Tartessian is an extinct language that was spoken in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, until about the 5th century BC. This area is made up of the Algarve and southern Alentejo regions of Portugal, and southern Extremadura and western Andalusia in Spain. The name Tartessian comes from Tartessos, a city that once stood at mouth of the Guadalquivir River in Andalusia.

Some linguists, such as John T. Koch, argue that Tartessian was a Celtic language. However, this idea is rejected by other linguists. While Tartessian may have contained some Celtic elements, it is thought that they were borrowed, and that the language was an isolate, or related to the extinct Iberian language, and/or to Basque.

Written Tartessian

Tartessian is known from 95 inscriptions dating from the 7th-5th century BC (Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age) in an alphabet known as the Southwestern Script. It is also called the Tartessian Script, the Southwest Paleohispanic script or the South Lusitanian Script. It is partly alphabetic and partly syllabic, and is thought to have developed from the Phoenician alphabet, with possible influences from the Greek alphabet.

Notable features

Southwestern Script

Southwestern Script

Based on information from Rodríguez Ramos, Jesús (2000): «La lectura de las inscripciones sudlusitano-tartesias»

Sample text

Sample text in the Southwest script
Fonte Velha (Bensafrim, Lagos) [source]


Information about Tartessian and the Southwestern Script
/ https://www.historyireland.com/tartessian-europes-newest-and-oldest-celtic-language/

Language isolates

Adaizan, Ainu, Basque, Burushaski, Candoshi-Shapra, Chitimacha, Eskayan, Hadza, Haida, Karuk, Kawésqar, Keres, Kuot, Kusunda, Kutenai, Natchez, Nihali, Nivkh, Páez, Purepecha, Sandawe, Seri, Sumerian, Tartessian, Ticuna, Tiwi, Tonkawa, Tunica, Urarina, Waorani, Wardaman, Washo, Yaghan, Yuchi/Euchee, Zuni

Other writing systems

Page last modified: 27.01.24


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