Centro de Estudios Ibero Fenicios

Handbook of Typologie and Chronology of Phoenician Ceramics in the South of Spain.

by: Alberto Lopez Malax-echeverria

Transferred into English by: Karl Juergen Hepke*


Historical-archaeological contradiction in the colonization of the South of Spain by places of settlement in the near Orient in the I/II millenium B.C.
Map of Andalusia with main places of settlement
First conclusions
Map of digging up places in the near Orient

Studies of typology

2. Little Jugs
Smoking Pans
Amphoras and Pots for Storage
Cooking Pots
Plates with three Feet
Compilation of Typologies with Chronology before the VIII Century B.C.

Part 1


Since I began to make the first steps in archaeology and in studies of ceramics found in ancient settlements in the province of Malaga, was the dominant interest, to uncover the relationship with the near Orient existing in forms found in the South of Spain.

It was not absurd to think, that there were existing typical forms of Phoenician ceramics like they were existing for Roman and Greek ceramics.

The lack of an university at Malaga let think that the almost total missing of literature would find its solution in Granada or Madrid. But the truth was, that the total missing was confirmed at all these places. For everybody, who was interested in "Praeroman" ceramics with oriental influence at that time, was the first way to seek this in the publications about Punic settlements in the North of Africa , which meant in consequence, that oldest times reached not more far than the foundation of Carthago and its colonies.

For the existing conditions was this restriction not acceptable, for also historical sources documented the existence of Phoenician settlements in Andalusia until the XI century B.C.. To find possible parallels for the ceramics, which interested us, I therefore went already before twenty years first to Paris, than to London and two times to the museums of Mediterranean countries, which could supply documents for my studies.

In Paris, with full support of my director of studies professor Jean Leclant from the university of practical studies, I could collect information and make bibliographic studies at the Institut of Arts and Archaeology. the Institut of Biblical Studies and the collections of the Museum of the Louvre under the direct and inestimable conduction of studies by professor Pierre Cintas.

The support, which needed a such motivated and young student, to collect, in complete contradiction to all professional activities, with enthusiasm all knowledge existing about the Phoenician colonisation of the South of Spain, I received by Professor Isserlin. At first at his work during the digging up of the Roman theater of Malaga, later on as assistance for the entrance to the British Museum and to the Archaeological Institut of the University of London.

The museums of Greece, Istanbul, Beirut, Egypt gave me the opportunity to see and sometimes also touch Phoenician ceramics. This was at that time exactly studied there, which filled me with joy and confirmed my opinion that the Phoenician colonisation of Spain was not depending at that of the North of Africa.

When this study came to publication, was not jet existing a manual of types and accompanying times created with the capacity of an university, appropriate to the requests of this subject. This, although in our country were found very important places for the study of early times of colonisation of the western Mediterranean Sea.

With the limited resources, that i own, I am publishing this manual, that, as I believe, can serve as an practical form of list of references for orientalized ceramics, found in the South of Spain. It also shall enable the usual comparison of types of the known settlements with material from the origin places of colonisation.

I assure, that i have not forgotten anybody with intention and express my thanks once more to all persons , who have helped me in any form in my archaeological studies.

Historical-archaeological contradiction in the colonization of the South of Spain by places of settlement in the near Orient in the I/II millenium B.C.

Presently usually accepted hypothesis.

a.) Praecolonization nearly since the end of the XII century B.C. with foundation of the colony "Gadir". Historically documented but not examined in archaeological comparing method.
b.)Complete colonisation beginning in the VIII century B.C.. Origin of colonisation the Phoenician town Tyrus. Nearly simultaneous foundation of numerous colonies in the South of Spain and the standing out colony of Carthago in the North of Africa.

Basis for assumption of the usually accepted thesis.

a.) Historical sources: They are acceptable for the praecolonization. But there is no archaeological confirmation for the given date in the oldest dug up layers and in the there found material until now.

For the complete colonisation, in the "a priori" acceptance of a complete spreading with origin in Tyrus, are given historical dates for the near orient, which can give reasons for the colonisation , fitting to chronology and interests, given with these dates.

b.) Archaeological data. For praecolonization there are only some archaeological traces, which are repeated in hackneyed form again and again in the surroundings of this topic and in which the circumstance of the find is in some cases very doubtful.

