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Italian peoples

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The original peoples of Italy were non-Indo-European peoples, whose descendants were probably Ligurians, who lived in the 8th century BCE. north-west areas (the Po Plain and the subalpine region). Indo-Europeans appeared on the Apennine Peninsula in the 2nd millennium BCE, the main group of them were Italics, next to them in Italy we also meet Illyrian peoples, among them we can include the Japygs in the south-eastern part of Italy (later Apulia). The ancients considered Veneti to be Illyr, but modern research has contradicted this. Among the actual Italians, there are generally two main linguistic groups: Latin-Fallian and Ubri-Sabelian. The peoples of the latter group occupied the eastern part of the Apennine Peninsula, the most important of them being the Umbras in the northeast and the highlander Samnites in the centre of the Apennines, who showed the greatest expansionist tendencies. The Sabines, Aequi and Volsci families were the closest neighbours of the Latin family.

Expansion of other peoples to Italy

Tribes of central Italy.

Greek colonization, and especially the expansion of the mighty Etruscan people, was the cause of rearrangements among the Italian peoples from the 8th century BCE. Serious changes also took place in the northern part of the country, where Celtic Gauls, newcomers from the Danube region and the territory of today’s Czech Republic, appeared. In the period between 450-350 BCE. They occupied the subalpine and the Riparian Lowlands, the Isubras settled in its centre, as well as part of Emilia and the northern Picenum, where the Senones lived. The invasion of the Celtic tribes caused them to push the Ligurians to the seashore and into the mountains (Alpes Maritimae), the Gauls completely ousted the northern regions of the Etruscan they occupied a significant part of the Riverside Lowlands and reached as far as the Alps – adjacent to the Reta. After the invasion of the Celts, the Pod-Alpine and Podalpine areas received the name Galia Przedalpejska.

Archaeological cultures of the original peoples of Italy

As a result of archaeological research, in Italy in the 2nd and 1st millennium BCE several archaeological cultures, but it is not easy to relate them to the specific waves of peoples who settled in this area. The appearance of Indo-Europeans in the 2nd millennium BCE is associated with the bronze civilization. The inhabitants of northern Italy are embraced by the Terramare culture, characterized by stilt settlements surrounded by ditches to protect them. The inhabitants of these settlements burned the bodies. At the same time, there is a different type of culture in the Apennine area, its representatives produced impasto black ceramics with carved ornaments, and the dead were buried in the ground.

At the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE iron technique appeared in Italy. During this time, there are significant movements of people, as well as clear changes in their customs. The custom of burning a corpse is becoming more and more common. This stage of civilization left its mark particularly characteristic in northern Italy, especially in Emilia; Villanova, located near Bologna, provided rich excavations and gave the name to the entire period. Representatives of this type of civilization burned the corpses and placed the urns with ashes in rapid graves. The culture of Villanova also encompassed the area of ​​Etruria and Lazio, where the ashes of the deceased were buried in hut-shaped urns. In the area of ​​central-eastern and southern Italy, fewer civilization changes took place during this period. It seems that the Iron Age was a continuation of the Apennine civilization there, the custom of burying the dead in the ground is still maintained there.

The whole of the Italic tribes still lived in an ancestral system of the patriarchal type, when two highly developed civilizations based on the slave system appeared in Italy. Their creators were the Greeks and Etruscans. The history of Greek colonization (from the 8th century BCE) is relatively well known, although the dates of the founding of individual Greek city-states are debatable. The northernmost Greek colony was the Kyme (Cumae) in Campania.

The Apennine Peninsula at the beginning of the 4th century BCE.
Author: Decan | Under the Creative Commons Attribution license - On the same terms 3.0.
  • Winniczuk Lidia, Mały słownik kultury antycznej: Grecja, Rzym, 1968

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