How Spain Got Its Name From The Phoenicians

spain name phoenician origin

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The Phoenicians, the original people of modern-day Lebanon, were a well-traveled ancient nation and regarded as the some of greatest traders of the Mediterranean.

Notable for inventing the alphabet, discovering the technique of glass blowing, the color purple, amongst other things, the Phoenicians, although long gone, left their influential mark on today’s world.

In fact, the Phoenicians are even credited with giving Spain its name (‘i špn).

Travelers of the Sea

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phoenicians founded trading posts around the entire Mediterranean.

As such, Phoenicians are believed to have been the earliest settlers of Spain’s coastal region, where they founded many ancient cities, such as Western Europe’s oldest cities of Cádiz and Málaga.

Not long ago, archaeologists even discovered a large ancient moat built by the Phoenicians around 3,000 years ago in Spain.

Spain, the Land of Rabbits

While Spanish researcher Jesús Luis Cunchillos advanced that the word span originated from the Phoenician term spy meaning “to forge metals”, it is more widely believed that the term span was from the Phoenician word I-Shpania which literally means “island/land of rabbits”.

To add to the “rabbits” theory though, was the finding of Roman coins from the period of the Roman emperor Hadrian that featured a woman and a rabbit.

Speaking of Romans, when they conquered the region in around 200 BC, they changed the name to Hispania. The name morphed over time into what it is known as today, España in Spanish and Spain in English.

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