Pre-Roman Aragon

Aragon was inhabited by Iberians, Celts and later and in lesser numbers, Basques.

The Iberians had an urban culture and a well developed political system, the result of contact with Mediterranean cultures, both Greek and Phoenician, before the arrival of the Romans in Hispania. They had developed a system of writing, which was alphabet and syllable based. Important sites can still be found in the region,which were occupied by the many tribes which belonged to this culure such as the Ilergetes, the Sedetanii, the Ilergavonii, and possibly the Ausetanii of the Ebro.

Generally speaking, they cooperated with the Romans, adjusting their currency to that of their new masters. Their aristocrats were warriors, as can be seen from the funerary monuments of the fighters which are adorned with decorated steles on which depictions of horses, riders and spears abound. Horsemen are are also found on Iberian coins which they minted, following the custom of their Roman masters.Their principal centres were Ilerda (Lerida), Osca (Huesca), Burtina (Almudevar) and Celse (Velilla de Ebro). Present day Zaragoza, then called Salduie, was on the far end of the western border between the Celts and Basques.


The diverse Celtic peoples (Celtiberians), extremely hostile to Rome occupied the western half of Aragon and their resistance to Roman occupation was fierce and protracted. They were organised in city-states with their senates, assemblies and magistrates.They adopted the Iberian writing system. Skilled metal-workers, their swords were copied by the Romans. The life of the Celtiberian was oriented towards the exaltation of personal bravery, honour and warfare. There existed warrior fraternities which were linked to a chieftain or divinity. Their gods were those commonly worshipped by the European Celts, such as Lugh, "skilled in all arts", The Matres, goddesses of fertility; Epona, Great Mother and protector of the dead; Daghda, "Allfather"; Cernunnus, god of fertility, and Sucelus, an infernal deity.

Unlike the Iberians, the Celtiberians did not bury their dead after battle, they left the bodies in the open air for the carrion birds in the belief that by doing so, the souls of the dead would be carried to heaven. A large sanctuary dedicated to Lugh can be found in Penalba de Villastar (Teruel).

The Basques, with their capital in present day Pamplona ("city of Pompey") in Navarre, collaborated with Rome and were rewarded with jurisdiction over large stretches of territory in Western Aragon, after the Celtiberians were finally defeated in 72 B.C.


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