Latin Languages: Purged Punic

The Phoenicians [like the Greeks] have been written out of the Spanish linguistic narrative.

They say that history is written by the conquerors, but this wasn’t the case for the Phoenicians. That is probably because, although they settled in the southern Iberian Peninsula for eight hundred years, the Phoenicians never managed to pass their language on to its inhabitants.

The Story of Spanish – Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow – 2013

Similarly, the Carthaginians have been written out of the Spanish linguistic narrative.

Carthage was the Phoenician city-state of Carthage and during the 7th to 3rd centuries BC, including its wider sphere of influence, the Carthaginian Empire. The empire extended over much of the coast of North Africa as well as encompassing substantial parts of coastal Iberia and the islands of the western Mediterranean Sea.

Carthage was founded in 814 BC.

A dependency of the Phoenician state of Tyre at the time, Carthage gained independence around 650 BC and established its political hegemony over other Phoenician settlements throughout the western Mediterranean, this lasting until the end of the 3rd century BC.

Officially, the Romans get the linguistic kudos for introducing Greek and Latin words into Spanish.

Around 75% of modern Spanish vocabulary is derived from Latin.

Ancient Greek has also contributed substantially to Spanish vocabulary, especially through Latin, where it had a great impact.

For linguists, the great puzzle of the Roman conquest is how the Romans succeeded in doing what no one had done before them.

The Romans managed to get the entire peninsula speaking Latin in about 250 years, even though they were fighting the Iberians the whole time.

How exactly did the Romans pull this off?

The Story of Spanish – Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow – 2013

Unsurprisingly, there are a few problems with the official linguistic narrative.

Firstly, the Phoenicians had been plying their trade and language to the Iberian peninsula for [about] 800 years before the Romans [are said to have] arrived.

Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing of Phoenician.

It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures.

Secondly, the Phoenicians established settlements on the Iberian peninsula long before the Romans even arrived in Rome.

From the 10th century BC, the Phoenicians‘ expansive culture led them to establish cities and colonies throughout the Mediterranean.
Canaanite deities like Baal and Astarte were being worshipped from Cyprus to Sardinia, Malta, Sicily, Spain, Portugal, and most notably at Carthage (Qart Hadašt) in modern Tunisia.

The most familiar date given for the foundation of Rome, 753 BC, was derived by the Roman antiquarian Titus Pomponius Atticus, and adopted by Marcus Terentius Varro, having become part of what has come to be known as the Varronian chronology.

By 1000 BC Greek and Phoenician traders had begun to visit the eastern coast of Spain, establishing small trading ports and introducing the native Iberian tribes to the alphabet, iron and the pottery wheel.

The Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca established the fortified settlement of Akra Leuka, in the mid-320s BC, which is generally presumed to have been on the site of modern Alicante.

Thirdly, the name of Spain attests to the Carthaginian/Phoenician linguistic contribution to Spanish.


Among the many novelties the Phoenicians discovered, one small mammal caught their attention.

It was similar to a furry, tailless Middle Eastern creature with round ears that they called a hyrax, except this version had long ears and long legs, and multiplied at an astonishing pace.

The Phoenicians were evidently much impressed by these prolific little mammals.

They named their new territory after them: I-shepan-ha, literally “land of hyraxes.” Centuries later, the Romans Latinized this name to Hispania.

And centuries after that, the name morphed into España.

In other words, Spain’s names originally meant something like “land of the rabbits.”

The Story of Spanish – Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow – 2013

Hispania is the Latin term given to the Iberian peninsula.
The term can be traced back to at least 200 BC by the poet Quintus Ennius.
The word is possibly derived from the Punic אי שפן “I-Shaphan” meaning “coast of hyraxes”, in turn a misidentification on the part of Phoenician explorers of its numerous rabbits as hyraxes.

Fourthly, the remarkable similarities between the Phoenician, Carthaginian Punic, Archaic Etruscan and Iberian Greek alphabets indicates it’s difficult to determine which of these cultures [originally] contributed words to the vocabulary to the Spanish language.


Around 1050 BC, a Phoenician alphabet was used for the writing of Phoenician.
It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures.

The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, is the oldest verified alphabet.

The Phoenician alphabet is derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The Punic language, also called Carthaginian or Phoenicio-Punic, is an extinct variety of the Phoenician language, a Canaanite language of the Semitic family.
It was spoken in the Carthaginian empire in North Africa and several Mediterranean islands by the Punic people throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD.

