History of Phoenicia eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about History of Phoenicia.

It is probable that they first commenced mining operations on a large scale in Cyprus.  Here, according to Pliny,[104] copper was first discovered; and though this may be a fable, yet here certainly it was found in great abundance at a very early time, and was worked to such an extent, that the Greeks knew copper, as distinct from bronze, by no other name than that of {khalkos Kuprios}, whence the Roman AEs Cyprium, and our own name for the metal.  The principal mines were in the southern mountain range, near Tamasus,[105] but there were others also at Amathus, Soli, and Curium.[106] Some of the old workings have been noticed by modern travellers, particularly near Soli and Tamasus,[107] but they have neither been described anciently nor examined scientifically in modern times.  The ore from which the metal was extracted is called chalcitis by Pliny,[108] and may have been the “chalcocite” of our present metallurgical science, which is a sulphide containing very nearly eighty per cent. of copper.  The brief account which Strabo gives of the mines of Tamasus shows that the ore was smelted in furnaces which were heated by wood fires.  We gather also from Strabo that Tamasus had silver mines.

That the Phoenicians conducted mining operations in Thasos we know from Herodotus,[109] and from other writers of repute[1010] we learn that they extended these operations to the mainland opposite.  Herodotus had himself visited Thasos, and tells us that the mines were on the eastern coast of the island, between two places which he calls respectively AEnyra and Coenyra.  The metal sought was gold, and in their quest of it the Phoenicians had, he says, turned an entire mountain topsy-turvy.  Here again no modern researches seem to have been made, and nothing more is known than that at present the natives obtain no gold from their soil, do not seek for it, and are even ignorant that their island was ever a gold-producing region.[1011] The case is almost the same on the opposite coast, where in ancient times very rich mines both of gold and silver abounded,[1012] which the Phoenicians are said to have worked, but where at the present day mining enterprise is almost at a standstill, and only a very small quantity of silver is produced.[1013]

Sardinia can scarcely have been occupied by the Phoenicians for anything but its metals.  The southern and south-western parts of the island, where they made their settlements, were rich in copper and lead; and the position of the cities seems to indicate the intention to appropriate these metals.  In the vicinity of the lead mines are enormous heaps of scoriae, mounting up apparently to a very remote era.[1014] The scoriae are not so numerous in the vicinity of the copper mines, but “pigs” of copper have been found in the island, unlike any of the Roman period, which are perhaps Phoenician, and furnish specimens of the castings into which the metal was run, after it had been fused and to some extent refined.  The weight of the pigs is from twenty-eight to thirty-seven kilogrammes.[1015] Pigs of lead have also been found, but they are less frequent.

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History of Phoenicia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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