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date: 24 November 2020

Gaul, Cisalpinelocked

  • Tim Cornell


The prosperous northern region of modern Italy, comprising the Po (*Padus) plain and its mountain fringes from the Apennines to the Alps, was known to the Romans as Cisalpine Gaul. In the middle republic it was not even considered part of Italy, which extended only to the foothills of the Apennines along a line roughly from Pisa (see pisae) to Rimini (*Ariminum). Beyond the Apennines lay Gaul, a land inhabited by Celtic peoples whom the Romans looked upon with fear and wonder. (See gaul (transalpine).)

The background to this situation is difficult to reconstruct in detail. Archaeological evidence broadly confirms literary reports of *Etruscan settlement in Emilia-Romagna during the 6th cent. bce, and of the infiltration of Celtic peoples (see celts) from beyond the Alps during the 5th and 4th cents. Rich warrior graves of the iron age Golasecca culture in Piedmont and Lombardy point to a warrior aristocracy similar to that of the Halstatt culture of central Europe; and these same Golasecca sites during the 5th and 4th cents. contain increasing amounts of La Tène material. Further south there is evidence of a growing Celtic presence in Emilia-Romagna, where Etruscan and La Tène graves are found side by side in the same cemeteries.

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