For the complete colonization, in which practically all archaeological places with types of ceramics, made at the potters wheel or turn around, are situated - between the time of ending Bronze age of the Mediterranean area and the so-called "Iberian Period" - there is material from numerous settlements, which appears, or is again dug up, in consequence of constant archaeological search in the geographic area, which is occupying us. Besides that, which is known, was studied and is now published, although this must not take so much time. All this gives a perspective, which does not fit to the requests of present time.

Other considerations to the usually accepted thesis:

Very good known settlements at the coast line:
Adra-Almunecar-Chorreras-Morro de Mezquitilla-Cerro de Penon-Cerro del Mar-Cerro Alarcon-Toscanos-La Loma-Malaka-Cerro Doblas- Cerro del Villar-Benalmadena (not published)-Suel-El Saladillo Alto-Cerro del Prado-Castillo de Dona Blanca-Cabezo de San Pedro- Cabezo de la Esperanza-

Most known nekropoles at the coast line:
Laurita-Cortijo de las Sombras-Trayamar-Jardin-Tortuga-Las Cumbres-La Joya-

Settlements and nekropoles in the inner country:
Carmona-Setefilla-Colina de las Quemados-Ategua-Aguilar de la Frontera-Osuna-Al Honor-Cerro Macareno-El Carambolo-Cerro Salomon- Los Castellares-


If we only concentrate ourselves at the coast eastern of Malaga, which is best known to us with common ceramic material and an agreement in a chronology of the VIII century B.C. and much older and if we analyse the most different characterizations as settlements and their attributed nekropole we can come to the following insight and conclusion.

At first:
Giving up of the previous idea, that the settlements served only for the purpose of making possible shipment along the coast. Exclusion of the idea of port-colonies or trading places, which have an effect on a wide area of inhabitants or local residents.

Configuration of settlements
The idea of port-colonies in the usually accepted thesis does not fit to the operation and carriage of big lots of ore.

Sociopolitical configuration:
Groups of men in little and open living communities with a big diversity of social and geographic origin, the best proof of which are the prominent differences in the rite of burial.

Geographic situation:
The ignorance of any signifying extraction of ore for the epoch. Settlement in natural flood plains for agricultural work with irrigation with the opposite of settlements in wooded mountains of slate. Proximity to the sea as central supplier of food and the creation of assisting "industries".

Strategic situation:
Unimportant because of the distant situation and early times. Lack of arms as archaeological traces in settlements and nekropoles. Lack of walls for defence.

Rites of burial:
Probably caused by social origin:
Burial in sarcophagus.
Burial directly into soil.
Possible burial into soil after prior personal celebration of sacrifices.
Burning with deposition of rests in urns and these in hypogaees.

Possibly caused by different origin or religious persuasion of the population:
Different types of sacrificial offering as part of the burial rite.
Lack of steles.
Lack of sacrifices of children corresponding to the until now proposed chronology.

Possibly are disappeared settlements with other configuration and general characteristics or others appear, which cross the opinion ,that we can have. But, if we build on todays knowledge, the opinion, that we can form, will run out to a colonization which, with its contained differences from very different periods of time, contains the characteristics which we know from all geographic points in which came into being colonies in a not hostile environment. The reading out of archaeological rests (presence of native material and that from colonization in the same grave) and the insight, which come from the lack of other traces (arms or walls of defence), let us mean, that immigrants were welcome at this coast. This can be, because of initially not existing differences or an interest, which is very soon documented in innovations and comfort that these colonists imported.

The motives for the emigration which one can take from historical sources and the truth in them, who dares to study them and take conclusions of it, may do that. But the results will be object of so demanding factors as there is a difference of three thousand years in time, to interpret drafts of sovereignty, economic and religious dependence, interests of the state a.s.o.

If we imply, that some geopolitical conditions of the IX/VIII century B.C. have given reason for a diaspora of colonists in the western Mediterranean area of men, coming from the most eastern coast line of the Mediterranean sea, we can also suppose - for technical means and logistics were available following comparing studies - that this diaspora had begun to develop also two centuries before. This by motives of invasions and reduction of geographic living space as by subjugation of the human communities living in this region.

Once more, only the archaeological rests in the zone, which we are studying, can give us an idea of the how and why of events. For them we have to seek for their origin, to compare them with their parallels in the country of origin , to identify the influences which come into being with any colonisation and to gain results. Because the steps here not follow for several reasons, or could not follow, are created hypothesises supported by a little solid basis of research.

