The term “Iberia” comes from the Ancient Greek word “Iberes,” which was used to refer to the people who lived in the region.

Spain, Portugal and Andorra. For these people the neolithic, copper and bell beaker eras was a very important period(s). The area generally refers to the Iberian Peninsula, which is located in southwestern Europe. During prehistoric Iberia, a rich archaeological record was left behind. Stone tools and trade in the Iberian region may have actually originated as the first forms of money. An alternative route of exploration and development from the northwest side of Africa. Because, the fertile crescent, in the NE (other side of Africa). They were experiencing different types of climatic change, and it was further from these parts of Europe.

Art was very significant here
Iberian rock art was widespread. It is found at over 700 sites. Especially along the east, and near France. The art is the most advanced, and widespread surviving from the paleo, meso and neolithic narative(s). Included are some of the first rock carvings with paint (friezes). Scenes with large numbers of small sketchily painted human figures. Superbly observed individual animal figures. The most common scenes by far are of hunting. There are scenes of battle and dancing, and possibly agricultural tasks like managing domesticated animals. And, even recreation, and sexual depictions. It must have been amazing. In one of the most famous scenes. Gathering honey is shown, most famously at Cuevas de la Araña en Bicorp (pictured below).

Cuevas de la Araña en Bicorp location

Neolithic Era Iberia

Like many neolithic accounts, not much is known beyond 6000 BC. But it’s believed by around 5700 BC cardium pottery culture reached eastern Iberia. While some remains of this culture have been found as far west as Portugal. Its distribution is basically more commonly associated in Mediterranean regions. Catalonia, Valencian region; the Ebro valley, and Balearic islands.
The Andalusian, or Spainish neolithic, influenced many areas. Notably southern Portugal. Around 4800 BC, where soon after the arrival of agriculture. They were farming, and first dolmen tombs were built. Interior, and northern coastal areas remained largely marginal in the spread of agriculture evidence. In most cases it has been found very late phase. Even as late as the Chalcolithic age. And, together with Megalithism.

Évora region, and south central Portugal

The location of Perdigões (Portugese for lost), in Reguengos de Monsaraz. Is thought to have been an important location. Since 2011, twenty small ivory statues dating to 2,500 years BC have been discovered there. It has a necropolis (ancient cemetery). And, outside it, there is a cromlech (portal tomb).

Almendres Cromlech

The Almendres Cromlech site. In Évora has megaliths from the late 6th to the early 3rd millennium BC. It is the largest existing group of structured menhirs (standing stone) in the Iberian Peninsula. And, one of the largest in Europe.

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro

The Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, also in Évora, is dated between 4000 and 3000 BC.

The Antequera Dolmen sites

The Antequera Dolmens date from after c. 3700 BC. In the south of Spain. Composing of 3 cultural monument sites: Dolmen of Menga, Dolmen of Viera and Tholos of El Romeral. As well, 2 natural mountain features. The Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal.

Dolmen of Cunha Baixa

The Dolmen of Cunha Baixa, in Mangualde Municipality. Is dated between 3000 and 2500 BC. It is located in mid to north Portugal.

Cave of Salem-as

The Cave of Salemas is scary looking. Located in northern Portugal. It was also used as a burial ground during the neolithic.

Dolmen de soto location

Dolemen de soto.

The Chalcolithic or Copper Age; and, Bell beaker culture

Around 5000 years ago a metal age begin in Iberia. Leaving behind more artifacts and evidence of domestication. Since copper was more common than with arsenic. Metal goods, were often only decorative or for ritual purpose. And, more common. Alone copper (gold and silver too), was too soft a metal for weapons and most tools. Especially in the south of the peninsula. Men and women begin to trade decorative copper jewelry, and artifacts.

Castro of Vila Nova de São Pedro

A significant Chalcolithic archeological site in Portugal is the Castro of Vila Nova de São Pedro. (in western Portugal, pictured above).

Tagus estuary in Portugal

5000 years ago. Origin of the “bell beaker” artifact. Has been traced to the early 3rd millennium BC. And, includes the “maritime” bell beaker. Found at Tagus estuary, in Portugal. This ‘maritime bell beaker’ is argued to have been what impressed decorations and art found widely here. And, spread northward. Famous Czech archaeologist, Jan Turek. Said that perhaps these late Neolithic precursors begun in northern Africa. And, using carbon dating, spread north to Bohemia, France; the Lower Rine, Danube; and, the Alps. In as little as 400 years.

