Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Update on Tartessos

Historical Forerunner to Tartessos:

1.Horizon of Ferradeira (c. 1900-1500 BCE): still mostly Chalcolithic but already with individual burials. Influenced by the culture of Vila Nova de São Pedro.
2.Horizon of Atalaia (c. 1500-1100 BCE): that introduces the grabsystem tombs, being contemporary of El Argar B but continuing after its end. It is in this phase when the culture extends to Extremadura and Western Andalusia. 3.Horizon of Santa Vitoria (c. 1100-700 BCE): that reaches the early Iron Age.

[From Wikipedia]

This would be the purplish patch on the map and at an early urban and metalworking level by 2500 BC. It starts out as at an equivalent age to Vila Nova de Sao Pedro and El Argar, sharinring some cultural traits and trading with both areas. Several cultural traits come from these areas and diffuse into Megalithic Europe, Mykenian and Aegean cultures and elsewhere into the mid-east, but the cultural influences are older in Iberia and if diffusion is involved, it must be going from Iberia to the other regions (Wikipedia says this but makes an exception for tholos-tombs, saying such structures are older in Cyprus. There is an extensive debate on this and the consensus of opinion is that the tholos tombs as tombs are separate from the older "Beehive" structures in Cyprus because the latter are not tombs but freestanding buildings.)

Atlantic Bronze Age, Trade Network including Tartessos area from 1500 to 700 BC, phases 2 and 3 of the chart above. Influences also penetrated into Mauretania and the Canary Islands, and Eastward to the Aegean and to Palestine. There is some evidence (not universally accepted) that the Iberians at this time had circumnavigated Africa prior to the time the Phoenicians attempted it from the other way around, that "Ships of Tarshish" were wont to stop in the Red Sea and also continue on to trade for exotic imports from India ("Gold and Ivory, Apes and Peacocks" brought to the court of Solomon.)

It should be noted that Phoenicians only became a prominent sea power at the end of this period and had little or no presence in the Western Mediterranean before 800 BC. Indeed, the positive evidence for their putting in an appearance at Tartessos (adding a Necropolis there) came LATER than the date of their supposed circumnavigation of Africa from East to West, which in turn came LATER than the Tartessians had gone around the other way and began putting in an appearance in the Red Sea ports. And, as a matter of fact, after the introduction of Megalithic culture into Southern India together with inscriptions of what are thought to be Iberian scripts on them! (Beginning ca. 1000 BC)
The standard period of Tartessian history as it was recorded in the Classical (Greek and Roman) period is in the regular Iron Age and after the Tartessian states had suffered a decline in power, after 750 BC. Possibly this came after another set of geological duisturbances and flooding. At any rate, here is the standard Wikipedia entry on Tartessos:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tartessos cultural area.Tartessos (Greek: Ταρτησσός) or Tartessus was a harbor city and surrounding culture on the south coast of the Iberian peninsula (in modern Andalusia, Spain), at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. It appears in sources from Greece and the Near East starting in the middle of the first millennium BC, for example Herodotus, who describes it as beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar).[1] Roman authors tend to echo the earlier Greek sources, but from around the end of the millennium there are indications that the name Tartessos had fallen out of use, and the city may have been lost to flooding, though several authors attempt to identify it with cities of other names in the area.[2] Archaeological discoveries in the region have built up a picture of a more widespread culture, identified as Tartessian.

The Tartessians were rich in metal. In the 4th century BC the historian Ephorus describes "a very prosperous market called Tartessos, with much tin carried by river, as well as gold and copper from Celtic lands".[3] Trade in tin was very lucrative in the Bronze Age, since it is an essential component of true bronze, and comparatively rare. Herodotus refers to a king of Tartessos, Arganthonios, presumably named for his wealth in silver.

The people from Tartessos became important trading partners of the Phoenicians, whose presence in Iberia dates from the 8th century BC, and who nearby built a harbor of their own, Gades (present-day Cádiz).

