is the account of Hanno, king of Carthage,
about his voyage to the Libyan lands beyond the Pillars of Herakles,
he also set up in the shrine of Kronos.
The Carthaginians ordered Hanno to sail
the Pillars of Herakles
and found a number of Libyphoenician cities. He set sail with sixty
ships, about thirty thousand men and women, food and other equipment.
Libya is the Greek name for
Africa. The Pillars of
refer to the Straits of Gibraltar. Kronos is a Greek god, who may be
with the god Ba'al Hammon. Hanno's title 'king' (Greek: basileus)
is the usual rendering of the name of a high Carthaginian magistrate,
but in this case, it may be a special magistrate.
The number of thirty
thousand is suspect: the ships would
be very crowded. J.G. Demerliac & J. Meirat, Hannon
et l' Empire
Punique (1983 Paris, pp.64-67) suggest five thousand.
are the Phoenicians living in Africa.
sailing beyond the Pillars for two days, we founded our first
city, called Thymiaterion. Below it was a large plain.
||Thymiaterion means 'Altar of Incense'. It is to be
with the Moroccan harbor of Mehidya, 40 kilometers north of Rabat.
westward from there, we arrived at Soloeis, a Libyan
covered with trees.
||Soloeis is a rendering of Phoenician Selaim,
Most scholars place them at Cape Cantin (also known as Cape Beddouza).
However, it is impossible to travel eastwards from here, as
in line 4. A plausible alternative is Cape Mazagan (the hills opposite
Azemmour), from where it is possible to start a reconnaissance
up the river Oum er Rbia.
we dedicated a temple to Poseidon. Sailing to the east for
half a day, we reached a lake. It was not far from the sea, and was
with many long reeds, from which elephants and other wild animals were
||The Greek name Poseidon is a translation of the
of an unknown Phoenician 'lord of the sea'. Several lakes can be found
along the Oum er Rbia; in fact, it may be called Morocco's 'Lake
our visit to the lake, we sailed on for one day. By the sea,
we founded cities, called Karikon Teichos, Gytte, Akra, Melitta and
unclear in what direction
Hanno traveled after leaving the lake. Did he move upstream along the
er Rbia? Did he sail along the coast? It is hard to give an answer, but
perhaps the first alternative is the more plausible; maybe the
leader decided to pay a visit to a local chief, asking permission to
his people on the coast. This chief may have lived in what is now
-a day and a half's journey upstream-, a town that still contains the
name of the Oum er Rbia: Phout. The colonies may be identified with:
- Azzemour: Karikon
Teichos. The real name of this colony may
have been Kir Chares, 'Castle of the Sun'. An
is that Teichos is the Greek rendering of the
Phoenician word for
'sand bank'. Several Carthaginian tombs have been found at Azzemour.
name Azzemour means 'olive branch' in the Berber language, indicating
what Hanno was looking for.)
- El-Jadida: Gytte.
A Carthaginian necropolis has been excavated.
The name may be derived from Geth, 'cattle'.
- Cape Beddouza, if
the Greek word Akra renders the
Phoenician Rash, 'promontory'. The Greek word may
also be read as Hakra
(the Greek alphabet did not have a character to express the H), the
word for 'castle'.
- Oualiddia: the almost unchanged name
of Melitta. The lagoon makes an excellent harbor. Melitta is mentioned
by the Greek scholar Herodotus
of Halicarnassus, who lived c.440 BCE.
- The islet of
Mogador opposite Essaouira: Arambys. Its Phoenician
name must have been Har Anbin, meaning 'mountain of
archaeological discoveries indicate Carthaginian presence. According to
the excavator, A. Jodin, the site was occupied in the first half of the
sixth century. Some inhabitants made a living by extracting purple dye
our voyage from there, we reached the Lixos, a large
river flowing from Libya. The Lixites, a nomadic tribe, were pasturing
their cattle beside it. We remained with them for some time and became
||The Lixos (Phoenician: Ligs)
is often identified
with the river Drâa, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean
the Canary Islands. However, there are alternatives. J. Carcopino (Le
Maroc Antique, 1943 Paris) thinks that Hanno returned to the
where a large Phoenician city -known to the Greeks as Lixos- has been
in the neighborhood of modern El Araïche, seventy kilometers
of Tanger. Its coins bear the Phoenician legends MQM SHMSH (Moqm
'Abode of the Sun') and LKSH (Lixos); a river in the neighborhood is
Lekkous. Plausible though this identification may seem, it is a bit odd
that Hanno sailed back and forth. The third candidate is the river
or Ghâs, which empties into the Ocean 35 kilometers south
Its upper reaches belong to the most fertile in the whole of Morocco;
we find Ilegh, the capital of the old Berber kingdom Tazzarult, which
to control the caravans to Sudan. A Greek writer may easily have
Ilegh to and/or confused with the northern town Lixos. (In fact, Pliny
the Elder did confuse northern Lixos with the Berber kingdom:
The latter identification has the advantage of suiting the
of the five colonies.
