When you hear about Iberic civilization, it is usually referred to the period of the late Iron Age; In these centuries – VII and I century BC – the people living in the peninsula came in contact with Mediterranean populations by developing different forms of life and indigenous culture. Starting from the V century, the ancient sources speak about populations inhabiting the coasts of the peninsula, from the Rhône to the Strait of Gibraltar. These populations were called “Iberians”, a term that holds a purely geographical and non-ethnic determination. The inland populations were Celtic, but the ancients did not care to find a name for them.
The term “Iberians” is perhaps related to the river Ebro (lat. Iberus), others think it is a compound of Ili, prefix of several toponyms, and Berru, which in Basque means new.
The terms “Iberia” and “Iberians” continued to be in use until the Roman epoch, when the peninsula was called Hispania (or Provincia Hispanica), a word that probably dates back to the Phoenician expression “Land of rabbits”. The only traits that are common among the various Iberians tribes, which distinguish them from the Celts, are the classical origin of art, language and alphabet (then adopted by the Celts themselves).
The Iberians were extended from the Pyrenees through the Spanish Levant and Andalusia. Cerretani, Andosini and Arenosi placed themselves in Catalonia, between the Pyrenees and the Ebro, Laietani near Barcelona and Cessetani further south. The Ilergetes inhabited the Ebro valley and were in contact with the inner populations of Celtiberians. In the south, in Andalusia, there were the Turdetani and further west the Tartessus, in the plains of the Guadalquivir. The high Andalusia, occupied by the Sierra Morena and rich in watercourses, was the Oretani’s region, a link between the cultures of the central plateau and the inhabitants of the south.
Classical authors have simplified the great variety of Iberian groups by reducing the diversity of the people of the peninsula to two great ethnicities – actually languages – the Iberians and the Celtiberians.
The cultures of the eastern Mediterranean reach the Spanish coast by means of metal seekers. The industrial and cultural power of the Bronze Age, extended with regional features to the entire territory, established a common basis on which the influences of Punic and Greek colonizers would act. The Eastern contributions are found in jewellery, in scarabs, in alabaster vessels, in the tombs kits and other ritual expressions. In this way, around 1000 BC, cultural differentiations are much more evidently produced than the ethnic ones.