(Hebrew and Phoenician, Tarshish; Greek, Tartes-sos), according to classical tradition, an ancient city and state in southern Spain along the lower Baetis River (now the Guadalquivir). Archaeologists have not as yet been able to determine the exact location of the city.
Tartessus was founded by the Tartessians, who, according to the German scholar A. Schulten, were Etruscans from Asia Minor; in the opinion of the Soviet historian A. V. Mishulin they were the ancient Turdetani and Turduli, local Iberian tribes. It is not known when Tartessus was founded, but until 1100 B.C. it was apparently the center of the Tartessian state, a federation of tribes that inhabited what is now Andalusia and Murcia. Literary sources suggest the existence in the state of private property and hereditary rule (the names of some rulers are known). It is also known that metals, particularly silver, were mined in Tartessus, and that the population was engaged in grain cultivation, stock raising, weaving, and the production of pottery and metallic ware and luxury items.
Tartessus was the commercial intermediary between the countries of northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean. At the end of the second and the beginning of the first millennium B.C., Tartessus waged a struggle with the Phoenicians. The Tartessian state was at its zenith from 700 to 500 B.C. Around 500 B.C. it was conquered by Carthage and apparently destroyed.
REFERENCESMishulin, A. V. Antichnaia Ispaniia. Moscow, 1952.
Schulten, A. Tartessos, 2nd ed. Hamburg, 1950.
Tartessos y sus problemas. Barcelona, 1969.