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Prince Conall's Grave
Prince Conall's Grave, a court cairn near the village of Kiltyclogher in County Leitrim. This monument has a 'kennel hole' entrance, a man-made hole—rather then the usual capstone and jamb arrangement.

Flight of the Phoenix

Extract from Legend—the Genesis of Civilisation by David Rohl.

We have now reached a crucial point in our story. So far I have brought you down from the mountains of Eden in the footsteps of the antediluvian patriarchs and their followers. We then watched the generations of Enoch and Irad establish settlements, first in the Susiana plain and then in the marshlands of Sumer.

These resourceful humans soon learnt to build reed ships so that they might journey out into the Lower Sea in search of new horizons of exploitation.

Burial mound in the village of Aali on Bahrain.
Burial mound in the village of Aali on Bahrain. This mound, from a photo taken from from David Rohl's book, has the same form as an Irish passage-grave. Caption: Aerial view of one of the large mounds in Aali. The deep cutting is what remains of early excavations along the original entrance corridor of the tumulus to gain access into the central burial chamber.

Evidence of their explorations abounds in the form of Ubaid pottery found at scores of sites along the Arabian coast of the Gulf. This sea-going element of Adam's descendants have led us away from Mesopotamia and the devastating flood into the reborn world of the postdiluvian era and the migration of the sons of Ham.

We are now at the threshold of a great new adventure as we board the ships of Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan for the long journey to Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Two Phoenician sea-going vessels.
Two Phoenician sea-going vessels transporting cedars of Lebanon for construction work on the palaces and temples of Assyria. Note the high (animal-headed) prow and stern and the flat-bottomed profile of the ships. Reliefs from the palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad (8th century BC). Louvre Museum.

In order to trace the journey of this second generation of explorers I need to introduce you to a fascinating and tenacious legend which lies outside both the Mesopotamian and the biblical tradition, although the latter does hint at a knowledge of what we are about to discuss.

Go to visit a Lebanese school and sit in on a history class. There you will hear the teacher explain to the children that the modern Lebanese are descended from the ancient Phoenicians who, in turn, originated from the islands of the Persian Gulf. The legendary origins of the Phoenicians are not an invention of the Lebanese Christian community purely to provide a separate ethnic tradition from their Muslim neighbours.

Listoghil viewed from above.
The restored cairn at Listoghil in Carrowmore viewed from above. The monument, originaly a free-standing dolmen, sits on a platform 50 meters in diameter in diameter. The chamber is aligned to sunrise at both Samhain and Imbolc.

The Ancestors of the Phoenicians

The idea that the ancestors of the Phoenicians came from far-off Bahrain to found the new cities of Canaan on the Eastern Mediterranean coast was well known to the classical writers. Justin, Pliny, Ptolemy and Strabo all regarded the original homeland of the Phoenicians in the Gulf as an historical fact. I need only quote from one to establish the point.

Ten miles from the sprawling Iranian industrial city of Tabriz, to the northwest of Teheran, says British archaeologist David Rohl, he has found the site of the Biblical garden . . . "As you descend a narrow mountain path, you see a beautiful alpine valley, just like the Bible describes it, with terraced orchards on its slopes, crowded with every kind of fruit-laden tree," says Rohl, a scholar of University College, London, The Biblical word gan (as in Gan Eden) means `walled garden,'" Rohl continues, "and the valley is indeed walled in by towering mountains."

On sailing farther (down the Erythraean Sea), one comes to the other islands, I mean Tyre and Aradus, which have temples like those of the Phoenicians. It is asserted, at least by the inhabitants of the islands, that the islands and cities of the Phoenicians which bear the same name are their own colonies.

The Tyrians (citizens of Tyre) proclaimed their original homeland as the island of Tylos in the Erythraean Sea. Now the Erythraean or 'Red' Sea was not in ancient times what we know as the Red Sea today - that is to say the long gulf which lies between the western shore of Arabia and the eastern coast of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Phoenician sea-going vessels transporting cedars of Lebanon for construction work on the palaces and temples of Assyria.
Phoenician sea-going vessels transporting cedars of Lebanon for construction work on the palaces and temples of Assyria.

Confusing as it may seem, the ancient name of the modern Red Sea was the Arabian Gulf! The original Red Sea was what we today call the Persian or Arabian Gulf and the lndian Ocean beyond. It was named as such after Erythraeas who, according to legend, was buried within a great mound on the island of Tylos. Of course, Erythraeas is a Greek name which has the meaning the 'Red One' (hints of Adam?).

Now it is usually accepted within scholarship that the Greek Tylos is a late rendition of the Akkadian Tilmun. Thus the Phoenicians of the eastern Mediterranean believed that they originated from the sacred paradise isle of Sumerian legend.

Could it be that the seafaring inhabitants of the Persian Gulf in the third and second millennia BC were the ancestors of the seafaring Phoenician inhabitants of the Mediterranean? Michael Rice neatly encapsulates the historical dilemma.

We are reasonably certain that the Dilmunites were not Phoenicians; we are by no means certain now that the Phoenicians were not Dilmunites.
Deerpark County Sligo
The grand monumental full court cairn at Deerpark in County Sligo. This magnificent monument is one of the largest and finest examples of its kind in Ireland.