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Thread: Ancient place names in Iberia

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    Ancient place names in Iberia



    Since the discussion recently came up, I would like to elaborate the situation on the Iberian penninsula in Antiquity a bit, especially on the aspect of linguistic heterogenity. Note that the analysis below excludes the Basque-Aquitanian and Iberian areas in the east and southeast of Iberia, and only includes town names thus far. The rest (north, northwest and west) I did divide into seven areas, and I cathegorized the names into Celtic- or Celtic-compatible, Latin/Roman, and Other/Unknown (as well as 'known' other such as Iberian and Phoenician as the need arose):

    North (20 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic: 14 (70%)
    Latin/Roman: 3 (15%)
    Other/Unknown: 4 (20%)

    Celtiberia Proper (34 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic : 17 (50%)
    Latin/Roman: 6 (17.6%)
    Iberian: 1 (2.9%)
    Other/Unknown: 10 (29.4%)

    Southwest (15 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic: 5? (33.3%)
    Roman/Latin: 3 (20%)
    Phoenician: 3 (20%)
    Other/Unknown: 4 (26.7%)

    Central Duero (20 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic: 6 (30%)
    Latin/Roman: 4 (20%)
    Other/Unknown: 10 (50%)

    Lusitania Proper (40 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic: 11 (27.5%)
    Latin/Roman: 10 (25%)
    Other/Unknown: 19 (47.5%)

    Gallaecia (50 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic: 12 (24%)
    Latin/Roman: 19 (38%)
    Other/Unknown: 19 (38%)

    Inland Southeast (30 towns)
    Celtic or compatible with Celtic: 4 (12.9%)
    Latin/Roman: 7 (20.6%)
    Iberian: 2 (5.8%)
    Other/Unknown: 17 (56.6%)

    The cathegories above can be further split into the following cathegories:

    1) Celtic Names
    Celtic town names are abundant on the ancient Iberian penninsula. The most common name element, by far, is the suffix '-briga' ('mountain', 'height', but perhaps more accurately translated as "castle", as it's a cognate with Germanic '-burgh'). However, as we will see this suffix is not restricted to Celtic town names. Celtic or Celtic-influenced town names are most common in the north, with Celtiberia proper as the second-most frequent area, and they decrease in their frequency from there.

    Celtic names include:

    - Brigantium (identical town names existed in France, Switzerland and Austria)
    - Cambitum
    - Celiobriga
    - Cetobrix or Cetobriga
    - Ebura ('eburo-' = 'yew')
    - Morica ('moro-' = 'sea', compare 'Aremorica)
    - Nemetobriga ('holy/sacred castle')
    - Numantia
    - Segisamum
    - Segovia
    - Segobriga ('victorious castle')
    - Turiasso
    - Uxama Argaela (Ups- -> Ux- 'highest', Par- > Ar- 'before/upon')
    - Uxama Barca
    - Vindelia ('windo-' = 'white)
    - Visontium

    There is also a few town names that make sense as Celtic if they were transmitted erroneously:
    - Ambisna ('Ambi-' = 'around', second element unclear)
    - Deobrigula and Diobriga from "Divobriga" ('divine castle')
    - Mediolum form 'Mediolanum'

    2) Roman Names
    The Roman empire established a considerable number of towns on the Iberian penninsula. In much of the penninsula, Roman town (including those with mixed Roman/non-Roman) names make up between a sixth and a fifth of the town names.

    Examples include:
    - Aemiliana
    - Aqua Calidae ('hot springs')
    - Aqua Flavia
    - Augusta Emerita
    - Bravum
    - Concordia
    - Confluenta
    - Laminium
    - Lucus Augusti ('grove of Augustus')
    - Mantua
    - Pax Julia
    - Porta Augusta
    - Rusticana
    - Valeria

    3) Mixed Roman-Other Names
    A typical phenomenon, not only on the Iberian penninsula but elsewhere inside the Roman Empire were mixed Roman/non-Roman names.