LocationSeveral early sources, for example Aristotle, refer to Tartessos as a river. Aristotle claims that it rises from the Pyrene Mountain (which we can identify as the Pyrenees) and flows out to sea outside the Pillars of Hercules, the modern Strait of Gibraltar.[4]

Pausanias, writing in the 2nd century AD, helpfully identified the river and gave details of the location of the city:

They say that Tartessus is a river in the land of the Iberians, running down into the sea by two mouths, and that between these two mouths lies a city of the same name. The river, which is the largest in Iberia, and tidal, those of a later day called Baetis, and there are some who think that Tartessus was the ancient name of Carpia, a city of the Iberians. [5]

The river known in his day as the Baetis is now the Guadalquivir. Thus the site of the city of Tartessos may be lost—buried, Schulten thought, under the shifting wetlands replacing former estuaries behind dunes at the modern single mouth of the Guadalquivir, where the river delta has gradually been blocked by a sandbar stretching from the mouth of the Rio Tinto, near Palos de la Frontera, to the riverbank opposite Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The area is now protected as the Parque Nacional de Doñana.[6]

In the 1st century AD Strabo and Pliny incorrectly identified the city of Carteia as the Tartessos mentioned in Greek sources.[7] Carteia is identified as El Rocadillo, near S. Roque, Province of Cádiz, some distance away from the Guadalquivir.[8] In the 2nd century AD Appian thought that Karpessos (Carpia) was previously known as Tartessos.[9]

Archaeological discoveries

See also: South-Western Iberian Bronze

The discoveries published by Schulten in 1922[10] first drew attention to Tartessos and shifted its study from classical philologists and antiquarians, to investigations based on archaeology,[11] though attempts at localizing a capital for what was conceived as a complicated culture in the nature of a centrally-controlled kingdom ancestral to Spain were inconclusively debated. Subsequent discoveries were widely reported: in September 1923 archaeologists discovered a Phoenician necropolis in which human remains were unearthed and stones found with illegible characters. It may have been colonized by the Phoenicians for trade because of its richness in metals.[12]

A later generation turned instead to identifying and localizing "orientalizing" features of the Tartessian material culture within the broader Mediterranean horizon of an "Orientalizing period" recognizable in the Aegean and Etruria.

J.M. Luzón was the first to identify Tartessos with modern Huelva,[13] based on discoveries made in the preceding decades. Since the discovery in September 1958 of a rich gold treasure at El Carambolo, three km west of Seville[14] and at La Joya, Huelva,[15] archaeological surveys have been integrated with philological and literary surveys and the broader picture of the Iron Age in the Mediterranean basin to provide a more informed view of Tartessic culture on the ground, concentrated in western Andalusia, Extremadura and in southern Portugal from the Algarve to the Vinalopó River in Alicante.[16]

Alluvial tin was panned in Tartessian streams from an early date. The spread of a silver standard in Assyria increased its attractiveness (the tribute from Phoenician cities was assessed in silver). The invention of coinage in the 7th century BC spurred the search for bronze and silver as well. Henceforth trade connections, formerly largely in elite goods, assumed an increasingly broad economic role. By the Late Bronze Age, silver extraction in Huelva Province reached industrial proportions. Pre-Roman silver slag is found in the Tartessian cities of Huelva Province. Cypriot and Phoenician metalworkers produced 15 million tons of pyrometallurgical residues at the vast dumps of Riotinto. Mining and smelting preceded the arrival, from the 8th century BC onwards, of Phoenicians[17] and then Greeks, who provided a stimulating wider market and whose influence sparked an Orientalizing phase in Tartessian material culture (ca.750-550 BC) before Tartessian culture was superseded by the Classic Iberian culture.

"Tartessic" artifacts linked with the Tartessos culture have been found, and many archaeologists now associate the "lost" city with Huelva. In excavations on spatially restricted sites in the center of modern Huelva, sherds of elite painted Greek ceramics of the first half of the 6th century BC have been recovered. Huelva contains the largest accumulation of imported elite goods and must have been an important Tartessian center. Medellín, on the Guadiana River, revealed an important necropolis.

