New Archaeological Evidence for Atlantis
- From: Samra <minoanatlantis@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 15:42:11 -0700
The author discusses the scientific evidence for an Early Aegean
Minoan colonization of southeastern Spain by 3025 B.C. resulting in
the Los Millares culture that lasted until about 1785 B.C. when it was
transformed into the Bronze Age Minoan colonial state of El Argar and
the beginning of the Atlantic tin trade with the British Isles.
The Minoan Colonization of Spain by 3025 B.C.
The earliest archaeological indication of an eastern Mediterranean
influence in Spain is from material with a calibrated radiocarbon date
of about 3025 B.C. from Los Millares in Andalusia. This is 275 years
after the death of Ötzi the Iceman dated to 3300 B.C. His mummified
body was found in 1991 in the Ötztal Alps on the border of Austria and
Italy. He carried the earliest copper object so far found in Europe -
a 99.7% pure copper axe head. The Neolithic people in Britain began
digging the first circular chalk ditch at Stonehenge with antler picks
and stone tools in about 3000 B.C. The seafaring Minoan culture in the
Aegean Sea seems to have arisen sometime before 3600 B.C. about 600
years before the appearance of Los Millares in Spain. Minoan naval and
commercial shipping was probably unopposed, except by pirates,
anywhere they traveled in the Mediterranean until the massive eruption
of the Theran volcano (Santorini, Greece) in about 1630 B.C.
The Los Millares site was a large copper mining settlement of over
1,000 people about 17 km north of Almeria on the southeastern coast
near Santa Fe de Mondújar. The site was discovered in 1891 by Luis
Siret. The inhabitants mined, smelted, cast, and worked copper. They
produced fine pottery with an "eye" motif, wore woolen clothing,
cultivated crops, ranched cattle, and buried their dead in distinctive
above-ground tholos (beehive) tombs. Some 70 tombs with port-hole
slabs were found in an ancient cemetery at the site.
The "Los Millares Culture", also known as the "Culture of the
Thousands", covered an area of about 20,000 square kilometers along
the southeastern coast and possibly the lands to the west around the
Rio Tinto mines north of and including the modern city of Huelva on
the southern Atlantic coast. Before the early date of 3025 B.C. at Los
Millares was confirmed, many scholars thought that the culture was the
result of Mycenean colonization and associated the tholos tombs in
Spain with the famous shaft graves at Mycenae in Greece from the Late
Bronze Age (LBA). The Myceneans would not come onto the scene until
much later. It couldn't have been the Mycenaeans.
The only Aegeans building tholos tombs in 3025 B.C. were the
Prepalatial Minoans on Crete. These tombs dotted the Messara Plain of
south central Crete at this time. The naval and maritime technologies
of the Myceneans came from the Aegean Minoans who were the first true
masters of ship construction and navigation on the open sea. Their
skills in navigation were not exceeded until John Harrison's invention
of the marine chronometer in the 18th century A.D. that allowed ships
at sea to accurately determine their position's longitude.
The mining settlement at Los Millares was protected by several outpost
forts and used concentric rings of defensive stone walls. There must
have been considerable resistance to this foreign incursion from the
indigenous peoples. The skeletal remains from burials indicate they
were people from the Aegean and Cyprus area of the eastern
Mediterranean. They traded with the east as evidenced by remains of
pottery, hippopotamus ivory, and ostrich eggshells. All of the
settlements were directly associated with gold, silver, or copper
mines and their defense.
This seems to be a relatively sudden injection of eastern
Mediterraneans onto the Iberian peninsula from the sea within an
utterly Neolithic setting. There was only one culture technologically
capable of performing such a maritime feat at this time - the
seafaring Aegean Minoans. Los Millares and other sites appear to be
colonies taken in the name of economic interests and secured by
military force. The scholars were right in that the culture was an
Aegean colony, but it wasn't the LBA Myceneans. It was the Prepalatial
Minoans from Crete.
The Bell-Beaker (Beaker) culture probably grew out of the dynamic of
interaction between the Minoan mining colonies and the indigenous
Neolithic peoples in southern Spain. Where people in the Neolithic
wore animal skins and used stone tools, the Beaker people worked with
metals, wore woolen clothes, practiced agriculture, and drank beer
from the distinctive pottery that gave them their name. This was a
vast improvement in technology and lifestyle for the indigenous
peoples. Over time the culture spread northward into coastal France,
Britain, and Ireland and eastward into central and northern Europe.
