Carthaginian coins of Corvo

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The Cyrenaic and Carthaginian coins of Corvo are a hoard of coins dating to approximately 200 BCE that were supposedly left in the Azores by Carthaginians and discovered in 1749 on the island of Corvo, the smallest and most remote island of the Azores.

Podolyn's report[edit]

The only source of information about the find is a report published in 1778 in Det Götheborgska Wetenskaps och Witterhets Samhallets Handlinger, now known as the Publications of the Royal Society of Sciences and Letters in Gothenburg, by Johan Frans Podolyn, a Portuguese-born Swede.[1][2][3] According to Podolyn, in 1761 he met in Madrid the historian and numismatist Enrique Flórez who gave him 9 coins from Carthage (2 gold and 5 bronze) and 2 from Cyrene (bronze), which Flores said were from a hoard discovered in 1749 in a black pot or vase after being washed out of the foundations of a building by a storm.[2][4][5]


The coins depicted in Podolyn's report appeared genuine when compared with designs on coins in the possession of the Prince Royal of Denmark,[4] and the influential German historian Alexander von Humboldt fully embraced the account as proof of Carthaginian voyages to the New World.[6] In the 19th century this was repeated as true in Chateaubriand's Autobiography, in Daniel Wilson's The Lost Atlantis,[7] and in encyclopedias including the Encyclopædia Britannica.[8] In 1936 A. W. Brøgger used it as an example in his speech opening the second International Congress of Archaeologists, in which he argued that the Bronze Age was an era of long-distance exploration.[9]

Not all scholars since have accepted Podolyn's statement about the location of the find: the Azores were apparently unknown to ancient geographers and archeological surveys have not uncovered any evidence of European visitations prior to the modern age of exploration. Some have suggested that the coins were a hoax or placed there in a later period, "by Arabs, Normans, Spaniards, or early Portuguese settlers."[2] Patricia and Pierre Bikai suggest that the coins were actually from a town in Portugal named Corvo, where it is plausible that tin ore attracted Carthaginian settlement. They add that if the Carthaginians did cross the Atlantic the lack of a native population meant that there would not necessarily be any evidence, and "scholars who reject even the possibility of Atlantic voyages in antiquity seem" to be accepting a myth promulgated by the Phoenicians that the Atlantic was inherently impassable with the seafaring technology of the period.[2]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Duane Roller, Through the Pillars of Herakles: Greco-Roman Exploration of the Atlantic, New York/London: Routledge, 2006, ISBN 978-0415486965, pp. 49–50.
  2. ^ a b c d Patricia M. and Pierre M. Bikai, "Timelines: A Phoenician Fable," Archaeology (Jan-Feb 1990)
  3. ^ "Några Anmärkingnar om de Gamles Sjöfart, i anledning af några Carthaginensiska och Cyrenaiska Mynt, fundne år 1749, på en af de Azoriska Öarne", af Johan Podolyn, Det Götheborgska Wetenskaps och Witterhets Samhallets Handlinger Wetenskaps Afdelningen, Först Stycket, 1778. Facsimile of first page at Richard Hennig, Terrae Incognitae: Eine Zusammenstellung und kritische Bewertung der wichtigsten vorkolumbischen Entdeckungsreisen an Hand der darüber vorliegenden Originalberichte, 4 vols., repr. Leiden: Brill, 1944, OCLC 459874588, p. 140 (Book in German, facsimile page in Swedish)
  4. ^ a b William Henry Babcock, Legendary Islands of the Atlantic: A Study in Medieval Geography, New York: American Geographical Society, 1922, OCLC 359856, pp. 167-68.
  5. ^ According to the Bikais and Babcock, these were what remained of the hoard, but according to John Murray, Selections from Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger During the Years 1872-76, New York: Arno, 1977, ISBN 0-405-10411-1, p. 2, note 3, Flores had selected them as the best preserved.
  6. ^ Babcock, note 7: Alexandre de Humboldt, Examen critique de l'histoire de la géographie du nouveau continent et des progrès de l'astronomie nautique aux quinzième et seizième siècles, 5 volumes, Paris: Gide, 1836-39, volume 2, pp. 237-40. (in French)
  7. ^ Daniel Wilson, The Lost Atlantis, and Other Ethnographic Studies, Edinburgh: Douglas, 1892, OCLC 6519876, pp. 9, 36.
  8. ^ List from John Murray, also in his "The Discovery of America by Columbus: The Influences which led up to that Great Event, and its Effect on the Development of Oceanographical Knowledge," Scottish Geographical Magazine 9 (1893) 561-585, p. 567, note 3; however, in both he has the wrong title for Wilson's book.
  9. ^ Anton Wilhelm Brøgger, "Opdagelsenes nye Århundre", Norsk Geografisk Tiddskrift 6 (1936) 171–203 (in Norwegian), cited in Geoffrey Bibby, The Testimony of the Spade, New York: Knopf, 1956, OCLC 282894, pp. 262–63.


  • Agostinho, José (1946), "Achados Arqueológicos nos Açores", Açoreana (in Portuguese), 4 (1), Ponta Delgada (Azores), Portugal, pp. 101–102
  • Agostinho, José (1947), "As Moedas Cartaginesas do Corvo", Boletim do Instituto Histórico da Ilha Terceira (in Portuguese), Angra do Heroísmo (Azores), Portugal
  • Gomes, Francisco Pimentel (1997), A Ilha das Flores: da Redescoberta à Actualidade (in Portuguese), Lajes das Flores (Azores), Portugal: Câmara Municipal de Lajaes das Flores, pp. 18–19
  • Schawalbacher, Wilhelm (November 1962), Schweizer Münzblätter (in German), p. 22
  • Casson, Lionel (May–June 1990), "Archaeological Exploration at Corvo", Archaeology, pp. 50–55