Etruscan alphabet
It is not clear whether the process of adaptation from the Greek alphabet took place in Italy from the first colony of Greeks, the city of Cumae, or in Greece/Asia Minor.
It was in any case a Western Greek alphabet.

The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Stated differently:

It’s difficult to determine which language [Phoenician, Carthaginian Punic or Archaic Etruscan] ultimately evolved into [what is called] the Latin language that’s inscribed in Lambaesis, Algeria.


If that sounds preposterous then it’s difficult to find the right adjective for the mainstream narrative.

On the one hand:

Latin is an Indo-European language that’s derived from Phoenician.

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages.

The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

On the other hand:

Phoenician is a Semitic languages that’s derived from an hypothetical [imaginary] language.

Phoenician was a language originally spoken in the coastal (Mediterranean) region then called “Canaan” in Phoenician, Hebrew, Old Arabic, and Aramaic, “Phoenicia” in Greek and Latin, and “Pūt” in the Egyptian language.

It is a part of the Canaanite subgroup of the Northwest Semitic languages.

Proto-Canaanite is the name given to
(a) the Proto-Sinaitic script when found in Canaan.
(b) a hypothetical ancestor of the Phoenician script before some cut-off date, typically 1050 BCE, with an undefined affinity to Proto-Sinaitic. No extant ″Phoenician″ inscription is older than 1000 BCE.

The strangeness continues when the Carthaginian and Etruscan cultures are compared.

On the one hand:

Nothing survives of Carthaginian literature.

The difficulty which faces anyone who tries to write such an account is that he must rely largely on the information provided by the Greek and Roman enemies of Carthage, since nothing survives of the Carthaginians’ own literature.

It is true that there were several Greek writers who described the history of the wars of Carthage with Rome from a standpoint favourable to the former, but their works are lost and what we know of them has to be deduced from later writers who used them as a source.

There is the further point that Carthaginian history is only recorded when it impinges on the history of Rome or of the Greeks in Sicily.

Carthage – B H Warmington – 1960

On the other hand:

The only surviving piece of Etruscan literature was discovered in Egypt.

The Etruscans had a rich literature, as noted by Latin authors…
However, only one book (as opposed to inscription), the Liber Linteus, survived, and only because the linen on which it was written was used as mummy wrappings.

The fabric of the book was preserved when it was used for mummy wrappings in Ptolemaic Egypt.


The suspicion that the colonial connection between the Carthaginians and the Etruscans has been accidentally [or deliberately] erased from the official historical narrative is reinforced by the observation that the Carthaginians “established a Hellenistic-inspired empire”.

Unlike their Phoenician ancestors, the Carthaginians had a landowning aristocracy, which established a rule of the hinterland in Northern Africa and trans-Saharan trade routes.

In later times, one of the clans established a Hellenistic-inspired empire in Iberia and possibly had a foothold in western Gaul.

In other words:

Has the official Roman narrative providentially borrowed from the Carthaginians?

Madghacen is a royal mausoleum-temple of the Berber Numidian Kings which stands near Batna city in Aurasius Mons in Numidia – Algeria.

Madghis was a king of independent kingdoms of the Numidia, between 300 to 200 BC Near the time of neighbor King Masinissa and their earliest Roman contacts.

The Zaghouan Aqueduct or Aqueduct of Carthage is an ancient Roman aqueduct, which supplied the city of Carthage, Tunisia with water. From its source in Zaghouan it flows a total of 132 km, making it amongst the longest aqueducts in the Roman Empire.

The date of the construction of the aqueduct is not entirely clear.

Amphitheatre of El Jem is an oval amphitheatre in the city of Thysdrus, El Djem, Tunisia… The amphitheatre was built around 238 AD in Thysdrus, located in the Roman province of Africa Proconsulare in present-day El Djem, Tunisia.

It is one of the best preserved Roman stone ruins in the world, and is unique in Africa.

And more specifically:

Has the Roman Republic Iberian narrative been borrowed from the Carthaginians?

Mérida is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, western central Spain.,_Spain

Today the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is one of the largest and most extensive archaeological sites in Spain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

The Acueducto de los Milagros…. It is thought to have been constructed during the 1st century AD, with a second phase of building (or renovations) around 300 AD.

The Amphitheatre of Mérida… was completed in 8 BC.

The Roman Theatre of Mérida… It was constructed in the years 16 to 15 BCE.

