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Lusitanians vs. Iberians


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I've decided to create this topic so that we can discuss this issue appropriately. No more scattered off-topics.

As the resident Iberian civilization expert and knowing more than my share of greenhorns ( :shrug: ) I'd have to say at least this:

The Portuguese seem very, very protective of their Lusitanian heritage and take great pains to seperate themselves from the Spanish "Iberian" tribes. From my studies on the subject (as well as the late Ken Woods'), I'd have to say the line is much less distinct than the ones the Portuguese draw for patriotic/nationalist purposes.

The Celt-Iberians were an amalgamation of both Celtic and the native Iberian stock, that is to say that the Lustianians were both Celtic and Iberian. The Lustianians, one particular Celt-Iberian tribe in the area now known as Portugal, were infamous for raids stealing both cattle and women from other tribes in the reason. This is how, some historians theorize, the Lustitanians were effective enough to warrant a place in history when compared the large number of other tribes -- they simply used the guerilla tactics they had long used on other tribes on the Romans to great effect.

Also, the Romans labeled the entire coalition of tribes lead by Viriathus under one name, in an almost typical lack of caring for the actual culture of their enemies.

Throughout the years, various levels of influence from the Roman, Carthaginian, Moor, and Germanic cultures led to the social seperations of "Portugal" and "Spain" we know today. Celt-Iberians were prevalent along the eastern shores of Spain, as well. Their culture was simply decimated by the Romans, while the then more wild peoples of the western shore held on tenaciously to their culture and way of life.

Just what I've read and learned over the last couple years of study. We know very little about the various tribes in Iberia at the time, so nothing's completely concrete.

Very interesting indeed. But I don’t find anything in your little article that goes against what I’ve said, that is, and apologising for repeating myself, Lusitanians and Iberians were different people, even in their ethnic origin.

Iberians were Northern African people who settled in the SE of the Iberian Peninsula. Lusitanians were a mix of celtic and swiss tribes who settled in the region that is now Portugal and Galicia. Eventually, the Celts and the Iberians formed the Celtiberians, mainly in the center of the Peninsula. Therefore, that doesn't mean that Lusitanians - who lived in the "Far West" - had close contact with the Iberians.

The Lusitanians were the last tribe standing after the Roman invasion of the Peninsula. Viriato even had to fight some Celtiberian tribes which were Roman allies, which proves that the Lusitanians always maintained a relative independence from their Celtiberian neighbours.

Nota bene: When I use the term "Iberians" I am referring to the Iberian tribes, and not to the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula.

NaurwenT said:
The Portuguese seem very, very protective of their Lusitanian heritage and take great pains to seperate themselves from the Spanish "Iberian" tribes. From my studies on the subject (as well as the late Ken Woods'), I'd have to say the line is much less distinct than the ones the Portuguese draw for patriotic/nationalist purposes

I am well aware of the political connotations of the theme (I grew up in Spain, in Galicia, so I am very familiar with Spanish and Portuguese idiosyncracies .

As I understood, we were not comparing Lusitanian tribes to Celtiberian ones, but to the truly "Iberian" ones of the Mediterranean area, where the greatest differences can be found. At least, that's what I meant

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Further research sheds ambiguity over the whole issue. Polybius calls the Lustianians Celt-Iberians, many smaller tribes in the area adopted the name, and the Romans eventually reverted to calling any native tribe from the region "Lusitanians". A good number of historians believe the Lusitanians are simply an offshoot of Celtic blood.

The more Portuguese a site is, the more it supports a seperate origin for the entire Lusitanian tribe. Everything I've seen (which apparently contradicts everything you've seen :shrug:) points towards the culture of the Lusitanians being only moderately different from most of the rest of the peninsula. Their language has many similiarities to Celt-Iberian, but with some differences from which a variety of contradictory conclusions could be drawn.

To the more truly "Iberian"-native peoples, I'd have to agree the distinction was much more decisive. The Iberians, living along that fertile coast of Iberia for millenia, developed a very different culture.

