Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Atlantic - Roman Trade Continuity Through Fifth Century AD
In our various postings regarding what is called the European Bronze Age, a number of conclusions are reached regarding key dates.
2420 BC. Great Pyramid built and Lake Superior mining of native copper commences and Bimini, Lewis Isle, Gibraltar great circle route commenced. Connections from Bimini to Poverty Point in Mississippi, the Olmec and soon into the Andes through Lake Maracaibo likely established. Minoan transits of material from Gibraltar to Egypt and also onto India. This all happened early because of the demand created in Egypt and thus a global trade system emerged centered on a sea borne trade empire not too unlike Britain.
1400 BC. Thera blows and wipes out the Minoan heartland. Successor Mycenaeans reoccupied the area of damage and dominated the Eastern Mediterranean. The Mycenaeans were part of the same civilization and trade continued although seriously weakened. By this time trade communities have been established globally and are highly sophisticated and used a common trade language and some form of writing suitable for trade and emulated often.
1159BC. Hekla event and tsunami wipes out Atlantic trade bases at Gibraltar and Bimini. Plausibly Lyonese also subsided at this time and created a huge wave of escaping sea peoples for whom we now have ample sources of supply A dark age fell upon the Greeks and others as trade collapsed and copper stopped moving from Lake Superior. One way or the other copper became a glut in the market, most likely because of population losses in northern Europe.
Throughout this 1500 years of development a global skein of trade factories were created to handle the copper business in particular. Mycenae is a particular example as is Athens. It is plausible that almost every city on the Mediterranean littoral was so founded in cooperation with a friendly tribe. The British did the same as did the Spanish and other Europeans during the Age of Discovery. Seagoing was not an indigenous habit anywhere.
My first assumption was that the collapse of the copper trade was the end of it all in and around 1159 BC, but that is not realistic at all. The successors of this trade empire, or at least parts of it continued to operate at first as the Phoenicians. It continued to operate into Roman times. Memories were not lost and trade routes remained open but far less frequented.
0 BC High Roman times. Major changes now took place. Caesar conquered Gaul. This included defeating a blue water fleet in the Bay of Biscay. It could only have existed as part of a long time trading enterprise. The ships were larger than any that the Mediterranean needed or used and were higher walled. This also suggests that the Grand Banks fishery may well have long predated all this since the capability was there but possibly not the market.
Mauritania was plundered by the Romans and the king sailed away to the west with the treasury and never seen again.
All this meant that the sea based peoples had scant love for the Romans and certainly did not encourage curiosity regarding were the traders came from. This is common sense and self preservation which sustained the Phoenicians for centuries.
However, Rome internalized communications, making it far less dependent on local blue water seamanship. Then in the fifth century it all came apart and the Mediterranean littoral became hostile to traders generally and remained so through another dark age far worse than the previous one. It remained hostile for several centuries and any remnant of the Atlantic trade was suspended and forgotten. Thus all successor societies founded and bound to these traders were on their own and evolved away.
1492 AD The Age of Discovery is fully launched in the public glare and the former trade empire is relocated but not understood as enough time had elapsed to absorb minorities into the general populations. Many obvious anomalies were noted but not understood.
A loss of cultural focus caused by the loss of the Minoan cities and the loss of the Atlantic trade cities in combination with the secrecy maintained by the traders allowed for the full extent of this trade confederacy to remain hidden and ultimately lost. The printing press prevented that from happening in Europe after 1492AD.