Taranto (ancient Tarentum) is an Italian seaport in the prodnce of Lecce, and is situated between the Gulf of Taranto and an inlet called the Mare Piccolo, being joined by a bridge to the mainland on the E., there being a sheltered harbour to the E. of the town. The town is 72 miles S.E. of Bari, a port on the Adriatic coast. At the entrance of the harbour are the islets S. Pietro and S. Paolo, and Cape San Vito is on the S.E. Among the chief buildings are a cathedral and a castle. The principal industries are oyster and mussel fishing, and honey and fruits are largely produced. The ancient city, which extended far beyond the limits of the present town, was noted for its wool purple, and pottery, and was founded by a colony of Spartans in 708 B.C., soon becoming the chief city of Magna Graecia. Archytas, head of a school of Pythagorean philosophy, dwelt here in 400 B.C. After many quarrels with neighbouring cities Tarentum came into collision with Rome in 281 B.C., and was taken in 272. For siding with Hannibal in 207 B.C. the city was heavily punished, and from that time lost its importance. Subsequently it formed part of the Byzantine Empire - a relic of which consists of an aqueduct from the town to the main1and - passing then successively to the Saracens, Norman adventurers, and to the kingdom of Naples, as part of which it passed to the present kingdom of Italy.