Sanchunjaton, Phoenicia and Hesiod

Alfred de Grazia: a reading note

In August 2004, Alfred and Ami de Grazia spent several days in Claude Schaeffer's library, at the seat of C.A.A.R.I. (Cyprus American Archaeological Institute) in Nicosia, on Cyprus. This was Schaeffer's private library, which he had bequeathed to the institution. Some of their research there found its way into Alfred ultimate Quantavolution book, The Iron Age of Mars. Here is one of his reading notes. The text in German was translated by Ami. 

Ouranos castrated by Kronos, by Giorgio Vasari, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

Otto Eissfeldt wrote, in Taautos und Sanchunjaton (Akademie-Verlag - Berlin 1952), the following, which we have paraphrased:

In the 1st century AD, Philo of Byblos wrote a Phoenician History in nine volumes which he claimed was a translation into Greek from an early Phoenician writer of 1400 B.C. called Sanchunjaton, from Beirut. Philo’s work was lost, except parts of the first book, which tell a creation history remarkably similar to that of Hesiod. Its memory was preserved in the form of two references in the work of Porphyrius, a neo-platonist philosopher, disciple and biographer of Plotinus, who died in 304 AD. One of these references - ca 15 pages - was preserved thanks to a large paraphrase in Eusebius of Cesarea (Preparatio Evangelica)  around 315 AD - with the purpose of demonstrating the falsity of pagan beliefs.

Nothing else is left of the work of Sanchunjaton or Philo of Byblos.

The first reference in Porphyrius (De Abstinentia)  is the following: “The Phoenicians offered, on the occurence of great catastrophes such as war, plague or drought someone most beloved in sacrifice; and full of such sacrificers is the history which Sanchunjaton wrote in the Phoenician language, which in truth Philo of Byblos translated into eight books in the Greek language.” 

The larger reference, (in: Adversus Christianos - Against the Christians, largely lost), quoted by Eusebius, begins thus:

“He who reports most reliably about their very own children being offered in sacrifice, as he is most congenial as regards places and names, is Sanchunjaton of Berut, who had received the traditions from Hierolambos, the priest of the god Jam; he presented the story to Abibalos, the King of Berut, and it was accepted by him and by his examiners of truth. 

The time of these men was before even the war of Troy and lasted almost to the time of Moses, as can be deduced from the lists of the Phoenician Kings. But Sanchunjaton who, a lover of truth, had assembled the whole ancient history from the traditions of the individual cities and from the records preserved in places of worship and had written them down in the Phoenician language, lived at the time of Queen Semiramis, of whom it is reported that she lived before the time of the events of Troy, or right at the time when they happened. The work of Sanchunjaton was later translated into Greek by Philo of Byblos.”

We would note that in the original quote in Eusebius, which is written in Greek, the word for “very own” is actually “Jewish- Judaieon- ” and the word for “Jam” is “Yahweh.” These have been considered errors of transcription and have been corrected as shown. (But I might add that in private conversation, Immanuel Velikovsky opined that Byblos-Baalbek was a Jewish city, and wished not to bring up the issue – whereupon he gave me a significant glance, to my mind because it would no doubt add one more problem to the complex Israel-Arab conflict.)

Further along in his book, Eusebius continues:

“From the first book of Philo’s History of Phoenicia, I will now report this: It was a custom among the Ancients that in the case of threatening catastrophes, the leaders of the cities or of the country would, in order to prevent the destruction of everything, give up their most beloved child  in expiation to the demons of vengeance; those offered were sacrificed in a mysterious manner. Kronos, named El by the Phoenicians, who was a King of the country and after his death was divinized as the Star Kronos, was the father of a son by a native nymph, an only son, who was therefore called Jeud (see above)  as the only son is still called among the Phoenicians. He dressed up this son in royal garments on one occasion when the country was under dire threat of war, and sacrificed him on an altar which he had erected.”
Eusebius is trying the make the point all through his book that the ancient gods had been men, “and not even good men...” who were later divinized.

Eusebius quotes then a description of Chaos etc. which must close the words of Philo-Sanchunjaton.  

“At the beginning of the whole, he (Sanchunjaton) puts dark, agitated air or a blowing of darkness and a dark, opaque chaos. This was limitless and had no boundaries for a long time. But as - according to him - the spirit was overtaken by love for his own beginning and a mixing arose, this braiding was called Desire. This is the beginning of the whole creation. 

But the spirit himself was not aware of his own creative activity and it is from this braiding of the spirit that Mot arose. Some explain this as mud, others as a mixture of rotting waters, and from this arose all the seeds of creation and the beginning of everything. But there were some creatures without feelings. Out of them came the rational beings, named the Zophesamin, i.e. the gazers of Heaven. And Mot took on the shape of an egg, and Mot and the sun and the stars and great constellations shone forth.

And as the air began to clarify, there occurred through the warming of the sea and of the land winds and clouds and extremely powerful falling and pouring of heavenly water. And as all things became separated and torn from their places by the heat of the sun, and didn’t stop hitting each other and jostling in the air, thunder and lightning arose, and the noises woke up the above-mentioned rational beings and they were scared so that they jumped to their feet because of the noise, and on land and in the sea things male and female began to stir.”

There follows a list of “Inventors” quoted by Eusebius - among them two brothers who invented iron and metallurgy, and one of them, named Chusor-Hephaistos-Zeus Meilichios, is additionally the inventor of magic formulae and of prophecy, as well as of hooks and bait and of fishing. Another one is Misor Taautos, who invented the writing of the basic letters, whom the Egyptians called Thoth, the Alexandrians Thoth, but the Greeks called him Hermes... (Then more inventors are named.)

