The Info List - Cammuni

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The CAMUNI or CAMUNNI were an ancient population located in Val Camonica during the Iron Age
Iron Age
(1st millennium BC); the Latin
name Camunni was attributed to them by the authors of the 1st century. They are also called ANCIENT CAMUNI, to distinguish them from the current inhabitants of the valley (the Camuni or Camunians). The Camunni were among the greatest producers of rock art in Europe
; their name is linked to the famous rock engravings of Valcamonica .

A people of obscure origin, they lived in a region, the Val Camonica , that had already been the site of a cultural tradition dating back to the early Neolithic
. The Camunni are mentioned by classical historiographical sources from the 1st century BC, corresponding to the Iron Age
Iron Age
in Val Camonica (from the 12th century BC until about Romanization). In ancient Greek , Strabo
referred to them as Καμοῦνοι (Kamounoi), while Cassius Dio called them Καμούννιοι (Kamounnioi).

Conquered by Rome
at the beginning of the 1st century AD, the Camunni were gradually incorporated into the political and social structures of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
as a self-governing polity called the Res Publica Camunnorum. They were granted Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
from the second half of the 1st century, with a rapid process of Latinization.


* 1 History

* 1.1 The Camunni in classical sources * 1.2 Contacts with the Etruscans and Celts * 1.3 The Roman conquest

* 2 Religion * 3 Language * 4 References

* 5 Bibliography

* 5.1 Primary sources * 5.2 Historiographical literature

* 6 See also


Peoples of Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul
391-192 BC.


The Greek historian Strabo
(63/64 BC–ca. 24 AD) described the Camunni as part of the Rhaetian peoples and related to the Celtic Lepontii :

Ἑξῆς δὲ τὰ πρὸς ἕω μέρη τῶν ὀρῶν καὶ τὰ ἐπιστρέφοντα πρὸς νότον Ῥαιτοὶ καὶ Ὀυινδολικοὶ κατέχουσι, συνάπτοντες Ἐλουηττίοις καὶ Βοίοις· ἐπίκεινται γὰρ τοῖς ἐκείνων πεδίοις. Οἱ μὲν οὖν Ῥαιτοὶ μέχρι τῆς Ἰταλίας καθήκουσι τῆς ὑπὲρ Οὐήρωνος καὶ Κώμου. Καὶ ὅ γε Ῥαιτικὸς οἶνος, τῶν ἐν τοῖς Ἰταλικοῖς ἐπαινουμένων οὐκ ἀπολείπεσθαι δοκῶν, ἐν ταῖς τούτων ὑπωρείαις γίνεται· διατείνουσι δὲ καὶ μέχρι τῶν χωρίων, δι' ὧν ὁ Ῥῆνος φέρεται· τούτου δ' εἰσὶ τοῦ φύλου καὶ Ληπόντιοι καὶ Καμοῦνοι. Οἱ δὲ Ὀυινδολικοὶ καὶ Νωρικοὶ τὴν ἐκτὸς παρώρειαν κατέχουσι τὸ πλέον· μετὰ Βρεύνων καὶ Γεναύνων, ἤδη τούτων Ἰλλυριῶν. Ἅπαντες δ' οὗτοι καὶ τῆς Ἰταλίας τὰ γειτονεύοντα μέρη κατέτρεχον ἀεὶ καὶ τῆς Ἐλουηττίων καὶ Σηκοανῶν καὶ Βοίων καὶ Γερμανῶν. Ἰταμώτατοι δὲ τῶν μὲν Ὀυινδολικῶν ἐξητάζοντο Λικάττιοι καὶ Κλαυτηνάτιοι καὶ Ὀυέννωνες, τῶν δὲ Ῥαιτῶν Ῥουκάντιοι καὶ Κωτουάντιοι. —  Strabo
, Geography IV, 6.8

Next, in order, come those parts of the mountains that are towards the east, and those that bend round towards the south: the Rhaeti and the Vindelici
occupy them, and their territories join those of the Elvetii and the Boii
; for their territories overlook the plains of those peoples. Now the Rhaeti reach down as far as that part of Italy which is above Verona and Comum (moreover, the "Rhaetic" wine, which has the repute of not being inferior to the approved wines of the Italic regions, is made in the foothills of the Rhaetic Alps ), and also extend as far as the districts through which the Rhenus runs; the Lepontii, also, and Camuni, belong to this stock. But the Vindelici and Norici occupy the greater part of the outer side of the mountain, along with the Breuni and the Genauni, the two peoples last named being Illyrians
. All these peoples used to overrun, from time to time, the neighbouring parts, not only of Italy, but also of the country of the Elvetii, the Sequani, the Boii, and the Germans. The Licattii, the Clautenatii, and the Vennones proved to be the boldest warriors of all the Vindelici, as did the Rucantii and the Cotuantii of all the Rhaeti.

