Hanno the Navigator

Hanno the Navigator

Hanno the Navigator was a Carthaginian explorer. who flourished c. 500 BC. He was most well known for his naval exploration of the African coast.


This Hanno is called "the Navigator" to distinguish him from a number of other Carthaginians with this name, including the perhaps more prominent, though later, Hanno the Great. See Hanno for others of this name. The name Hanno ("Annôn") means "merciful" or "mild" in Punic - similar to the Arabic name "Hanan" (حنان) with the same meaning, the Hebrew name "Hanan" (חנן), still used in present-day Israel, and to the Lebanese Hanna, ("حنا") still used in Lebanon today.


As Warmington states [B.H. Warmington, "Carthage", Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, pages 74 to 76] Carthage dispatched Hanno at the head of a fleet of sixty ships to explore and colonize the north western coast of Africa. He sailed through the straits of Gibraltar, founded or repopulated seven colonies along the African coast of Morocco, and explored significantly further along the Atlantic coast of the continent. Hogan cites the visit of Hanno to Mogador, where the Phoenicians established an important dye manufacturing plant using a marine gastropod found in the local Atlantic Ocean waters. [ [http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=17926 C.Michael Hogan, "Mogador", The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham, Nov. 2, 2007] ] Hanno encountered various indigenous peoples on his journey and met with a variety of welcomes.

On the island which formed the terminus of his voyage the explorer found it heavily populated with what were described as hirsute and savage people. Attempts to capture the males failed, but three of the females were taken. These were so vicious they were killed, and their skins preserved for transport home to Carthage. The interpreters called them "gorillas", which has provided the etymology for the species name.

Periplus account

The primary source for the account of Hanno's expedition is a Greek translation, titled "Periplus", of a tablet Hanno is reported to have hung up on his return to Carthage in the temple of Ba'al Hammon whom Greek writers identified with Chronus (also known as Chronos). The full title translated from Greek is "The Voyage of Hanno, commander of the Carthaginians, round the parts of Libya beyond the Pillars of Heracles, which he deposited in the Temple of Chronos." This was known to Pliny the Elder and Arrian, who mentions it at the end of his "Anabasis of Alexander" VIII (Indica)::"Moreover, Hanno the Libyan started out from Carthage and passed the Pillars of Heracles and sailed into the outer Ocean, with Libya on his port side, and he sailed on towards the east, five-and-thirty days all told. But when at last he turned southward, he fell in with every sort of difficulty, want of water, blazing heat, and fiery streams running into the sea."

This account's factual dependability has been both questioned and defended (see link). Both Harden [Donald Harden, "The Phoenicians", Penguin books, Harmondsworth, pages 163 to 168] and Warmington [B.H. Warmington op. cit. pages 74 to 76] quote this account in English translation. Warminton [ibid., page 76 ] suggests that difficulties in reconciling the account's specific details with present geographical understanding are consistent with classical reports of Carthaginian determination to maintain sole control of trade into the Atlantic.

:"This report was the object of criticism by some ancient writers, including the Pliny the Elder, and in modern times a whole literature of scholarship has grown up around it. The account is incoherent and at times certainly incorrect, and attempts to identify the various places mentioned on the basis of the sailing directions and distances almost all fail. Some scholars resort to textual emendations, justified in some cases; but it is probable that what we have before us is a report deliberately edited so that the places could not be identified by the competitors of Carthage. From everything we know about Carthaginian practice, the resolute determination to keep all knowledge of and access to the western markets from the Greeks, it is incredible that they would have allowed the publication of an accurate description of the voyage for all to read. What we have is an official version of the real report made by Hanno which conceals or falsifies vital information while at the same time gratifying the pride of the Carthaginians in their achievements. The very purpose of the voyage, the consolidation of the route to the gold market, is not even mentioned."

Dating the Voyage of Hanno

The voyage of Hanno is ascribed to various dates ranging from 250 BCE to 520 BCE.

Modern analysis of Hanno's route

A number of modern scholars have commented upon Hanno's voyage. In many cases the analysis has been to refine information and interpretation of the original account. William Smith points out that the complement of personnel totalled 30,000, and that the core mission included the intent to found Carthaginian (or in the older parlance "Libyophoenician") towns. [ [http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/1454.htmlWilliam Smith, "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology", vol. 2, page 346 (1880)] ]

Harden [Donald Harden, "The Phoenicians", Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, page 168] states there is general consensus that the expedition reached at least as far as Senegal. There seems some agreement that he could have reached Gambia. However, Harden mentions lack of agreement as to precisely where to locate the furthest limit of Hanno's explorations: Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Gabon. He notes the description of the Cameroon Mountain, a 13,370 foot volcano, more closely matches Hanno's description than Guinea's 2910 foot Mt. Kakulima. Warmington [B.H. Warmington, op. cit., page 79] prefers Mount Kakulima, considering Mount Cameroon too distant.

The controversial amateur epigrapher Barry Fell claimed that Hanno had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and explored North America (see: Bourne Stone).

Earlier Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa

Herodotus recorded a circumnavigation of "Libya", by an expedition of Phoenicians sent out by "the Egyptian king" Necho II (606-593 BC), one of two seventh-century kings of the 26th Saite Dynasty:"with orders to sail west about and return to Egypt and the Mediterranean by way of the Straits of Gibraltar. The Phoenicians sailed from the Arabian gulf (Red Sea) into the southern ocean, and every autumn put in at some convenient spot on the Libyan coast, sowed a patch of ground, and waited for next year's harvest..." [ [http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodotus/hist01.htm Herodotus, "Histories" iv.42] ]

Herodotus himself discounted this story on account of the assertion that the Phoenicians had the sun to the north of them as they passed along the southern part of the continent. As Harden [Donald Harden, op. cit., page 162] comments, this very claim has most modern scholars accepting that Phoenicians did circumnavigate Africa. In modern times a Phoenician sailing vessel was found in the area of the "Cape Flats" found off the South African city of Capetown.Fact|date=March 2008



* Donald Harden, "The Phoenicians", (Penguin, Harmondsworth) 1971 (1962)
* Herodotus, transl. Aubrey de Selincourt, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1968 (1954)
* B. H. Warmington, "Carthage", (Penguin, Harmondsworth) 1964 (1960)

ee also

*Himilco the Navigator

External links

* [http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/small/3.html "Hanno's "Periplus" on the Web:" a directory of further links.]
* [http://www.metrum.org/mapping/hanno.htm Livio Catullo Stecchini, "The voyage of Hanno"] carefully analyzed by a classical scholar.
* [http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Hanno.html "Periplus" in English.]
* [http://canresource.blogspot.com/2007/07/voyage-of-hanno_30.html "Hanno's Voyage" from Canaanite.org]
* [http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/1454.html Hanno, a Carthaginian navigator] from Charles Smith, "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology" (1867)
* [http://www.livius.org/ha-hd/hanno/hanno02.html Annotated commentary on Hanno's "Periplus"] by Jona Lendering.
* [http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/sammlung2/werk/cpgraec398.xml?docname=cpgraec398&pageid=PAGE0113 Scan of original Greek manuscript on "Hanno Carthagiensis"]

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