Latin Languages: Ionian Iberians

The linguistic narrative for Iberia begins with isolated Iberians idly talking amongst themselves.

According to this narrative the literary abilities of the Iberians hadn’t advanced beyond writing “the names of their dead on gravestones” when the Romans arrived in 218 BC.

The Romans, who landed on the Iberian Peninsula in the third century BC were the first to write down anything about the people who lived there.

They recorded observations about the three principal ethnic groups they encountered: the Basques, the Iberians, and the Celts, none of whom had written anything about themselves beyond the names of their dead on gravestones.

The Story of Spanish – Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow – 2013

Roman armies invaded the Iberian peninsula in 218 BC and used it as a training ground for officers and as a proving ground for tactics during campaigns against the Carthaginians, the Iberians, the Lusitanians, the Gallaecians and other Celts.

The linguistic narrative asserts that it was from these very humble beginnings that the Spanish language emerged because the Romans kindly donated their vocabulary to the illiterate Iberians.

Around 75% of modern Spanish vocabulary is derived from Latin.

Furthermore, according to the linguistic narrative, the Romans also made a substantial contribution to the Spanish language by introducing Greek words through the medium of Latin.

Ancient Greek has also contributed substantially to Spanish vocabulary, especially through Latin, where it had a great impact.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this linguistic storyline.

Firstly, the narrative forgets the Greeks established Iberian settlements long before the Romans.

The Second Greek colonisation was an organized colonial expansion by the Archaic Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea and Pontus in the period of the 8th–6th centuries BC.

The reason for the second colonisation had to do with the demographic explosion of this period, the development of the emporium, the need for a secure supply of raw materials, but also with the emerging politics of the period which drove sections of the population into exile.

An emporium refers to a trading post, factory, or market of Classical antiquity, derived from the Ancient Greek: ἐμπόριον, translit. (empórion), which becomes Latin: emporium… In the Hellenic and Ptolemaic realm, emporia included the various Greek, Phoenician, Egyptian and other city-states and trading posts in the circum-Mediterranean area.

Secondly, the Greeks spoke and wrote their language in Iberia long before the Roman arrived.

Thirdly, mtDNA suggests the Greeks might have done more than [just] introduce their language.

Eleven Greek settlements have been identified in Iberia and it’s reported that in Alicante [Akra Leuke] the Iberians were introduced to the alphabet by Greek and Phoenician traders.

S1. Portus Illicitanus

Santa Pola is a coastal town located in the comarca of Baix Vinalopó in the Valencian Community, Spain, by the Mediterranean Sea.

During the fourth century BC a small walled settlement was built near Vanalopó river. It served mainly as a Greek-Iberia economical hub. During the first century AC, near the former site a port was built, serving the city of Illici, named Portus Illicitanus (cited by Claudius Ptolemy in Geography).

S2. Akra Leuke

Alicante, or Alacant, both the Spanish and Valencian being official names, is a city and port in Spain on the Costa Blanca, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community.

By 1000 BC Greek and Phoenician traders had begun to visit the eastern coast of Spain, establishing small trading ports and introducing the native Iberian tribes to the alphabet, iron and the pottery wheel.

S3. Alonis

Google Translation

Alonis or Alonís is one old city of the Alicante coasts , founded around the V century BC as a colony of Massalia (Marseille).

They have been vestiges of a nucleus of Iberian population from at least the VII century BC, with strong presence of materials of Greek origin.

S4. Hemeroscopeum

Dénia is a city in the province of Alicante, Spain, on the Costa Blanca halfway between Alicante and Valencia, the judicial seat of the comarca of Marina Alta.

In the 4th century BC it was a Greek colony of Marseille or Empúries, being mentioned by Strabo as Hemeroscòpion (Greek: Ημεροσκοπείον).

S5. Zakynthos

Sagunto is a town in Eastern Spain, in the modern fertile comarca of Camp de Morvedre in the province of Valencia.

The city traded with coastal colonies in the western Mediterranean such as Carthage, and under their influence, minted its own coins. During this period the city was known as Arse (Ripollès i Alegre 2002).

S6. Salauris

Salou (Catalan pronunciation: [səˈɫɔw]) is a municipality of the comarca of Tarragonès, in the province of Tarragona, in Catalonia, Spain.

