The Iberian lynx is a rare sight nowadays. It is actually the most endangered feline species in the world, and the few remaining individuals can only be found in some areas of western Andalusia (south of Spain). They are called Iberian for obvious geographic reasons. The Iberian Peninsula (Spain + Portugal) is named after the term Iberia, used by the Greeks and the Romans to refer to the peoples that they met on the Mediterranean coast. In fact, it was originally the name of a river (Iberos, nowadays Ebro). Through time, Iberia acquired its modern meaning, grossly equivalent to ancient Hispania. But the ethnonym Iberian is also an archaeological term, referring to a given pre-Roman material culture, associated with a language (still undeciphered) that can be read in a series of inscriptions. The meaning of ethnonyms and ancient languages is usually quite inaccurate and often misleading, and the term Iberian is no exception. However, we can be quite certain that around the east and south of Sapin there was a cultural continuum, including inscriptions and characteristic place-names, apart from a given set of settlement structures, that is generally labelled Iberian. In contrast to this, the rest of pre-Roman Spain is thought to be Celtic. Now, let's go back to the rare Iberian lynx: how Iberian is it actually? The territory where it is presently found is not at all the heart of the Iberian world. The Iberian lynx is probably more Tartessian than Iberian. The Tartessians are also quite a mysterious people themselves. For some authors (see e.g. here), they would be connected to the Celts, though this theory is far from being generally accepted.
So where do you have to go if you want to meet the real Iberians? A good place to go is Medierranean Spain, the area where I live. One of my hobbies is to visit the archaeological sites in the Valencia area; I've seen many of them, and I'm planning more tours in the future. The other day, I even had the chance to meet some ancient Iberians! I went to a site in Caudete de las Fuentes, supposed to be the ancient Kelin, a name that has been preserved in coins. Let's see some pictures from that day:
There I was with an Iberian lady who welcomed us in the museum (picture on the left) and listening to some merchants (right), in this beautiful reenactment organized by the University of Valencia. This type of events really helps you get closer to the ancient world. They are not just a show for families or some kind of touristy entertainment. Archaeology is more than just stones or abstractions, archaeology is something that can (or must) be felt, looked at, measured. Let's see another picture:
A couple of years ago I started my PhD dissertation, focused on the ancient languages of Britain. Some lines of my research are outlined in my blog, and they obviously include a good deal of arcchaeology. Now, there's a problem here. I haven't been to Britain in many years, and I don't have any direct experience of British archaeology: I haven't visited any of the main sites, which means I don't have a personal perspective of places, distances, the real size and look of ancient artifacts. To put it simple: I haven't touched British past. It is impossible to do research from simple abstractions, or from books. If you do something in life, try to make it real. That's why I think I won't finish my dissertation.