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.
- The Iberian script is mainly syllabic but also partly alphabetic.
- There were two version of the Iberian script - one used in southern
France, Catalonia and Castile, the other used in Andalusia and Mursia.
The main difference between these versions is the shapes of the glyphs
and direction in which they were written. The northern version was
written from left to right, while the southern version was written
from right to left.
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
Southern Iberian 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.
- Type of writing system: syllabary
- Direction of writing: variable - right to left in horizontal lines, boustrophedon or spiral
- Used to write: Tartessian (?)
A possible southwestern signary
Based on information from Rodríguez Ramos, Jesús (2000): «La lectura de las inscripciones sudlusitano-tartesias»
Northern Iberian Script
Lead plaque from Ullastret [source]
Southern Iberian Script
Lead plaque from La Bastida de les Alcuses (Moixent) [source]
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:
Caroline Island Script,