The People of Gibraltar

BC - The Uninhabited Rock - History began in 1704

Those advertising people at the Prudential Insurance are not exactly the best resource for anybody researching the history of Gibraltar in the 10th and other centuries BC. But then neither are most of those early Greek and Roman writers on whom we depend on for most of our information about the Rock of Gibraltar in those misty far off days. 

Thomas James (see LINK) writing in 1771 in his aptly named History of the Herculean Strait, was of the opinion that it was impossible to vouch for "the truth of any fact" concerning Gibraltar because all those ancient writers were hardly ever in agreement. 

In the final analysis very little is known about the ancient history of the Rock. My impression is that for many a century it was persistently thought of as a thoroughly inhospitable place  yet was nevertheless the source of numerous stories and myths.

An added inconvenience is an emotional one. Gibraltarians are very attached to the name of their homeland - Gibraltar. It inevitably makes the casual outsider come to the conclusion that that this is what it has been called from time immemorial. A simple mention of the Bay of Gibraltar as la Bahía de Algeciras is the equivalent of waving the proverbial red rag in front of a bull. 

The above highlights yet another problem - a political one. A large number of Gibraltarians think that the real history of Gibraltar began in 1704.  All those years under Moorish and  Spanish rule are just not worth the effort. Gibraltar and its Gibraltarians are British. The Moors and the Spaniards are not and have nothing to do with them. To delve any further back into a Roman, Carthaginian and Phoenician past is simply beyond the pale.

Unfortunately this essay does just that. It is an attempt to show that Gibraltar was not always Gibraltar, that neither its Bay nor its Strait were always known as that of Gibraltar and that its most famous myth might actually not be as tied to the Rock as has usually been thought to be the case.

Finally, because of the length of the various arguments and quotes I have divided the essay into four different sections. Clicking on any of the headings will take the reader to the appropriate link.

The Names of the Rock of Gibraltar
The Names of the Strait of Gibraltar
The Names of the Bay of Gibraltar
The Pillars of Hercules