"Museo dei dolmen" (Dolmen Museum) is a virtual museum of Mediterranean and Western Europe prehistory and early history, set up and directed by Federico Bardanzellu.


Dolmen Museum     


Prehistory and Early History of the Mediterranean and Western Europe


Museo dei Dolmen


Movements of peoples in the Mediterranean Sea between the Bronze and the Iron Age

1. Sea Peoples, who were they?  > Read more  

2. Iconography of the warriors > Read more

3. Bronze Age collapse > Read more

4. Origin area of the Sea Peoples  > Read more

5. Sea Peoples in Syro-Palestinian Levant > Read more

6. Doric invasion in Greece > Read more

7. Sea Peoples in Sardinia and Corsica > Read more

8. Sea Peoples in Sicily and the Italian peninsula > Read more

 9. The Iron Age  > Read more

10. Phoenicians beyond Melqart Pillars


             Excavations at Tharros






Ephebos of Motya, perhaps Melkart




Excavations at Motya



   Mine at Argentiera (Sardinia, Italy)



       The literature shows a strong link between the Anatolian Tarsus (the biblical Tarsish ) and the Phoenician Tyre. The same connection can be found between Tyre and the Sardinian Tharros.

  Around 750 BC, in fact, the Phoenicians of Tyre founded a new settlement, after a period of desert with no obvious archaeological traces probably due to the emigration of its previous inhabitants to other  more favorable places (Tuscany ?).

  The identity of the etymological root of Tarsus, Tarsish , Tursha and Tharros and the cultural and commercial linking exercised by the Phoenicians of Tyre between the two cities, suggests the identification, relating to the Sardinian city (Tharros)with the legendary Tartessos (Tarthessos), an area rich in silver mines, located beyond the pillars of Hercules, in commercial relations with the Phoenicians .

  This is only possible if the original location of the Pillars of Hercules were in the Sicilian Channel and not in Gibraltar, as indicated by Eratosthenes of Cyrene, in the first century BC.

  This hypothesis launched by journalist Sergio Frau, seems to have been welcomed by important archaeologists such as the Italian-Belgian Louis Godart and Italian Andrea Carandini .

   Despite the arrival of populations in possession of the techniques of fusion and manufacture of iron weapons, in the Italian peninsula and on the islands the beginning of the new epocal iron is canonically set at 900 BC, that is to say about three hundred years later than the neighbor Orient.  

Furthermore, a substantial substitution of the material used to make weapons is not visible before the seventh century. In Sardinia, finally, this delay is even more substantial and, essentially, it ends only with the arrival and the seizure of power by the Phoenician-Punic, around the middle of the sixth century.

  This is essentially due to the lack of raw material and probably would confirm that the arrival of the sea Peoples, especially in Sardinia, preceded the Doric invasion of Greece, carried out by populations already in full possession of iron weapons.

  The situation evolved with the discovery of substantial iron deposits on the Island of Elba and on the Tuscan hills.  The circumstance cannot have left the community of the Mediterranean peoples (including Greeks and Phoenicians) indifferent, but, above all, aroused the interest of the Sardinian populations.

  In fact, from the first half of the 9th century, the well-known Sardinian bronzes appear in Tuscan burials. In particular, the discovery of numerous zoomorphic protruding ships testify to the arrival on the Tuscan coast of Sardinian navigators and traders.

  In this context, the action of the Tursha descendants seems to have been predominant. There would be no other explanation for the change in the denomination of the sea between Sardinia and the peninsula, already referred to as Okeanòs (Ocean) by Homer and then "Sardinian Sea", in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Nor could the name "Tirrenia" be explained, assumed by the territory between the Arno and the Tiber and that of "Tirreni" given by the Greeks to the local populations (later transformed into "Tusci" and, therefore, "Etruscans", by the Romans ).

  To credit this hypothesis it must priority condiser that  Homer, in the Odyssey, makes Ulysses navigate the waters of the Okeanos without  mentionining any crossing of the Pillars of Hercules by the Mycenaean hero.

  This indicates that the myth of the placement of columns to the limits of the known world was not referring to Mycenaean Heracles, but the Phoenycian from Tyre Melqart.

  Anyway, the Ocean described by Homer is easily identifiable with the Tyrrhenian Sea, wetting the island of Circe (the promontory of Circeo), the island of Sirens (Capri) and having as output the Strait of Messina (Scylla and Charybdis), as well as the Strait of Sicily.

  Right on the Channel of Sicily, a sea strewn with low and unpredictable waters of volcanic islands that appear and disappear from the surface of the water (like the Homeric Wandering islands or the natant of Aeolus, or even the historic Island Ferdinandèa, emerged in the nineteenth century from the Phlegraean Fields of the Sea of Sicily), Melqart of Tyre, around the eighth century BC, may have placed its columns, as a warning to mariners of other countries.

  Where, in particular? At Motya: were the pillars of a temple still being excavated, built by the Phoenicians of Tyre, dedicated to none other than Melqart . 

In this regard, there are striking similarities between the myth and the places in question.

  According to legend, Hercules was in fact came from those parts to obtain the Cattle of Geryon as his tenth labour required him by Eurystheus. According to the myth, Geryon lived in a place called Eritheya and that territory can be identified, according to the etymology  with the surroundings of Erice (Eryx) .

  In particular Geryon lived in an adjacent island called Gadhira. This name can be translated "wall" in Phoenician  but, in Semitic, it can also mean other things; in particular, in Maltese, "Għadira" means "pond". Well , the island of Motya, is located in a lagoon in front of the territory of Erice (TP), whose actual name is Stagnone (great pond).

  Once killed, the three-headed monster Geryon would originate many islands, easily identifiable with the three major Egadians Islands in front of the promontory of Erice. In addition, according to Strabo, an oracle would have ordered the inhabitants of Tyre to found a colony "at the columns of Hercules".

  The Greek geographer particularly emphasizes the bronze pillars of the temple, stating that bore important inscriptions and almost causing the reader to believe that these were just the "pillars of Hercules".

  Recent excavations in Mothya have revealed the foundations of an important temple of the Tyrians, which could be the temple of Melqart, with its  listed columns.

  If, as it seems, the pillars of Hercules were placed in Mothya and not in Gibraltar, the legendary Tartessos can be identified with Tharros and the Teresh, who were its inhabitans before the refounding of the city by the Phoenicians of Tyre, can be identified, as well as the Tyrrhenians, even with the Tartessos.

  In the surroundings of Tharros, as in the legendary Tartessos, in fact, are located  important silver mines, so much so that even today a small town about fifty miles as the crow flies is called Argentiera.


Credits - Text by  Federico Bardanzellu  2013      facebook