The Roman historian Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
(23–79 AD), citing the Origines of Cato the Elder (234–149 BC), spoke instead of the Camunni as one of several tribes of the Euganei :

Verso deinde in Italiam pectore Alpium Latini iuris Euganeae gentes, quarum oppida XXXIIII enumerat Cato. ex iis Trumplini, venalis cum agris suis populus, dein Camunni conpluresque similes finitimis adtributi municipis —  Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
, Naturalis Historia
Naturalis Historia
, III.133-134.

Turning then to the side of the Alps which fronts Italy, we have the Euganean nations enjoying Latin
rights, and of whom Cato enumerates thirty-four towns. Among these are the Triumplini , a people who were sold with their territory; and then the Camuni, and several similar tribes, each of them in the jurisdiction of its neighbouring municipal town. A rock carving of Cernunnos
in the National park of Naquane ( Capo di Ponte )


The Etruscans , already widespread in the Po Valley, had contacts with Alpine populations by the 5th century BC. Surviving traces of Etruscan cultural influence are recorded in the aforementioned rock art in over two hundred texts written in the Camunic alphabet , which is a variant of the North Etruscan alphabet. At the beginning of the 4th century BC, the Celtic Gauls
arrived in Italy. Coming from Transalpine Gaul
Transalpine Gaul
, they settled in the Po plain and came in touch with the Camunian population. Some of the petroglyphs in Valcamonica with figures of Celtic deities such as Kernunnos attest this Gaulish presence.


Northern Italy according to William R. Shepherd 's Historical Atlas; the Camunni are at the western end of Venetia

Val Camonica was subjected to Rome
during the campaigns of Augustus to conquer Raetia
and the Alpine arc, conducted by his generals Nero Claudius Drusus and Tiberius
(the future emperor) against the mountain peoples in 16–15 BC. Publius Silius Nerva , governor of Illyricum , was to complete the conquest of the eastern Alpine front, which reached from the valley of Como
to Lake Garda (therefore including the Valcamonica), in addition to the Vennoneti of Vinschgau

The Roman conquest is also mentioned by the Roman historian Cassius Dio writing in Greek:

Καὶ γὰρ Καμμούνιοι καὶ Οὐέννιοι, Ἀλπικὰ γένη, ὅπλα τε ἀντήραντο καὶ νικηθέντες ὑπὸ Πουπλίου Σιλίου ἐχειρώθησαν. —  Cassius Dio , Historia Romana, book 54

The Camunni and Vennoni, Alpine tribes, took up arms against the Romans, but were conquered and subdued by Publius Silius.

This conquest was celebrated in the Trophy of the Alps (Tropaeum Alpium), a Roman monument erected in 7–6 BC and located in the French town of La Turbie
La Turbie
, whose frontal inscription named the conquered Alpine peoples:

La Turbie
Inscription of the Roman period found in Cividate Camuno , containing the terms: QUIR(ina), CAMUNNIS and RE P(ublica) CAMUNNOR(um)

After the Roman conquest, the Camunni were annexed to the nearest cities in a condition of semi-subjection through the practice of adtributio, which allowed them to maintain their own tribal constitution while the dominant city became the administrative, judicial, and fiscal center. The city that the Camunni were assigned to was probably Brixia . At first they were assigned the status of peregrinus , and then they obtained Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
; in the Flavian Age they were assigned to the Quirina tribe , while they maintained a certain self-government; in fact, a Res Publica Camunnorum has been recorded.

Romanization proceeded from Civitas Camunnorum (Cividate Camuno), a city founded by the Romans around 23 BC, during the principate of Tiberius
. Beginning in the 1st century, the Camunni were included in stable Roman political and social structures, as evidenced by the numerous legionaries , artisans, and even gladiators of Camunian origins in several areas of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
. Camunian religion went through the process of interpretatio Romana , forming a syncretic combination with Roman religion .


