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Tapestry

The Tuatha de Danann


  The 18th century BC saw considerable turmoil in the eastern Mediterranean. Like many in that area, the Tuatha de Danann, were at the mercy of political unrest, less than ideal crop growing conditions, and under constant threat from marauding bands of both sea and land pirates. By nature, they preferred their own company and were suspicious of outsiders. Therefor they needed an easily defended land, away from the fiery cauldron of the Mediterranean. Reports of this thriving and relatively peaceful land at the edge of the World seemed like a gift of the Gods. Not only did it have the geographical conditions that would provide much greater safety, it was also rich in natural resources. Like the Firbolg before them, the Tuatha were accomplished in the arts and sciences of the world including animal husbandry, crop cultivation and perhaps above all, the art of bronze crafting. The Emerald Isle beckoned and in it's beckoning, Ireland was about to make another leap forward.
      Tuan states that the Tuatha de Danann landed on Ireland's eastern shore in the Year of the World (YOW) 2242 or 1776 BC. Though the Tuatha landed a considerable force, the opposing Firbolg were able to muster a larger force in opposition. Yet the invaders held some distinct advantages. Veterans of strife and warfare among the leading powers of the day, they possessed the latest developments in modern warfare. Their blades, though bronze, somehow seemed superior in strength and durability. Tactically they had the advantage of experience in war maneuvers. Perhaps the greatest advantage was the new weapons they brought ashore. While the Firbolg still used the heavy blunt wooden thrusting spears, they were no match for those carried by the people of the Goddess Danu. These spears were lighter and could be thrown considerable distance. Even more forbidding was the fact that these lighter longer-reaching spears were metal-tipped! These weapons could easily pierce through the body of a man and sometimes even the tough hide-covered shields of the Firbolg.
      Realizing that they were sadly outclassed as a fighting force, the Firbolg refused to give up. In negotiations with the newcomers, they stalled for time. For 105 days, the Firbolg coolly and skillfully held out against the fretting Tuatha de Danann. They appealed to the sense of fair play held by the invaders. They pointed out the disparity in equipment and petitioned for time to bring their equipment up to standards. Under common rules of war-fare, the Tuatha naturally agreed. But, the Tuatha demanded the reduction of the Firbolg force to numbers equal their own. Under the same common rules of battle, the Firbolg reluctantly agreed.
      At last the fated battle could no longer be delayed. According to legend, once begun, the battle lasted for four days. Then realizing they were beaten, but unwilling to admit it, the Firbolg petitioned for one last battle of equal numbers. The bravery and honor exhibited by the Firbolg greatly impressed the Tuatha de Danann. Further they themselves were near exhaustion. The ensuing negotiations resulted in a truce which gave the Tuatha dominion of the land, with the exception of the Province of Connaught which would remain Firbolg.
      Once again, an emigrating people made their mark. Obviously entrepreneurs and artisans, the arrival of the Tuatha de Danann heralded the expansion of international trade contacts. During the centuries after their arrival, the quality and volume of production in both gold and bronze, increased markedly. Phoenician trading colonies became established. When Mediterranean unrest adversely affected trade, old contacts were strengthened with Germany and Denmark, and trading expanded into other areas of Europe. In fact, style and form of some Irish produced urns of this period hint at possible contact with China.
      As export of copper and gold products increased, trade for foreign goods such as tin, wine and other products were imported. The Irish became a major trading partner to such diverse cultures as, not only the Danes and Germans, but also the Greek, Egyptian and Phoenician. With the demand for bronze in Europe and the Mediterranean, Ireland traded Gold for tin and other products. No longer just an island at the end of the world, Eire was becoming an major participant in world trade. And, if researchers such as Barry Fell are correct, Celtic trading colonies, which if not Irish1, reached to the shores of New England about 1200 BC, not far from considerable deposits of Copper ore (the major element in bronze) which were mined and subsequently disappeared from the continent.
 

 
Irish Mythology / Irish Archaeology / Chronology of the Myth
The Mesolithic / The Neolithic / The Parthelonians
The Nemedians / The Firbolg / The Tuatha de Danann / The Milesians
Bibliography

 
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