The Turdetani were ancient (pre-Roman) people of the Iberian peninsula (the Roman Hispania), living in the valley of the Guadalquivir in what was to become the Roman Province of Hispania Baetica (modern Andalusia, Spain). Strabo considers them to have been the successors to the people of Tartessos and to have spoken a close relative of the Tartessian language.
The Turdetani were in constant contact with their Greek and Carthaginian neighbors. Herodotus describes them as enjoying a civilised rule under a king, Arganthonios, who welcomed Phocaean colonists in the fifth century BC. The Turdetani are said to have possessed a written legal code and to have employed Celtiberian mercenaries to carry on their wars against Rome. Strabo notes that the Turdetani and the Celtici were the most civilized peoples in Iberia, with the implication that their ordered, urbanised culture was most in accord with Greco-Roman models. At the opening of the Second Punic War the Turdetani rose against their Roman governor in 197. When Cato the Elder became consul in 195 BCE, he was given the command of the whole of Hispania. Cato first put down the rebellion in the northeast, then marched south and put down the revolt by the Turdetani, "the least warlike of all the Hispanic tribes" (Livy, History of Rome 34.17). Cato was able to return to Rome in 194, leaving two praetors in charge of the two provinces.
There are some speculation amongst some scholars that connect the Turdetani and the Turduli, the Turdulorum Oppida and the Turduli Veteres (all in modern Portuguese territory), even if all of them seem highly celticized.
In Plautus' comedy "The Captives", a reference to the Turdetani (Act i, Scene ii) seems to show that their district in Hispania Baetica had become proverbially famous for the thrushes and small birds supplied for Roman tables. Turdus is the genus of the thrushes.
- Strabo, Geography III, 2, 12-13
- Livy, Ab Urbe Condita Libri, 34.19
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- Detailed map of the Pre-Roman Peoples of Iberia (around 200 BC)
- Livy, History of Rome book 34, especially 34.17 and following sections
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