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The tribes confederated as the Aquitani and other pre-Indo-European tribes are in black

The Aquitanians (Latin: Aquitani) were a people living in what is now southern Aquitaine and southwestern Midi-Pyrenees, France, called Aquitania by the Romans, in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic ocean, and the Garonne, present-day southwestern France. They were an ancient non-Indo-European, pre-Celtic population, that lived in the northern slopes of the Pyrenees. They spoke the Aquitanian language, related to Basque. Classical authors such as Julius Caesar and Strabo clearly distinguish them from the other peoples of Gaul (Gallia) and Iberia (Hispania). With the process of Romanization, in the centuries of Roman Empire, they adopted the Latin Language (Vulgar Latin) and Roman civilization. Their old language, the Aquitanian language, was the substrate of Gascon language (a romance language) spoken later by the Gascons.


  • History 1
  • Relation to Basque people and language 2
  • Tribes 3
    • Aquitani related peoples or tribes 3.1
  • References 4
  • External links 5
  • See also 6


At the time of the Roman conquest, Julius Caesar, who defeated them in his campaign in Gaul, describes them as making up a distinct part of Gaul:

All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgæ inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The river Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani[1]

Despite apparent cultural and linguistic connections to Iberia (Vascones) and to Iberians, the area of Aquitania, as a part of Gaul ended at the Pyrenees according to Cæsar:

Aquitania extends from the river Garonne to the Pyrenæan mountains and to that part of the ocean which is near Spain: it looks between the setting of the sun, and the north star.[2]

Relation to Basque people and language

The presence of what seems to be names of deities or people in late Romano-Aquitanian funerary slabs similar to modern Basque have led many philologists and linguists to conclude that Aquitanian was closely related to an older form of Basque.[3] The fact that the region was known as Vasconia in the Early Middle Ages, a name that evolved into the better known form of Gascony, along with other toponymic evidence, seems to corroborate that assumption.


Although the country where the original Aquitanians lived came to be named Novempopulania (nine peoples) in the late years of the Roman Empire and Early Middle Ages (up to the 6th century), the number of tribes varied (about 20 for Strabo, but comparing with the information of other classical authors such as Pliny, Ptolemy and Julius Caesar, the total number were 32):

Aquitani related peoples or tribes

In the southern slopes of western Pyrenees Mountains, not in Aquitania but in northern Hispania Tarraconensis:


  1. ^ These are indeed the opening lines of Caesar’s account of his war in Gaul: Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgæ, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtæ, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt. Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen [...] dividit. Julius Cæsar, De bello Gallico 1.1, edition of T. Rice Holmes
  2. ^ Aquitania a Garumna flumine ad Pyrenæos montes et eam partem Oceani quæ est ad Hispaniam pertinet; spectat inter occasum solis et septentriones.
  3. ^ Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2

External links

  • - 51 complete works of authors from Classical Antiquity (Greek and Roman).
  • - Julius Caesar text of De Bello Gallico (Gallic War).
  • - Pliny the Elder text of Naturalis Historia (Natural History) - books 3-6 (Geography and Ethnography).
  • - Strabo's text of De Geographica (The Geography).

See also

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