them, hostile Ethiopians occupied a land full of wild animals.
It was surrounded by the great mountains from which the Lixos flows
According to the Lixites, strange people dwell among these mountains:
who run faster than horses.
||'Ethiopians' means 'people with burnt faces'; it
usual word for the native African population. Depending on the
of the Lixos, we may identify their mountainous country with the
Guir, Taïssa and Rich; with the western foothills of the Rif
and with the Anti-Atlas.
we had got interpreters from the Lixites, we sailed along the
desert shore for two days to the south. After sailing eastward for one
day, we found in the recess of a bay a small island which had a
of five stades. We left settlers there and called it Kerne.
from the journey that this island lay opposite Carthage, for the time
from Carthage to the Pillars and from there to Kerne was the same.
renders Phoenician Chernah,
which means 'last habitation'. It is tempting to locate it at an islet
called Herne in the Rio de Oro bay, close to Ad Dakhla. Unfortunately,
Herne has a circumference of twenty kilometers, whereas Hanno's five
are only nine hundred meters. A very plausible alternative, preferred
J. Ramin ('Ultima Cerne' in R. Chevalier [ed.], Littérature
et Géographie historique. Mélanges offerts
Dion, 1974 Paris), is to identify it with one of the islands
Bay of Arguin at the Mauretanian coast. If this is correct, the name
lives on in the name of the desert region, which is called Ganar.
identifications, however, suffer from the
same drawback: the distance between the river Lixos -whatever its
location- and Kerne is more than a three days' sea journey, even when
take into account that Hanno made use of the Canarian current and the
trade winds. Therefore, the first editor of Hanno's narrative, Karl
proposed to read 'twelve' instead of 'two' for the voyage
desert coast, postulating a common scribal error (B' instead
from there, we crossed a river called Chretes, and reached
a bay, which contained three islands, bigger than Kerne. After a day's
sail from here, we arrived at the end of the bay, which was overhung by
some very great mountains, crowded with savages clad in animals' skins.
By throwing stones, they prevented us from disembarking and drove us
||The three islands probably belong to the Tidra
off the Mauretanian coast. The river Chretes poses new problems. In the
manuscript, it is written without an accent, indicating that the scribe
considered the word corrupt. Müller suggests that it can be
with the river Chremetes, which is known from Aristotle
of Stagira (Meteorology 350b12) and may be
a rendering of Phoenician Cheremat,
'wine river'. Another problem is its identification, because there is
big river in this part of the coast. The first river one crosses after
leaving Kerne in the Bay of Arguin is the Tenbrourt, a very small
Next comes the Tijirit, which has a large estuary and seems to have a
name. However, Hanno writes that he had already passed the river when
entered the bay with the three islands; the Tijirit is south of the
archipelago. There is no suitable candidate for the 'very great
at the southern end of a bay, where Hanno must have left behind a
and appalling image of white men.
from there, we arrived at another large, broad river teeming
with crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Returning from there, we went back
broad river must be the Senegal.
Upstream is the gold bearing region of Bambouk, and there is a clue (to
be discussed below)
that Hanno obtained
this precious metal at the delta of this river. (Its name comes from Sanu-Kholé,
'river of gold'.) His Berber interpreters must have been useful
Hanno's return to Kerne may mean that he brought his purchases to
before he started his reconnaissance voyage to the unknown south. This
interpretation of Hanno's trip is admittedly speculative, but it is not
unreasonable to suppose that the Carthaginians did not permit the Greek
translator of Hanno's inscription to reveal their trade secrets.
