Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Mulekites and Jaredites Did Not Sail West to the Americas – Part II

Continuing from the previous post with the reasons why the Jaredites did not sail west from the eastern Mediterranean coast.

• Comment: “What makes you think the Phoenicians would not, could not, have gone west out of the Mediterrnean and taken Mulek and his group to the Americas?”

Response: To answer this question we need to understand who the Phoenicians were and what they did to properly understand why Mulek would have not gone with them westward out of the Mediterranean Sea. Their history started as a group of three independent defensible coastal towns: Tyre, Byblos, and Sidon, which, over time, became a string of hundreds of settlements and trading posts which had gone beyond the Nile delta and inexorably grew, in some stretches of coast by the pact of "blind bargaining" with the peoples there, and in other areas, devoid of resistance, by settlement along the North African Coast and the Eastern Mediterranean Islands.

Thus, Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, Sicily, and Malta, were trading outposts leading to the Atlantic Coast as far south as Mogador of what is now Morocco, and including the entire Iberian Coast from Huelva in the West to beyond Valencia in the East.

Map of the Mediterranean Sea and some of the locations


The Eastern Mediterranean is not a windy sea and the Phoenicians' principal means of propulsion was the oar. The settlements were laid out a day's rowing from one to the next, about every 30 to 60 miles. The purpose of this continued expansion was to obtain more raw material for the trade with Egypt and with the tribes to the east.

Early on, the peoples around the Mediterranean basin had only Copper as the only available metal. On arrival on the Atlantic coast of France the Phoenicians came for the first time upon tin, and either devised or learned the technology necessary to convert it to Bronze by combining it with Copper, which was freely available in the Middle East. Bronze is a far superior material to Copper for practically all purposes, it is stronger to use for weapons and as armor for men and fixings and cladding for ships, and is less prone to rusting. So important was this to them that they named Northwestern France "Barra Tannica," the land of Tin, from which the names Brittany and consequently Britain come.

The Phoenicians were not explorers—they would have had no reason to sail to any distant land since their sole purpose was to set up trading centers along the Mediterranean coast. The only exploring the Phoenicians did was to look for new harbors at which a settlement could be established—any voyage had that in mind and was authorized by the Phoenician for that sole purpose. Once settlements were established, the Phoenician merchants acted as middlemen for these settlements. They transported linen and papyrus from Egypt, copper from Cyprus, embroidered cloth from Mesopotamia, spices from Arabia, and ivory, gold, and slaves from Africa to destinations throughout the Mediterranean.

Some specialists claim the Druids, the Celtic religious hierarchy, controlled the trade in tin at all its sources, from Cornwall (Britain) in the North through Western France and Galicia (bordering on Portugal in the northwest corner of Spain), to Huelva in the Bay of Cadiz (southwest Spain). Phoenicians prevented any other Mediterranean sea-going people from reaching the source of their security and the military power, which gave them complete control of their world for over 1000 years.

The Greeks used oars as the motive power of their ships and it stands to reason that the Phoenicians did also, at least around 600 BC


Even the Greeks were restricted by the Phoenicians to the Aegean Sea for many centuries from 1200 BC onwards, and Naval Historians attribute this to the availability exclusively to the Phoenicians of two elements in ship construction, namely:

1) Long straight cedar timbers (compared to short sinuous olive timbers available to the Greeks)

2) Stronger and more versatile Bronze (hey controlled the tin trade).

Since the Phoenicians dominated the tin market, trading it with eastern merchants, few in the Mediterranean had brass for fixings, claddings and battering rams, which were used in battle to perforate hulls, sinking the enemy.

The Phoenicians were sea traders and explorers and jealously guarded their trading network with military might—their explorations were solely for the purpose of finding and settling new areas to:

1) increase their need for additional resources for trade, and

2) to increase their trading activities.

In fact, the Phoenicians, which were bolstered by the settlements they established to expand their trading enterprises, exchanged raw and finished goods with people in many cultural spheres of the ancient Mediterranean world and accumulated wealth in the process.

A major factor that aided their success was not just the ring of settlements around the Mediterranean they established, but the colonies beyond the Pillars of Hercules on the Atlantic coast northward and south along Morocco that the Carthaginians established.. These colonies, founded by the eighth century BC, supplied valuable raw materials to the major Phoenician cities in the Levant, while also providing additional markets abroad.

That is, the Phoenicians were traders. By establishing these connections, the system of their maritime Trade Network involved both direct and indirect exchange of raw and finished products—both political and cultural ideas, as well as peoples. The colonies were involved in various activities including ceramics production, metallurgy, and agriculture. The native peoples they interacted with provided valuable goods, especially metals, which were sent east to supply the Near Eastern Markets.

The Phoenician Trade Network that surrounded the Mediterranean


The Phoenician Trade Network was a system of interconnected, mainly independent population centers, which participated in the advancement of Phoenician mercantilism, and thus their wealth. The Phoenicians knew that in establishing these settlements that they would have an established source needing their products, which resulted in both the growth of the settlements and the wealth of the Phoenicians. Thus, they spent no time on frivolous sailing activities. They neither had nor performed long-range sailing activities, since any contacts made would be too far away and therefore, of little value in their business of trade.

They neither sailed north of Britain—going there only because of their all-important tin—nor south of Morocco along the Atlantic coast. The only reason they agreed to sail around Africa was to learn of the possibility and value of new settlements along a link of towns already established. In the end, their journey proved fruitless because of their distance and difficulty in reaching any settlements established.

Also, each city-state was politically independent, and there is no evidence that the Phoenicians ever viewed themselves as a single nationality. Around 800 BC, the trading settlement of Carthage began to strengthen and around 750 BC, along with Sardinia, were two of the strongest Phoenician trading centers. It was Carthage that developed the cities to the west of the Pillars of Hercules and settlements along the Atlantic shores in both Morocco and Spain. No ship could pass their trading centers into the Atlantic without being challenged and turned back (Maria Eugenia Aubet, “The Phoenicians and the West: Politics, Colonies and Trade,” American Anthropologist, vol.96, Is3, Ediciones Bellaterra, Barcelona, 1994).

This was the situation at the time Mulek left Jerusalem. It is not difficult to understand that even if Mulek was somehow able to obtain passage on a Phoenician ship and head west across the Mediterranean as many uninformed theorists claim, it is extremely doubtful he would have gotten beyond the Western Mediterranean. Certainly, he would not have made it beyond Carthage, let alone ever reaching the Pillars of Hercules.

(See the next post, “The Jaredites Did Not Sail West to the Americas – Part III,” partly because the seas and shipping were controlled by the Carthaginians, and partly because Nebuchadnezzar controlled Palestine).

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