For 0 A.D., we've chosen to mix both cultures (Iberian and Lusitanian) together. The choice is made because we (particularly in North America) have access to a very small amount about both when compared to every other civilization represented in the game -- it'd be hard to make a complete civilization from what we know of both. If anyone with access to works in Portuguese or Spanish detailing the subject could provide us with translations or even scans of some text (with proper citations, of course), I'd appreciate it greatly. I read some Spanish, so scans in that language wouldn't require much translation. Even rough translations of Portuguese (enough to draw information from) would be nice, at this point. I can hardly find anything about the various peoples of Iberian in any library I have access to.

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Yes, the fact is that nobody can be 100% sure.

I think it was a wise decision to mix Lusianians and Iberians for 0 AD (I guess it's impossible to gather enough info about Lusitanians to make them a new civ, and if it was possible, it would be very similar to a Celt-iberian civ).

I just wanted people to know that the "Iberians" of 0 AD are not only the Iberian-native tribes of Spain, but all the Iberians as the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. That includes the Lusitanians, the Conii, the Ulteriors, the Turdetans, etc etc. - which were not "the Iberians" as is, but were Iberians because they lived in the Iberian Peninsula :shrug:

This can be a little confusing, and it's the English language fault :P. Because in Portuguese (for example), we distinguish "Iberos" (Iberian-native tribes) and "Ibéricos" (inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula). In English it's all "Iberians".

So, to make this clear: 0 AD's Iberians are "Ibéricos", and not just "Iberos". Right? B)

About the works, I have some portuguese history books containing some chapters about the Campaigns of Viriato and the Roman Conquest of Iberia. If you'd like, I'll have most pleasure to translate some texts and provide you with scannings.

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Any and all information that we can have on Iberians is greatly appreciated Undo! Unfortunately we are hard pressed to find English language sources on the topic, in particular Viriato and other great historical Iberian figures. We would greatly appreciate it if you could give us some new sources of information :shrug:

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Imho, you can't trust many of the sites you find on the internet about Spanish history - unfortunately, most of them are biased one way or another. Couldn't tell about the Portuguese ones, since I am not that familiar with their history, but I would handle any information really carefully, just in case.

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Sorry, I should have been explained myself better :shrug:

I just asked out of curiosity - since I was not sure whether you meant a proper encyclopaedia or the Wiki B)

I am not part of the 0AD team, but of its sister-project - TLA - so you don't need to translate anything for me, but for the 0AD crowd :P

Besides, I speak Spanish and Portuguese, so I can read the originals no problem ;)

I love history, that's why I would like to read any information you produce for the team - that was all :D

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Hey, guys, I need to know if I can send in the parts of my work separatedly as soon as each one's ready, or if you want me to keep the work I do, then group it altogether in the end and send it to you.

Also, files happen to be very, very big. Can I send them via MSN Messenger? If you think it's not a good idea, I can host them somewhere and then you can download them.

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Meanwhile, let me post my first translation. Please excuse my inaccurate English:

Note: for an easier reading, I've included subheadings

Iberians - HIST. The tribes which lived near the estuary of the river Ebro (formerly Iber) were known as Iberians among the first Greeks who traded in the Hispanic Peninsula. This designation extended to the populations of the Spanish East seafront and limitrophe regions. Thus, the word "Iberians" lost its original ethnic meaning, and became a wider cultural concept. As a Mediterranean civilization of the 1st millennium BC, the Iberians showed some originality, mainly in what concerns religion, arts and writing. With an ethnic and cultural substratum, progressively enriched since the Neolithic, the Mediterranean people of the Peninsula showed an extraordinary skill to enrich their cultural process with elements handed down by the civilizations which dominated the Interior Sea.


