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The tribes confederated as the Aquitani and other pre-Indoeuropean tribes are in red
Coins of the Elusates 5th-1st century BCE.

The Aquitani (Latin for Aquitanians) were a people living in what is now Aquitaine, France, in the region between the Pyrenees , the Atlantic ocean and the Garonne. 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 Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in our 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 connections to Iberia, the area of Aquitania, as a part of Gaul ended at the Pyrenees according to Caesar:

Aquitania extends from the river Garonne to the Pyrenaean 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]

The presence of what seem 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 was named Novempopulania (nine peoples), the number of tribes varied (about 20 for Strabo); among them:

  • Tarbelli in the coastal side of Landes, with Dax (Aquis Tarbellicis)
  • Cocosates in the west of Landes département
  • Boiates probably around Arcachon Bay and norwest of Landes département
  • Vasates in the north around Bazas (south of Gironde department)
  • Sotiates in the north around Sos-en-Albret (south of Lot-et-Garonne department)
  • Lactorates in and around Lectoure
  • Elusates in the northeast around Eauze (former Elusa)
  • Ausci in the east around Auch (metropolis of Aquitaine)
  • Convenae, a "groupement" in the southeast (high Garonne valley)
  • Bigerriones or Begerri in the west of the french département of High Pyrennees (medieval county of Bigorre)
  • Suburates probably around Soule/Xüberoa; the same of Caesar's Sibuzates?

References

  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 Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt. Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen [...] dividit.
  2. ^ Aquitania a Garumna flumine ad Pyrenaeos montes et eam partem Oceani quae est ad Hispaniam pertinet; spectat inter occasum solis et septentriones.
  3. ^ Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2

See also

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