This was the culture that erected the first stones at Stonehenge in
about 2600 B.C. and came to dominate the lands on the Iberian
peninsula outside the Los Millares colonial boundaries until about
The Minoan's Age of Western Exploration
The Minoans probably began exploring the far western Mediterranean
seas in their large cypress long ships well before 3025 B.C. These
early ships may have been constructed by using ropes to stitch
together the planks and interior supporting structures including the
rowing benches. But, it is possible they were built using mortise and
tenon woodworking techniques. This would have required the use of the
woodcutting drill and lathe. They would have to cut the round holes
for the binding pegs using a drill and cut the smoothly rounded sides
of the pegs on the lathe to fit them snugly into the holes. At this
time, tools made of copper hardened with arsenic and worked with the
hammer were capable of performing these tasks.
Notably, there is evidence that the vast Rio Tinto copper, silver, and
gold mines in southeastern Spain, north of Huelva on the Atlantic
coast, began to be worked in about 3000 B.C. It is highly probable
that Rio Tinto was originally mined by the same Minoan colonists that
were mining in Los Millares at this time, but I know of no
archaeological finds at the site. After 5,000 years of mining, the Rio
Tinto area is one of the most cratered, destroyed, and polluted places
on earth. Metallic copper was unknown to the indigenous Stone Age
peoples and there was a thriving Minoan mining settlement just 360km
to the east. The smaller Sao Domingos and Tharsis mines in southern
Iberia are quite close to the Rio Tinto and may have also been
discovered at this time.
The Minoan's age of exploration in search of metals in the western
Mediterranean had probably already brought them out into the Atlantic
ocean as indicated by the beginning of mining at Rio Tinto. They would
have continued to methodically scour the coastlines and river valleys
to the north and south. Apparently they found no metallic ores of
interest south of the Pillars of Hercules along the northwest African
coast. They may have discovered the Canary, Madeira, and Azore islands
and sailed far beyond, but I know of no archaeological evidence to
As they continued their hunt for metal ores to the north they were
probably more interested in finding gold and silver than copper after
their huge discoveries in Spain. They may have discovered the tin and
gold in Brittany in northwestern France before making the discovery of
massive deposits of tin in southwestern Britain. Also, there was gold
and copper in Ireland. The Minoans may have found and traded for the
gold, but even if they did find copper they would have felt it was
unnecessary and uneconomical. How far the first Minoan voyages of
discovery went north from the Pillars of Hercules along the coastlines
of Europe can only await future archaeological evidence.
When the Minoans in Spain and Crete received a full report from their
shipmasters of the metal ore finds in the northern Atlantic region,
they would have taken note of the huge tin deposits in the
Cassiterides ("Isles of Tin") but placed little value on it at the
time. It would be another three or four hundred years before the
Minoans began to systematically add tin to copper to produce bronze.
This information was likely kept as a state secret in Knossos. They
must have been extremely pleased with their discovery of the vast
mineral wealth in Spain and deemed that any further exploration and
colonization was unnecessary.
Something of interest occurred around 2700 B.C. when the climate in
northern Europe grew considerably warmer and drier. Grapes were being
grown in Scandinavia. This would have set the stage for a great
increase in population throughout Europe especially in the north. The
warmer conditions would last throughout the Bronze Age and into the
Iron Age until about 650 B.C. when the climate deteriorated and became
colder and wetter.
The earliest copper objects found in Britain are the three small knife
blades from the grave of the "Amesbury Archer" found near Stonehenge
and dated to 2500 B.C. The earliest known copper mining in Ireland was
at Ross Island in Killarney in about 2400 B.C. The Beaker people in
Britain started using bronze by 2200 B.C. and by 2000 B.C. it was
being used in Ireland and Brittany. The huge deposits of copper ore at
Great Orme near Llandudno in northern Wales began to be seriously
mined in about 1860 B.C.
By 1840 B.C., the Los Millares colony had not spread appreciably on
the land, but its population had probably grown significantly. At this
time, the Beaker people dominated much of Western Europe and the
British Isles and also experienced a great increase in population.
Reasonably stable trade networks seemed to be in place in the west
between Spain, Britain, northern Europe and Scandinavia. Amber from
the Baltic Sea area was probably entering the Aegean from the Atlantic
maritime trading routes.
The Eastern Mediterranean Tin Crisis of 1840 B.C.
