History - Prehistory

Prehistory in Andalucia - Up to 3rd century BC

Andalucia, with its extensive coast and proximity to another continent - Africa, just across the Strats of Gibraltar - was often one of the first areas to be explored and settled by new tribes. For this reason, the region is rich with archaeological remains going back millennia, some better preserved and explained than others. Many towns - even small ones - have their own museums displaying the artefacts which were uncovered in the vicinity, whether from tombs, caves, dolmens or other structures or dwelling places.

Historians disagree, by many millennia, on dates for ancient civilizations in Spain, especially in the melting-pot, multi-cultural first century BC, but this is broadly the early history of the region. Pre-history is defined as before the existence of writing systems to record events.

NEANDERTHAL MAN  - 50,000 to 25,000 BC

Neanderthal man lived in caves on the Rock of Gibraltar. A skull has been found in Gorham's cave. At the Ardales cave near Malaga, stalagmites and stalactites that form curtain-like patterns on the walls appear to have been painted red, dated to 65,500 years ago they are attributed to Neanderthal.

Neolithic - 23,000 BC

Neolithic (Stone Age) permanent settlements. From this era, you can see paintings in caves of Pileta and Nerja; settlements in Guadix caves.

IBERIANS - 8,000-4,000 BC

North African tribes arrive, later known as Iberians. 7.000 years ago during the Neolithic period there were changes in human behavior in the Iberian peninsular. Whilst man was still hunting and living in caves there was increasing examples of seasonal agricultural camps. These communities perfected tool making with wood and polished stone. Ceramics were also used. By the end of the Neolithic Period, dwellings are circular huts rather than caves, which are now used as burial chambers


Chalcolithic (early Copper Age) dolmens of Valencina de la Concepcion near Sevilla - elaborate jewellery and carved ornaments. During the Chalcolithic and Copper Age the inhabitants began to take advantage of the sea.


Copper Age settlement in Los Millares, Almeria has evidence of a copper furnace and dedicated buildings. At the end of the Copper Age and beginning of the Bronze Age (about 2000 BC) a series of hill camps such as on Sierra Bermeja that are dedicated to mining have been detected.   Evidence of habitation in the Cueva de la Mena near Antequera; also the Cuevas de Viera and Menga. The Menga has a vast chamber carved with symbols and human figures, while the Viera is smaller.


Late Bronze Age

Phoenicians - 1, 100 BC

Cadiz city founded by Phoenicians (from Lebanon). You can see many artefacts dating from this period at the Archaeology Museums of Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva.

TARTESSUS - 1000 to 500 BC

Legendary kingdom of Tartessus, in Guadalquivir basin. You can see the Egyptian-influenced Tesoro de Carambolo, intricately-detailed gold jewellery found near Seville dating from 600BC, in the city's Archaeology Museum. Square buildings now used.


Celtic tribes move down to Spain from northern Europe, merging with the Iberian culture.

700 BC

Phoenicia becomes part of the Persian Empire; Greeks sail across Mediterranean to southern Spain, influencing Celto-Iberians.

Carthaginians 600 TO 300 BC

Carthaginians (from North Africa) arrive in southern Spain, monopolizing western Mediterranean trading routes; they destroy Tartessus.  The Carthaginian Empire establishes a base in Spain


Next: Romain in Andalucia