The odyssey of the Celtiberians in South America
It all began in Carthage during the Third Punic War. The Romans had arrived at its walls, determined to destroy the city. They laid siege to it for three long years. According to legend, it was so hard that women cut their hair to make ropes and weapons of war; the Carthaginian inhabitants and their Hispanic allies fought day and night to defend their city. The siege lasted from 149 BC until the spring of 146 BC when Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus took the town in a storm.
Even though the Romans had already entered inside the walls, Carthage held out for six days against the siege of the soldiers, who had to trudge from house to house, such as the resistance they faced. The Romans advanced through three streets, killing everyone in their path while the Carthaginians threw tiles and stones from the rooftops. The legionaries climbed onto the rooftops and killed the defenders, bridging the houses with planks. Bodies piled up in the streets, blocking the way of infantry and cavalry cohorts. Clean-up" brigades dragged the dead and wounded with hooks and dumped them in mass graves to clear the way. Horses trampled mutilated limbs and severed heads in their advance. Rivers of blood flowed through the streets of Carthage. Roman troops alternated to avoid indiscipline and madness as they went on killing and maiming.
The city was destroyed, and its treasures were taken to Rome. Of the nearly one million inhabitants, only fifty thousand survived and were sold into slavery. This is what was written in the history books, but it wasn't exactly like that. Some managed to escape and embarked on one of the most extraordinary and unknown epics of humankind.
It was an admiral named Hannon of Hispanic origin who fled with what was left of his Iberian and Celtic mercenary troops. The Romans had entered the city through the port, breaking through part of the walls employing a crack made by one of their battering rams. While occupying and plundering the town, the admiral fled to the military port where five warships were hidden. He took advantage of the night to sail with his remaining soldiers, dodging the Roman ships blockading the Gulf of Carthage. Ten Roman galleys went in pursuit. But the darkness of the night and the desperation of the fugitives saved them.
Their first destination was Eivissa, where they refuelled with water and food and left some seriously wounded soldiers who would not survive the long journey ahead. The natives of the island were saddened by the fall of Carthage. A group of brave Balearic slingers and their wives from Mallorca decided to accompany them on their extraordinary odyssey. Magon planned to cross the Pillars of Hercules and sail westwards to a distant paradise known since the Phoenicians, but kept secret by the Carthaginians.
From the Balearic Islands they sailed along the eastern coast until they reached the Pillars of Hercules, which they crossed at night for fear of the Roman patrols, masters of the Mediterranean. They spent their last days in Europe at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, stockpiling food and water, as the journey would be extended. A group of red-haired, blond-haired Celts joined the fugitives.
Magon had studied old maps and accounts. It was the Phoenicians who had first discovered this distant land of fantastic African-like jungles. They called it the land of iron because of the abundance of this metal. And they kept it a secret because they were wary of the Greeks, who were also venturing into the unknown in search of gold and other metals. The plan was simple: They were to sail south, pass the islands of the Afortunadas (today's Canary Islands), continue south until they spotted other tree-covered islands, the Hesperides (Cape Verde) and then co