The Iberian language and the emergence of writing

Sala VII
The Iberian language is a distinctive cultural element of the peoples who lived between the river Guadalquivir and the river Hérault (France), from the fifth century B.C. up to the first century B.C. This language has been recorded in inscriptions that have not yet been translated. In the Valencian area two types of writing were used, known as Eastern and Southern Iberian, whose border is around the Xuquer River. Occasionally, in some areas of the Contestania an adaptation of the Ionic alphabet was also used. Iberian writing systems are semi-syllabic, consisting of signs with simple- and compound- phonetic values. Texts were engraved or painted on a variety of media such as stone, pottery, coins, bone and lead. The uniqueness and singularity of these inscriptions suggests that the use of writing and powerful groups were strongly linked.
Although Iberian writings cannot be translated, the type of objects in which they are written, the media used and the archaeological contexts provide clues to suggest interpretations of words such as names, numbers, account lists, potter marks or other signs of property. Among the collections of written-lead sheets, the Museum holds the largest of the Iberian Peninsula. Exposed lead sheets are from Bastida de les Alcusses (Moixent), Los Villares (Caudete de las Fuentes), Tossal de Sant Miquel (Lliria) or Pico de los Ajos (Yatova). Ceramic vessels from Tossal de Sant Miquel with figurative decoration (see Room VI) also include signs and inscriptions related to the scenes depicted. Other inscriptions displayed in this room are carved in stone, such as the Sinarcas funerary stele, as well as objects in bone, bronze or iron.


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