Just as in modern times where oil is a primary commodity necessary for
the functioning of the world economies, copper and tin were primary
commodities in the Bronze Age. The sources of copper were much more
widespread than the rare deposits of tin. A mixture of about 10% tin
and 90% copper produced a metal alloy (bronze) with a hardness that
far exceeded pure copper. Adding tin to the copper reduced the alloy's
melting temperature significantly and made bronze easier to cast. When
a bronze tool or weapon had cooled enough to be removed from its cast,
it could be reheated in the furnace and worked with the hammer to
achieve a hardness superior to wrought iron. Many copper age peoples
used arsenic as an effective hardening alternative to tin, but its
toxicity to the furnace workers became known over time and it fell
into disfavor. The widespread use of tin to make bronze began in about
2600 B.C. in the Aegean.
A nearby source of tin was available in the eastern Mediterranean at
the Goltepe-Kestel mines in the Taurus mountains of south-central
Turkey. Tin was actively mined there from 3290 B.C. until 1840 B.C.
when the ores became depleted and the mines abandoned. The closing of
the mines must have profoundly affected the supply and price of tin on
the international trading markets in the eastern Mediterranean. It may
have come as a great shock that the supply of tin that had fueled the
bronze economies for hundreds of years was gone. The only other known
source of tin was over 4,000 km away from Minoan Crete in northeastern
Afghanistan. The value of tin must have soared dramatically within a
relatively short time.
Apparently, the Minoan political leadership in Knossos (or Thera)
reacted to the situation by beginning and sustaining a massive
maritime immigration program of new Aegean settlers into their colony
in Spain. The influx of newcomers affected the colony so significantly
that it was transformed by 1785 B.C. into the El Argar people. The
Minoan leadership would have to be strongly centralized, unified, and
effective in order to implement such a decades-long policy. Why would
they react so dramatically in response to the tin crisis?
Whether the people in the eastern Mediterranean had adequate warning
that the supply of tin was drying up or it was a sudden shock to the
trading system, at some point Knossos would have sent a diplomatic
mission to their colony in Spain and given its leadership, at least,
two new missions. First, based on their knowledge of the rich tin
deposits in the "Isles of Tin", they would want to begin negotiations
with the Beaker people in southwest Britain to have them greatly
expand their production of tin, agree to an acceptable gold exchange
value for the tin, and build the local infrastructure (ports, docks,
roads, etc.) required to meet the demand in the Mediterranean.
Secondly, Knossos would want the Los Millares Minoans in Spain to
begin exploring the lands outside their borders for any resources of
tin they could find. The colonists had found little tin within the
lands under their control.
The Los Millares colony may have been militarily incapable of
unfettered exploration of the Iberian Peninsula. The population of the
indigenous Beaker people that lived beyond the power of the colony
must have grown dramatically after nearly a thousand years of copper
use, agriculture, and animal husbandry amid the warmer climate. They
may have been highly resistant to any unopposed incursions into what
they considered their lands. The Minoan colony didn't build border
forts without justification.
The Britains may have felt quite concerned over the thought of a large
fleet of thousands of Minoan warriors showing up on their shores to
enforce the trade in tin or, perhaps, colonize their lands. But, they
would have desired the great wealth the trade would bring them. It may
be just a coincidence, but the Great Orme copper mines in Wales began
to be seriously worked at about the same time the Goltepe-Kestel tin
mines in Turkey failed. The local supply of copper would allow the
Britains with their tin resources to cheaply produce superior hammered
bronze weapons that were the equal of the Minoans.
Over the years, the mass immigration program from the Aegean created
the El Argar culture. The search for tin on the mainland proceeded and
finds were made. Tin deposits were found mainly in the inland
northwest accompanied by an expansion of lands under their control.
The tin trade with Britain commenced and the Aegean Minoans replaced
the Goltepe-Kestel mines as a major supplier of tin to the eastern
Mediterranean. The dynamic built on economic imperatives continued to
built until about 1630 B.C. when the Theran (Santorini) marine volcano
in the south-central Aegean Sea exploded with such colossal violence
that it changed the world.
Several decades after the eruption the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece
conquered the surviving Minoans in Crete and assumed control of the
western maritime trade networks of tin from Britain and silver, gold,
copper, and sometime later, tin from Spain. The El Argar continued to
function as an Aegean colony under the Mycenaeans. The Motillas
(forts) of the Bronze of Levante culture like Motilla del Azuer in La
Mancha were probably Mycenaean era defenses for a "Tin Road"
connecting their inland tin mines to the northwest with their ports in
the southeast. The Mycenaean El Argar era ended some two hundred and
fifty years later in about 1330 B.C.
W. Sheppard Baird
Author: "The Minoan Psychopath"
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