Linguistics map of the Iberian Peninsula 1000-2000 AD

When language isolates are discussed, people often assume they are some weird, unique language that just sprung out of nowhere. It’s much more likely that these languages (like Basque) were parts of must larger families that died out. In this gif, you can see how Castilian overwhelms Iberia, which had been primarily speaking Arabic - Mozarabic. Even at that time, Basque was already a fairly small language. So what did the language landscape look like before Arabic - Mozarabic was the dominant language family?

I don’t know, but language has been around a lot longer than we have historical accounts, and it’s reasonable to think that Basque’s language family was once spoken in a much wider area. Who knows, maybe it originates from a language family that dominated Europe before Germanic and Romance languages existed. In any case, we no longer can trace it back to connect it to the languages in Europe today.


Aljafería Palace, Zaragoza, Spain

Zaragoza was a Taifa (independent islamic kingdom) that gained its independence after the fall of the Cordoba caliphate. To assert its authority and majesty, the taifa kingdoms adapted the models of the Great Mosque of Cordoba to their constructions, but supports still a regional influence that crossed across the taifas throught commerce. Although evoking the glorious days of the great caliphate of Cordoba, the artistic taifa models are themselves luxurious and complex.

La Aljafería is set on islamic roots but suffered a lot of interventions through time. After the 1118, it became a royal seat for the catholic kings. Two churches were added, transformations were made to the islamic oratory and even an extra story added. This was also the birthplace of saint Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, known for her miracle of the transformation of bread into roses. It was built by al-Muqtadir, the most powerful of the Banu Hud dynasty, that lasted between 1040 and 1100.

1. General view of la Aljafería.

2. Saint Elizabeth’s coutryard, north view.

3. The Golden Room, northwest view.

4. Entrance to the oratory through a lobed arch.

5. The mihrab, a model directly taken from the Great Cordoba Mosque. Notice the quranic writings above it.

6. Detail from the upper body of the inside of the oratory with intricate arabesques filling the entirety of the walls.

7. A beautiful mixtilíneo arch (composed of mixed lines, sometimes lobed) at the southern facade.

8. Fragments of the support system of a dome that used to cover the Golden Room, with geometrical and naturalistic elements combined.

Celtic Belt Clasp

Made in the Iberian peninsula (Spain), 2nd century B.C.

Leaded bronze, inlaid silver, iron rivets

This bronze and silver buckle is unusual in that both its top and bottom plaque are preserved, along with remains of the iron rivets used to attach it to a leather belt. Small figurines show warriors wearing similar clasps, suggesting this was designed for use by a soldier. It is typical of a type of buckle produced in the central plain region of the Iberian Peninsula, where silver is found in the Sierra Morena mountains. In design it is closely related to engraved examples of artwork in Andalusia in the southwest of Spain, a province that strongly influenced the artistic development of the rest of Iberia. Opposing spirals were a popular motif in Celtic art and were often combined with concentric circles on buckles such as this one. The design was created by carving out a pattern on a bronze panel, and then hammering a thin sheet of silver into the indentations.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Berberomeloe majalis

…is a largish species of blister beetle (Meloidae) that occurs in Spain and much of the Iberian Peninsula. Like other blister beetles B. majalis typically inhabits open areas and will feed on a variaty of plant material. True to its family name B. majalis is capable of exuding a hemolymph from its body which can cause blistering if it comes in contact with skin.


Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Coleoptera-Meloidae-Meloinae-Lyttini-Berberomeloe-B. majalis

Image: Isabel Lopez and Carlos Bodas


Celtiberian Bronze Helmet, 4th century BC

This helmet was hammered from thin metal and decorated with repousse designs. Plain bands crisscross and encircle it, dividing the helmet into quadrants. A square opening has been cut away in the front for the face. Each quadrant contains a motif of three schematically rendered men beneath a “sun circle” ringed with dots. These lively human figures with their arms raised and one foot lifted off the ground seem to be engaged in an ecstatic dance. Dances such as these are described by Roman writers who observed the bellicose customs of the Celtiberians. Two projections along the transversal band of the helmet indicate that it once included an attached ornament or crest.

The Celtiberians were Celtic-speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula in the final centuries BC. These tribes spoke the Celtiberian language. Extant tribal names include the Arevaci, Belli, Titti, Lusones, and Berones. Celtiberians were celebrated for their fine weapons and armor.

The Moors were the medieval Muslim inhabitants of North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta. They came from Morocco, western Algeria, the Western Sahara, and Mauritania. The Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and called the territory Al-Andalus, an area which at different times comprised most of Spain and Portugal and parts of France. The initial rule of the Moors in the Iberian peninsula under this Caliphate of Córdoba was regarded as tolerant in its acceptance of Christians, Muslims and Jews living together in the same territories. The Moors left a rich cultural legacy in Spain & Portugal, as seen through Moorish architecture such as La Mezquita in Córdoba and the Alhambra Palace. Religious difference of the Moorish Muslims led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe called the Reconquista. The Fall of Granada in 1492 saw the end of the Muslim rule in Iberia. 

For More Information Search: Moors; Caliphate of Córdoba; Alhambra Palace, Reconquista; Ferdinand & Isabella; The Fall of Granada