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King of Tartessos
Reign625 BC – 545 BC
Born670 BC
Tartessos, Hispania
Died550 BC (aged 120)
Tartessos, Hispania

Arganthonios (Greek: Αργανθώνιος) was a king of ancient Tartessos (in Andalusia, southern Spain).

This name, or title, appears[1] to be based on the Celtic word for 'silver' (secondarily 'money'),[note 1] reconstructed[2] as Proto-Celtic *arganto-.[note 2] Tartessia was rich in silver, like all of Iberia. Similar names (e.g. Argantoni) appear in inscriptions of the Roman period in or near former Tartessian territory. A name or title Argantoda(nos) is found on silver coinage in Northern Gaul and may have had a meaning akin to "treasurer".[3] Some have identified Arganthonios with the "Tharsis Mask" at the Archeological Museum of Seville.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, King Arganthonios ruled Tartessia for 80 years (from about 625 BC to 545 BC) and lived to be 120 years old.[4] This idea of great age and length of reign may result from a succession of kings using the same name or title. Herodotus says that Arganthonios warmly welcomed the first Greeks to reach Iberia, a ship carrying Phocaeans, and urged them fruitlessly to settle in Iberia. Hearing that the Medes were becoming a dominant force in the neighbourhood of the Phocaeans, he gave the latter money to build a defensive wall about their town.[5] Herodotus comments that "he must have given with a bountiful hand, for the town is many furlongs in circuit".[4]


  1. ^ Attested reflexes in Celtic include: Celtiberian arkanta (also compare arkanto-beđom 'silver mine (?)'), Gaulish arganto- (in compounds), Old Irish argat, Old Welsh argant
  2. ^ Proto-Celtic *argantom is cognate with Latin argentum, Sanskrit rajatám, and others, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂r̥ǵn̥tóm 'silver', which is derived from a nominal root *h₂erǵ- 'white, brilliant; swift'; also compare Ancient Greek ἄργυρον (arguron) 'silver'.


  1. ^ Melrose, Robin (2016). Religion in Britain from the Megaliths to Arthur: An Archaeological and Mythological Exploration. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4766-6360-9.
  2. ^ Zair, Nicholas (2012). The Reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European Laryngeals in Celtic. Leiden: Brill. p. 35. ISBN 978-90-04-22539-8.
  3. ^ Fichtl, Stephan (2004). "Les peuples gaulois, IIIe-Ier siecles av. J.-C" (in French). 28. Errance: 179. ISBN 2-87772-290-2.
  4. ^ a b Herodotus. The Histories. 1.163.
  5. ^ Aubet, Maria Eugenia (2007). White Crawford, Sidnie; Ben-Tor, Ammon; Dessel, J. P.; Dever, William G.; Mazar, Amihai; Aviram, Joseph (eds.). "Up to the Gates of Ekron": Essays on the Archaeology and History of the Eastern Mediterranean in honor of Seymour Gitin. Jerusalem: W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and the Israel Exploration Society. p. 449.

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