The Iberians

July 15th, 2015 by
Map indicating the two Iberias

We continue the exploration of Tim Joyner’s book Magellan with Chapter 2, The Iberians. Who are the Iberians and what do they have to do with Ferdinand Magellan and his expedition?

There are Eastern Iberians and Western Iberians. The Eastern group have millennias of history in the Caucuses, the descendents of which are Georgians in Russia. The Western group are from what is commonly referred to as the Iberian Peninsula, or Spain and Portugal.

It was the Greeks who named both groups Iberians. There has been much research to determine a genetic, ethnic or language link between them. These lines of study haven’t clearly panned out, although they are still going on. It’s not even clear why the ancient Greeks would have called these two different groups by the same name.

Celts are not Iberians Map

The original Western Iberians occupied only a portion of the squarish peninsula of Spain and Portugal. Here is a sketch from Total War Center that illustrates the point.

How this relates to Magellan’s world becomes quite clear as we continue with this chapter. The Portuguese and Spanish became the first great navigators and seafarers of the west. The following graph puts the role of The Iberians in perspective. They were the first to travel extensively by sea, although that role gave way to the Dutch, French and British in the early 1600s.
Graph of early western sea explorers
(Graph found on the website of Mr. Barnes’ class. Click the image to go there.)

2 responses to “The Iberians”

  1. Rey Luis says:

    Haplogroups point at two different sources. Celt-Iberia, which refers to the Eastern Part of the Iberian Peninsulay (mostly Central and North) is genetically descendent from Celts and Visigoths, Western Iberia, also called Spanish Levante, is genetically descendent from Phoenicians, Romans, and Greeks. The presence of Sub-Saharan Haplogroups is about 1.9% in Spain, with the highest incidence in a small area in the SE part of the country.
    It is therefore ambiguous when commercial DNA companies identify as “Iberian”. If you really want to know your heritage you have to look at Haplogroups.

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