MYSTERIES FROM THE PAST
From Plato on the recorded history is full of references about islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
In the Middle Ages there was a renewed emergence of chronicles about the same topic: islands in the Atlantic Ocean. For instance, the citizen of the Iberian Peninsula closest to the Atlantic Islands who had visited the Islands Produced Atlantic tales, and even the Medieval Andalusian Arabs with the Chronicles of the navigator Khashkhash from Cordoba.
A myriad of names were given to these Islands: Atlantis, Antillia (or Sete Citades, the Island of the Seventh Cities), the Ilha Azuis (Blue Island) and so on.
Well before its official discovery, the Azores Archipelago appears on Portolan Charts of 14th century with the islands names different from the present names.
The source of these maps is a mystery, the only certainty is that the Archipelago was already known during the 14th century and before.
In Christopher Columbus’s logbooks we can find one note about two dead bodies that looked like Amerindians who were found in Flores Island.
We have also local stories telling of a mysterious equestrian statue and coins with Carthaginian writing discovered on Corvo Island, or strange inscriptions found along the Terceira Island coasts.
In 2010 and 2011 there have been discoveries of Hypogea (structures carved into embankments) on Corvo, Santa Maria and Terceira Islands which prove a human presence on the islands before the official Portuguese discovery.
The first two islands officially discovered by Portuguese navigator Diogo de Silves were Santa Maria and San Miguel in 1427.
The first expeditions were devoted to the disembarking of animals on the discovered islands in order to provide future settlers with some means of subsistence.
About the name Azores, by 1492 there is the reference to Insulae Azores (Azores Islands).
Two main theories try to explain the origin of the Archipelago’s name:
1) May have been an homage by the discoverer to Santa Maria of Acores, patron saint of the parish of Azores in the municipality of Celorico da beira, District of Guarda.
2) Maybe a Portuguese variant of some Italian dialect word azzurre or azzore (blue). In fact the Portuguese word azul for blue is similar.
In 1976 Azores became an Autonomous Portuguese Region with a new regional constitution, and the division in districts (from 1836 to 1976) was deleted.