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

The Aquitani were a tribe that lived in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Garonne, in present-day southwestern France[1] in the 1st century BCE. The Romans dubbed this region Gallia Aquitania. Classical authors such as Julius Caesar and Strabo clearly distinguish the Aquitani from the other peoples of Gaul, and note their similarity to others in the Iberian Peninsula.

Their old language, the Aquitanian language, was a precursor of the Basque language[2] and the substrate for the Gascon language (one of the Romance languages) spoken in Gascony. Between the 1st century and the 13th century, the Aquitani gradually adopted the Gascon language while part of the Roman Empire, then the Duchy of Gascony and the Duchy of Aquitaine.


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 Belgae 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[3]

Despite apparent cultural and linguistic connections to (Vascones), the region of Aquitania extended only to 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 Hispania: it looks between the setting of the sun, and the north star.[4]

Relation to Basque people and language

Late Romano-Aquitanian funerary slabs and altars contain what seem to be the names of deities or people similar to certain names in modern Basque, which has led many philologists and linguists to conclude that Aquitanian was closely related to an older form of Basque. Julius Caesar draws a clear line between the Aquitani, living in present-day south-western France and speaking Aquitanian, and their neighboring Celts living to the north.[5] The fact that the region was known as the 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.


Tribes in Aquitania (as was defined in the 1st century BCE)
Late distribution of tribes in Novempopulania at the end of the 6th century CE, former Aquitania proper (as was defined in the 1st century BCE)

Although the region 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 or 33):[citation needed]

Aquitani tribes

Aquitani related peoples or tribes

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

See also


  1. ^ Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 9781438129181. The Aquitani [...] lived in Gaul in the region between the Garonne River and the Pyrenees in present-day southwestern France [...].
  2. ^ Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2
  3. ^ 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. Julius Caesar, De bello Gallico 1.1, edition of T. Rice Holmes
  4. ^ Aquitania a Garumna flumine ad Pyrenaeos montes et eam partem Oceani quae est ad Hispaniam pertinet; spectat inter occasum solis et septentriones.
  5. ^ Trask, R.L. (1997). The History of Basque. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 398–412. ISBN 0-415-13116-2.
  6. ^ a b Judge, A. (2007-02-07). Linguistic Policies and the Survival of Regional Languages in France and Britain. Springer. p. 70. ISBN 9780230286177.