The Iberian civilization extended in the coastal band which comprises the margins of the river Rhône, in Southern France, and Andalucía, with an interior prolongation in the valley of the river Ebro. The archeological testimonies confronted with written sources by classic authors allow one to consider that the Iberian civilization prospered for approx. four centuries, in the 2nd Iron Age, since the middle of the 1st millennium BC until approx. 133 BC. (fall of Numancia), with the perdurance of certain manifestations, like sculpture, until the epoch of Augustus. Artemidorus, Asclepiades, Diodorus, Strabo, Scimnus, Martialis, Polibius, Posidonius, Timeo, Titus Livius and other classic authors refer to the Iberians, pointing out trading-stations settled in their territories, their geographic limits, names of the tribes and even certain habits, institutions and historical happenings. The Phoenician, Punic, and Greek inscriptions collected in the Iberian area are fragmentary references which elucidate us little. The Iberian texts, despite being legible, are still untranslatable. The merit of having "revived" the Iberian civilization falls on archeology, completing the summarized reports which are contained in the classic sources. The problem of the Iberian origin had given worries to scholars since the 18th century, but only after the discovery of the Lady of Elche (1897) excavations were initiated in Iberian villages, cemeteries, and sanctuaries. These archeological explorations have become more and more systematic, and they have already reached a remarkable development.


The funerary custom of cremation, adopted by the Iberians, does not allow the study of their physical anthropology. However, the ethnic substratum of people in the same area which did not adopt cremation, associated with the classic authors' references and artistic human representation, allow us to know some of the physical features of the Iberians, who were dolichocephalic, gracile Mediterranean type, in their generality. Colonizing influences of Oriental Mediterranean occurred in the Iberian area during the 1st millennium BC, with regional variances according to the predominating contact type. Thus, Phoenician and Punic elements prevail in Oriental Andalucía; Hellenic ones marked the eastern and southern Iberian culture; from Cataluña to Languedoque, Greek influences integrate an Indo-european background; along the Ebro valley the Iberian culture had a Greco-Celtic basis. This diversification conditioned the social and political life of the Iberian regions, disturbed by continuous sea and land invasions and internal fights.

Tribes and Society

There was no political unity in the Iberian civilization. Groups of tribes - with their lands, ports, and villages - ruled their own areas: the Turdetans occupied the Oriental Andalucía; the Mastiens occupied the region of Murcia; the Contestans, Edetans and Ilercavones shared the territory of Valencia; the Ilergets habited the plains of Lerida and some part of the current province of Huesca, etc. The politic institutions were different from region to region: in Cataluña, people were ruled by representatives of family chiefs; in the Ebro valley, the politic power was exercised by military leaders who ascended by force; in the East the tribal assemblies and the council of elders ruled; in the South, mainly Andalucía, kinglets ruled helped by an aristocratic minority. The ancient texts are not prodigal with information about the Iberian social pyramid, but the interpretation of those references together with archeological testimonies and iconography allow one to consider the existence of superior classes, landlords and merchants, who ruled over a numerous multitude of workmen - some of them not free - with the help of foremen. Archeological findings revealed the existence of specialized craftsmen in several industries: metallurgists, potters, vase painters, sculptors, glassmakers, jewelers, coiners, etc. Flax weaving, fishing, fish salting, preparation of dyes, and ore exploration have become, in certain regions, industrial specialties. Warfare, writing, music, and some workmanship might have been other occupations. It is not known much more about the priest class than the sanctuaries reveal. Cereal, olive, and vine plantations, as well as livestock farming, were dominant activities among the majority of population.

War and Fortresses

The Iberians periodically dedicated themselves to war. Generally, the Iberian warriors fought on horseback, using spears and javelins as aggressive weapons, and the falchion as a melee weapon. They were protected by helmet, armor and shield. They mounted without saddle; instead, they used a counterpane made of leather or wool, seizing the reins with one hand and laying hold of their weapon with the other hand. They used spurs, they did not know stirrups, and they applied the guerrilla tactics in combat. The Iberian settlements went from little villages with a dozen houses to semi urban agglomerates with hundreds of habitations. These settlements were divided in two main types: the littoral nucleuses on low lands, sometimes isolated by natural accidents; and the interior fortresses. The interior settlements were fortified precincts on steep hills or difficult access ones. They were protected by a curtain of walls with square towers near the entrance, encircled by ditches and palisades in more vulnerable parts. Walls were made of faceted stone paring, and doors were also protected by sheds. These settlements had irregular-drawing streets, which gave access to separated groups of houses.