The western Mediterranean area is examined as an entire zone and so as examinations, archaeological confirmation of historical dates and acceptance of results and conclusions exist for Carthago, is inserted in this circle also the archaeology of the South of Spain. Soon is seen, that the Punic time is only short and some begin to replenish it with "Paleopunicum", than with Oriental, Semitic a.s.o.. This sketched sort of conclusion is not absolutely original here, it occurs by pushing aside of all inconsistencies in details in all reports. The difference is, that it is taken as centre and focal point for all running examinations, also at new places of research, and with that also for those, which, chosen after this criterion, shall be dug up in the next time.

The development of archaeological activities was altogether more than considerable in the last years, but the disproportion between the two basic components, excavation and interpretation, was in the same way very considerable.

We make grateful surprised use of the increase of methods, offered before and during an excavation. Frequently are used: Aerial photographing, examination of resistance in the soil by electric impulse, technology for the recognition of courtyards, different forms of analysis of materials, technology of restauration a.s.o.. They are taking so much place, that some publication looks like a mix of clinical analysis, calculation of structures and annual bill as in a commercial firm. The final result of a digging up is not allowed to look like this. The methods can be reflected in the publication or not, each in reasonable proportion to its importance for the result. But the aim is the interpretation of all results and other less clear by the archaeologist or the group of archaeologists. This in view of a historical consequence of the matter, which was examined, for itself or in connection to probably already existing by chronological organization.

Strangely most publications are providing, concerning the interpretation, only a maximum of two pages for final conclusions. In other cases are known from places of research all imaginable photographing from air, topographic studies and geographic characteristics of stratigraphy, analysis of pollen a.s.o. and is hopefully expecting within ten years some conclusion, which brings a bit or much light into that, which is needed, to discern at least in contours the historical occurrences of that zone.

If we search a justification for the before said , it is not difficult to find. While the perfecting of technology for digging up and the use of specialities, which serve altogether to archaeological activities, was common for different examined epochs and each of this epochs shew easy points of reference, if it concerns invasions or colonisations , were the studies of parallels in origin, concerning the historical sources of the colonization us occupying, absolutely difficult, because of the lack of technical possible digging up.

Bibliography was in consequence sparse and hardly accessible. Because the material of the common Phoenician world was inaccessible for deeper going research, one turned to cultures of bigger attraction. For this reason, the connection to examinations from the near Orient is rarely realized in the South of Spain. It is, as already said, nearer, to make typological and chronological conclusions in known way for the settlements in the South of Spain, may it be with intention or not of the authors. It is like a big funnel in which all digging up gets and deliver always the same conclusions, minted by the already available as final truth, without possession of a sufficient basis for it.

Archaeological research in the near Orient has seen a real revolution in last years. Motivations, sometimes parallel to those of archaeology , have caused, that numerous settlements of Israelian culture were dug up. Their material was detailed examined and in consequence also this of Phoenician and Palestinansian world, which is united with it. The publications about it are easily accessible, thanks to generous manner of spreading.

Especially at Tyrus happened an excavation, which with its chronological cover , the pedantry of methods and strictness in formulation of questions in its publication, can already alone serve as a point of reference for comparative studies of a big part of ceramic material coming from our places of finds. Besides that, as basis for confirmation or studies of collections, made from other places of finds with less exactness. With that can be created a board of simultaneity of material of Phoenician providence, found in layers of settlements of other geographical near situated cultures.

Let us once assume, that exist - besides the elements, which can be common by their common point of origin and are sufficiently different by the zone from where they come - also elements, which are different for the acceptance of a common chronological period of time for the triangle Tunis, Sicilia, Corcega-Cerdena and the coast and a part of the inner of the South of Spain - as for example the own Tophets of this triangle and their characteristics. Let us let aside once for a time the over-hasty accepted conclusions.

Let us pass to an examination of ceramics, coming from our points of finds, and create a typification for finds, not significant in the moment of their appearance, which now can be better classified. Let us search the parallels in the place of origin for not saying, that the layer of a settlement comes from the VIII century B.C., which is also rare because there is no classical typical feature like the bulge of the mouth in form of a mushroom and no red glazing. Nowadays we can build up the complete chronology of types, its evolution of decoration, its precursors and its disappearance as general good.

No typological-chronological examination about the form of plates, in the relation of the width of the edge to the whole diameter is allowed to serve as a relative feature of dating for the layer of an other settlement. At the most as won insight, if it is far-reaching confirmed by a special excavation, for example in the light of data, won in the excavation in Tyrus by P.M.Bikai.