It was a unique time on the coast. Probably originating from the beakers style, trade and climate change

Studying archaeogenetics provides a picture of how significant beaker culture, (and the bell shape), was to the neolithic age. Scientist Olalde et al (2017) found answers to the “migrate vs. diffuse” question to some extent. He found only a “limited genetic affinity” between people associated with the beaker complex. And, originating from Iberia. Suggesting that migration played a limited role in its early spread from Iberia. However, the same study found that the further dissemination of the mature bell beaker complex. It was very strongly linked to migration. Vindicating significance in pottery development from the Andalusian and Iberian region. The spread and fluidity and the bell beakers. In later times. Back and forth between the Rhine, and its origin source in the peninsula. It may have introduced high levels of steppe-related ancestry. Or, what could have even been their shape, and look pointing to the attractiveness of curvaceous women (or, man). And, appeal to be creating be families. What a tool. Recently scientists have identified a near-complete transformation of the local gene pool. And, within a few centuries. Bang. About 90% of the local Mesolithic-Neolithic patrilineal lineages replaced. Now that is quite astounding.

Other copper, and bell beaker settlements from this period include:

Pedra do Ouro (on the coast)

Castro of Zambujal

Pedra do Ouro was on the coast. And, the Castro of Zambujal. The bluff above. Where the bell beaker phenomenon is thought to be started.

Castelo Velho de Freixo de Numão

The Castelo Velho de Freixo de Numão (now a Portugese medevil castle), in Vila Nova de Foz Côa Municipality, was populated from about 3000 to 1300 BC.

Cerro do Castelo de Santa Justa

The Cerro do Castelo de Santa Justa, in Alcoutim, is dated to the 3rd millennium BC, between 2400 and 1900 BC.

Los Millares in SE Spain (south Spain, across from Africa)

Urban communities begin to appear all over Iberia. And during the Iberian chalcolithic bell beaker culture. It had successfully intruded the area.

It is unclear if the large influence of Neolithic cultural originated in the eastern Mediterranean, or fertile crescent region. The question still remains? Even though there are tholos in both. And, similarities in architecture. They both had, fishing hunting. Jewelry; and, commercial commodities. Enough to keep them busy. Even spark a civilizations.

Overall, neolithic; and, copper bell beaker Iberia was a period of great cultural and technological diversity, characterized by the emergence and disappearance of numerous civilizations and cultures. Leaving behind a rich and varied archaeological legacy.

Bibliography: Menéndez, Mario (2019). Prehistoria de la Península Ibérica : el progreso de la cognición, el mestizaje y las desigualdades durante más de un millón de años ( Madrid: Alianza Editorial. pp. 17–37. ISBN 978-84-9181-602-7. OCLC 1120111673 (

Lucinda Canelas and Marta Portocarrero (8 August 2012). “Estatuetas descobertas no Alentejo têm 4500 anos e cabem na palma da mão” ( Público (in Portuguese).

F. Jordá Cerdá et al., Historia de España I: Prehistoria, 1986. ISBN 84-249-1015-X

Garrido Pena, Rafael (January 2014). “Bell Beakers in Iberia”. In Almagro, M. (ed.). Iberia.

Harrison, R.; Heyd, V. (2007). “The Transformation of Europe in the Third Millennium BC: the example of ‘Le Petit-Chasseur I + III’ (Sion, Valais, Switzerland)” (

Praehistorische Zeitschrift. 82 (2): 129–214. doi:10.1515/pz.2007.010 ( S2CID 161404297 (

Protohistory of the far west of Europe: from Neolithic to Roman conquest ( Universidad de Burgos. Fundación Atapuerca. pp. 113–124. ISBN 978-84-92681-91-4.

Noé, Paula (1991). Monumento pré-histórico no Casal do Zambujal / Castro do Zambujal (v.PT031113130010) ( (Report) (in Portuguese).

Lisbon, Portugal: Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico (SIPA). Archived from the original (

Garcia, José Manuel (1989). História de Portugal: Uma Visão Global. Lisboa: Editorial Presença. pp. 28–32. ISBN 978-9722309899.

“Castelo Velho de Freixo de Numão” ( (in Portuguese). Government of Portugal.

“Cerro do Castelo de Santa Justa” (

Olalde, I., Brace, S., Allentoft, M. E., Armit, I., Kristiansen, K., Booth, T. C., Rohland, N., Mallick, S., Szécsényi-Nagy, A., Mittnik, A., Altena, E., Lipson, M., Lazaridis, I., Harper, T. K., Price, A. L., Broomandkhoshbacht, N., Diekmann, Y., Faltyskova, Z., Fernandes, D. J., . . . Reich, D. (2018). The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe. Nature, 555(7695), 190–196.

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