Comprises old city on island and newer section on mainland. In the 8th century BCE, Greek settlers from Sparta and Laconia conquered the Messapian village of Taras on the Taras river and founded a new Taras on the peninsula (cut in 1480 by a canal) between the Mare Piccolo and the Mare Grande. Taras soon became one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia (Greek colonies in southern Italy), and its inhabitants founded several other coastal cities; fell to Romans 272 BCE; ruled by Goths, Lombards & Arabs 6th-10th cen.; part of Kingdom of Naples 16th-17th cen.; site of many Greek tombs & ruins.