Sunday, 12 February 2012

The intrepid explorer.

Most of the written records of Carthage were lost when the Romans sacked the city, set about a comprehensive propaganda campaign, that still echoes down the years to today, and successfully vilified the entire culture of the Carthaginians.

As a result of this historical vandalism (a word we get from the peoples who destroyed the Roman Empire) we know only the sketchiest details of Hanno’s extraordinary expedition around 470BC.

Leading a small fleet of galleys, this explorer, the seminal hero in my series, set out through the Straits of Gibraltar and ventured south around Africa. As he went he founded small Carthaginian colonies along the coast, and up a couple of the river mouths. After we’re not sure how long and having travelled as far south as the Equator he returned home, retracing his path.

Those colonies, alas, did not survive long and scant record shows up in the archaeological record, but there is enough proof to show Hanno actually existed, and this epic journey took place. The written record is sketchy, thanks to the depredations of the aforementioned Romans, but supports his story. Some say he was the king of Carthage, others more of a merchant prince, but nevertheless it was an extraordinarily intrepid feat, when you consider they knew virtually nothing about the size of the Atlantic or the continent they were sailing around.

In the world of the Carthaginian Empire series, Hanno is driven north by a storm, ends up almost shipwrecked on the coast of what is now Dorset in England, but that’s my story, and you’ll have to read more of that later.

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