Eusebius proceeds to tell the story of the struggles among the descendants of “Eliun-Hypsistos, who found their high point in the emasculation of Ouranos through El-Kronos.... At this time comes forth an Hypsistos “Highest”Eliun and a woman with the name of Berut...

After Hypsistos was killed by wild beasts, Ouranos takes the power from his father, marries his sister Ge, and has with her four sons: El, also named Kronos, Baitylos, Dagon (field of wheat) and Atlas...

The story goes on. Kronos intends to emasculate his father Ouranos and on the advice of his daughter Athena and his scribe Hermes fashions a sickle and a spear of iron to attack and emasculate Ouranos. (Here, Claude Schaeffer, from whose private library this book has been consulted) underlines the word iron and writes in the margin: “XII cent.!”
According to Diodorus, says Eusebius, Ouranos was the first king of  Atlantis. So problems arose for scholars out of Sanchunjaton - because of the similarity with Hesiod’s creation story:

1. Were the sources of Hesiod Phoenician? Could Sanchunjaton himself have been known to Hesiod?
2. Was Sanchunjaton an invention of Philo - a conceit to make his history of Phoenicia more interesting? (the “manuscript found in a suitcase...” device...) Philo then paraphrased Hesiod...
3. How much did Eusebius distort Philo-Sanchunjaton to make his euhemeristic, reductive and disparaging points...?     
Help came from the tablets of Ras Shamra, which confirm many points that occur in Sanchunjaton’s story, and would precede Hesiod, and from Hittite tablets of Boghazkoi - especially one, a fragment of a Theogony which is so remarkable that I transcribe it here:

“In ancient times, in earlier years, Alalu was King in the Heaven. Alalu is sitting on his throne and Anu, the first god, stands before him. He bows down to his feet and reaches the drinking cup to his hand. For nine full years, Alalu was King in the Heaven. In the ninth year, Anu fought against Alalu; he defeated Alalu, so that he fled before him and descended into the dark earth. He descended into the dark earth, while Anu seated himself on his throne. Anu is sitting on his throne, and the mighty Kumarbi hands him to drink. He bows down to his feet and reaches the drinking cups out to his hands. For nine full years, Anu was king in the Heaven. In the ninth year, Anu fought against Kumarbi; Kumarbi in the place of Alalu fought against Anu. Anu could not resist the stare of Kumarbis eyes. He escaped Kumarbi’s hand and fled. Anu flew like a bird to the sky. Behind him ran Kumarbi and he caught Anu by the feet and pulled him down from Heaven. He bit his “knees” so that his manhood was absorbed in Kumarbis’ inside as (...?) When he had swallowed Anu’s manhood, he rejoiced and laughed. Anu turned to him and said to Kumarbi: “You feel joy about your inside, because you have swallowed my manhood. Do not feel joy about your inside! For in your inside I have laid seeds. First, I have made you pregnant with a mighty weather-god; then I have made you  pregnant with the River Aranzach...; third, I have made you pregnant with the mighty god Taschmischu. Three terrible gods have I put as seeds in your inside. At the end, you will have to knock your head against the rocks of the...  mountains!”

This is a Hurrite myth, translated into Hittite and written down in the 2nd half of the 2nd millennium B.C.E. (We bear in mind that for our dating, this would be the first half of the First Millennium.)

At that time, there were relationships of a political-commercial nature, as well as cultic and cultural between the Hurrites and the Hittites. Also in Ras Shamra, tablets have been found in the Hurritic language, and of mythological content. And to top it off, there is a Ras Shamra tablet which says that the god Kumarbi is the same as the Phoenician god El - the very god who is considered by the Greeks in general and especially in the Philo fragments, as the equivalent of Zeus...   
From which the authors conclude that Sanchunjaton was no invention of Philo - that the Hurrites-Hittites probably got the story from the Phoenicians, that Hesiod’s source was the same Phoenician myth, if not Sanchunjaton’s work itself... 

The founding of Carthage

The Phoenicians, who are credited with imparting the alphabet to the Greek, did not leave themselves important documents, yet we know that they had historians and kept chronicles. (Ami says: look up about this piece on Sanchunjaton...) We are left to rely on testimony from their ennemies, the |Greeks and the Romans.

Carthage, a Phoenician colony, was annihilated by Rome in 146 BC. Roman historian Appian said it had existed for “seven hundred years.” From the Greek chronographer Timeus we infer 814 BC as the date of its founding by Dido or Elissa. From Josephus we infer the date of 826 BC for the escape of Dido from Tyre, which led her to found Carthage. A Sicilian chronographer, Philistos, places Carthage’s founding “a man’s life-length” before the fall of Troy. Appian himself places the founding of Carthage “fifty years before the capture of Troy.” Therefore, in his opinion, the capture of Troy must have happened around 800 BC.

(Ami says: remember that according to Eusebius, Sanchunjaton is supposed to have lived just before the events at troy, at the time of Queen Semiraris of Babylon, who, herself, had lived just before, or during, Exodus...)  

Yet archaeology does not support such a date for the founding of Carthage: the most ancient foundation structure - a chapel to the goddess Tanit - has been dated to 725-700 BC by means of sherds of Greek vases found there. Then, says the author of the article, the destruction of Troy would have to be placed, if one follows Philistos and Appian, to about 675 BC. 

Rather abrupt end of article. The author doesn’t follow the consequences..

Ami notes: that would bring Homer two or three generations before Heracleitus - born ca 450 BC - at most... Not to mention what it would do to Exodus and the Bible (if Eusebius is correct, etc.)

C.A.A.R.I., at Nicosia, Cyprus. Seat of Claude Schaeffer's library.