The work, that was done to dig up "old" points of finds and to publish it, is well-deserved and necessary with the succession of layers and concepts being new in archaeology. But we have to search the common ceramic material at the place of origin. Today we can do that with relativ straightforwardness. When Toscanos (1964), La Joya (1963), El Carambolo (1973), Jardin, Laurita (1962) were examined, these means of comparison were very limited.

The results of work, that we offer here, give probably no relation between the trouble of realization and publication and the practical results, which can be achieved with them. Therefore I wish to describe once more the expenditure until their publication and distribution.

Since more than twenty years participation at digging up , restoring, drawing and exhibition with all necessary care of parts from these "colonizations".
Visits and studies at the museums of the Mediterranean area and collections in
England and France.
Gain of insight from personal explanations by P.Cintas, the couple Picard and professor Isserlin.
Making use of the opportunity to touch and take photographs of the material in the
American University of Beirut in full war.
Understanding, that a quiet tendency exists, to date our places of finds after common elements in the North of Africa and the South of Spain.
Seeing, that these are obviously different, and that it could not be difficult, to build up their own chronology, starting out directly from their parallels in the near Orient.

One result must be the chronological assignment of the culture, which has received in its time the influence of the near Orient and an other the better understanding of the phenomenon, known as "Ibero-Punic-culture" that meets Roman culture in the South of Spain.

This report, what concerns the part of typological-chronological boards, describes in any case the results seen as most interesting in the near Orient. They also often fit some examples from the settlements in the South of Spain. This with the intention to build a basis for comparison with the aim, to limit the chronology in which individual parts could be put in order, independent from the context in which they appeared. This also independent from the date which gave them their digger until now.

I hope, that for the weighing up of all mistakes, which are made until now, the final result will be worth the trouble and that at least some reflection is created and that for finds, which now appear or will appear in the future, is given a wider and more objective perspective for the decision Carthago and its historical assignment.

It rests the proof, if the beginning of a colonisation can have a moment of political and economic stability. A reason can as well be the abandonment of a place by men of all classes because of political, religious or economic instability. There are innumerable examples for that.
As final result shall archaeological data confirm the interpretation of historical sources and historical guidelines shall not define archaeological results. This way of proceeding has never lead to a positive result.

First Conclusions

All historical data about towns, expeditions at land and sea, steps of the course of some cultures a.s.o. should be completely put into question until it is confirmed by archaeology or other scientific activity, which can give an answer for the question. For all this are known many examples.

It could become apparent that praecolonization and colonization of the South of Spain by people of the near Orient during the first and second millennium B.C., seen in historical-archaeological sight, brings a result, that is completely opposite to that , which one can expect in todays logical sight. Although this could be justified alone by the fact, that until now there is no conflict at all between the sources, bearing witness of this colonisation, and the series of archaeological traces of all kind, which have appeared in the course of time in this geographic zone, in an archaeological context or not. What would lead in several cases and because the lack of scientific strength exactly to this result.

One should forget as reasonable some behaviour of romantic archaeology, which was owned by our century. No student, who "conquers" an archaeologic place of finds "praeromanic" and not "praehistoric", should be in in the mood, that he has to prove, that he has discovered Troja or the traces of a native culture in this or an other degree of development. The subject has to be treated much more careful.

Historical sources give information of the arrival of seafarers from the near Orient at our coasts and the found rests have a clear discernible Oriental minting, after that which fills the glas cabinets of Europaen museums or concerns the finds from excavations at the coast of the North of Africa. An other question is that of historical assignment. Caused by the often practised missing exactness at the digging up, there is no basis of comparison, which could serve to establish a chronology with a minimum of foundation. Further to the beforehand said, what concerns the scientific archaeology, at least in our next surroundings, it has a lifetime of thirty to forty years, in which time until our days the number of archaeological excavations enabling conclusions as in vertical so in horizontal extension is sparse in the first and practical zero in the second case.

The enormous interest, that arose in the area of archaeology in the last twenty years for all concerning the period called Praeromanic, Phoenician, Orientalic, Semitic a.s.o. until the digging up of the discovered places of finds, was limited in most cases at some sparse digging, often not to the deepest layers.