    Examples of this include:
    - Augustobriga (second element Celtic)
    - Segisama Julia (the first element is Celtic)
    - Juliobriga (second element Celtic)
    - Flavia Lambris (second element unclear)
    - Forum Gigurrum (second element is a Gallaecian tribal name)
    - Ocellum Duri ('eye of the Duero')

    4) Mixed Celtic/Non-Celtic Names
    These names are also quite freqent throught the Iberian penninsula. These names often include the first name element as non-Celtic and the second as Celtic '-briga'. The largest concentration of these names is found in the southwest of the Iberian penninsula, where these names make up the bulk of the Celtic-compatible names.

    Examples include:
    - Arabriga
    - Arcobriga
    - Caladunum
    - Glandomirum
    - Laccobriga or Lancobriga
    - Merobriga
    - Mirobriga
    - Sarabris (possibly)
    - Talabriga
    - Tongobriga or Tuntobriga
    - Volobriga

    5) Unclear/Non-Celtic names subject to Celtiberian sound laws
    A unique feature about the Celtiberian language, which makes it distinct from all other Celtic languages, is the merger of /s/ and /d/ in certain positions in words into a ð-like sound, usually transliterated as "z" from the Celtiberian inscriptions and variably rendered as 's' or 'd' in Latin inscriptions, and this of course affects Celtiberian town names as well, even those with (apparently) originally non-Celtic names. Naturally, these town names are found only in the proximity of Celtiberia Proper.

    Examples include:
    - Bilbilis/Bilbiliz
    - Bursada/Burzao
    - Condabora/Consabura

    6) Gallaecian-Lusitanian Names
    These can be found almost exclusively in the northwest of the Iberian penninsula (where they make up a bulk of the local names), although a few can be found in the inland southeast (Carpetania and Oretania). Their main feature is the disobedience to Celtic sound laws, most importantly they retain the *p from Proto-Indo-European, which is in contrast to the loss of the *p in Proto-Celtic.

    - Caepiana
    - Capara
    - Capasa
    - Complutum
    - Complutica
    - Ispinum
    - Lupparia
    - Paelontium
    - Pallantia
    - Petavonium
    - Pinetus
    - Pintia
    - Segontia Paramica (compare with Celtic Ar-, Are-)

    7) Iberian Names
    The (eponymous) Iberians, a non-Indo-European people, were most densely present in the east of Iberia (modern-day Catalonia, Valenican Country and eastern Andalusia), however a few Iberian names can be found further west in the inland. Evidence for Iberian names includes the prefix 'il(i)-' (which may be a cognate with Basque 'hiri', 'town'), as well as the gentilix suffix '-sken' found in Iberian mint.

    Examples include:
    - Ilarcuris
    - Illurbida
    - Uresca

    8) Phoenician Names
    Most Phoenician settlements were in Andalusia, but there were also a few in the southwest, such as Balsa (compare Ba'al) and Ossonoba.

    9) Other Non-Celtic and Non-Roman Names
    There is a considerable number of other place names that will be addressed as follows which do not fit in anywhere else, but occur throughout the penninsula. Amongst the list below, the recurring stem 'Sal-' is of mention. It might be Celtic etymology ('salt', 'brine'), but note that cognates of this word can be found in most other branches of Indo-European and hence the stem 'Sal-' is by no means an indicator for Celtic languages.

    - Ammea
    - Biatia
    - Burdua
    - Burum
    - Chritina
    - Eldana
    - Egelesta
    - Laccuris
    - Lama
    - Lavarae
    - Libora
    - Libiosa
    - Libunca
    - Manliana
    - Mentesa
    - Metercosa
    - Rigusa
    - Salacia
    - Salari
    - Salica
    - Salionca
    - Tacubis
    - Tunde
    - Varada

    So, the underlining conclusion is that the Iberian penninsula was not only a diverse but also heterogenous place. The different types of names that I cathegorized here occured side-by-side in the same general area.
    Last edited by Taranis; 23-09-11 at 09:08.

