Iberia and the Celtiberians
THE questions raised by the origins and nature of Celtic settlement in the Iberian Peninsula bring into sharp focus many of the general issues considered in Chapter 1, in particular the relationship between language, ethnicity, and archaeology. Classical writers describing Iberia frequently refer to the presence of Celtiberians, the Celtic language was spoken in some areas, and social systems existed which bore similarities to those of the historical Celts in temperate Europe; yet the material culture differed markedly from that of the La Tène type. In considering the problem in the Peninsula, therefore, it is necessary to dissociate La Tène material culture from the concept of 'Celtic' and in doing so the nature and significance of the Celtic language are inevitably raised.
Before considering the matter of Celtic societies in the Peninsula, something must be said about the landscape and the broader cultural context within which the enquiry lies. The roughly square mass of the Iberian Peninsula can, at a highly simplified level, be regarded as a flat plain tilted down to the west. Because of this the east and south coasts present their somewhat austere mountainous backs to the Mediterranean while the western, Atlantic, coast is lower and more accessible. Iberia is also effectively isolated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees and their westward extension--the mountain ranges of Cantabria. This basic structure determines that most of the major rivers of Iberia-- the Duero, Tagus, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir--flow westwards to the Atlantic; the Ebro and the Segura are the only significant east-flowing rivers.
The position of the Peninsula, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, as well as its varied relief, has a direct effect on climate, the north and west being significantly wetter and cooler than the south and east. This, in turn, conditions vegetation--the south-east has a Mediterranean climate, allowing the growth