Used as a port by Greeks (who named it Salauris) and Romans

S7. Rhode

Roses is a municipality in the comarca of the Alt Empordà, located on the Costa Brava, in Catalonia, Spain.

The origins of Roses (Greek: Rhode) are disputed.
A popular theory holds it was founded in the 8th century BC by Greek colonists from Rhodes. It seems more probable that it was founded in the 5th century BC by Greeks from Massalia (Marseilles), perhaps with an admixture of colonists from neighbouring Emporion (today’s Empúries). Remains of the Greek settlement can still be seen.,_Girona

S8. Emporion

Ampurias, also known as Empúries, was a town on the Mediterranean coast of the Catalan comarca of Alt Empordà in Catalonia, Spain. It was founded in 575 BC by Greek colonists from Phocaea with the name of Ἐμπόριον (Emporion, meaning “trading place”, cf. Emporion).

S9. Kalathousa

Aljaraque is a city located in the province of Huelva, Spain.

In ancient times it was referred to as “Kalathousa” by the Greeks.

S10. Mainake

Menace or Maenace (Greek Μαινάκη Mainákē) is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the southeast of Spain according to Strabo (3,4,2). Maria Eugenia Aubet locates it at the site of modern Málaga. According to the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, its probable location is the hill of Cerro del Peñón, near the mouth of river Vélez, at the south of Vélez Malaga.

S11. Menestheus’s Limin

El Puerto de Santa María, locally known as El Puerto, is a municipality located on the banks of the Guadalete River in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia.

According to the legend told in the Odyssey of Homer, after the Trojan War a Greek official named Menestheus escaped with his troops through the Straits of Gibraltar and reached the Guadalete River. They established themselves here and called that port Menestheus’s port or Menesthei Portus. In its neighbourhood was the oracle of Menestheus, to whom, also, the inhabitants of Gades offered sacrifices.


The mainstream has a fall-back narrative that admits there were some Greek “trading posts” in Iberia but the Greeks and their language “disappeared” before the Romans arrive.

The Greeks had established two trading posts in Iberia around 500 BC, but again, their language disappeared with them.

The Story of Spanish – Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow – 2013

The Greeks finally founded their own colony at Ampurias, in the eastern Mediterranean shore (modern Catalonia), during the 6th century BC beginning their settlement in the Iberian peninsula.

There are no Greek colonies west of the Strait of Gibraltar, only voyages of discovery.
There is no evidence to support the myth of an ancient Greek founding of Olissipo (modern Lisbon) by Odysseus.

The seafaring Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Greeks successively established trading settlements along the eastern and southern coast. The first Greek colonies, such as Emporion (modern Ampurias), were founded along the northeast coast in the 9th century BC, leaving the south coast to the Phoenicians.

Ampurias, also known as Empúries, was a town on the Mediterranean coast of the Catalan comarca of Alt Empordà in Catalonia, Spain.

It was founded in 575 BC by Greek colonists from Phocaea with the name of Ἐμπόριον (Emporion, meaning “trading place”, cf. Emporion).

Phocaea, or Phokaia was an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia.

But they insist the only lasting linguistic contribution made by the Greeks was the name “Iberia”.

The Greeks are responsible for the name Iberia, apparently after the river Iber (Ebro).

The Greeks called the river Ἴβηρ (Ibēr), and the Romans called it the Hibēr, Ibēr, or Ibērus flūmen, leading to its current name.

The Iberian peninsula and the Hibērī or Ibērī (the people of the area) were named after the river.

A cynical observer might begin to wonder whether the Romans ever arrived in Iberia…

Could it be the Roman Empire narrative providentially borrowed the Etruscan language and rebranded it as Latin in the 2nd millennium?


Gallery | This entry was posted in Arabian Horizon, Epigraphy - Inscriptions, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Language, Latin Languages, Spain. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Latin Languages: Ionian Iberians

  1. Pingback: Latin Languages: Purged Punic | MalagaBay

  2. Pingback: Latin Languages: Italic Iberians | MalagaBay

  3. Pingback: Latin Languages: Carthage Connection | MalagaBay

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