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    bz............................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:27.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    Sorry, but this list is erroneous:
    First. The Callaecian is not the same that lusitanian. The callaecian is intagreted into the celtic languages called hispano-celta
    1.- Pinetum and Petavonium are latin place-names
    2.- Complutum belong to Celtiberia as Complega. not lusitanian nor callaecian
    3. - Pallantia belong to Celtiberia
    4. Ispinum is not indo-european
    6. Arabriga, is celtic: from root ie *aro-
    7. Nemetobriga belong to Callaecia, there are two place-names with this name
    8. Brigantium, Cambetun and Caeliobriga are Callaecian place-names
    9. Ebura, one place-name is in NW Callaecia and the other in Lustiania.
    10. Arcobriga is an celto-hispanic word (same place-names in Celtiberian, vettonia, lusitania): means 'montain'
    11. Caladunum is a celtic compoust or 1) Cala (strong)-dunum (fortress) or 2) Caletonum (with tipical western lenition)
    12. Glandomirun is celtic. In Hispania de consonatic group nd > nd, not in nn like Gaulish: cf. Bendogabrum. Glando- is the same word that irish glan. Mirum from ie *mei-ro-
    13. Mirobriga, Merobriga..celtic ie. *mei-ro-,
    14. I don't know a placename Sarabris. If it is correct..it is callaecian or asturian (protocelt. bhºrghs > brix > bris). The first word from root ie. *ser-/*sor-/sºr-: celtic in Hispania (not alteuropäisch)
    15. Talabriga is celtic like gaulish Talabriga. Tongobriga, celtic gaulish tongo-, irish tong 'to swear'
    16. VALABRIGA (VOLOBRIGA is bad transcription), celtic..irish fal, gaulish vala-
    17. PAELONTIUM latin, no -ontio in Hispania, but -antia, -entia
    18. Paternania, latin from paternus
    19. Segontia Paramica is a celtiberian town, not lusitanian nor callaecian
    20. Sisapo is no an indo-european word, then not lusitanian
    21. Turuptiana is a latin 'mansio'.
    22. Caepiana is latin.
    23. Capara...-ara is an celtic sufix in Hispania and Gaul.
    24. AMMea is celtic, from *ambia-
    25. Burum is celtic, from *bhor-
    26. Lama is celtic from *(p)la-ma, like latin palm, irish lam 'palm'

    the rest is a strange mixing with indoeuropeans and not indoeuropeans place-names
    Thank you for your and corrections. However, some of them are in turn incorrect as well:

    2) Complutum, even if actually rendered as Complega cannot be Celtic due to retaining *p.

    3) Same with Pallantia. Cognate with Germanic Fel.

    7,8,9) are nonetheless all Celtic etymologies.

    11) 'Cala-' cannot be hard. If the word was Celtic in etymology, it was 'Caleto-' (compare Caledonii, Caleti, etc.). Third possibility is that it's actually 'Celadunum' (compare 'Celamantia').

    12) I never doubted that 'Glando-' was Celtic in etymology, but I doubt that the second part ('Miro-') is.

    19) Segontia Paramica is not Celtic due to retaining of *p. If the town name was Celtic, it would be 'Aremica' (compare 'Arevaci').

    23) Capara cannot be Celtic due to retaining of *p.

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    bz................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:27.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    Do you doubt that the Celtiberian is a Celtic language too???????
    No, obviously Celtiberian is a Celtic language, because PIE *p > Ø and PIE *gw > *b.

    However, Celtiberian has a few innovations not found in other Celtic languages such as:

    - Proto-Celtic *nm > *lm
    - Proto-Celtic *s, *d > *ð at non-frontal, intervocalic positions (similar behaviour for clusters involving ds, ss).

    By the way, there was no Gaulish tribe named 'Pleuxii'. I hate to say it, but you made that one up.

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    Based on this, do you think the Cantabrii were Celtic or Non-Indo-European? I personally would say Celtic...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asturrulumbo View Post
    Based on this, do you think the Cantabrii were Celtic or Non-Indo-European? I personally would say Celtic...
    I think they were mostly Celtic, at least judging from place names. Wasn't it you who brought up the point in the other thread about the rough terrain in Iberia promoting linguistic heterogenity?