Elements specific to Tartessian culture are the [Aegian-like]Late Bronze Age fully-evolved pattern-burnished wares and geometrically banded and patterns "Carambolo" wares, from the 9th to the 6th centuries BC; an "Early Orientalizing" phase with the first Eastern imports, beginning about 750 BC; a "Late Orientalizing" phase with the finest bronze casting and goldsmiths' work; gray ware turned on the fast potter's wheel, local imitations of imported Phoenician red-slip wares.

Characteristic Tartessian bronzes include pear-shaped jugs, often associated in burials with shallow dish-shaped braziers with loop handles, incense-burners with floral motifs, fibulas, both elbowed and double-spring types, and belt buckles.

No precolonial necropolis sites are identified [Since the precolonial sites are Megalithic, this might seem to be an absurdly obvious statement]. The change from a late Bronze Age pattern of circular or oval huts scattered on a village site to rectangular houses with dry stone foundations and plastered wattle walls took place during the 7th and 6th centuries BC, in settlements with planned layouts that succeeded one another on the same site. At Cástulo (Jaén), a mosaic of river pebbles from the end of the 6th century BC is the earliest mosaic in Western Europe. Most sites were inexplicably abandoned in the 5th century BC. [Fortified "Castros" and walls with watchtowers are very early in Iberia and theBronze age Tartessos might well be imagined to be a larger and more developed sort of a "Castro" settlement-DD]

Tartessic occupation sites of the Late Bronze Age that were not particularly complex, in which a domestic mode of production seems to have predominated" is one mainstream assessment.[18] An earlier generation of archaeologists and historians took a normative approach to the primitive Tartessians' adoption of Punic styles and techniques, as of a less-developed culture adopting better, more highly evolved cultural traits, and finding Eastern parallels for Early Iron Age material culture in the Tartessian sites. A younger generation have been more concerned with the process through which local institutions evolved.[19] [Earlier generations of Archaeologists have tended to be Classical-culture chauvenists and not very appreciative of Megalithic cultural traits including abstract art styles-DD]

The emergence of new archaeological finds in the city of Huelva is prompting the revision of these traditional views. Just in two adjacent lots adding up to 2,150 sq. m. between Las Monjas Square and Mendez Nuñez Street, some 90,000 ceramic fragments of both indigenous and Phoenician and Greek imported wares were exhumed, out of which 8,009 allowed scope for a type identification. This pottery, dated from the 10th to the early 8th centuries precedes finds from other Phoenician colonies; together with remnants of numerous activities, the Huelva discoveries reveal a great industrial and commercial emporion on this site lasting several centuries. Similar finds in other parts of the city make it possible to estimate the protohistoric habitat of Huelva in some 20 hectares, which constitutes a considerable extension for a site in the Iberian Peninsula in that period.[20]

Calibrated carbon 14 dating carried out by Groningen University on associated cattle bones as well as dating based on ceramic samples permit an itinerary of several centuries through the state of the art of craft and industry since the 10th century BC, as follows: pottery (bowls, plates, craters, vases, amphorae, etc.), melting pots, casting nozzles, weights, finely worked pieces of wood, ship parts, bovid skulls, pendants, fibulae, anklebones, agate, ivory –with the only workshop of the period so far proven in the west-, gold, silver, etc…

The existence of foreign produce and materials together with local ones permits to recognize the old Huelva harbor as a major hub for the reception, manufacturing and shipping of diverse products of different and distant origin. The analysis of written sources and the products exhumed, including inscriptions and thousand of Greek ceramics, some of which are works of excellent quality by known potters and painters, tends to identify this habitat not only with Tarshish mentioned in the Bible, in the Assyrian stele of Esharhaddon and perhaps in the Phoenician inscription of the Nora Stone, but also with the Tartessos of Greek sources –interpreting the Tartessus river as equivalent to the present-day Tinto river and the Ligustine Lake to the joint estuary of the Odiel and Tinto rivers flowing west and east of the Huelva Peninsula.

