- This topic has 8 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated by Simon_100.
February 14, 2021 at 10:10 pm #252Rachel
Hello, so intrigued by finding this forum I clicked the link to the iberianature website and started reading…. Then I thought that i had better register and make a comment or two…. Fantastic!
“Spain itself takes its name from the Latin Hispania. The word is probably Phoenician in origin, derived from shepham probably meaning ‘coast or island of rabbits’. The rabbit, at the time, was endemic and virtually restricted to the Peninsula. The oldest existing fossil of a rabbit is a specimen from 2.5 million years ago found in Granada. In fact, the rabbit did not really expand from Iberia until the Phoenicians, began to export it around the Mediterranean.”
I am quoting from here….
🙂February 18, 2021 at 10:27 am #409Simon_100
Hmm, according to Wikipedia the Romans did indeed get the term from the Greeks who in turn learned it from the Phonecians, so far so good. But …
“The ancient Greeks reached the Iberian Peninsula, of which they had heard from the Phoenicians, by voyaging westward on the Mediterranean. Hecataeus of Miletus was the first known to use the term Iberia, which he wrote about circa 500 BC. Herodotus of Halicarnassus says of the Phocaeans that “it was they who made the Greeks acquainted with […] Iberia.” According to Strabo, prior historians used Iberia to mean the country “this side of the Ἶβηρος” (Ibēros, the Ebro) as far north as the Rhône, but in his day they set the Pyrenees as the limit. Polybius respects that limit, but identifies Iberia as the Mediterranean side as far south as Gibraltar, with the Atlantic side having no name. Elsewhere he says that Saguntum is “on the seaward foot of the range of hills connecting Iberia and Celtiberia.”
Strabo refers to the Carretanians as people “of the Iberian stock” living in the Pyrenees, who are distinct from either Celts or Celtiberians.”
So it appears to be named after the Ebro river, unless that derives from ‘rabbits’ …
I think it’s about time we got a guy called Technopat in to adjudicate! 🙂February 18, 2021 at 2:01 pm #413Nick Lloyd
Yes Simon, nice to speak, you’re right etymology is a very dangerous game. I’ve been saying recently rabbit is the most widely accepted theory, but also saying there are others. Interestingly, if the rabbits theory is correct we are not talking about rabbits because the Phoenicians wouldn’t have had a word for an animal they had never seen before, but rather rock hyrax a North African animal I think -but may be wrong – related to elephants, which they presumably confused with our bunnies, which are
also smallish furry little rabbit like animals. But as I say, this all suppose is the rabbit theory is correct. By the way, the references to the rabbit in the Bible will also refer originally to rock hyrax as they weren’t any rabbits in PalestineFebruary 19, 2021 at 7:38 am #414Simon_100
Ha ha Nick, as you say etymology questions are high risk topics, that’s why they make such good forum posts!
Hmm, curiouser and curiouser. Let’s agree to cut some slack over exactly which small furry animals we’re talking about – incidentally we are currently being overrun by our neighbour’s pet rabbits! – as in a way it’s equal no matter which bunny type is in question and get back to where the term was first coined. If Stabo cops out by claiming ‘Iberia’ was derived from the old name for the Ebro then where does the ‘rabbit’ theory come from, Pliny the Elder perhaps? Where did you coe across the theory Nick?
February 19, 2021 at 1:21 pm #432Nick Lloyd
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Simon_100.
Hi Simon, just to be clear we’re talking about Hispania/Spain coming from the Phoenician for rock hyrax (coast or land of, and Iberia coming from ultimately the Basque for river – ibai.February 20, 2021 at 7:56 am #433Simon_100
H ha, no, that wasn’t clear at all frm the way I read your description in IbNat!February 21, 2021 at 6:20 pm #442Helen
It must be true because I read it on quora.com 🙂
Spain was first called Iberia a name given to it by its Iberian inhabitants (from North Africa). The name was supposedly based on the Iberian word for river, Iber. They reached Spain around 6000 b.c. When the Greeks arrived on Spanish soil around 600 b.c. they referred to the peninsula as Hesperia, meaning “land of the setting sun.” When the Carthaginians came around 300 b.c. they called the country Ispania (from Sphan, “rabbit”), which means “land of the rabbits.” The Romans arrived a century later and adopted the Carthaginian name of the country, calling it Hispania. Later, this became the present day Spanish name for the country, España. Thus, because of the Romans and their language, the rabbits won over the sunset and over the river.
Spain, The Root and the Flower. John A.Crow.
University of California Press. 1985. Page 7.
Breathe and try to be nice to people 🙂February 22, 2021 at 8:53 am #445Rachel
Thank you for all the replies! certainly a lot more reading to be done! The The Root and the Flower book looks fascinating.
🙂February 22, 2021 at 9:32 am #450Simon_100
The The Root and the Flower book looks fascinating.
Yes indeed, it would make a nice addition to the collection, but I’d read some of it with a pinch of salt to hand! 🙂
It’s a shame the chapters on contemporary history werenpt available to preview but I bet they’d be rather suspiciously upbeat!
More controversy to follow … or shoukd that be contróversy 🙂
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Simon_100.
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