This allowed only an archaeological story in form of chapters, which contained the story of the facts of discovery, the gratitude for the owner of the terrain and the members of staff, the geographic situation, the description of the digging up and the listing of the found material, which was assessed as remarkable, the used technology and special conditions. In many cases this served more to smudge the object than to find a parallel to the excavation to get to general conclusions. The proposed chronology for the place is created after typical fragments or entire pieces which in this place, we can call it "B" , has parallels in an other, we can call it "A". In the settlement "C" were found the same ones , now appearing in "A" and "B", if they know each other. So is created, following each other, that, what leads to the spreading of any possible mistake in the chain.

Partial studies of an excavation , concerning a concrete typology or a group of materials, often made as thesis, project or similar by pupils or members of staff of the leading scientist of the excavation, are created reduced in their origin. Although at the other side the speciality of work allows a bigger independence to examine parallels, origin, spreading a.s.o. as receive in advance ones main parameters for the general conclusions, which shall be gained for the documentation of the digging up.

Books with general spreading, which with the quality of their print-out and a photographic documentation could make easier the interpretation of materials, are often not examined or at least regarded and bring nothing as the sufficiently well-known photographs of the human-like sarcophagus of Cadiz, the Dama de Elche a.s.o..

One searches in several cases to establish parallels with studies, made in next neighbourhood in the North of Africa. Obviously because of the proximity or the better accessibility to its bibliography, the better knowledge of the colony Carthago and the indication of its possible influence to the South of Spain. The results of this can be regarded with certainty as until negative, what we have explained with more details already in other chapters.

For now it is sufficient to tell, that in the beginning of the Seventies we shew P.Cintas or the couple Picard samples of ceramic material with a late chronology, coming from the points of finding in Malaga. Regarding them, they noticed the missing of a similarity with those, that were outcome of their excavations with the same chronology. They gave a look at publications which would be an extensive handbook for those, who had established the ( supposed ) parallels of the typologies coming from their excavations in the South of Spain, which were than published as products from the typical archaeologic areas in the North of Africa.

The dimensions, decorations, finishing, utilization belonging to a drawing and summarized description could give so big differences between two comparable pieces, as parallels exist between an Iberic Kalatus and a flowerpot of today.

A similar experience we could make at the digging up with professor Isserlin in the area of the Roman theater of Malaga. There appeared fragments of ceramics in the circulated layers ,which had parallels to that from Toscanos or Guadalhorce. The totality of their characteristics was more different than fitting to that of the Punic world of the western Mediterranean area, concerning chronology and the influence, which us interests.

The German Archaeological Institut, a pioneer of scientific excavations in this area, with its strictness of methods, the promptness, quality and spreading of its publication, besides with the appreciation in advance, which has the foreign in our vicinity , created a standard and a form of interpretation of our points of finds, the effect of which has settled until now. It was considerable early, to make such fundamental conclusions. Later on there could be found errors of importance. But they are used until now as a valid handbook, although they are twenty or thirty years old. This, as if has happened nothing in this time , neither in scientific research in the South of Spain, nor in the zone of origin of praecolonization and colonization.

We can search its justification also in another motivation, but the final result in this area is that, who reads the two or three last pages of reports or information about archaeological places with this influence in the South of Spain, may it be in the province of Malaga, Cordoba, Sevilla, Cadiz, may it be nekropoles or settlements, places with an accentuated interest of trading with metal or not, may they be in direct contact with the resident population of the ending Bronze Age in the Mediterranean area with the participation at ritual offering in a grave, may they present themselves as little settlement concerning the number of population and extension or surrounding area, durable and extended, fortified and with defined architecture, all them find their chronological assignment in the VIII century B.C. , their decline in the VI century B.C. and in some cases, as like an concession at polemics, they could have had their beginning with some possibility in the IX century B.C.

Let us make a count, alone of the published settlements with this chronology in the South of Spain, thinking also at the destroyed by building projects, movements of soil a.s.o. and at those, which will be published in the next years. If we stay at this old , always the same criterion, all with the same chronology, we have to realize, that Tyrus and Carthago must have moved as a whole into our countries in the sole intention of colonizing us.


Read to this, (for the moment only available in German language) :

DIE GESCHICHTE VON ATLANTIS, der vergessene Ursprung unserer Kultur
by Karl Juergen Hepke
TRIGA-DER VERLAG, D 63584 Gruendau-Rothenbergen, Germany, 2nd Edition, Hardcover, 268 Pages, EUR 22,00, ISBN 978-3-89774-539-1 ,