View of Cordoba from the Roman bridge. SUR.
Cordoba: a nice Phoenician town, or an oil mill

Cordoba: a nice Phoenician town, or an oil mill

Theories concerning the origins of the place name have been suggested, such as Phoenician and Roman, but there is no consensus on the matter

Tony Bryant


Friday, 11 August 2023


The province of Cordoba is first believed to have been settled by the Oretani, an ancient, pre-Roman civilisation of the Iberian Peninsula (Roman Hispania), who were attracted to the area by its iron, lead and copper mines.

Several hypotheses have been put forward concerning the name, Cordoba, but there is currently no consensus on the matter.

One unconfirmed theory suggested at the end of the 18th century by historian José Antonio Conde, is that the name comes from a Phoenician word, qart túbah, meaning 'nice town'. Other academics have claimed the first appearance of the town in ancient texts refers to the establishment of a Phoenician trading post called Qorteba, meaning 'oil mill'.

The Romans, who were fascinated by the beauty and fertility of the region, conquered it around 2000 BCE, and it became the capital of Hispania Ulterior, one of the two provinces into which the Roman Republic divided Hispania.

According to the Cordoba author, Andrés Ruz Pérez, the Romans called it Corduba, a name that appeared in writing for the first time around 200 BCE, although he declares that everything seems to indicate that "this place name is nothing more than the Latinisation of another previous name", quite possibly a Turdetani town. Pérez claims that the name of this settlement is unknown, although he suggests that it may have been Kartuba.

Pérez also points out that the etymological meaning of the place name has never been certified with any historical evidence.

Cordoba became the leading centre of culture and education during the Muslim rule, when it was known as Qurtubah, which emerged as the capital of the Emirate of Cordoba.

Following the Christian conquest in 1236, the city became part of the Crown of Castile, and was named Cordoba, which, as many have suggested, seems to be a Latinisation of its previous name.

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