Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Σάββατο, 16 Νοεμβρίου 2019

Guanches : The descendants of mythic Atlantis in Canary Islands

Plato : " Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island."
Atlantean civilization ended around the 10,000 B.C.E..   It declined, and was destroyed by natural disasters and invaders from Western Europe. According to Spence, Atlantis was located in the vicinity of the Canary Islands, where conditions were optimal for a flourishing Neolithic civilization.  Its evidence lies in the spread of an “Atlantis culture complex” most notably to North Africa, Mediterranean Europe and Central and South America. An interesting theory is the Atlanteans are ethnically linked to the ancient Guanches and Berbers whose origins have been elusive to anthropologists. The Guanches were first described by a 12th century Arab geographer Muhammad Al-Idrisi who visited the Canary Islands and found a mysterious indigenous population.  He wrote about visiting a village:  “whose inhabitants have long and flaxen hair and the women are of a rare beauty.”  No one knows how the Guanches came to arrive on the Atlantic island. Similar to the ancient Berbers (who lived in the evocatively named Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa), the Guanches are described as physically distinct from their Mediterranean and North African neighbors.  They were tan in complexion but tall in stature and tended to be fair haired.  These characteristics lend themselves to a rich mythology, which I propose the Atlanteans capitalized on.  They were the sons of gods, the “chosen ones.”  With their high-minded claims to heredity, they managed to colonize the pre-historic world.

Location hypotheses of Atlantis are various proposed real-world settings for the fictional island of Atlantis, described as a lost civilization mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 B.C. In these dialogues, a character named Critias claims that an island called Atlantis was swallowed by the sea about 9,200 years previously. According to the dialogues, this story was passed down to him through his grandfather, also named Critias, who in turn got it from his father, Dropides, who had got it from Solon, the famous Athenian lawmaker, who had got the story from an Egyptian sanctuary. Plato's dialogues locate the island in the Atlantic Pelagos "Atlantic Sea", "in front of" the Pillars of Hercules (Στήλες του Ηρακλή) and facing a district called modern Gades or Gadira (Gadiron), a location that some modern Atlantis researchers associate with modern Gibraltar; however various locations have been proposed. It has been thought that when Plato wrote of the Sea of Atlantis, he may have been speaking of the area now called the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean's name, derived from Greek mythology, means the "Sea of Atlas". Plato remarked that, in describing the origins of Atlantis, this area was allotted to Poseidon. In Ancient Greek times the terms "Ocean" and "Atlas" both referred to the 'Giant Water' which surrounded the main landmass known at that time by the Greeks, which could be described as Eurafrasia, and thus this water mass was considered to be the 'end of the (known) world', for the same reason the name "Atlas" was given to the mountains near the Ocean, the Atlas Mountains, as they also denoted the 'end of the (known) world'.
The Canary Islands have been identified as remnants of Atlantis by numerous authors. For example, in 1803, Bory de Saint-Vincent in his Essai sur les îles fortunées et l'antique Atlantide proposed that the Canary Islands, along with the Madeira, and Azores, are what remained after Atlantis broke up. Many later authors, i.e. Lewis Spence in his The Problem of Atlantis, also identified the Canary Islands as part of Atlantis left over from when it sank.

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost
autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometres west of Morocco at the closest point. The Canary Islands, which are also known informally as the Canaries, are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper. It is also one of eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality as recognized by the Spanish Government. The Canary Islands belong to the African Plate like the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the two on the African mainland. The seven main islands are (from largest to smallest in area) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The archipelago includes many smaller islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este. It also includes a series of adjacent roques (those of Salmor, Fasnia, Bonanza, Garachicoa and Anaga). In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as "the Fortunate Isles". The Canary Islands are the most southerly region of Spain and the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region. Historically, the Canary Islands have been considered a bridge between four continents: Africa, North America, South America and Europe.

The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (a World Heritage Site) in Tenerife (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination.  The seven major islands, one minor island, and several small islets were originally volcanic islands, formed by the Canary hotspot. During the time of the Spanish Empire, the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas, which came south to catch the prevailing north-easterly trade winds. The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning "Islands of the Dogs", a name that was applied only to Gran Canaria. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the Mauretanian king Juba II named the island Canaria because it contained "vast multitudes of dogs of very large size". It is considered that the aborigines of Gran Canaria called themselves "Canarios". It is possible that after being conquered, this name was used in plural in Spanish, i.e., as to refer to all of the islands as the Canarii-as.

