Southeastern Iberian script

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Southeastern Iberian script in the context of paleohispanic scripts
A possible southeastern Iberian signary (Correa 2004).
Lead plaque from La Bastida de les Alcuses (Moixent)

The southeastern Iberian script, also known as Meridional Iberian, was one of the means of written expression of the Iberian language, which was written mainly in the northeastern Iberian script and residually by the Greco-Iberian alphabet. About the relation between northeastern Iberian and southeastern Iberian scripts, it is necessary to point out that they are two different scripts with different values for the same signs; however it is clear that they had a common origin and the most accepted hypothesis is that northeastern Iberian script derives from southeastern Iberian script. In fact, the southeastern Iberian script is very similar, both considering the shape of the signs or their values, to the Southwestern script used to represent an unknown language usually named Tartessian. The main difference is that southeastern Iberian script doesn’t show the vocalic redundancy of the syllabic signs. Unlike the northeastern Iberian script the decipherment of the southeastern Iberian script is not yet complete, because there are a significant number of signs on which scholars have not yet reached a consensus. Despite it is believed that unlike the northeastern Iberian script the southeastern Iberian script doesn’t show any system to differentiate between voiced and unvoiced occlusives, a recent paper (Ferrer i Jané 2010) defends the existence of a dual system also in the southeastern Iberian script.

All the paleohispanic scripts, with the exception of the Greco-Iberian alphabet, share a common distinctive typological characteristic: they represent syllabic value for the occlusives, and monophonemic value for the rest of the consonants and vowels. From the writing systems point of view they are neither alphabets nor syllabaries; rather, they are mixed scripts that normally are identified as semi-syllabaries. There is no agreement about how the paleohispanic semi-syllabaries originated; some researchers conclude that their origin is linked only to the Phoenician alphabet, while others believe the Greek alphabet exercised some influence.

The inscriptions that use the southeastern Iberian script had been found mainly in the southeastern quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula: eastern Andalusia, Murcia, Albacete, Alicante, and Valencia. The southeastern Iberian inscriptions were made on different object types (silver and bronze coins, silver and ceramic recipients, lead plaques, stones, etc.), but they number around 50 and represent more or less only 2% of the total found. Between them there are the lead plaque from Gador (Almeria) and the lead plaque from La Bastida de les Alcuses (Moixent, València). The inscriptions that use this script almost always use the right to left direction of writing. The oldest inscriptions in southeastern Iberian script date to the 4th century BCE, and the modern ones date from the end of the 2nd century BCE.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Correa, José Antonio (2004): «Los semisilabarios ibéricos: algunas cuestiones», ELEA 4, pp. 75-98.
  • Ferrer i Jané, Joan (2010): «El sistema dual de l'escriptura ibèrica sud-oriental», Veleia 27, pp. 69-113.
  • Hoz, Javier de (1989): «El desarrollo de la escritura y las lenguas de la zona meridional», Tartessos, pp.523-587.
  • Rodríguez Ramos, Jesús (2002): «La escritura ibérica meridional», Zephyrus 55, pp. 231-245.
  • Untermann, Jürgen (1990): Monumenta Linguarum Hispanicarum. III Die iberischen Inschriften aus Spanien, Wiesbaden.
  • Velaza, Javier (1996): Epigrafía y lengua ibéricas, Barcelona.

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