Connecting worlds: early Phoenician presence across Atlantic Iberia (8th-6th Centuries BC)
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date11/04/2023
Recent years have seen a surge of archaeological interest in understanding past intercultural contacts. The arrival of Phoenicians to southern Iberia in the mid 9th century BC and their interactions with local communities along Atlantic Iberia has been one of such topics, prompted by the large number of recent excavations, novel data and new radiocarbon dates. This thesis aims to review and gather the evidence for these contacts in a single study. Geographically, it focuses on Atlantic Iberia, encompassing modern Portugal and Galicia (northwest Spain), from the Guadiana River mouth to the Rías Baixas. Chronologically, it looks at the period between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, which corresponds to most of the area’s Early Iron Age. Its methodology is threefold. First, it develops a systematised dataset of Phoenician artefacts found across Atlantic Iberia for the time-period studied. This amounts to a total of ninety-two sites with Phoenician artefacts, organised in 50-year chronological ranges according to their material variables (construction, ceramic, iron, bronze, ivory, silver, gold and shell). Secondly, it subjects the data produced to a range of multi-scalar spatial and statistical analyses in order to understand territorial and social connectivity. Statistical analyses include diversity (Simpson) and similarity (Jaccard and Morista-Horn) indexes. Spatial analyses include catchment areas, visibility, natural routes and Least Cost Path networks. Finally, an integrative theoretical framework is developed called ‘Living Landscapes’. This framework combines ideas of circulation, active materiality and identity under an organic and metaphorical narrative that can represent change in a visual format (Rheio map). Regions are reviewed and analysed independently, grouped into five geographical areas, moving from south to north and from coast to interior. These are: the Algarve, the Sado valley, the Tagus valley, the Mondego valley and the Northwest, and the Guadiana valley. A final analysis brings all regions together, presenting a range of comparative chronological distribution heat maps and geographical pathways within the study of connectivity. Results indicate an evolution throughout time and show regional variability in the processes of cultural contact, with an organic and accelerated negotiation of identity taking place at the river valleys and estuaries, and a selective and gradual one in the interior regions. The thesis’ main contribution is twofold: on the one hand, a synthesis of Phoenician presence across Atlantic Iberia; on the other, an integrated research framework that combines structured data, GIS and statistical methods and innovative theory. Future directions include the development of an open-source databank, the use of circuit theory, predictive modelling and machine learning, and the use of storytelling as a research tool.