Dwelling and Clothing

The Iberian house was architectonically poor. The rectangular or square habitations were erected on a stone socle, approx. 1 meter high, and had adobe walls. Roofs were made of branches or canes, overlaid by a clay layer, and were supported by wood beams. The Iberian clothing is known. Men used a tightened short tunic with sleeves; sometimes they used shorts, held by suspenders which crossed at the chest. To protect themselves from the cold or in certain ceremonies, they covered themselves with a cloak tied at the shoulder with a buckle. They usually wore leather or esparto sandals and they wore a kind of buskins when riding horses. Women wore a shirt down to their feet, covered by a belt-tightened tunic. They covered their shoulders with a cloak and wore a veil over their tall hairdressing. Like men, they wore leather or esparto sandals and wore, as embellishment objects, buckles, brooches, rings, bead necklaces, bracelets, etc.

Economic Activities

The Iberian economy was mainly based on agriculture and shepherding. Other resource exploration ways, like hunting, fishing, mining, handicrafts, and trading, achieved a high regional or local development, due to several conditionings and a more or less influence from the colonizers. The Iberians widely planted wheat, barley, rye, and broad beans, mainly in the plains of the rivers Ebro and Guadalquivir, with a progressively maturing agricultural experience during the Bronze Age. They also dedicated to vine and olive plantation in highly Hellenic-influenced regions. They gathered natural fruits, like walnuts, acorns, and pomegranate, and they used some textile plants, like esparto, known in the Peninsula at least since the Neolithic, and flax, introduced by Phoenicians. Iberian peasants bred pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys, mules, horses, and oxen. Horses played a relevant role in the Iberian life: they used the little ones as aiming animals and they used the bigger horses in war. They hunted harts, wild boars, rabbits, hares, and several fowls. Along with piscatorial activities exercised in the meridional coast of the Peninsula, the southern Iberians dedicated themselves to fishing and preservation of tuna, mackerel, and other abundant fishes, originating a flourishing salting industry. There were three main types of preserves: simply salted fish; a paste obtained with the viscera and blood of tuna fish, called muria; and a preserve prepared with small fish, mixed with viscera of other fishes and salt, called garum, which was later greatly appreciated by the Romans.


Mining mainly fell upon gold, silver, copper, lead, iron and cinnabar extraction, in mines situated near the coast. Tin no longer had value, due to the diffusion of iron metallurgy since the 6th century BC, through Greek and Phoenician colonizers. Among Iberian handicrafts, we can consider the following activities: potteries, weaving, hide tanning, metallurgy and preparation of dyes. Phoenicians colonizers introduced the potter wheel in some areas of the Peninsula. The first Iberian experiences of vase manufacturing on the wheel originated a utilitarian pottery of dark clay and thick grease cleaners. After that, a thin-paste ceramic appears, also made on the wheel, of light clay and without decoration, followed by an identical one, with painted decoration based on oxides. During the Iberian civilization apogee, when vases were painted, it is almost certain that pottery was a workshop activity, rather than a simple domestic job. Phoenician and Greek pottery started to be imitated in their models and decoration by Iberians, who manufactured and painted vases with manifest originality since the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Iberian pottery shows the usage of yellowish and rosy argils, with a porous texture and thin layers, made on the wheel. Vase painting decoration, of a reddish wine color, was based on iron or manganese oxides on a whitish background. The appearance of pottery furnaces with manufacturing and prop residues allow us to know technical features of indigenous productions.

