Cassiterides

Cassiterides, meaning "Tin Islands", (from the Greek word for tin: Κασσίτερος/Kassiteros) are in ancient geography the name of islands regarded as being situated somewhere near the west coasts of Europe. Herodotus (430 BC) had dimly heard of them. Later writers, Posidonius, Diodorus, Strabo and others, call them smallish islands off (Strabo says, some way off) the north-west coast of Spain, which contained tin mines, or, as Strabo says, tin and lead mines though a passage in Diodorus derives the name rather from their nearness to the tin districts of north-west Spain. Also Ptolemy and Dionysios Periegetes have mentioned them, the former as 10 small islands in northwest Spain far off the coast arranged symbolically as a ring, the later one in connection with the Hesperides.

At a time when geographical knowledge of the west was still scanty and the secrets of the tin-trade were still successfully guarded by the seamen of Gades and others who dealt in the metal, the Greeks knew only that tin came to them by sea from the far west, and the idea of tin-producing islands easily arose. Later, when the west was better explored, it was found that tin actually came from two regions, north-west Spain and Cornwall. Neither of these could be called small islands or described as off the north-west coast of Spain, and so the Greek and Roman geographers did not identify either as the Cassiterides. Instead, they became a third, ill-understood source of tin, conceived of as distinct from Spain or Britain. Modern writers have perpetuated the error that the Cassiterides were definite spots, and have made many attempts to identify them. Small islands off the coast of north-west Spain, the headlands of that same coast, the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, the British Isles as a whole, have all in turn been suggested. But none suits the conditions. Neither the Spanish islands nor the Isles of Scilly contain tin, at least in serious quantities. It seems most probable, therefore, that the name Cassiterides represents the first vague knowledge of the Greeks that tin was found overseas somewhere in or off western Europe.

References

Primary sources

* Herodotus, "Histories" [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Hdt.+3.115.1 3.115]
* Diodorus Siculus, "Historical Library" V. 21, 22, 38
* Strabo, "Geography" [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/2E1*.html#5.15 2.5.15] , [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/3B*.html#2.9 3.2.9] , [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/3E*.html#5.11 3.5.11]
* Pliny the Elder, "Natural History" iv. 119, Vii. 197, xxxiv. 156-158

econdary sources

* T. R. Holmes, "Ancient Britain" (1907), appendix, identifies the Cassiterides with the British Isles.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • CASSITERIDES — insulae in occidentali Oceano, unde plumbum candidum effoditur. Plin. l. 4. c. 22. Ex adverso, inquit, Celtiberiae complures insulae sunt Cassiterides Graecis dictae, a fertilitate plumbi. Olim nemini perviae, praeterquam solis Phoenicibus,… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • CASSITÉRIDES (LES) — CASSITÉRIDES LES Îles qui jouaient dans l’Antiquité un rôle dans le trafic de l’étain (kassitéros en grec). Concordant sur le fait que le commerce de ce métal animait les limites occidentales du monde connu, les textes comportent de nombreuses… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Cassiterīdes insŭlae — (lat.), die »Zinninseln« der Alten, woher die Phöniker Zinn holten. Es ist darunter der Südwesten Englands zu verstehen. Erst römische Unkenntnis hat den Namen auf die Scillyinseln (antik Silurum Insulae), die durchaus keine Metallgruben… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Iles Cassiterides — Îles Cassitérides Les Îles Cassitérides , c est à dire les « Îles de l étain », (du mot grec Κασσίτερος/Kassiteros qui signifie étain), étaient, dans la géographie antique, le nom d îles considérées comme étant situées quelque part près …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Îles Cassitérides — Carte de l Europe selon Strabon ; les Cassitérides sont représentées au large de la côte nord ouest de l Ibérie. Les îles Cassitérides , c est à dire les « Îles de l étain », (du mot grec Κασσίτερος/Kassiteros qui signifie étain),… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Касситериды — (Cassiterides insulae) о ва, на которых финикияне в древности добывали олово (у грек. κασσίτερος). Первоначально под ними подразумевались Британские о ва вообще; при ближайшем ознакомлении название это было приурочено к лежащим к З. от Британии… …   Энциклопедический словарь Ф.А. Брокгауза и И.А. Ефрона

  • КАССИТЕРИДЫ (ОЛОВЯННЫЕ ОСТРОВА) — •Cassiterĭdes insulae, Κασσιτερίδες νη̃σοι. Так назывались первоначально вообще Британские острова, откуда финикияне вывозили олово и свинец (Plin. 34 …   Реальный словарь классических древностей

  • Касситериды —    • Cassiterĭdes insulae,          Κασσιτερίδες νη̃σοι. Так назывались первоначально вообще Британские острова, откуда финикияне вывозили олово и свинец (Plin. 34, 16, 47), а потом лежащие к западу от Британнии острова Scilly и Surling. Hdt. 3,… …   Реальный словарь классических древностей

  • Mining in Cornwall and Devon — Ruin of Cornish tin mine …   Wikipedia

  • George Edward Bonsor Saint Martin — George Edward Bonsor …   Wikipedia Español


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.