Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples in the Iberian Peninsula

Modern humans in the form of Cro-Magnons began arriving in the Iberian Peninsula from north of the Pyrenees some 35,000 years ago. The more conspicuous sign of prehistoric human settlements are the famous paintings in the northern Spanish Altamira (cave), which were done ca. 15,000 BCE.

The earliest urban culture documented is that of the semi-mythical southern city of Tartessos, pre- 1100 BCE. The seafaring Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians founded trading colonies along the Mediterranean coast over a period of several centuries. The Greeks are responsible for the name Iberia, apparently after the river Iber (Ebro). The Carthigians struggled with the Greeks and then the Romans.

The native peoples which the Romans met at the time of their invasion were the Iberians, inhabiting from the southwest part of the peninsula and along the Mediterranean side through to the northeast part of it, with the Celts, mostly inhabiting the north and northwest part of the peninsula. In the inner part of the peninsula, where both groups were in contact, a mixed, distinctive, culture was present, the one known as Celtiberian.

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