Weaving was the essential activity in the Iberian society, where clothing is quite developed regarding the standards of the Mediterranean world. Iberians widely used tanned hides, using them to make helmets and shields, and pack-saddles, harnesses, reins, etc. for animals. The diffusion of metallurgic techniques originated a flourishing workshop workmanship. Iberian blacksmiths made good tempered weapons and agricultural implements. Falchion handles and baldric bolts were decorated and overlaid with a silvered layer. The predilection for lively colored clothing originated the development of dye industry. In order to color their clothes, they used several mineral, animal and vegetal products, such as saffron to obtain yellow and purple to obtain red. In the end of the 2nd millennium BC, Oriental Mediterranean merchants established trading-stations in the southern littoral of the Peninsula, in order to obtain metals, colorants, cereals, horses, salt, etc., giving necklaces, weapons, ivory, ceramic vases, jewels, ostrich eggs, buckles, perfumes and other articles in return, in a pre-monetary exchange. Progressively, by influence of the colonizers, the indigenous society developed handicrafts and started to produce the majority of those products, establishing exchanges in a progressively monetary economy, especially in the 7th century BC, when the Greek coin circulated, then replaced in the middle of that millennium by colonial coinage and from the 3rd century to Romanization by indigenous coins.

Economy and Trading

One can consider, within a typically Iberian economic scene, the following exportation products: metals (gold, silver, copper); agricultural products (wheat and barley, along with some wine and olive oil in a more advanced phase); hides, flax and wool; colorants; salted fish and fish preserves; honey; horses; salt; slaves. Iberians imported, along with other products, glass objects, ostrich eggs, jewels and other embellishment objects, alabaster vases, ivory, etc. This product circulation developed a monetary economy. Mercantile activities depended on transport facilities and access ways. Facing the Mediterranean front, the Iberian civilization was essentially a maritime one. Their boats, at first sheathed with leather, started to be built with lumber, with a characteristic prow carved as a horse head. They used horses and carts to go about in their territories and to reach distant lands. Remains of car wheels found in archeological stations and the iconography of bronze ex votos proves the existence of vehicles, and these vehicles prove the existence of primitive roadways, linking settlements. They used a weighing system which gets inspiration from the Hellenic one, with a unity, multiples, and submultiples in a conical shape and a central orifice in the pieces.


Iberians worshiped their divinities in sanctuaries which were situated on the top of hills or near water-springs, or on other occasions, near subterranean cavities. Sanctuaries were constituted by wide platforms or terraces, with access stairways, where some modest constructions were placed. The faithful deposited there innumerous ex votos: these were generally statuettes with human representations, in a praying position, with animal representations or even personal embellishment objects, models of some human body parts, etc. There was a space in the sanctuary, called the thesaurus, where these offerings were deposited.

The Iberian religion is inserted in the Mediterranean beliefs scene at that time and reveals Oriental, Hellenic and Celtic influences. The Iberians believed in the survival of the soul and a big journey after bodily death. They burnt the dead bodies and kept their ashes in urns; near these, they deposited the weapons of the dead - folded, in order not to be used again - and fragments of ceramic vases, intentionally broken. They prepared several types of tombs, according to the religions: simple graves, little monuments covered by earth mounds and rectangular structures. The Oriental Mediterranean civilizations progressively introduced writing in the meridional seafront of the Peninsula, bringing the syllabic symbols at first and later the alphabet. Since the middle of the 1st millennium BC, this originated a complex graphic reproduction of the thinking, where archaic elements were combined with letters.

