Phoenician tomb excavated in Cadiz, Spain
- My grandmother gave me a National Geographic magazine today that
she's saved, and the date of the issue is August, 1924. In it is an
interesting article about tombs (and one in particular) excavated in
Cadiz, Spain between 1887 and 1890 that are claimed to be Phoenician
and dating to the period 1400 to 1100 B.C. I will scan and post a
picture from the magazine of one sarcophagus in particular, and put
it in the files section.
As the issue is from 1924, I am a little skeptical, but the relevant
portions of the article reads as follows:
first, the heading under the picture of the sarcophagus excavated in
"A Phoenician Tomb, Probably that of the First High Priest of the
Phoenician Colony of Cadiz
A marble sarcophagus of from 1400 to 1100 B.C. was discovered in
1887 while leveling the ground for the maritime exposition outside
the city walls. The sculptured figure resembles an ancient Assyrian
(curls), while the features are Semitic. The tomb probably stood in
a niche of the Temple of Hercules. It is thought that a Greek
sculptor was employed to create this figure in advance of the
the relevant part of the main article reads:
"Cadiz is Spain's Chief Atlantic Port
With its splendid harbor and modern docks, the peninsular city is
Spain's chief Atlantic port. There are two large shipyards outside
the walls, but they were idle at the time of my visit.
It was while laying out one of these shipyards, in 1890, that the
second of a series of great archeological discoveries was made.
Three years before, while leveling the ground for the Maritime
Exposition, the first of the tombs were unearthed.
These proved to be of the earliest Phoenician period. The most
important find was a tomb containing the marvelously carved marble
casket of a priest of the Temple of Hercules, which once stood on a
shore of Cadiz Bay. For years Dr. Pelayo Quintero Atauri, one of
Spain's foremost archeologists, has been laboriously patching
together the fragments of this strange story from out the mists of
There was, it seems, long centuries ago, a smaller island very
near to the land on which Cadiz now stands. Either on this smaller
island or at the base of the present peninsula stood the temple of a
race of sun-worshipers, whose high priest made human sacrifice. It
is the likeness of this priest, carved on the lid of the marble
sarcophagus, that I have seen in the Archeological Museum in Cadiz.
It is a most wonderful sarcophagus. So skillfully is the figure
carved that the man himself seems to lie before you. His features
are Semitic-eyelids heavy, lips full, nose curved. The curly hair
and beard are Assyrian.
He wears a long tunic and his feet are bare. His left hand
holds a human heart; his right is in the position to hold a knife,
although no knife is there. Thus is the priest depicted in the
supreme moment of sacrifice.
The marble probably came from Almeria, on the Mediterranean
coast of Spain. The sculptor was, perhaps, a Greek, who carved the
figure during the priest's lifetime. Within the casket a skeleton
In this and in many other tombs since unearthed have been found
beautifully engraved gold amulets, necklaces, bracelets, and funeral
rings. One of the seal rings carries an inscription as yet
untranslated. From the careful study of jewelry, weapons, and
pottery, the Cadiz scientist has made many deductions.
The temple still existed in the days of Augustus. Strabo wrote
of it; so did Pliny the Younger. The story of those who founded it,
those who for long centuries preserved it, is a fascinating one to
And, the heading under the photograph of other tombs excavated:
"Phoenician Tombs Unearthed Near Cadiz
These burial places and many coins are practically the only relics
of the Phoenicians who flourished here more than a thousand years
before the Christian Era."
Other relevant portions of the article:
"...Halfway around the bay curve, between Algeciras and La Linea, is
the site of Carteia, one of the oldest cities in western Europe. It
was on of the first trading posts established by the Phoenicians.
To these earliest "commercial travelers" Spain owes its
name. "Span," or "Spania," they called it, the "remote,"
or "hidden," land.
It was sometime around 1400 B.C. that the Phoenicians, after
planting their colonies on the shores of the Mediterranean, dared at
last to sail past the Pillars of Hercules, here to found Carteia, in
the shadow of the great Rock, and Cadiz farther to the west.
Wheat, wine, wool, gold, silver, and lesser metals, salted eels
of Tartessus, and Tyrian tunny were now borne eastward from Spain."
Anyone have any thoughts or knowledge as to the sarcophagus or the
tombs excavated? They must still be in a museum somewhere in
Spain. I find it hard to believe that they date from before 1100
B.C., as is claimed, the Phoenicians are traditionally believed to
have made settlements in the south of the Iberian Peninsula c. 1100
B.C., although the archaeological evidence would indicate a date of
about 300 years later.