The Roman circus of Mérida… There is no consensus about the circus’ dating…
It seems to have been built sometime around 20 BC…

This temple… dedicated to the Imperial cult… built in the late 1st century BC or early in the Augustan era.

UNESCO – Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida – Photograph Gallery

The mtDNA evidence favours the Carthaginians!

The official list of Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements in Iberia from Wikipedia.


Abdera was an ancient seaport town on the south coast of Spain, between Malaca (now Málaga) and Carthago Nova (now Cartagena), in the district inhabited by the Bastuli. It was founded by the Carthaginians as a trading station, and after a period of decline became under the Romans one of the more important towns in the province of Hispania Baetica. It was situated on a hill above the modern Adra.

Of its coins, the most ancient bear the Phoenician inscription abdrt with the head of Melkart and a tunny-fish; those of Tiberius (who seems to have made the place a colonia) show the chief temple of the town with two erect tunny fish in the form of columns.
Earlier Roman coins were bilingual: Latin inscriptions on one side, stating the name of the emperor and the town and a Phoenician ethnic on the other side, simply stating the name of the town (‘bdrt).[citation needed],_Spain

Akra Leuke

Alicante, or Alacant, both the Spanish and Valencian being official names, is a city and port in Spain on the Costa Blanca, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community.

By 1000 BC Greek and Phoenician traders had begun to visit the eastern coast of Spain, establishing small trading ports and introducing the native Iberian tribes to the alphabet, iron and the pottery wheel.

The Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca established the fortified settlement of Akra Leuka, in the mid-320s BC, which is generally presumed to have been on the site of modern Alicante.


San Roque is a small town and municipality in the south of Spain.

The oldest known settlement within the municipality is the ruined town of Carteia, founded by the Phoenicians.
It became a Phoenician tradepost and evolved into a Carthaginian town by 228 BCE. Its major trade was in local wine and garum or salazón, a fish-based sauce. Carteia was captured by Rome in 206 BCE.,_C%C3%A1diz#History

Gadir or Agadir

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain.

Founded in around 1104 BC as Gadir or Agadir by Phoenicians from Tyre, Cádiz is mostly regarded as the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe. The expeditions of Himilco around Spain and France and of Hanno around Western Africa began here. The Phoenician settlement traded with Tartessos, a city-state whose exact location remains unknown but is thought to have been somewhere near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River.

One of the city’s notable features during antiquity was the temple on the south end of its island dedicated to the Phoenician god Melqart, who was conflated with Hercules by the Greeks and Romans under the names “Tyrian Hercules” and “Hercules Gaditanus”. It had an oracle and was famed for its wealth.

The city fell under the sway of Carthage during Hamilcar’s Iberian campaign after the First Punic War. Cádiz became a depot for Hannibal’s conquest of southern Iberia, and he sacrificed there to Hercules/Melqart before setting off on his famous journey in 218 BC to cross the Alps and invade Italy. Later the city fell to Romans under Scipio Africanus in 206 BC. Under the Roman Republic and Empire, the city flourished as a port and naval base known as Gades.

Lepriptza – Nebrissa

Lebrija is a city in the province of Seville, Andalusia (Spain), near the left bank of the Guadalquivir river, and on the eastern edge of the marshes known as Las Marismas.

There has been human presence in the area since the Bronze Age, although the founding of Lebrija, possibly did not take place till the Phoenicians arrival, who baptised the settlement as Lepriptza, then to be renamed Nebrissa, during Tartessian times.

Los Toscanos

Los Toscanos, a flattened hill on the right bank, near the mouth of the Vélez river, near Vélez-Málaga in southern Spain, was the location of an early Phoenician settlement.

It is believed that, when the settlement was abandoned, the Phoenicians did not leave the Vélez valley, but merely moved across the river to Cerro del Mar.


Málaga is a municipality, capital of the Province of Málaga, in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain.

The Phoenicians from Tyre founded the city as Malaka about 770 BC.
The name Malaḥa or mlḥ is probably derived from the Phoenician word for “salt” because fish was salted near the harbour.


Huelva is a city in southwestern Spain, the capital of the province of Huelva in the autonomous region of Andalucía.

The city may be the site of Tartessus; it was called Onoba by the Phoenicians. The Greeks kept the name and rendered it Ὄνοβα.

Qart Hadasht – Carthago Nova

Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain.

