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Tartessian Old Gallaic

Tartessian was a Celtic language used by the Celts of the Celtic civilisation of Tartessos (TRSS in the Nora inscription of 800 BC or earlier, Tarshish in the Old Testament). This civilisation commanded the Straits of Gibraltar (Fretum Tartessium or Pillars of Hercules), the only maritme transit zone between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean (beyond the Pillars of Hercules). Other Celtic languages explain the meaning of the name: Old Irish 'tar' and Welsh 'tra' mean 'beyond' deriving from the Indo European for 'cross over, pass through, overcome'. If you want know more about the Tartessian language please have a look at, like or join our "Tartessian" Facebook page and group.

The classifications of the Tartessian language within the Indo-European family of languages and Celtic subgroup are shown on the right. Eric P. Hamp is the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. His Indo-European classification trees are used widely by other linguists. The LINGUIST List Multitree Digital Library of Language Relationships is the official language classification site referenced by linguists.

Mostly Tartessian was written in a derived version of the West Semitic 'alephat' (our own 'alphabet' is derived from the alephat too) that was in use around 825 BC called the 'abekatu'. This writing has been found on around 100 tombstones, abekatu 'learning' stones and pottery graffiti dating from the 7th to 5th century BC. There are also examples of Tartessian written in Greek as graffiti or mentioned in Classical texts.

On this page we are going to read some Tartessian inscriptions written in the abekatu and see how easily they can be translated into meaningful Celtic as Professor John T Koch has done. We will start with the abekatu which has the following letters representing sounds:

1. Vowels - Phoenician trade with Tartessos was conducted by Cypriot merchants which had many Greek settlers at the time who needed to use vowels for their language, so under their influence:

Abekatu:
Alphabet: Aa  Ee Ii Oo Uu

2. Syllables - the native Cypriots had their own syllabic script representing a consonant followed by a vowel, so under their influence:

Abekatu:

Alphabet:

3. Consonants - as in the original Phoenician alephat which only had consonants (in their language the vowel sounds are regular and understood with respect to the consonant sounds and so were not shown):

Abekatu:

Aphabet:

 

The first 4 words in bottom line of the Tartessian inscription above transliterates in the Tartessian abekatu as LOKOBO...TO ARAIAI. Compare this to the "Callaecian" inscription embedded in Latin and in Latin script LVCVBO ARQVIENOBO and the Celtiberian inscription in Latin script LVBVEI ARAIANOM to see the resemblance. See the inscriptions themselves below:

Tartessian "Callaecian" Celtiberian