Further articles published in several specialized magazines are spreading the news of the spectacular finds which continue to be unearthed in the city of Huelva to this day.

Tartessian language

Main article: Tartessian language

The Tartessian language is an extinct pre-Roman language once spoken in southern Iberia and has recently been classified as a Celtic language. The oldest known indigenous texts of Iberia, dated from the 7th to 6th centuries BC, are written in Tartessian. The inscriptions are written in a semi-syllabic writing system and were found in the general area in which Tartessos was located and in surrounding areas of influence. Tartessian language texts were found in Southwestern Spain and Southern Portugal (namely in the Conii areas of the Algarve and southern Alentejo. This variety is often referred as Southwest script). According to John T. Koch and others, Tartessian may have been the earliest written Celtic language.[21][22] ["Classical" Tartessian is thus a subsection of Celtiberian, and in the preceeding age the language would probably have been more like Basque, according to the opinions of several authors. Basque also has a large proportion of words which are close to their Celtic counterparts-DD]


Schulten gave currency to a view of Tartessos that made it the Western, and wholly European source of the legend of Atlantis.[23] A more serious review, by W.A. Oldfather, appeared in The American Journal of Philology.[24] Both Atlantis and Tartessos were believed to be advanced societies which collapsed when their cities were lost beneath the waves; supposed further similarities with the legendary society make a connection seem feasible, though virtually nothing is known of Tartessos, not even its precise site. Other Tartessian enthusiasts imagine it as a contemporary of Atlantis, with which it might have traded.

Recently, the professor of religion Richard Freund identified Tartessos as Atlantis, identifying the remains of a circular island and circular rivers flowing around it,[25] although Spanish archaeologists involved in that investigation from the beginning deny that the site was the location of Atlantis.[26]

The enigmatic Lady of Elx, an ancient bust, of a high artistic quality, of a woman found in southeastern Spain, has been tied with Atlantis and Tartessos, though the statue displays clear signs of being manufactured by later Iberian cultures.

"Tarshish"Since the classicists of the early 20th century, biblical archeologists often identify the place-name Tarshish in the Hebrew Bible with Tartessos, though others connect it to Tarsus in Anatolia or other places as far as India. (See entry for Jonah in the Jewish Encyclopedia.) Tarshish, like Tartessos, is associated with extensive mineral wealth (Iberian Pyrite Belt).

Golden Helmet of Early "Tartessian" style, Late Bronze Age.

[The names Tartessos and Tarshish are neither Greek (Indo-European0 nor Hebrew (Semetic) in origin but have the characteriatic form of place-names thought to be in the older "Mediterranean" family. Since this "Mediterranean" is also identified as "Pelasgian" in Greece, it could conceivably be an even older type of Indo-European-DD]

See also

Atlantic Bronze Age
South-Western Iberian Bronze
Prehistoric Iberia
Spanish mythology
Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula
Cancho Roano

