Scientific American Supplement, No. 832, December 12, 1891

by Various

Scientific American Supplement, No. 832, December 12, 1891

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Those who have had the good fortune to visit Andalusia, that privileged land of the sun, of light, songs, dances, beautiful girls, and bull fighters, preserve, among many other poetical and pleasing recollections, that of election to antique and smiling Cadiz—the "pearl of the ocean and the silver cup," as the Andalusians say in their harmonious and imaginative language. There is, in fact, nothing exaggerated in these epithets, for they translate a true impression. Especially if we arrive by sea, there is nothing so thrilling as the dazzling silhouette which, from afar, is reflected all white from the mirror of a gulf almost always blue.

The Cadiz peninsula has for centuries been legitimately renowned, for, turn by turn, Phenicians, properly so called, Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Arabs and Spaniards have made of it the preferred seat of their business and pleasure. In his so often unsparing verses, Martial, even, celebrates with an erotic rapture the undulating suppleness of the ballet dancers of Gades, who are continued in our day by the majas and chulas.


For an epoch anterior to that of the Latin poet, we have the testimony, among others, of Strabo, who describes the splendors, formerly and for a long time famous, of the temple of Hercules, and who gives many details, whose accuracy can still be verified, concerning various questions of topography or ethnography. Thus the superb tree called Dracæna draco is mentioned as growing in the vicinity of Gadeira, the Greek name of the city. Now, some of these trees still exist in certain public and private gardens, and attract so much the more attention in that they are not met with in any other European country. However, although historically Cadiz finds her title to nobility on every page of the Greek and Latin authors, and although her Phenician origin is averred, nowhere has such origin, in a monumental and epigraphic sense, left fewer traces than in the Andalusian peninsula. A few short legends, imperfectly read upon either silver or bronze coins, and that was all, at least up to recent times. Such penury as this distressed savants and even put them into pretty bad humor with the Cadiz archæologists.

To-day, it seems that the ancient Semitic civilization, which has remained mute for so long in the Iberic territory, is finally willing to yield up her secret, as is proved by the engravings which we present to our readers from photographs taken in situ. It is necessary for us to enter into some details.

In 1887 there were met with at the gates of Cadiz, at about five meters beneath the surface of the earth, three rude tombs of shelly limestone, in which were found some skeletons, a few small bronze instruments and some trinkets—the latter of undoubted oriental manufacture.

In one of these tombs was also inclosed a monolithic sarcophagus of white marble of the form called anthropoid and measuring 2.15 m. in length by 0.67 in width. This sarcophagus is now preserved in the local museum, whose director is the active, intelligent and disinterested Father Vera. Although this is not the place to furnish technical or scientific explanations, it will be permitted us to point out the fact that although it is of essentially oriental manufacture, our anthropoid has undoubtedly undergone the Hellenistic influence, which implies an epoch posterior to that of Pericles, who died in 429 B.C. The personage represented, a man of mature age with noble lineaments and aquiline nose, has thick hair corned up on the forehead in the form of a crown, and a beard plaited in the Asiatic fashion. As for the head, which is almost entirely executed in round relief, that denotes in an undoubted manner the Hellenistic influence, united, however, with the immutable and somewhat hierarchical traditions of Phenician art. The arms are naked as far as to the elbow, and the feet, summarily indicated, emerge from a long sheath-form robe. As for the arms and hands, they project slightly and are rather outlined than sculptured. The left hand grasps a fruit, the emblem of fecundity, while the right held a painted crown, the traces of which have now entirely disappeared....