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Iberian scripts

Many inscriptions in the Iberian scripts have been found on the Iberian peninsula, in southern France and on the Balearic Islands. The oldest known inscriptions date from the 4th century BC. The scripts are thought to have derived from the Punic alphabet.

In the 3rd century BC the Iberian peninsula was invaded first by Carthage, then by the Romans. Thereafter, the Iberian scripts and the languages they were used to write gradually disappeared.

Notable features

Used to write:

Iberian, a non-Indo-European language which has so far resisted decipherment, and Lusitanian, an Indo-European language possibly related to the Celtic languages. A modified version of the Northern Iberian script was used to write Celtiberian, a Celtic language. The most recent inscriptions in these language date from the 2nd century AD and they are thought to have become extinct by then.

Northern Iberian script

Northern Iberian script

Southern Iberian script

Southern Iberian script

Southwest Script

This Southwest Script was used in southwestern Iberia to write an unknown language which is usually identified as Tartessian. A total of 75 inscriptions in this script dating from between the 7th and 5th centuries BC have been found in the Algarve and southern Alentejo in Portugal, and in southern Extremadura and western Andalucia in Spain. The script is also known as the Southwestern Script, the Southwest Paleohispanic script, the Tartessian Script or the South Lusitanian Script.

The Tartessian language, which is also known as Southwestern or South Lusitanian, is an extinct language spoken in the southwestern Iberia. The name Tartessian comes from Tartessos, a city that once stood at mouth of the Guadalquivir River in Andalusia. Tartessian was possibly a Celtic language, though this is uncertain.

Notable features

A possible southwestern signary

Southwest Script

Based on information from Rodríguez Ramos, Jesús (2000): «La lectura de las inscripciones sudlusitano-tartesias»

Sample texts

Northern Iberian Script

Sample text in the Northern Iberian Script
Lead plaque from Ullastret [source]

Southern Iberian Script

Sample text in the Southern Iberian Script
Lead plaque from La Bastida de les Alcuses (Moixent) [source]

Southwest Script

Sample text in the Southwest script
Fonte Velha (Bensafrim, Lagos) [source]


Information about the Iberian scripts and languages

Iberian Epigraphy Page, by Jesús Rodríguez Ramos - details of the scripts and languages of pre-Roman Iberia (Spain and Portugual):

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform:

Celtic languages

Breton, Celtiberian, Cornish, Gaulish, Irish, Lepontic, Lusitanian, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Tartessian, Welsh


Bamum, Caroline Island Script, Celtiberian, Cherokee, Cypriot, Eskayan, Hiragana, Iban, Iberian, Katakana, Kpelle, Loma, Mende, Mwangwego, Ndjuká, Nüshu, Vai, Yi