Banco de datos de lenguas paleohispánicas

Zone D



Access to the zone c and d database

Regions C and D of the MLH III contain the inscriptions found between the Pyrenees and the River Ebro: they therefore include almost all of Catalonia, with the exception of Cerdanya (Zone B) and some of the towns in the west of the province of Tarragona (Zone E, Batea, T.04 and Miravet, T.05) and to the south of the Ebro (Alcanar, Zone F, T.13), and also the north-east of Aragon. Region C comprises of the costal areas, that is, the modern-day provinces of Girona, Tarragona and part of Barcelona, occupied in antiquity by the Indigetes, Laietani, Cosetani, and Ilercavones. Region D covers the interior, or the modern-day provinces of Huesca, Lleida and the rest of Barcelona, in which three large groups were established: the Ausetani, the Lacetani and the Ilergetes. The two zones show close commercial and cultural links from an early date but differ in many aspects of their epigraphic culture.

inland Sites and their epigraphy

Knowledge of the Iberian epigraphy in Zone D has increased since the publication of volume III of the MLH, which recorded 12 sites with Palaeohispanic inscriptions, while today they number 45. In this zone are also found the mints of auśesken (Mon.07), śikaŕa (Mon.114), ieśo (Mon.10), iltiŕta (Mon.18) and eśo (Mon.17), predecessors of the main Roman cities in the interior of Catalonia: Auso (Vic), Sigarra (Els Prats de Rei), Iesso (Guissona), Ilerda (Lleida) and Aeso (Isona). Others could also be ascribed to ethnic groups in the region, such as euśti (baikula) (Mon.09) and ore (Mon.31), probably belonging to the Ausetani. However, the location of mints such as iltiŕkesken (Mon.19) and aŕketuŕki (Mon.28) is the subject of much more debate, although different scholars have placed them in the interior of Catalonia.

The distribution of the finds is notable: there a few sites with more than six inscriptions and despite being cities that minted their own coins or towns of a certain importance, the bulk of the documentation is comprised of graffiti on pottery of few signs or very fragmentary. In the case of Serrat de Sant Miquel de Sorba (Montmajor: B.01), Sigarra (B.12), Can Sotaterra (Solsona: L.03), Ilerda (L.08) and Iesso (L.18), only at the last site are inscriptions on epigraphic supports other than pottery known. Archaeological knowledge of the majority of these sites is still poor, as for example in Ilerda or Sigarra, but the published inscriptions seem to be significant sample of what is hidden underground.

This general scarcity in the epigraphic record is at odds with the number of inscribed sheets of lead in the area of the Ilergetes. Unfortunately, in general they are clandestine finds made by metal detectors which do not provide any information about their archaeological context. It should be noted that the collection from Monteró (Camarasa: L.01), with three tablets, two of them containing writing on both sides and showing evidence of being used for previous text in the style of a palimpsest (L.01.02-03). The oldest one is the only to have been discovered in the course of a regular excavation (L.01.03). Two more come from Olriols (San Esteban de Litera: HU.03.01) and Tossal del Mor (Tàrrega: L.17.01), and the sixth is of unknown origin but was ascribed to the Bajo Segre by Untermann (L.00.01).