Camunian stone carvings, 70–80% of which date to the Bronze Age, are thought to have held value for celebratory, commemorative, initiatory, and propitiatory rituals. The Sanctuary of Minerva , found at Spinera between Cividate Camuno and Breno in 1986, dates to the Roman period and was finely decorated with mosaics.

The beginning of the Middle Ages coincided with the arrival of the Christian religion
Christian religion
among the Camunni. The 4th and 5th centuries witnessed the destruction of the ancient places of worship, with the destruction of statue menhirs in Ossimo and Cemmo and the burning of the Sanctuary of Minerva .


Main article: Camunic language
Camunic language

Surviving traces of the language spoken by the Camunni are scarce and undeciphered. Among the Rock Drawings in Valcamonica there are some inscriptions written in the Camunic language
Camunic language
, written in a northern variant of the Etruscan alphabet . There is insufficient knowledge about Camunic to be able to determine whether it belongs to a broader language family .

In 2017, the presence of Phoenician graphemes and Nordic proto-runes in the Camunian writing, reinforced by the local presence of an R1b-L11 haplogroup , leads to the hypothesis that the Camunians are proto-Celto-Germanic Indo-European , at the origin of the Celtic and Germanic civilizations, by a migration from Levant
towards Europe
, about 5000 years ago, of populations of the culture of Unetice , they themselves probably came, as the genetic studies shows from Yamna riders of the steppes.


* ^ LinguistList: Lepontic * ^ John T. Koch (ed.) Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia ABC-CLIO (2005) ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0 * ^ A B Umberto Sansoni-Silvana Gavaldo, L'arte rupestre del Pià d'Ort: la vicenda di un santuario preistorico alpino, p. 156; "Ausilio Priuli, Piancogno su "Itinera"" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2006-05-06. Retrieved 02-04-2009. Check date values in: access-date= (help ). * ^ "Incisioni rupestri on the page of the comune of Paspardo" (in Italian). Archived from the original on September 30, 2009. Retrieved 02-04-2009. Check date values in: access-date= (help ). * ^ CIL V, 4957 * ^ "L\'adtributio e la Tabula clesiana". Le Alpi on line. Storia e archeologia della Alpi (in Italian). Università di Trento). Retrieved 2009-03-20. * ^ "Guida turistica a Cividate Camuno - La romanizzazione" (in Italian). Retrieved 2009-03-21. * ^ A B Serena Solano. "Il santuario di Minerva". Itinera (in Italian). Retrieved 2009-03-13. * ^ "L\'età del Ferro camuna". Archeocamuni (in Italian). Retrieved July 28, 2011. * ^ Elisa de Vaugüé, La Civilisation Camunienne, une Civilisation européenne, disparue et oubliée... (du Phénicien aux Runes nordiques): Etude de ses graphèmes et de son «Haplogroupe Italo-Celte-Germanique», IBSN 9781973176763

* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Smith, William , ed. (1854–1857). "Camuni". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography
. London: John Murray.



* Cassius Dio , Roman History
Roman History
* Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
, Naturalis Historia
Naturalis Historia
* Strabo
, Geographica
* Trophy of the Alps


* Raffaele De Marinis, Le popolazioni alpine di stirpe retica in G. Pugliese Carratelli (a cura di) Italia omnium terrarum alumna, Milano, Garzanti-Scheiwiller, 1988. pp. 95–155 * Lino Ertani, La Valle Camonica attraverso la storia, Esine, Tipolitografia Valgrigna, 1996. * Francesco Fedele, L'uomo, le Alpi, la Valcamonica - 20.000 anni di storia al Castello di Breno, Boario Terme, La Cittadina, 1988. * Valeria Mariotti, Il teatro e l'anfiteatro di Cividate Camuno, Arti grafiche BMB, 2004. ISBN 88-7814-254-9 * Pietro Paolo Ormanico, Considerationi sopra alcvne memorie della Religione Antica dei Camvli, ò Camvni, Bornato, Sardini Editrice , 1983. * Umberto Sansoni, Silvana Gavaldo, L'arte rupestre del Pià d'Ort: la vicenda di un santuario preistorico alpino, Edizioni del Centro, 1995. * Ronald Syme, "The Alps" in Cambridge Ancient History , Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, Vol. VIII.


* Ancient peoples of Italy
Ancient peoples of Italy
* Rock Drawings in Valcamonica *