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Ancient tribe Iberians - Ancestry and origin


Although the name "Iberia" cannot be proven until the time of the 2nd Punic War (218-201 BC), it is older than Hispania. The name probably goes back to the ancient name of the Ebro (Greek: Iber). "Iberia" originally meant only the area populated by the Iberians, since the 2nd century BC the whole Pyrenean peninsula.

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The Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age and has experienced repeated immigration. Therefore its ethnology offers countless problems. It is necessary to distinguish between the indigenous population and the immigrant peoples who have temporarily come to the country as conquerors, colonists or traders, attracted by its rich metal treasures.

The native Iberians settled mainly along the east and south coast. They still form the main part of the population today.

The indigenous population was divided into tribes, which probably had ethnological, less political significance and gradually disappeared during Roman rule. They consisted of clans. The central political unit, however, was the city or castle, and this fragmentation explains much of the country's history.

Iberian archaeology

On the Pyrenean peninsula, in the 1st millennium B.C. (late Bronze Age and Iron Age), several cultures can be identified, distinguished from one another by their language, among other things.

Cultural traditions with specifically Iberian characteristics can be identified at the earliest since 600/580 BC, i.e. since the beginning of the Iron Age under Western Phoenician, later Greek influence.

The Iberian culture has developed on the basis of local Bronze Age cultures of the 8th and 7th centuries BC. The special custom of cremation burial as well as certain stylistic forms of Iberian pottery suggest an influence of the Urnfield culture in southern France. This influence is based either on the transfer of ideas in connection with trade contacts or on the immigration of smaller groups of bearers of the Urnfield Culture, who perhaps established themselves as social elite in some places. The construction of Iberian settlements and the architecture of the secular buildings are based on local developments.

The carrier of the Iberian culture was a variety of tribes that never saw themselves as a political community. The connecting element was the trade between the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of the Spanish peninsula, which has been documented since the late Bronze Age.

Outlines of one of the greatest common denominators of Iberian culture and a specific profile formation can be seen in the formation of own settlement forms (fortified hamlets) and a representative large sculpture as well as in the field of luxury tableware.

The Iberian culture expired in the early Roman principality; inscriptions and coins break off.


At least four different languages were spoken by the indigenous population of the Iberian Peninsula before Latinisation. Certainly not Indo-Germanic is the language called "Iberian", which is attested in relative uniformity between Andalusia and southern France and in the central Ebro region. The very characteristic personal names are usually combinations like the Phoenician or Gallic first names. The Iberians belong to the ancient Mediterranean peoples. In contrast to the also pre-Roman Celts in northern Spain, the Iberians are not Indo-Germanic.

Between the 5th and 1st centuries BC, Iberian was written in a native font. To date, about 1800 inscriptions are known, most of them from the Roman conquest.

The closer relationship between the Iberians and their language has been a mystery since the 18th century. Grammar and vocabulary are still virtually unknown. There have been repeated and controversial attempts to interpret Iberian inscriptions with the help of Basque.

Settlement area

The Iberian settlement area was divided into three main zones:

- Southwestern Andalusia,

- the Spanish Levant,

- northeastern Spain.

Some Iberian settlements were also founded on the northern side of the Pyrenees in southern France. The density of settlement on the Spanish east coast is greater than that of the villages in the interior.

From the beginning, the Iberian regional cultures have been in contact with other indigenous or imported cultures. Impulses for the culture of the Iberians in Andalusia first came from Tartessos, later the influence of the Phoenicians became apparent. In the northeast of Spain, the culture of the Greek colonies in the western Mediterranean Sea had an effect since the 6th century BC.

In the north-east of the Iberian distribution area, Iberian traditions (settlement spaces and house architecture, bronze sculptures, techniques and styles of ceramics production, religious iconography, burial forms, coinage) have been best preserved.

The Celtiberians

Cultural and linguistic similarities were also formed as a result of contacts between the non-Indo-European Iberians and the Indo-European Celts in northern Spain. Presumably, this was a kind of symbiosis or just a different neighbourhood with a certain cultural influence on each other, not always peaceful interactions.

The Celts invaded over the Pyrenees between 800 and 500 BC and at times overran large parts of the peninsula, settling mainly in the north and centre of the peninsula. Their identity on the Pyrenean peninsula was profoundly influenced by Iberian traditions, so that one speaks of a Celtic-Iberian fusion culture and finally of the ethnic group of the Celtiberians. It is unclear whether and to what extent the Celtiberian tribes actually emerged from a fusion between Celts and Iberians or essentially represent one of the two groups.

The Celtiberians never formed a political unit; it is significant that they did not have their own collective name. They fell into different tribes. These, too, did not form political umbrella organisations, but fell apart into independent families, clans and communities.


The Iberian society was hierarchically structured since the 6th century BC. The aristocratic elite was influenced by Greek urban culture, especially in the northeast, and the first Iberian urban culture was already being developed around 550 BC. The urbanization of the Iberian settlements was a continuous process that lasted until the beginning of the Roman period. The cities were also the centres of Iberian handicrafts and minting of Iberian coins.

The romanization of the Iberians

The Romans moved into Hispania in 218 BC. Until 206 BC they were able to drive out the Carthaginians with the help of Iberian tribes, but they did not succeed in completely subjugating the peninsula until under Augustus, against the bitter resistance of the Iberian, Celtiberian and Cantabrian populations. Hispania was considered a "provincia pacata" (subjugated province) at the earliest around 19 BC. Romanisation began in the following period. The ancient languages, with the exception of Basque, disappeared, so that at the time of Strabon (around 20 BC) the Baetica (southern Spain) was considered one of the most strongly Romanized provinces of the Roman Empire. Caesar and Augustus founded 21 colonies in Spain, 23 indigenous cities became Roman municipalities and there were 45 Latin municipalities, making a total of 89 Romanisation centres.

The Iberians in the east and south of the country and the Celts in the centre gradually got used to Roman ways of life, acculturated and assimilated linguistically to Latin. The process of Romanisation lasted several centuries and was essentially completed by late antiquity. Iberian names were latinized, and Iberians also adopted Roman names. At least the Iberians in the Roman cities gradually became Romanised, Christianised and Roman citizens. In contrast to these assimilated Ibero-Romans (Hispano-Romans), on the less Romanised land some mainly Celtic tribes fought against Roman rule together with the Bagauden and the Suebi as late as the beginning of the 5th century.

The degree of Romanisation changed little from 255 A.D. onwards as a result of later invasions by other peoples. The Visigoths and Suebi, who invaded from the 5th century onwards, formed only a thin warrior class, which was Romanised in the course of the 6th century.

The Romanticism of today's Spaniards is defined as the ethnic fusion of pre-Roman populations with Italic colonists, who became the driving force of Romanisation on the Pyrenean Peninsula during the Roman period (218 BC - 450 AD).

Even today, traces of old Iberian cultural traditions can still be found, for example in the construction of houses in the Spanish Levant.

Genetic indigenous peoples by iGENEA

Jews Vikings Celts Germanic Tribes Basques Aboriginal Australians Arabs Berbers Chinese Dacians Etruscans Iberians Indigenous peoples of the Americas Inka Inuit Italic peoples Japanese people Kurds Ligures Maya Mongols Oceanic tribes Persians Romani people Scythians Slavs Tibetans Phoenicians Indians Koreans Bantus Turkic peoples Sámi people Illyrians Vandals Balts Macedonians Hellenes Huns Thracians Finno-Ugric peoples Indo-Europeans

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