How technology is lost

October 11, 2016 // By Dennis Feucht
From the Third Punic War, via the humidity of the Caribbean to the perils of proprietorial but careless commerce, Dennis Feucht considers how technology is lost.

When the third war with the Roman Empire was looming, historian Diodorus Siculus, a Sicilian, sailed to Carthage to talk with the leaders. They controlled an important technology, which was shortly thereafter lost to Europe. Carthage was on the north shore of Africa, in Tunisia, across from Italy.

Historians refer to it as a Phoenician colony, but the Phoenicians were too few in number to have populated all the ancient colonies around the Mediterranean that are attributed to them [although as seafarers and traders relatively few Phoenicians could have stimulated the growth of a maritime-based prosperity around the Mediterranean. Ed.] . Many of these colonies were Israelite, ostensibly dominated by the tribes of Dan and the Judahite clan of Zarah. Phoenicians and Israelites shared the same written language, paleo-Hebrew, so that it is difficult millennia later to know who was who.

What the Phoenicians had technologically were long boats. They had them for centuries, extending back to the third millennium BC. These boats had an eagle masthead and according to the historian Cyrus Gordon had twice the tonnage of Christopher Colombus' largest ship. For centuries, the Phoenicians were the long-haul carriers of the ancient near-east world.

According to first-century BC historian Strabo (citing Eratosthenes), the Carthaginians had 300 towns in Atlantis. They told Diodorus that if they lost the war, they would relocate to them using their long boats. History records that Carthage lost the Third Punic (Phoenician) War (146 BC) with Rome, and they subsequently disappeared from history along with long boat technology.

After that, only the Norse (Vikings) had similar boats in Europe, which they used to establish colonies in Greenland and New England. This was centuries before Columbus’s re-discovery of the Western Hemisphere at Mesoamerica, called Aztlán by the Aztecs, and modified for easier Greek pronunciation to Atlantis. (The whereabouts of Atlantis remain speculative if one reads only Plato’s Timaeus and not Diodorus, Strabo, or Poseidonius.)