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History Of Ibiza

Ibiza has a very rich and varied history having passed through the hands of a number of conquering forces during its long years. Though there is evidence of stone-age life on the island dating back to an incredible 5000 BC, the first known date for settlers is around 654 BC.

Ibiza has a very rich and varied history having passed through the hands of a number of conquering forces during its long years. Though there is evidence of stone-age life on the island dating back to an incredible 5000 BC,  the first known date for settlers is around 654 BC. This is said to be the year the Phoenicians decided to create a port on the island called Ibossum, in the area which now is called Eivissa Town.

The Phoenicians were merchant shippers hailing from the area now know as the Middle East and it is believed that Ibiza lay on what was once one of their trade routes.  As well as Ibossum, Phoencicans are also known to have created a settlement in Sa Caleta in the San Jose area of Ibiza, which is still in existence today. The Phoenician ruins of Sa Caleta and the Phoenician-Punic cemetery of Puig des Molins are exceptional evidence of  social life in the Phoenician colonies of the western Mediterranean. They are very unique in terms of volume and importance, of material from the Phoenician and Carthaginian tombs.

During the time of the Phoenicians, the Greeks came to Ibiza it was they who first used the Pituisas as a name for Ibiza and Formentera. This name is still used today and is believed to have come from a Phoenician word that roughly translated means pince-covered, a nod?? To the characteristic pine trees which cover the island to this day.

By around 400 BC Ibiza had been established as a major trading post along the Mediterranean routes. Ibiza began establishing its own trading stations with the nearby Balearic island of Mallorca.

One example is the s,mall island of Na Guardis, from which large number of people were taken to be used as mercenaries. These people fought valiantly when the Carthaginians attacked the island. However the invading forces were victorious and Ibiza then came under the control of Carthage, a former Phoenician colony.

The island produced dye, salt, fish sauce and wool. The Carthaginians produced salt in the Las Salinas area which can still be visited today, making the salt prodcuing industry in Ibiza over 2600 years old!

The Carthaginians worshipped the goddess Tanit and a shrine with offerings to her was established in the cave at Es Culleram in Sant Joan and they even used Ibiza for their burial grounds, Puig Des Molins being a notable example of which you can still see today.

The Carthaginians were then attacked by the Romans and the two were involved in the intense Punic wars. The Carthaginians managed to win the first war but suffered heavy losses. However, over a period of time the strength of the Carthaginians rulers declined which eventually opened the gates for the Romans to enter the island. Mago was the last Carthaginian ruler who fled from the island to Minorca and then to Liguria with some men and supplies during the Roman attack.

The Romans negotiated a favorable treaty with the inhabitants of the island which led the invading forces to spare the island from additional damage. As a result the Carthaginian-Punic rulers ruled the region as figureheads under the control of the invading forces. This was a key factor leading to the preservation of some relics of the Carthaginian-Punic civilization. The island became removed from the important trading routes of the time and instead became a quiet Roman outpost.
Evidence of the Roman occupation can still be seen by the gates at the entrance to Dalt Vila (the Old Town), where there are two copies of Roman statues and in Santa Eulalia, where the old Roman bridge crosses the now dried-up river at the entrance to the town. This bridge has recently been restored.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire between the 5th and 9th centuries A.D. there are large gaps in the history of the Pitiusan Islands. This time was known throughout Europe as the dark ages, a time when little or none written records were made. During this time, Ibiza was invaded and conquered by the Vandals, the Barbarians and the Byzantines. Ibiza enjoyed a level of independence under the Byzantine Empire. Improvements to irrigation system and the share-cropping system are due to Byzantine influence.

After the Byzantine rule, the island was conquered by the Arab Moors, along with a great deal of the Iberian peninsula. Many Moorish influences are in evident in Ibiza today and the small hamlet of Balfia, located in Sant Joan contains housing dating back to this period. The Moors also left their mark as they did all over Spain, in the cuisine and they were the first people to cultivate oranges and olives.

The island spent approximately 400 years under Islamic rule before being put back in Christian hands by Aragonese King James I of Aragon in 1235. The Church tore down the Mosques and built Churches and Cathedrals on their grounds, as well as renaming the towns after Christian Saints. Every year a Medieval festival is held in Ibiza where you can experience the y gone times and see how life was all those years ago.

The years of Catalan rule are marked by the appearance of buccaneering pirates who attacked the Island. In order to combat these pirates fortifications to both the churches and the old town were built. In later years the warning system of pirate towers or beacons was set up. The idea was that all the round towers would be built within site of each other and when the alarm was raised a flaming torch would signal the alert to the next tower who would in turn light their torch and signal the next tower and so on. Some of these pirate towers are still in existence today.

Since the Catalan time, the island has had its own self-government in several forms but in 1715 King Philip V of Spain abolished the local government's power.

During the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, Ibiza along with Mallorca sided with the Nationalist Party and was thankfully spared from much bloodshed though it did have an active part in the Battle of Majorca.

The arrival of democracy in the late seventies led to the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands. Today the island is part of the Balearic Autonomous Community, along with Mallorca, Minorca and Formentera

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