Arts and Culture

During the 2nd Iron Age, writing assumed original aspects in the Peninsula diversified in three wide geographic areas: one from the low Guadalquivir to the Sado, with bigger density in Alentejo and Algarve; one of the Southeast, from the high Guadalquivir to the provinces of Alicante and Almeria; and one last which comprised the East and extended to Languedoc and along the Ebro. Iberian writing, which was deciphered by Gómez-Moreno, registered a language which is supposed to belong to a linguistic pre-indo-european family. It is impossible to translate it, since the value of each letter is unknown. According to Gómez-Moreno, the Iberian alphabet is constituted by 29 symbols, in which 5 vowels were identified and several consonants, and many occlusive syllabic symbols. The currently known inscriptions revealed us that the Iberian writing was written left to right, while the other indigenous languages were written backwards. This writing is inscribed in coins, tombstones, copper, bronze or stone objects, painted or graphited on ceramic and lead objects. It is believed that the Iberian semi-syllabic system was constituted in the 5th century BC, and achieved a wide diffusion since the 4th century. The Iberian art sprouted in the littoral settlements of the southern Peninsula because of incentives and influences from the exterior, and achieved an original expression.

The habit of depositing artistic objects in tombs and worship places and the aesthetical worry of manufacturing ceramic pieces with figurative paintings favored the conservation of Iberian art testimonies. Sculpture manifested itself, prolixly, in human and animal representations of different sizes - from the monumental statuary to statuettes - and in rare elements of architectonic decoration. The latter appeared, in reduced quantity, in the extreme South of the Iberian area, in door-posts with interlaced volutes and in decorated capitals with semicircles inscribed within rectangles. Statues, carved in rock, are typical from the Southern regions and were made from the 5th century to the middle of the 3rd century BC, epoch in which they suddenly disappeared, supposedly not because of expression exhaustion. Bas-relieves and engraved drawing were also made out of stone. Statuettes, most of them ex votos collected in sanctuaries, were made in an industrial quantity, as they were used by every population stratum. This popular-taste serial production originated an obvious artistic sclerosis. Typically votive, statuettes were generally manufactured in bronze, and sometimes in stone or ceramic. Bronze statuettes, despite being difficult to date, are from the period comprised between the 4th century BC and the Romanization. In their iconography, one can find human and animal figures, being warrior representations and feminine statuettes in offering position the most quality works. Popular art is more visible in rude but expressive ceramic statuettes. Iberian human sculpture rarely represented nudity; on the contrary, it usually showed conventional figures with rich clothing embroidered by embellishment objects. Zoomorphic sculpture, which geographic distribution comprised high Andalucía up to Sagunto, revealed the following evolution: firstly, by oriental influence, monsters and hybrids appeared; then, Hellenic-inspired sphinxes and griffons; finally, typically indigenous figures of wolves, bulls and bears. This sculpture in its whole, since the middle of the 5th century BC, went through three phases: the Greco-oriental inspiration phase, the Iberian and the Romanized one. Besides what was referred about houses, fortresses and sanctuaries, it must be noted that architectonically there were some high dimensioned sepulchers and rare columns and capitals, from which we can conclude that almost every Iberian structure was utilitarian, erected with poor materials and with no decorative worries. In the 6th century BC, ceramics of the Iberian area were copies of Attic pottery of dark figures. The following painted vases were used since the middle of the 1st millennium BC until far 1st century AD and turned up to be a rich and numerous testimony of aesthetical worries of society at that time. These ceramics flourished during the 2nd Iron Age, with the following chronology for their three types: geometric decoration - characterized by parallel lines and bands, circles, concentric circular sections and wavy lines - was made during the referred period; vegetal decoration - combined with geometric patterns - is typical of the 3rd century BC; sometimes, those patterns were accompanied by a heraldic thematic of animal figures and winged goddesses; the typically zoomorphic decoration - in which human and animal representations conform geometric and vegetal patterns, in narrative friezes depicting hunting, dancing, worshipping or war scenes - is characteristic of the beginning of the 3rd century BC and the middle of the 1st century AD, and distinguishes itself as a relevant dating element, both in what concerns iconography and in epigraphic elements. It is probable that painted ceramic was of common use, although it was not applied in the cooking utensils. In a so beautiful pictorial whole, having pottery as its basis, vases which were manufactured in big urban centers reveal a more delicate artistic treatment than the ones made in rural areas, where popular taste is evident in naïve and rude representations. One type of reddish-colored and oriental-influenced ceramic coexisted with the Iberian one until beginnings of the 2nd century BC, epoch in which it starts to be replaced by bell-shaped ceramic. Jewelry from the meridional band of the Peninsula belongs to a tartessian-iberian complex, where the techniques of spouting, granulating and soldering can be seen in a spectacular style that reveals Celtic, Hellenic, Phoenician, Punic and even Etruscan influences. The Iberian civilization, despite being culturally an extension of the flourishing Oriental Mediterranean communities, had the merit of giving an original expression to the received influences and approaching the Iberian Peninsula to the gates of History.