Despite being short, the formulaic nature of the inscriptions on stone makes them key pieces for our understanding of the Iberian language. In this way, mention should be made of the monuments from La Vispesa (Binéfar: HU.01.01-02), the lost epitaph from Fraga (HU.02.01), the stele from Iesso (L.18.01), and the tombstone from Civit (Talavera: L.20.01). Other inscriptions though, such as those from the Turó de l’Osona (Vic: B.03.01) or Sant Hipòlit de Voltregà (B.05.01), are very fragmentary and difficult to extract much information from a linguistic point of view. It should also be noted that the collection of rock inscriptions at Les Graus near the site of L’Esquerda (Les Masies de Roda: B.07.01), L’Esquirol (with non-dual signary), Sant Martí de Centelles (B.23.01) and La Roca dels Moros del Cogul (L.09.01), cover the long cultural tradition in which Iberian graffiti share the space with schematic engravings from the Prehistoric age and Latin votive inscriptions. Among the pottery inscriptions it is necessary to highlight the uniqueness of the jar from La Joncosa (Jorba: B.11.01), with an ante cocturam inscription of some 350 signs which constitutes one of the longest and most exceptional Iberian texts in the entire corpus. The importance of more modest pieces should also be borne in mind, such as the ostracon from Can Sotaterra (L.03.01) and the spindle whorl from Gebut (Soses: L.07.02), whose revision led to the solution of the dual system in the North-Eastern Iberian script and it being generally accepted by the scientific community, having been decisive in the proposal of the signs bo1 and bo3 as ta (Ferrer i Jané 2005). Another spindle whorl from Margalef (Torregrossa) without any clear interpretation at all could in fact be one of the first examples in the territory of the Ilergetes of pseudo-writing (L.11.02). Finally, two pottery stamps from Iesso should be mentioned (L.18.03 and .14), which are the only artisan marks documented until now in the region.

list of Hesperia references  used for Zone D can be viewed by clicking the link.


The appearance of writing in the interior of Catalonia, which is covered by Zone D, is later that at the coast, which corresponds with Zone C. Despite the existence of two inscriptions on Attic black-glazed pottery dating to the 4th century BCE from Roques de Sant Formatge (Seròs: L.06.01) and Tossal de les Tenalles (Sidamon: L.14.01), there is agreement that they were probably inscribed at a different, coastal site. The epigraphic habit seems to be introduced slowly in the second half of the 3rd century BCE. Particularly revealing are the lead sheets of the Ilergetes, whose function excludes casual importation and guarantees the presence of literate individuals in this findspot. At least one of these uses the dual system (L.01.03) and can be dated before 200 BCE, while the rest demonstrate a series of archaizing palaeographic features which, independently of whether these tablets use the dual system or not, allow for a dating between the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 2nd century BCE. However, the majority of the documentation in Zone D, consisting of inscriptions of Campanian black-glaze pottery or that from Cales should be dated to the middle of the 2nd to the second third of 1st century BCE, a date which in general coincides with the inscriptions on stone and other pieces, such as the jar from La Joncosa (B.11.01). The case of Ilerda indicates that substitution of Iberian epigraphy by Latin probably took place during the reign of Augustus. A supposedly Palaeohispanic inscription on terra sigillata from the Mas de l'Hereu (Alcarràs), which constituted one of the most recent examples in the corpus from the region, is in fact a Latin text (L.24.01LATINA).


The interior of Catalonia, mainly because of the presence of inscriptions of a later date, provides fewer examples of the dual writing script than coastal areas. This script is characterised by the use of signs marked with an extra stroke added to the standard form of the sign. The exhaustive and systematic study by Ferrer i Jané (2005) has demonstrated that this dual system was used, with varying degrees of systematicity, to graphically represent the phonological difference between voiced or unvoiced consonants (or those assimilable to voicings according to Roman ears) present in the Iberian language, which is not expressed in the standard non-dual system. It has been shown that in the dual system of North-eastern Iberian the simple sign that represents a voiced plosive, while the marked signed denotes the corresponding unvoiced sound; 𐊐 /da/ - 𐊌 /ta/ (see here). Although the most recent scholarship, such as the Lexikon der iberischen Inschriften (2019) edit or cite these texts in the dual system using a transcription based on the Latin alphabet, with t and k for the unvoiced and b, d and g for the voiced plosives. The form used by Hesperia has been followed here, as used in the other epigraphic zones (see here). Therefore, the signs that have an additional stroke (𐊌) have been transcribed as an accentuated syllable (tá), leaving the traditional transcription (ta) for the simple form of the sign (𐊐).

Map 1: Sites in epigraphic zone C (interactive map: click to see photos of some of the sites)

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