Possessing one of the best harbors in the Western Mediterranean, it was re-founded by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal in 228 BC as Qart Hadasht (“New City”), identically named to Carthage, for the purpose of serving as a stepping-off point for the conquest of Spain. The Roman general Scipio Africanus conquered it in 209 BC and renamed it as Carthago Nova (literally “New New City”) to distinguish it from the mother city.,_Spain#History

Speculum Rotae

The town of Rota is a Spanish municipality located in the Province of Cádiz, Andalusia.

The current town was founded by the Phoenicians at approximately the same time as Cádiz. Rota is assumed to be the same city known as Astaroth of the Tartesian empire. It later passed to the Romans, who knew the town as Speculum Rotae.,_Andalusia#History


Almuñécar is a municipality in the Spanish Autonomous Region of Andalusia on the Costa Tropical between Nerja (Málaga) and Motril.

Almuñécar began as a Phoenician colony named Sexi, and even today, some of its inhabitants still call themselves Sexitanos.

The Phoenicians first established a colony in Almuñécar in about 800 BC and this developed for six hundred years into an important port and town with the name of Ex or Sexi and with a large fish salting and curing industry that was a major supplier of Greece and Rome. They also supplied a prized fish paste called garum made from the intestines of small fishes by a process of fermentation.
Archaeological evidence comes chiefly from Phoenician cemeteries, the earlier Laurita necropolis on the hillside at Cerro San Cristobal and the later necropolis at Punte de Noy.

From the 3rd-2nd centuries BC it issued a sizeable corpus of coinage, with many coins depicting the Phoenician/Punic god Melqart on the obverse and one or two fish on the reverse, possibly alluding to the abundance of the sea and also a principal product of the area.


Tarragona is a port city located in northeast Spain on the Costa Daurada by the Mediterranean Sea.

The real founding date of Tarragona is unknown.
The city may have begun as an Iberic town called Kesse or Kosse, named for the Iberic tribe of the region, the Cossetans, though the identification of Tarragona with Kesse is not certain.
William Smith suggests that the city was probably founded by the Phoenicians, who called it Tarchon, which, according to Samuel Bochart, means a citadel.

Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco is inscribed as UNESCO world heritage site since 2000. It is situated in Tarragona.

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10 Responses to Latin Languages: Purged Punic

  1. An observation. Quote “Phoenician is a Semitic languages that’s derived from an hypothetical [imaginary] language.” As a semitic variant Phoenician has similarities to Ugaritic and Akkadian. Both of the latter are known from much earlier times, around 3000bce.

    There are shared roots, but there is also a shared lore that goes back IMO several millennia prior to 3200bce. This is a subject I have explored, and as far as I know no others have made the connection – see links below -. The oldest (known with certainty; the child in the wicker basket is a precursor of the ‘child in the liknon’) ) is Maltese but the literature that describes its meaning is contemporary Mesopotamian cuneiform (a long story).

  2. Gunnar Heinsohn says:

    Around 170 AD, in the Marcus Aurelius crisis with Plague and Antonine Fires, Moors conquered Roman Spain and thus also Corduba (today Cordoba), the city of Marcus’ grandfather (R. Merrifield, London: City of the Romans, London: B.T. Batsford Merrifield 1983, 143 ff.).

    What the Moors managed to keep permanently in the 2nd century and what they lost again is unknown. Early medieval reports of Franconian operations against Moors in Spain are, for chronological reasons, not consulted for a better understanding of the 2nd century. After all, the ruling period of the Moors in Spain did not begin in the 2nd century, when they had Corduba with 250,000 inhabitants directly in their hands, but only in the early Middle Ages. However, there is nowhere an urban layer for their conquest with the date of 711: “This is essentially a date from the textual narrative, which signals a historical event whose materiality remains unrecognizable and archaeologically notoriously intangible” (A. García Sanjuán, La conquista islámica de la península ibérica y la tergiversación del pasado: Del catastrofismo al negacionismo, Madrid: Marcial Pons, Ediciones de Historia, 2013, chapter. II).

    When Moorish Spain – now at CordOba – with an emirate became tangible in the 9th century, there were mysteriously no construction layers for the 700 years between the 2nd and 9th centuries It looks as if the Moorish attacks of the 9th century were once again directed against antique buildings attacked by the Moors from the 2nd century, for poor new buildings were not built until the 10th/11th century of the High Middle Ages. The Moors must have either lived in Roman houses or they had no houses at all.