1.^ Herodotus, The History, i. 163 ; iv.152.
2.^ Phillip M. Freeman, Ancient references to Tartessos, chapter 10 in Barry Cunliffe and John T. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West (2010)
3.^ Phillip M. Freeman, Ancient references to Tartessos, chapter 10 in Barry Cunliffe and John T. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West (2010)
4.^ Phillip M. Freeman, Ancient references to Tartessos, chapter 10 in Barry Cunliffe and John T. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West: Alternative Perspectives From Archaeology, Genetics, Language And Literature (2010)
5.^ Pausanias Description of Greece 6.XIX.3.
6.^ Thirty kilometers inland there still is a mining town by the name of Tarsis.
7.^ Strabo, Geography, iii.2.13; Pliny, Natural History, iv.120.
8.^ Richard J. A. Talbert (ed.), Map-by-Map Directory to Accompany the Barrington Atlas of The Greek and Roman World (2000), p. 419.
9.^ Phillip M. Freeman, Ancient references to Tartessos, chapter 10 in Barry Cunliffe and John T. Koch (eds.), Celtic from the West (2010)
10.^ Schulten, Tartessos (Hamburg, 1922; Spanish tr. Madrid, 1924, 2nd ed. 1945).
11.^ The historiography of Tartessos is surveyed by Carlos G. Wagner, "Tartessos en la historiografía: un revisión crítica".
12.^ "Dig Up Phoenician City", New York Times, September 26, 1923, pg. 3.
13.^ Luzón, "Tartessos y la ría de Huelva", Zephyrus 13, 1962:97-104.
14.^ J.M. Carriazo, El tesoro y las primeras excavaciones en 'El Carambolo' (Camas, Sevilla) (Excavaciones Arqueológicas en España), 1970.
15.^ J.P. Garrido, Excavaciones en la necrópolis de La Joya, (E.A.E.), 1970.
16.^ The results of Tartessian archaeology as of 1987 were summarized by Javier G. Chamorro, "Survey of Archaeological Research on Tartessos" American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 91, no.2 (April 1987), pp. 197-232.
17.^ Phoenician coastal settlements and necropoli are typically located at the mouth of rivers, on the first hill behind the delta, at Cadiz, Málaga, Granada and Almeria.
18.^ Wagner, in Alvar and Blásquez 1991:104)
19.^ Essays from both points of view are found in Alvar and Blázquez, according to the review by Antonio Gilman in American Journal of Archaeology 98.2 (April 1994), pp. 369-370.
20.^ Detailed description and analysis of the objects found and sources mentioned above are surveyed in Fernando González de Canales Cerisola , Del Occidente Mítico Griego a Tarsis-Tarteso –Fuentes escritas y documentación arqueológica (2004) and F. González de Canales, L. Serrano and J. Llompart, El Emporio Fenicio-Precolonial de Huelva, ca. 900-770 a.C. (2004).
21.^ Koch, John (2009). Tartessian: Celtic from the Southwest at the Dawn of History in Acta Palaeohispanica X Palaeohispanica 9 (2009). Palaeohispanica. pp. 339–351. ISSN 1578-5386. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
22.^ Koch, John T (2010). Celtic from the West Chapter 9: Paradigm Shift? Interpreting Tartessian as Celtic. Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK. pp. 185-301. ISBN 978-1-84217-410-4.
23.^ A. Schulten, Ein Beitrage zur ältestens Geschichte des Westens (Hamburg 1922). Its amused reviewer for The Journal of Hellenic Studies (43.2 [1923], p. 206) agreed that "we are quite willing to add it to the long list of possible origins for the Atlantis legend" and that "our hearts burn within us to think of the Tartessian literature six thousand years old".
24.^ The American Journal of Philology 44.4 (1923), pp. 368-371.
26.^ La Atlántida NO está en el Parque de Doñana (In spanish)
[edit] Further readingJ. M. A. Blazquez, Tartessos y Los Origenes de la Colonizacion Fenicia en Occidente (University of Salamanca) 1968. Assembles of Punic materials found in Spain.
Jaime Alvar and José María Blázquez, Los enigmas de Tartessos (Madrid:Catedra) 1993. Papers following a 1991 conference.
F. Gonzalez de Canales Cerisola, Del Occidente Mítico Griego a Tarsis-Tarteso –Fuentes escritas y documentación arqueológica-, Biblioteca Nueva, Madrid, 2004.
F. Gonzalez de Canales, J. Llompart and L. Serrano, El Emporio Fenicio-Precolonial de Huelva, ca. 900-770 a.C., Biblioteca Nueva, Madrid, 2004.

External links
Almagro-Gorbea. La literatura tartésica fuentes históricas e iconográficas
Detailed map of the Pre-Roman Peoples of Iberia (around 200 BC)
Spaniards search for legendary Tartessos in a marsh
Jewish Encyclopedia: Tarshish, a distant maritime district famed for its metalwork, considered by the contributors in 1901-1906 to be legendary; Old Testament references.
Tartessos and Argantino information page
(e-Keltoi 6) Teresa Júdice Gamito, The Celts in Portugal

Atlantis connection
original article in Antiquity
report by BBC
report by National Geographic

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