Definitions

Iberians

Iberians

[ahy-beer-ee-uhn]
Iberians, ancient people of Spain. Some scholars have argued that they migrated from Africa in the Neolithic period and again at the end of the Bronze Age, while the archaeological evidence has been interpreted to suggest that Iberians had an E Mediterranean origin dating to the 3d millenium B.C. They were first mentioned in the 6th cent. B.C., after they had settled in E Spain and the Ebro valley. The Iberian Peninsula, i.e., Spain and Portugal, is named for them. The high point of Iberian civilization was reached about the 4th cent. B.C., and thereafter their culture came under the influence of Carthaginian colonization. About the 4th cent. B.C. began the Celtic migration into Spain, which led to an increased dissolution of Iberian culture. After the Roman conquest of Spain the Iberians gradually accepted Roman culture. The theory that the Iberians and the Basques were identical has been discredited by modern research.

See A. A. Palau, The Iberians (1963); D. E. Vassberg, Land and Society in Golden Age of Castille (1984).

The Iberians were a set of peoples that Greek and Roman sources (among others, Hecataeus of Miletus, Avienus, Herodot and Strabo) identified with that name in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula at least from the 6th century BC. These included: the Airenosi, Andosini, Ausetani, Bastetani, Bastuli, Bergistani, Castellani, Cessetani, Ceretani, Contestani, Edetani, Elisices, Iacetani, Ilercavones, Ilergetes, Indigetes, Lacetani, Laietani, Oretani, Sedetani, Sordones, Suessetani, and Turdetani (notice that there are some doubts regarding the ethno-linguistic affiliation of some of these). The Roman and Greek sources often diverge about the precise location of each Iberian people and also about the list of Iberian peoples.

The Iberians were not a clearly defined culture, ethnic group or political entity. The name is instead a blanket term for a number of peoples belonging to a pre-Roman, Iron Age culture inhabiting the Iberian peninsula who have been historically identified as "Iberian". Although these peoples shared certain common features, they were by no means homogeneous and they diverged widely in other respects.

History

The Iberians lived in isolated communities based on a tribal organization. They also had a knowledge of metalworking, including bronze, and agricultural techniques. In the centuries preceding Carthaginian and Roman conquest, Iberian settlements grew in social complexity, exhibiting evidence of social stratification and urbanization. This process was probably aided by trading contacts with the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians. Among the most important goods traded by the Iberians were precious metals, particularly tin and copper.

The Phoenicians established their first colony on the Iberian Peninsula in 1100 B.C. (Gadir, Gades, modern Cádiz) and probably made contact with Iberians then or shortly thereafter.

Greek colonists made the first historical reference to the Iberians in the 6th century B.C. The Greeks also dubbed as "Iberians" another people, currently known as Caucasian Iberians. It is not known whether the two had any connection.

Origins

The origin of the Iberians is not certain, but there are two theories concerning such:

Celts crossed the Pyrenees into Spain in two major migrations in the ninth and the seventh centuries B.C. The Celts settled for the most part north of the Rio Duero and the Rio Ebro, where they mixed with the Iberians to form groups called Celtiberians.

External influences

The Iberians traded extensively with other Mediterranean cultures. Iberian pottery has been found in France, Italy, and North Africa. The Iberians also had extensive contact with Greek colonists. The Iberians may have adopted some of the Greeks' artistic techniques. Statues such as the Lady of Baza and the Lady of Elx are thought to have been made by Iberians relatively well acquainted with Greek art. Thucydides stated that one of the three original tribes of Sicily, the Sicani, were of Iberian origin, though "Iberian" at the time could have included what we think of as Gaul.

The Iberians were placed under Carthaginian rule for a short time between the First and Second Punic Wars. They supplied troops to Hannibal's army. The Romans subsequently conquered the Iberian Peninsula and slowly absorbed the local culture and language.

Iberian culture

Iberian language

The Iberian language, like the rest of paleohispanic languages, became extinct by the 1st to 2nd centuries AD, after being gradually replaced by Latin. Iberian seems to be a language isolate. It is certainly not an Indo-European language. Links with other languages have been claimed, but they have not been demonstrated. One such proposed link was with the Basque language, but this theory is also disputed.

Iberian scripts

The Iberians use three different scripts to represent the Iberian language.

Northeastern Iberian script and southeastern Iberian script share a common distinctive typological characteristic, also present in other paleohispanic scripts: they present signs with syllabic value for the occlusives and signs with monofonematic value for the rest of consonants and vowels. From a writing systems point of view they are neither alphabets nor syllabaries, they are mixed scripts that normally are identified as semi-syllabaries. About this common origin, there is no agreement between researchers: for some this origin is only linked to the Phoenician alphabet while for others the Greek alphabet had participated too.

Further reading

Gallery

See also

Modern peoples of Iberia:

Pre-Roman cultures of Iberia:

Archeological sites:

Related to Iberian culture:

References

External links

uk: Ібери

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