When a 2,000-Year-Old Iberian Settlement was Unearthed, The Remnants Confirmed a Tragic Story of Bravery, Death, and Suicide

Ancient Origins | 2/18/2017 | Staff
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A legendary battle which remains one of the most iconic accounts of the brave struggles of native Iberian people took place in a small village in 134 BC. Faced with a powerful Roman legion, even their well-built hillfort could not save them from meeting their deaths at the end of a Roman sword.

Numantia is the hillfort where this devastating battle took place and it dates back to the Iron Age. It is located in the village of Garray, in the Spanish province of Soria, and knowledge of it comes from the writings of Roman author and historian, Pliny the Elder. Pliny wrote that the hillfort belonged to the Pellendones, a mysterious people that are believed to have been a mixture of Illyrians and Celts. However, according to Greek historians Ptolemy and Strabo, Numantia belonged to the Arevaci tribe, a mixture of Celts with native Iberian people. Modern researchers believe that both the Pellendones and the Arevaci were related to each other. Whoever they were, the inhabitants of Numantia became the main characters in a sad story about a crushing defeat at the hands of the Romans.

Plan - Peninsula - Roman - Empire - Land

The plan for conquering the Iberian Peninsula had endured for as long as the Roman Empire had existed – a land rich in fertile soil for agriculture, and other precious resources, could provide a crucial boost to the economy of an expanding empire. Moreover, control of the southern part of Iberia would allow control over the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, which was the ‘center of the world’ in antiquity.

Before defeating the warriors in the hillfort, the Roman army had faced several severe failures. When in 137 BC, Roman consul Hostilius Mancinus has arrived for a campaign against Numantia, he panicked due to rumors about the strength of the enemy and accounts say he put...
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