    EDIT: In the table I made at the start of the thread, Cantabrian towns are included with 'north'.

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    bz.....................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:28.

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    bz....................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taranis View Post
    I think they were mostly Celtic, at least judging from place names. Wasn't it you who brought up the point in the other thread about the rough terrain in Iberia promoting linguistic heterogenity?

    EDIT: In the table I made at the start of the thread, Cantabrian towns are included with 'north'.
    Indeed I was, and of course there was obviously much contact with their Basque neighbours, but there is a degree of controversy about their ethnicity nonetheless

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    Really was not there a Gaulish tribe Pleuxii?
    Yes Taranis, the pleumoxi or pleuxii, belongs to the Nervii, as Centrones, Grudii, Levaci, and Geiduni.
    Yes. I found a "Pleumoxii" tribe, mentioned in Caesar's 'Bello Gallico'. However, this is Gallia Belgica, which was an area which, although mostly Celtic, also had a few Germanic tribes in them by 1st century BC. It's more likely to assume that the tribal name is Germanic in etymology (compare Parmaecampi, Paemani). Since Germanic retains PIE *p (and later shifts it to *f, as well as shifting PIE *b to *p) it's far more plausible to assume that the tribal name is Germanic in etymology, rather than the (silly) assumption that a sound law was in free variation.

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    bz.....................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:28.

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    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asturrulumbo View Post
    Indeed I was, and of course there was obviously much contact with their Basque neighbours, but there is a degree of controversy about their ethnicity nonetheless
    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    Asturrulumbo the basques was not there in the roman times. The basques perhaps had they settlements in the north of Navarra and Aragón, in the Pirineos.
    Yes and no. If you look at the ancient place names, there was a shift of the Basque-speaking area during the Dark Ages, with areas of Biscay, Arava being probably Celtic, but at the same time the Basque/Aquitanian-speaking area did extend much farther north in Antiquity.

    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    A germanic tribe client of the Nervii? it is unusual.
    Hardly. Germanic tribes crossed the Rhine during that time, such as the Tungri or the Suebi. This was actually one of the factors that led to the Gallic War.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    Asturrulumbo the basques was not there in the roman times. The basques perhaps had they settlements in the north of Navarra and Aragón, in the Pirineos.
    I meant the Celts that area in general, not the Cantabrii

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    bz........................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taranis View Post
    Yes and no. If you look at the ancient place names, there was a shift of the Basque-speaking area during the Dark Ages, with areas of Biscay, Arava being probably Celtic, but at the same time the Basque/Aquitanian-speaking area did extend much farther north in Antiquity.
    Also, it may probable that Celts mostly occupied the coastal areas and the Vascones the mountains and valleys (perhaps in the context of the Atlantic Bronze Age).

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    bz.......................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:29.

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    What I really don't know is wether the same applied on the other side of the Pyrenees...

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    bz...........................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    I don't understand...
    Whether there were Celts on the Aquitanian coast

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    bz..............................................
    Last edited by callaeca; 22-09-11 at 00:30.

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    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    I fear that aquitanians were not Celtic, but they were strongly influenced by the Gauls
    Oh yes, that I know, I meant linguistically... By what you say it seems not to be the case

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    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b1b2a* (inferred)

    Country: Germany



    Quote Originally Posted by callaeca View Post
    I fear that aquitanians were not Celtic, but they were strongly influenced by the Gauls
    The Aquitanian language was, from what little is known, essentially the same as what has been reconstructed as 'Proto-Basque' or perhaps more appropriately Old Basque.

    If that is confusing you: Basque may be an isolate language, but it too changed over time.

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    The fact that Basque was in prehistory centred more around the western and central Pyrenees (today Navarra and Aragon) than what is today the Basque Country may explain the huge amounts of R1b (yes, this is the Linguistics forum, but to hell, humanity is holistic!) in the Basque Country, given that Basque is non-Indo-European and R1b is associated with the Indo-European migrations. Aragon (I give this example and not Navarre or Aquitaine because it's available in Eupedia), on the other hand, with its high amount of I2, may better explain the origin of Basque?

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