TARTESSOS
 
Tesoro de la Aliseda
Treasure of the Alisedas
Tartessian civilization was the most outstanding unknown in Iberian Peninsular history. It was developped from year 1.200 b.C. to 6th Century b.C. and scholars only know with surety about a monarch: king Argantonio. First written allusions are from Phoenicians and Greeks who named "Tartessos" a city or a river -probably river Betis, nowadays Guadalquivir.
 
Theories about existence of this culture are different and uncertain: maybe a natural evolution of native tribes, maybe an indoeuropean people, maybe a single colonial invasion.
 
To tell the truth, archaeological remains are important enough to set without mistake the location and development of this culture in Peninsule. It was extended from Huelva area until low Guadalquivir, with inner points in Badajoz and Portugal.
 
All these remains have been spoiled or, in many cases, used again by later cultures, specially by Turdetanians: the Iberians who lived by the same area.
 
Muro de Cabezo de San Pedro
Wall of Cabezo de San Pedro

 
1.- Geometric period (1200 to 750 b.C.)
 
There are few architectural remains. Constructions of villages by their first inhabitants, in the age of Bronze, share features common to other cultures: they are made in elevated and strategic points. Its location is marked by the distance to trade centers. Nevertheless, walls were built later, ca. 8th Century b.C. and they are all formed by two worked stone walls stuffed with debris and sand. Some of them are endowed with watchtowers.
 
  • Wall of Cabezo de San Pedro, in Huelva. The wall of Cabezo de San Pedro was built with slate stones, hardly worked. It had the shape of a slope and was supported by a pillar made of stones, built with the tecnique of rope and stain -some of them are perpendicular to the most part- as if they were bricks. It was made ca. 8th Century b.C.
     
  • Wall of Carmona, in Seville.

Constructions in villages were single and got no urban design. Houses usually had a circular plan with stone plinths, walls of mortar, stone, adobe and wooden-and-trash covers.
 
This is also the age of Stellae, burial buldings or boundary stones with information about the land on carved stones. They are rectangular. Engravings usually appear on the top of them and are of varied subjects: shields, swords, carts, wheels, even human figures.
 
Later, this kind of habitation evolutioned to houses of rectangular plan with Phoenician features with an urbanistic design. Building houses remains the same: stone plinths, walls of adobe and wooden-and-trash covers. Also walls changed and counterforts did appear.
2.- Oriental period (750-550 b.C.)
 
Singular buildings were constructed: palaces, temples, trade centers... Ca.7th Century b.C. necropolis did appear.
 
First ones were single burials of ashes with household furnishings marked by a tumulus. Necropolis of "Alcantarilla" and "Cruz del Negro" in Carmona can be pointed out.
 
Later, funeral chambers with a rectangular plan and masonry construction, also covered by a tumulus. Chamber of la "Setecilla" is a good instance.
 
Lastly, divided tombs and walls of ashlar, as "La Joya", in Huelva.
 
Tesoro del Carambolo
Treasure of the Carambolo
Pottery is one of the sources that let us learn more about this age of Tartessos. Deposits offered two ways of technique: polished pottery -bowls and dishes- and painted pottery of jars and tumblers.
 
Tartessians can be identified because of their crafts of pottery and orfebrery, from 750 to 550 b.C., in Iron Age. They evolutioned as they found a new technique based in Phoenician and Greeks ideas. Treasures of the Carambolo and the Aliseda are outstanding.
 
From an architectural point of view, necropolis were a symbol of social level for lower and upper classes. They showed their difference through the kind of household furnishings kept in each necropolis.
 
Tartessian epigraphy is probably the first one in Peninsula. Scholars think it was influenced by Phoenician civilization.
 
Fall of this culture was probably due to a crisis in Phoenician trade. Phoenicans were, since year 550 b.C., their most important customers since they were interested in buying metals. Then Tartessians began to trade with Greeks, but presence and conquests of Carthaginians made navigations through Mediterranean sea difficult and so commerce in it.