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GADIR (Cádiz) Cáidiz, Spain.

Originally a small island, long since much enlarged by silting and joined to the mainland by a bridge (the Isla de Léon), and a larger long island now the peninsula. Gadir was founded, according to tradition, by Phoenicians from Tyre in 1100 B.C. (Strab. 3.5.5; Vell. Pat., Historia Romana 1.2.3). To the Phoenicians Gadir meant a fortress or walled area, but Pliny (4.120) and Silinus (23.12) wrote that the Carthaginians called it Gadir, meaning redoubt, as did Avienus (268) and St. Isidorus (Etym. 45.6.7). Martial (1.61.9, 5.78.26) employs the plural in referring to Gades, perhaps in imitation of the Greek (Hdt. 4.8). Pliny (4.119) states that, according to Polybios, it was 12,000 paces long and 3000 wide; the part closest to the mainland was less than 213 m from it, but the remainder was more than 2135 m away. Strabo (3.5.3) says that the city was on the W part of the island, and that the Temple of Moloch was on the end that projected toward the smaller island. The temple of Hercules was on the other side, Sancti Petri, where the island was separated from the mainland by a channel only one stadium wide; the sanctuary was ca. 19 km from the city.

The most ancient Greek material is a proto-Attic oinochoe, in the Copenhagen Museum, which is thought to have been found in the city and dates from the 7th c. B.C. Parts of Carthaginian necropoleis, ca. 150 hypogea from the 5th-3d c. B.C., have been discovered; many gold jewels were found in the tombs, and Etruscan bucchero of the 6th c. B.C. On the other hand, there are few terracottas, coarse ceramics, ostrich eggs, lamps, and necklaces, as in Ibiza, and no Greek vases or Campanian ceramics. A gold masked figurine is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, and an anthropoid sarcophagus of the 4th c. B.C. in the Cádiz Museum. The graves are impersonal and independent, made of huge stone blocks.

Nothing is known of the plan of the city, whose inhabitants were primarily interested in trade and fishing. In the beginning of the 1st c. B.C. they controlled tin mining and the tin trade (Strab. 3.5.11). Strabo (3.5.3) also writes that Cádiz had the most sailors and the best ships, both in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. However, up to 500 horsemen were counted in a census. When the city became crowded Galbus the Younger built a second one, and from both cities Didyme arose (Strab. 3.5.3). Towards the end of the Republic, it had a theater, perhaps of wood, of which no trace remains (Cic. Ad fam. 10.32.1). An underground tomb from this period yielded many ceramic vases, a polychrome plate, and two engraved gold rings, all now in the Cádiz Museum.

The city also minted coins at an early date and bronzes without inscriptions, of Greek type. It initiated its series of coins with the Phoenician Hercules on the obverse and the tuna, symbol of its fishing wealth, on the reverse. The silver coins came somewhat later, a result of the Barcine domination, mining operations, and military necessity. The obverse, bearing a head of Hercules with a club on his shoulders, is taken from Greek coins. Drachmas and half-drachmas were minted. With the Roman conquest appear asses of Roman metrology bearing a Phoenician inscription. Infrequently, the reverse bears the caduceus and the trident. The smaller units continue the same series, with tuna fish and dolphins. Other mintings do not follow the Roman pattern, but are of barbaric design with neo-Carthaginian inscriptions. Under Augustus, great commemorative medals appear, reminted coins characteristic of the coinage of Cádiz, which continued until the time of Claudius, and always had a Phoenician, never a Roman, inscription. On the obverse they bore the Hercules of Gadir and priestly attributes in honor of Balbus, the builder of the new city, as Pontifex. Others have Augustus on the obverse and Caius and Lucius on the reverse, or Agrippa represented as praefectus classis. These medals were rapidly demonetized. The city also had an arsenal.

In 49 B.C. Caesar bestowed Roman citizenship on the city (Livy Per. 110). Many inscriptions of the 1st c. have been found. Discoveries, including a heroic statue of an emperor from the first half of the 2d c., are in the Archaeological Museum of Cádiz. The city also had a statue of Alexander (Dion. Cass. 37.52). The most important personages during the change in era in Cádiz were the Balbi. The oldest was Caesar's banker; the nephew triumphed over the Garamantes and was the first consul from the provinces possessed by Rome and the first provincial who earned the honors of a triumph. During the 1st c. the puellae gaditanae, variety hall artists, were famous and were mentioned by Strabo (2.3.5) and others (Mart. 3.63; 5.78; 14.203; Juv. Sat. 11.162; Pliny, Ep. 1.15).

The Temple of Hercules, one of the most famous sanctuaries of the ancient world, was visited by Hannibal (Sil. 3.1), Fabius Maximus (App. Hisp. 65), Caesar (Dio. Cass. 37.52), whose future power was foretold by the priests, and Apollonius of Tiana (Philostr. VA 5.5). Its ritual was always typically Semitic. There was no image of the god, and only the priests were permitted to enter the sanctuary. On the doors, which can be no earlier than 500 B.C. (Sil. 3.32-44), were represented the labors of Hercules. The temple contained fabulous riches, stolen by Mago in 206 B.C. (Livy 28.36.2). In 49 B.C. Varro ordered that the treasure and decorations of the temple be transported to Cádiz (Caes. BCiv. 2.18,2). There was still, in 60 B.C., a Temple to Moloch where human sacrifices were made, a custom which Caesar abolished (Cic. Balb. 43), and altars to poverty and the arts, services to Menestheus, veneration for Themistocles and other heroes and demigods. There were services and an altar to old age, and a special worship of death, and it was said that while the ocean tides were high the souls of the sick did not expire (Philostr., VA 5.2-4). Towards the end of the 4th c. B.C., when Avienus visited it, the city was in ruins, except for the Temple of Hercules.


L. Rubio, “Los Balbos y el Imperio Romano,” Anales de Historia Antigua y Medieval (1949) 69-83; A. García y Bellido, “Iocosae Gades,” Boletín de la Real Academia dela Historia 129 (1951) 73-121PI; id., Historia de España, España Protohistórica (1952) 289-417MPI; id., La Península Ibiérica en las comienzos de su historia (1953) 467-89; id., “Hercules Gaditanus,” ArchEspArq 36 (1963) 70-153PI; id., “Sobre los athloi hercúleos de la puerta del Herakleion de Cádiz,” Estudios Clásicos 7 (1963) 307-10; J. M. Blázquez, “El Herakleion gaditano, un templo semita en Occidente,” I Congreso Arqueológico del Marruecos Español (1954) 309-18I; A. M. Guadan, “Gades como heredera de Tartessos en sus amonedaciones conmemorativas del Praefectus Clasius,” ArchEspArq 34 (1961) 53-89; M. Jiménez, “Miscelánea epigráfica. Inscripciones funerarias gaditanas inéditas,” Emerita 30 (1962) 294-304I.


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.8
    • Strabo, Geography, 2.3.5
    • Strabo, Geography, 3.5.11
    • Strabo, Geography, 3.5.3
    • Strabo, Geography, 3.5.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.22
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 36.2
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