The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.


Mishulin, A. V. Antichnaia Ispaniia. Moscow, 1952.
Schulten, A. Tartessos, 2nd ed. Hamburg, 1950.
Tartessos y sus problemas. Barcelona, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
International Resource News-8 June 2010-EMED Tartessus settles terms with Department of Social Security in Spain(C)2010 ENPublishing - http://www.enpublishing.co.uk
EMED Tartessus SL (EMED Tartessus), a subsidiary of EMED Mining Public Limited (EMED Mining) (LSE: EMED), has settled terms with the Department of Social Security in Spain for withdrawing liens against its principal landholdings which underlie the entire mine, minerals title area and plant site of Proyecto Rio Tinto or PRT.
Theyoperate Monday, Wednesday, Fridayand Sunday Aself-catering apartmentat Tartessus, SanctiPetri, costs from pounds 28pp pernightforthree sharing (www.tartessus.com).
(14) Although Tarshish may be used later in Scripture to refer to Tartessus in Spain, I believe with a number of other scholars that in Genesis 10, it refers to an area closer to the Aegean.
The myth is said to have been based on a real king, Geron, of the Tartessus region (the bible's land of Tarshish), near Cadiz.
Venice is the best example, but we should not forget the ancient Sumerian cities, those of the Egypt of the Pharaohs (in the Nile delta), ancient Tartessus (probably), almost all the large cities in the Netherlands, especially Amsterdam, nor the many cities of coastal China, to name but some of them.
It, in turn, recounts a Carthaginian version of the Argonaut expedition ("Elle disait l'ascension des montagnes d'Ersiphonie, le voyage a Tartessus, et la guerre contre Masisabal pour venger la reine des serpents" [30]), and alludes, more specifically, to the story of Perseus and Medusa ("Puis Salammbo, sans s'arreter, raconta comment Melkarth, apres avoir vaincu Masisabal, mit a la proue du navire sa tete coupee" [31]).
Gellius remembers part of the list: fourteen items ranging from "the cranes of Media" to "the lamprey of Tartessus." (13) Most importantly, Gellius describes Varro's Menippean Satires as difficult (13.31.1-13 describes a scholar's unsuccessful attempts to interpret the works) but witty and charming (the works are referred to repeatedly as "lepidissimus liber"), reminding us again of the reputation of Varro's work as both entertaining and intellectually challenging.
It was an age when a Colaeus of Samos could return from Tartessus with immense wealth, though not, of course, to be compared with Sostratus of Aegina (Hdt.