History - Phoenicians to Carthaginians

Phoenicians to Carthaginians, history oof Andalucia

Phoenicians - 1,150 to 600 bc

During the 11th century BC, the first contacts between the Phoenicians and Iberia were made. This lead to the emergence of towns and cities on the southern coast.   including Gadir (Cadiz) near Tartessos in 1104 BC. You can see many artefacts dating from this period at the Archaeology Museums of Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva.  About 850 BC Phoenicians, from the city-state of Tyre founded the colony of Malaka (Málaga) at Cerro de Villar and Carthage (Tunisia).

The Phoenicians had great influence on Iberia with the introduction of Iron and the production of olive oil and wine.  Other cities founded were Sexs (Almuñecar), Abdera (Adra), Baria (Villaricos)  and Carthago Nova (Cartegena). There is also evidence of the Phoenicians mining at Rio Tinto 

However the 700 BC saw the rise of the colonial might of Carthage, which replaced the Phoenicians. Phoenicia becomes part of the Persian Empir. 

Greeks - 750 to 500 BC

The Greek colony at what now is Marseilles also began trading with the Iberians on the eastern coast around the 8th century BC. The Greeks finally founded their own colony at Ampurias (Girona). There are no Greek colonies west of the Strait of Gibraltar, only voyages of discovery.



Tartessian - 720 to 520 BC

Legendary kingdom of Tartessus, in Guadalquivir basin has never been found, however there is plenty of evidence of the distinct Tartessian culture, beginning about  720 BC. It was actually the earlier local culture modified by the influence of eastern Mediterranean elements, especially the Phoenician. Its influence was initially the lowlands of modern Huelva and Sevilla provinces, but later extended to Eastern Andalucia, Extremadura, Murcia and Valencia.

The physical elements of the Tartessian culture were distinctly different from their predecessors. One notable elements is the introduction of the potter's wheel by the Phoenicians, which results in a major improvement in the quality of the pottery.

Other major advances are seen in craftsmanship in jewelry, weaving and hut construction as the traditional circular huts were then gradually replaced by well finished rectangular buildings which lead to the construction of tower-like burial monuments. Agriculture also experienced major advances with the introduction of steel tools, the steel yoke and animal traction for the plough.

Tartessus or Tartessos was a semi-mythical harbour city at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. It appears in sources from Greece starting during the first millennium BC. Roman authors tend to echo the earlier Greek sources however there are indications that Tartessos had fallen out of use and the city may have been lost to flooding or to Carthaginian advance. Its locatioin has never been found. 

Cancho Roano is the best preserved Tartessian site dates back to at least the sixth century BC. It is located in Zalamea de la Serena, in the province of Badajoz, in Extramadura region north of Huelva. There are no visitable sites in Andalucia. You can see the Egyptian-influenced Tesoro de Carambolo, intricately-detailed gold jewellery found near Seville dating from 600 BC, in the Sevilla Archaeology Museum.




Celtic tribes move down to northern Spain from northern Europe about 800 BC, merging with the Iberian culture. After the fall of Tartesus in 520 BC three different tribes expand south.

The Celtici expand into southern Extremadura, Alentejo (Portugal) and northern Algarve.

The Turduli became established in northern Huelva and around the Guadiana river.

The Turdetani, probably descendants of the Tartessians, although celticised, became established in the area of the Guadalquivir river.

Carthaginians 575 TO 206 BC

Carthaginians (from Tunisia) having been victorius over the Phoenicians reach southern Spain, monopolizing western Mediterranean trading routes. The Carthaginian Empire establishes a base in Spain. 

During the 4th century BC, Rome began to rise as a Mediterranean power rival to the north African based Carthage. After suffering defeat to the Romans in the First Punic War (264-241 BC), the Carthaginians began to extend their power into the interior of Iberia from their south eastern coastal settlements but this empire was to be short lived. In the Second Punic War (218-202 BC), the Carthaginian general Hannibal marched his armies, which included Iberians, from Iberia, across the Pyrenees and the Alps and attacked the Romans in Italy. Despite many victories, he was finally defeated and the Romans took revenge by destroying Carthage. Starting in the north-east, Rome began its conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. The Carthaginian presence in Iberia lasted from 575 BC to 206 BC when the Carthaginians were defeated by the Roman Republic at the Battle of Ilipa in the Second Punic War.  The Battle of Ilipa was considered by many as Scipio Africanus's most brilliant victory in his military career. It is believed to have taken place on a plain east of Alcalá del Rio, Sevilla, near the village of Esquivel.

Next: Romans in Andalucia

Pre Roman Archaelogical Sites in Andalucia

Where to see Pre-Roman artefacts

Several museums in Andalucia also have spaces dedicated to artefacts drawn from many of the sites above, or simply found in various locations over the years. Most towns have a municipal museum with local finds. However the main museums include Huelva Museum, Seville´s Archaeological Museum, Seville´s Antiquarium, Seville´s Palacio de Lebrija, as well as the Antequera Municipal Museum, Malaga Museum and Almeria Museum and Cadiz Museum Jaen Museum Iberian Museum.

Next: Romans in Andalucia