there we we sailed to the south for twelve days. We remained
close to the coast, which was entirely inhabited by Ethiopians, who
from us when we approached. Even to our Lixites, their language was
||When we accept a humble hundred kilometers as a
journey, the twelve days' voyage must have taken Hanno to Guinea. There
are two (not conclusive) indications that he progressed further. (a)
remark that his translators were unable to speak with the native
suggests that they had entered the regions where Kru languages were
in modern Sierra Leone. (b) Section 13 strongly suggests that the
days' journey brought Hanno to a point two sailing days before Cape
If this is true, Hanno reached Monrovia in Liberia. He will have sailed
some hundred thirty kilometers each day, which is certainly possible.
the last day, we anchored by some big mountains. They were covered
with trees whose wood was aromatic and colorful.
||A possible location for Hanno's harbor is Cape
close to Monrovia. Note his attention for what must have seemed a fine
around the mountains for two days, we came to an immense
expanse of sea beyond which, on the landward side, was a plain. During
the night we observed big and small fires everywhere flaming up at
||Two days of sailing brought the Carthaginian
the rain forest to the river Douobé, close to Cape Palmes,
border of Liberia and Ivory Coast. In front of him, he saw the Golf of
on water there, we continued for five days along the coast,
until we reached a great bay which according to our translators was the
Horn of the West. There was a large island in it, and in it a lagoon
was salt] like the sea, and on it another island. Here we disembarked.
In daytime, we could see nothing but the forest, but during the night,
we noticed many fires alight and heard the sound of flutes, the beating
of cymbals and tom-toms, and the shouts of a multitude. We grew afraid
and our diviners advised us to leave this island.
||The Horn of the West is mentioned in several
texts from Antiquity, but always as a promontory, never as a bay.
we should translate 'we reached a great bay which ... was the
of the Horn of the West'. The most likely identification is
Points in modern Ghana. After sailing along the Ivory Coast, Hanno has
reached the peninsula that gives access to the Bight of Benin. The
island where the Carthaginian sailors survived their nightly adventure,
can be anywhere in the western delta of the Niger.
we sailed away, passing along a fiery coast full of incense.
Large torrents of fire emptied into the sea, and the land was
because of the heat.
story is repeated in the
next line. This odd duplication cannot be explained, but we may
the possibility of a mistake by the Greek translator. A better theory
that the scribe who composed the text at the stela in the shrine of
interviewed two sailors.
and in fear, we sailed away from that place. Sailing on
for four days, we saw the coast by night full of flames. In the middle
was a big flame, taller than the others and apparently rising to the
By day, this turned out to be a very high mountain, which was called
of the Gods.
||There has been some discussion about the site of
Chariot of the Gods (Greek: Theôn ochèma).
identified it with Kakulima in Guinea, which would considerably shorten
Hanno's voyage. (In this reasoning, the Horn of the West is situated in
the Bijagos archipelago.) However, this volcano has not been active
a very long time before Hanno. This leaves us with Mount Cameroon,
which happens to be a perfect alternative. The native name happens to
Loba, 'Seat of the Gods'. If we were to translate his into
would become Theôn oikèma. The
scribal error can be
made very easily. In 1922, the lava of Mount Cameroon poured into the
thence along the torrents of fire, we arrived after three
days at a bay called Horn of the South.
||The Horn of the South must again be a promontory,
the peninsula on which Gabon's capital Libreville is situated. An
is Cape San Juan: less prominent, but the first one the Carthaginians
In both cases, the bay appears to be Corisco bay.
this gulf was an island, resembling the first, with a lagoon,
within which was another island, full of savages. Most of them were
with hairy bodies, whom our interpreters called 'gorillas'. Although we
chased them, we could not catch any males: they all escaped, being good
climbers who defended themselves with stones. However, we caught three
women, who refused to follow those who carried them off, biting and
them. So we killed and flayed them and brought their skins back to
For we did not sail any further, because our provisions were running
||The encounter with the gorillas can not have taken
on Corisco island or any island, since gorillas do not swim. (They are
not known for throwing stones and living in groups either, but the
with this species of anthropoids seems certain.) It must have taken
on the African mainland, and the most possible site is the northwestern
point of the Libreville peninsula.
The suffete's return
must have been very difficult, having
to beat against the north-eastern trade wind and the Canary current.
The Roman author Pliny
the Elder knows that the gorilla furs were exhibited in the
of the goddess Tanit until Carthage was destroyed by the Romans (Natural