    If Carthaginians, with their Semitic language (that’s the point for reacting to Tim Cullen’s posting) , interfered in the 2nd century Moorish conquest of Spain, this could explain the rapid “Arabization” of North Africa as well as Spain in the Arab period (supposedly many centuries later). North Africa cannot have lost its Semitic language when Rome had broken Carthage’s dominance. However, the connection between 2nd century Carthaginian Semitism in Northern Africa and 9th c. Semitism in Northern Africa (and Spain) can only become visible if the analysis is based on stratigraphy instead of textbook chronology.
    Gunnar Heinsohn

  3. John Miller says:

    Even the language families may not be as we ‘understand’ them to be today.
    I’m not an expert myself, but I can remember seeing a lengthy article by a linguistic expert comparing Latin/Romance vocabulary to Semitic vocabulary. In many instances, including rather everyday words, there were very close similarities.

    It is not just the chronology that may be flawed. If ‘Semitic’ languages are indeed more closer related to ‘Indo-European’ ones than “mainstream knowledge” would have us know, than the entire way that the past unfolded will have to be looked at again in a different light.

  4. Gunnar Heinsohn says:

    Carthaginian Postscriptum.

    I just found the following answer to a question about the whereabouts of the post-Roman Carthaginians: “Despite the brutality of conquest, the Carthaginian people were the determinant influence on Roman North Africa, which became one of the most prosperous areas of the empire. My big influence here is David Mattingly, particularly his Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire. He is mostly interested in the enduring divisions and conflict in post-conquest provincial society, which I am mostly eliding over“
    ( ).

    The idea that where Roman legions won, Italians would have been settled afterwards is nowhere correct. Roman provincial capitals such as Cologne (Germania inferior) or Mainz (Germania superior) were mainly inhabited by people later called Germans. Italy did not have enough people to settle the area between Scotland and Babylon. There they resemble the English, who could not populate India or Africa either.

    If Carthaginians shaped North Africa in the 2nd century AD, then (fictitious centuries cut out) they must have provided an important basis for Islamization. That in the Levant the art of the 1st century is continued directly in the art of the 8th century is undisputed anyway (see page 12 in ).

    Gunnar Heinsohn

  5. Carsten says:

    Very interesting read and why not. Somebody had to till the earth repair the sewers and serve dinner once you’ve conquered the land. You the conquerors (nobility) wasn’t to do such and moving you own peasants and servants from your other estates would make that like fallow!
    Read something recently – can’t remember where – that conquest would be a substitution of nobility. Like the removal of the Jews (intelligentsia) to Babylon – not the entire population – who would be the ones prone to rebellion. Another analogy is the Middle Ages nobility feuds; nobility fighting peasants working the fields to present income to finance more feuds etc.

    Regarding Appian; may have inspired the Christian writers to depict the bloodbath on the sack of the Holy City – horses wading in blood and all.

  6. malagabay says:

    “in the Levant the art of the 1st century is continued directly in the art of the 8th century is undisputed anyway”

    From my perspective that period of continuity represents [roughly] the three hundred years between the Arabian Horizon and the Heinsohn Horizon.

    Catastrophically buried Truso (Northern Poland) with a stratigraphy pointing to the period of the 1st c. BCE to the beginning of the 3rd c. CE.

    Yet, Arabic Abbasid coins force a 9th c. catalogue date on Truso‘s 2nd c. stratum ( christened STAGE 2 by the excavators [Jagodzinski 2010] ) .

    Islam’s Chronology:
    Were Arabs Really Ignorant of Coinage and Writing for 700 Years?
    Gunnar Heinsohn – 21 November 2013

    The Battle of Carthage was the main engagement of the Third Punic War between the Punic city of Carthage in Africa and the Roman Republic. It was a siege operation, starting sometime between 149 and 148 BC, and ending in spring 146 BC with the sack and complete destruction of the city of Carthage.

    My guess is the Arabian Horizon is represented in the mainstream narrative by the Fall of Carthage in the spring of 146 BC.

    This implies the Phantom Years Phenomena is a continuum that involves the 1st millennium CE and the 1st millennium BCE.

    There are indications the Phantom Years Phenomena may stretch back to 465 BCE.


  7. Gunnar Heinsohn says:

    At the moment, just another side note on the Arabisation of North Africa. Saint Augustine (late 4th c. = late 1st c.) calls Punic “our language”. Septimius Severus (193-211 AD) is a Punic-Carthaginian on the imperial throne. In the Roman Senate he is teased for his Punic accent. The Germanic conquerors of North Africa (Vandals etc.; 5th=2nd century) do not live next to Italians, but – generally speaking – next to Semitic-speaking people.
    Gunnar Heinsohn

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