vrijdag 16 januari 2015

Les Andalouses


It is a complete surprise to find next after the Portus Divini an almost fully equipped Phoenician/Punic/Berber settlement on a spot that is not so favourable at all. Why did the Phoenicians make or took over on this bay between the Cape Falcon and the Cape Lindless this settlement with no significant harbour. It is true: there are some little islands in front of it: Isle Plane and the isles Habibas. They were visited by the Phoenicians, because one has found Campanian pottery here from the 6th century BC. A large settlement however was developed on the coast on both sides of the mouth of the Oued Sidi Hamadi. The reason why maybe the favourable agricultural possibilities, that were already exploited by the indigenous population. The site of Les Andalouses is located at the fertile plain some 30 km to the west of Oran.
It was identified by Ps.Skylax (111) as Mes in the 4th century BC and in the Itinenario Antonius as Castra Puerorum, XVIII miles west of Portus Divini. If Mes is the same as Mής, then it could mean in Greek: to suck. Les Andalouses becomes: City of the sucking child? Castra Puerorum can be translated as Camp of the Children.

There are several cemeteries found. The necropolis of the east contains graves from the 4th-2nd century BC. Here we encounter different funeral rites and structures with dominant Iberian influences. To the west on the right side of the Oued Sidi Hamadi the tumuli are containing Punic findings from the 6th century BC.

Between these two cemeteries lies the Punic town of about 3 hectares in surface. It has a rectangular plan. The houses are built on stretched stones of tuff mingled with earth. The use of windows was known. The population is for a part indigenous with a strong Punic influence. Maybe it is better to speak of Liby-Phoenicians?

Findings in Les Andalouses.
- Carthagian wheel-made pottery
- Iberian pottery
- lamps
- jewelry
- ostrich eggshells
- suction bottles for children!
- steles, for instance: Masop, the son of Negasen
- shells of the murex
- purple dyeing factories
- Numidian, Mauretan, Hispano-Phoenician coinage
- Graffiti, for instance neopunic on Campanian B vessel and: g’, ’Ṣ, ḥ, Ṣzg‘n, gnk.
- Inscriptions: MTNT S W.TG.RS = gift of Wartagars (2nd cent.BC), URGHN (2nd/1st cent.BC), K?š (1st cent.BC), Masop.
- Coins: from Gadir: gdr, from Almunecar: ṢkṢ, Vermina, Bocchus.
- Paintings on pottery.
This list is far from complete. An incredible amount of material has been found by G.Vuillemot. See: Reconnaissances aux échelles punique d’Oranie, Autun 1965 and Vestiges puniques aux Andalouses, BSGAO 1951.

There are separated quarters of the settlement:

Houses next to the sea. In the excavation here are 7 strata distinguishable.
1.Roman walls and Italic amphorae (2nd cent.BC)
2.Destroyed house
3.Punic walls of unpolished stones and pottery
4.Punic amphorae and fars
6.beginning of the settlement (end 4th cent.BC)
7.virgin soil on 8.70 meters depth

A late settlement (2nd-1st century BC).
We find here millstones, an oil press and mostly craft equipment and buildings.

Les Andalouses lived mostly on cattle-breeding (cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats) and agriculture (grain and wine). For trade there were strong connections with the Iberian Peninsula.

The Romans came here only for a short period. They made a small settlement on the left bank of the Oued Sidi Hamadi. The settlements were abandoned by the end of the 1st cent. BC. One can only guess for what reason and where did they go? Why giving up such a fertile region?  Just a castle remains here: Castrum Puerorum. We don’t know the Phoenician/Punic name for this location, but there is a big chance it has to do something with children.


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