Rock sanctuaries, sacred landscapes, and the making of the Iberian pantheon




Sinner, Alejandro G.
Ferrer i Jané, Joan

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Sanctuaries are common spaces of interaction between humankind and the gods. In many religious systems, mountains and other elevated topographical features are known to have formed part of these privileged spaces of communication. It is not surprising that open-air and, in many cases, rock sanctuaries are the cultic spaces par excellence among the pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula. In this article, we offer a more nuanced picture of these architectonically humble but culturally rich sacred spaces by studying the Palaeohispanic inscriptions recorded in rock sanctuaries located in the territories of the Iberian peoples (fourth–first centuries BCE). Special attention will be paid to the corpus of inscriptions in Cerdanya (Pyrénées-Orientales and Catalonia), where more than 150 texts have so far been identified. After a brief introduction contextualizing the Rock Sanctuaries, the Iberian language, and the epigraphic habit of its speakers, the first section of our article analyses the characteristics that enable us to interpret most of these inscriptions as religious and votive formulations. The second half of the paper discusses what these inscriptions can reveal about the Iberian pantheon and how these rock sanctuaries formed a consolidated religious landscape that was to survive the Roman conquest. The reinterpretation of the Celtiberian sanctuary of Peñalba de Villastar will be fundamental to put forward the hypothesis that, while Iberian and Celtiberian places of worship and pantheons had points of contact, they were mostly dissociated from each other prior to the Roman arrival.



Iberian language, religion, deities, Iron Age, Hispania, Palaeohispanic epigraphy, pantheon


Sinner, A. & Ferrer i Jané, J. (2022). “Rock sanctuaries, sacred landscapes, and the making of the Iberian pantheon.” Religions, 13(8), 722.