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Impressive! Sorry I haven't been keeping up with the thread, but this is fairly awesome. :shrug:

This is definitely helpful to me, and anyone who'll be working on Iberian art.

And Vit, B) trust me, I've done that. I wrote the Viriato biography, after all. There's just not a lot of accurate information on the internet in English, and even Spanish/Portuguese sites either portray the exact same information, or just add a bias.

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I've just read it in the encyclopedia...

Quoted from the "Luso-Brazilian Encyclopedia of Culture":

"(...)The Lusitanians were the only Iberian tribe which maintained their freedom war for the longest time(...)"

Yeah, I guess that doesn't mean they were the last tribe standing... But it was this I meant to say.

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Something about Viriato:

Viriato – Lusitanian leader (2nd century BC). According to Diodorus Siculus, “he belonged to the Lusitanians who lived near the ocean”, that is, not in the oriental Lusitania – the Lusitanians habitat which, as Strabo said, was “hilly and rough” – but in the occidental part, conquered by them – facing the sea and “plain, except for some low altitude mountains” (which apparently excludes Serra da Estrela from his birthplace). Still according to Diodorus, “he was a shepherd since a child and accustomed to mountain life, overcoming the other Iberians in strength, speed and agility”. He was elected leader by the Lusitanian people after the loss which was inflicted by praetor Vetilius in the valley of Betis (Guadalquivir) in 147 BC, and he soon revealed himself “as a man with a greatly sharp astuteness, who went from hunter to brigand, and from brigand to general and emperor” – says Florus. That is, he was a victorious military chief, who quickly rallied a bandits’ gang around him, commanded them “always covered by ferrous armor” – according to Diodorus – being mostly admired not only because of his strength, but also because of the command skills he proved to have. Thus, he managed to successively win over the Romans, applying the escaping stratagem in order to force them to follow his own way, and then taking them by surprise, unseen, darting iron javelins with harpoon-shaped ends, which caused extremely grave wounds. Romans could not defend themselves, because Lusitanians promptly ran away mounted on very quick horses. The cruelty of these fights leaded the Romans to take actions which they own condemned as harsh and even disloyal. War lasted 8 years (147 – 139 BC), with successive losses of praetors, pro-consuls, and consuls. However, Viriato was constrained by the peoples affected by extremely grave depredations, and he was forced to send three ambassadors to Scipio, pro-consul of Ulterior. These ambassadors betrayed Viriato, killing him, leaded by a reward promise; in vain, because the Roman Senate did not acknowledged the signed agreements. He was an unquestionable historical figure – his activities are clearly documented – but nonetheless the legend laid hold on him, transforming him in a national hero, who defended the independence of his people. However, the truth is that Viriato and the Lusitanians he commanded lived on robbery and booty, prejudicing the laborious population of the country, dominating it by terror, without any patriotic feelings. And in their turn, the Romans – who wanted the re-establishment of peace, an essential condition for economic development – acted as liberators of the indigenous population, favoring the resurgence of their agricultural and mercantile activities, severely affected by the bellicose actions of the Lusitanian. Thus, Viriato was the leader of an aggressively dominating people, who gravely prejudiced the indigenous population with his violence and arbitrariness, and was far from protecting it from the Roman invasion.

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