The islands may have been visited by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the Carthaginians. King Juba II (48 BC-23 AD), Caesar Augustus's Numidian protégé, is credited with discovering the islands for the Western world. According to Pliny the Elder, Juba found the islands uninhabited, but found "a small temple of stone" and "some traces of buildings". Juba dispatched a naval contingent to re-open the dye production facility at Mogador in what is now western Morocco in the early first century AD. That same naval force was subsequently sent on an exploration of the Canary Islands, using Mogador as their mission base. The Romans named each of the islands: Ninguaria or Nivaria( Tenerife), Canaria (Gran Canaria), Pluvialia or Invale (Lanzarote), 
Ombrion (La Palma), Planasia (Fuerteventura), Iunonia or Junonia (El Hierro) and Capraria (La Gomera). Roman author and military officer Pliny the Elder, drawing upon the accounts of Juba II, king of Mauretania, stated that a Mauretanian expedition to the islands around 50 BC found the ruins of great buildings, but otherwise no population to speak of. If this account is accurate, it may suggest that the Guanches were not the only inhabitants, or the first ones; or that the expedition simply did not explore the islands thoroughly. Tenerife, specifically the archaeological site of the Cave of the Guanches in Icod de los Vinos, has provided habitation dates dating back to the 6th century BC, according to analysis carried out on ceramics that were found inside the cave. When the Europeans began to explore the islands in the late Middle Ages, they encountered several indigenous peoples living at a Neolithic level of technology. Although the prehistory of the settlement of the Canary Islands is still unclear, linguistic and genetic analyses seem to indicate that at least some of these inhabitants shared a common origin with the Berbers on the nearby North African coast. The precolonial inhabitants came to be known collectively as the Guanches, although Guanches had been the name for only the indigenous inhabitants of Tenerife. In 1402, the Castilian conquest of the islands began. The Castilians continued to dominate the islands, but due to the topography and the resistance of the native Guanches, they did not achieve complete control until 1496, when Tenerife and La Palma were finally subdued by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. After that, the Canaries were incorporated into the Kingdom of Castile.

The Guanches were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. In 2017, the first genome-wide data from the Guanches confirmed a North African origin and that they were genetically most similar to modern North African Berber peoples of the nearby North African mainland. It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago around 1000 BC or perhaps earlier. Strictly speaking, the Guanches were the indigenous peoples of Tenerife. The name came to be applied to the indigenous populations of all the seven Canary Islands, those of Tenerife being the most important or powerful. What remains of their language, Guanche a few expressions, vocabulary words and the proper names of ancient chieftains still borne by certain families exhibits positive similarities with the Berber languages. The first reliable account of the Guanche language was provided by the Genoese explorer Nicoloso da Recco in 1341, with a translation of numbers used by the islanders. According to European chroniclers, the Guanches did not possess a system of writing at the time of conquest; the writing system may have fallen into disuse or aspects of it were simply overlooked by the colonizers. Inscriptions, glyphs and rock paintings and carvings are quite abundant throughout the islands. Petroglyphs attributed to various Mediterranean civilizations have been found on some of the islands.

The geographic accounts of Pliny the Elder and of Strabo mention the Fortunate Isles but do not report anything about their populations. An account of the Guanche population may have been made around AD 1150 by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in the Nuzhatul Mushtaq, a book he wrote for King Roger II of Sicily, in which reports a journey in the Atlantic Ocean made by the Mugharrarin (the adventurers), a family of Andalusian seafarers from Lisbon. reports that, after having reached an area of "sticky and stinking waters", the Mugharrarin moved back and first reached an uninhabited Island (Madeira or Hierro), where they found "a huge quantity of sheep, which its meat was bitter and inedible" and, then, "continued southward" and reached another island where they were soon surrounded by barks and brought to "a village whose inhabitants were often fair haired with long and flaxen hair and the women of a rare beauty". Among the villagers, one did speak Arabic and asked them where they came from. Then the king of the village ordered them to bring them back to the continent where they were surprised to be welcomed by Berbers. Genetic evidence shows that northern African peoples made a significant contribution to the aboriginal population of the Canaries following desertification of the Sahara at some point after 6000 BC. Linguistic evidence suggests ties between the Guanche language and the Berber languages of North Africa, particularly when comparing numeral systems. Research into the genetics of the Guanche population have led to the conclusion that they share an ancestry with Berber peoples.

According to an international investigation whose results were given in 2017, a small part of the Guanches aborigines had as relatives the first European farmers from Anatolia (Asia Minor). This data has been discovered thanks to the analysis of the genome which also confirms that the vast majority of Canarian aborigines come from North Africa but were also related to the first European farmers, whose genetics were introduced into Europe from Anatolia through the migrations of farmers during the Neolithic expansion, around 7,000 years ago.Another study in 2018 confirmed that, like the Guanches, both ancient and modern North Africans are also partly related to Anatolia/Europe. Beñesme or Beñesmer was a festival of the agricultural calendar of the Guanches (the Guanche new year) to be held after the gathering of crops devoted to Chaxiraxi (on August 15). In this event the Guanches shared milk, gofio, sheep or goat meat. At the present time, this coincides with the pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Virgin of Candelaria (Patron of Canary Islands). The island of Tenerife was divided into nine small kingdoms (menceyatos), each ruled by a king or Mencey. The Mencey was the ultimate ruler of the kingdom, and at times, meetings were held between the various kings. When the Castilians invaded the Canary Islands, the southern kingdoms joined the Castilian invaders on the promise of the richer lands of the north; the Castilians betrayed them after ultimately securing victory at the Battles of Aguere and Acentejo.

A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonisation, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA (direct maternal) lineages constitute a considerable proportion (42 – 73%) of the Canarian gene pool. According to this article, both percentages are obtained using two different estimation methods; nevertheless according to the same study the percentage that could be more reliable is the one of 73%. Maca-Meyer et al. states that historical evidence does support the explanation of "strong sexual a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest." The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spaniard men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and religion, and in this way, the Canarians were Hispanicized. According to a recent study by Fregel et al. 2009, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Morocco, the genetic heritage of the Canary islands male lineages, is mainly from European origin.
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