Monday, October 18, 2021

The Ancient People Who Burned Their Culture to the Ground

 From Atlas Obscura:

Tartessos was the first Iberian culture known to have traded across the Mediterranean, as far as present-day Israel, Greece, and Egypt, and its wealth was famous throughout the region. Some researchers, including archaeologist Richard Freund of Christopher Newport University, have even suggested that the port city of Tartessos, the heart of the civilization, may have been the inspiration for the mythical Atlantis. The idea stems from Aristotle’s linking of a river in southern Spain with both Atlantis and Tartessos. Herodotus wrote that Tartessos was a culture beyond the Pillars of Hercules, a term from antiquity commonly understood to mean the rock of Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountains that face it across the strait. Another Greek historian, Ephorus, described Tartessos as prosperous, “with much tin carried by river, as well as gold and copper.” The wealth, advanced technology, and reach of Tartessos are also mentioned in the writings of other sources from the era. “Their sophistication was remarkable,” says Freund.

Why Tartessos vanished remains a mystery. Celestino thinks that one or more major earthquakes, and subsequent tsunamis, may have destroyed most of its coastal settlements and demoralized survivors. Tartessos was a sea culture and, according to Freund, “To find these sites in Extremadura, hundreds of miles inland, means something.” (Read more.)


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