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The Massaliote Periplus places the city under Tartessian dominion on an island with a good harbour; its author emphasises that the city was on an island close to the river of the same name, and surrounded by saltwater lagoons.
Geomorphological and paleo-environmental studies have shown that the Phoenician colony of Cerro del Villar, at the mouth of the Guadalhorce, was situated on an ancient island, now a rise in an alluvial flood plain west of Málaga.
On the contrary, the city of Maenaca is farther away from Calpe, and is now in ruins, though it still preserves traces of having been a Grecian city, whereas Malaca is nearer, and Phoenician in its configuration. The layout of ancient Malaka is unknown, but its location on a hill at the foot of Mount Gibralfaro suggests it was a more dense and irregular urban cluster than neighbouring Cerro del Villar, that is, Mainake.
Traces of ancient landings there, as of a port, correspond with the description in the Periplous.
The Periplus, a merchants' guidebook which described the sea routes used by traders from Phoenicia and Tartessos, possibly dating to as early as the 6th century BC, contains the most ancient identification of Malaca as Mainake.
It gives an account of a sea voyage circa 525 BC from Massalia (Marseille) along the western Mediterranean coast.
The name appears to be derived from the Greek: μαίνη (maínē).
Interest in Greek texts and their availability was scarce in the Latin West during the earlier Middle Ages, but as traffic to the East increased so did Western scholarship.
Classical Greek philosophy consisted of various original works ranging from those from Ancient Greece (e.g.
There are several ancient documents that mention its existence and discuss its intensive commercial activity.
Strabo and other ancient historians placed it east of Malaka, but recent archaeological investigations suggest that the site of the 8th century BC Phoenician settlement at Cerro del Villar, less than 5 kilometres (3 miles) west of the original site of Malaka, corresponds to the location of the Greek colony.
It is a market for the nomad tribes from the opposite coast, and it also has great establishments for salting fish.