantage of the favorable moment, when a disaster had weakened the power of Minoan Crete, and landed in the other Minoan bases and seized it, imposing their rule.
(6) Corpus of Mycenaean Inscriptions from Knossos I (1-1063), Rome 1986. IG LXXXVIII / 1
(7) “… Querasiya (” the Slayer “? word group ther, the game?) .. “. Faure P., Ulysses El Greco , Rome, 1985, p. 113.
(8) S. Hiller – Minoan Qe-Ra-Si-Ja. The Religious Impact of the Thera Volcano on Minoan Crete, p. 675 et seq., in: ” Thera and the Aegean World I “, London, 1978.
(9) Ibid.
(10) C. Lambrou-Phillipson – Thera in the Mythology of the Classical Tradition: An Archaeological Approach, p. 170, in: ” Thera and the Aegean World III “, London, 1989.
(11) C. Doumas, Thera, in: EAA, Supplement II, 1971-1994 , p.751.
(12) Monte L., op., p. 130.
(13) The Bible , Casale Monferrato, 1995: ( Genesis , 1.10, 4, and Chronicles , 1.1, 7; Chronicles , 1, 7, 10, Esther , 1, 14), (1 King , 10, 22; Chronicles , 2.9, 21; Psalms , 72.10), (1 Kings, 22, 49).
(14) In the collective imagination of the ancient Tarshish / Tartessos was associated with Atlantis, the mysterious and fascinating land suddenly disappeared under the waves of the sea, with whom he shared the location to the west.
(15) Among the Latin authors, Cicero probably refers to Herodotus when senectute in De, 69, speaks of ‘King of the ages of Tartessii Argantonio, while Gaius Julius Solinus (third century AD), in his “Collection of memorable things,” IV, 1, tells how Sardo and Norace giungessero in Sardinia “the one from Africa, the’ else to Tartessos of Spain. ”
(16) “.. during the 34. year of the reign of Thutmose III Cretan ships carrying timber from Palestine to Egypt ..” (Traffics Mycenaeans in the Mediterranean, Proceedings of Palermo, Taranto, 1986, p.250.
(17) L. Godart – The Cycladic civilization, in: Archaeological No. 2, February 1994, Milan, pp. 60-61. Wealth of metals can associate Thera and the Cyclades with an etymology type ” furnace or refinery “while being islands to another etymology asociata to Tarshish, and akin to the sea or coast
(18) Monte L., op., p. 174.
Author: Monte, Luana
History: Arch Greek