If a text on ancient history references Iberia, don’t automatically assume you know the location. It could be indicating one of two places, separated by 4,000 miles on the map of antiquity and a universe apart in the ancient world.
Most likely the reference is to the Iberian peninsula, the geographic region containing modern-day Spain and Portugal. The name was first used by the Greeks, and adopted by the Romans as “Hispania.” It is believed that the origin of the word is in the word “Iber,” which the ancient Iberians used to say river (which may have survived in the modern name or the Ebro river, which was named by the Romans Iberus Flumen, or River Iber).
However, there was also the Kingdom of Iberia, the predecessor to modern-day Georgia in the southern Caucasus. Also called “Caucasian Iberia” or “Eastern Iberia” to distinguish it from the peninsula, this kingdom lasted for close to a thousand years from the 4th century BC to the 5th century AD, and later became the Principate of Iberia under Persian control and then the Theme of Iberia under the rule of the Byzantine Empire.
Today there are no states or kingdoms called Iberia, but in the United States there are two local bodies, the town of Iberia in Ohio, and Iberia Parish in Louisiana.