The Astures or Asturs, also named 'Astyrs' were the Hispano-Celtic inhabitants of the northwest area of Hispania that now comprises almost the entire modern autonomous community of Asturias and the modern provinces León, and northern Zamora (all in Spain), and east of Trás os Montes in Portugal. They were a horse-riding highland cattle-raising people who lived in circular huts of stone drywall construction. The Albiones were a major tribe of the Astures from western Asturias. Isidore of Seville, gave an etymology as coming from a river Asturia, identified by David Magie with the Órbigo in the plain of León, by others the modern Esla.
The Asturian homeland encompassed the modern autonomous community of Asturias and the León, western Lugo, Orense, and northern Zamora provinces, along with the northeastern tip of the Portuguese region of Trás-os-Montes. Here they held the towns of Lancia (Villasabariego – León), Asturica (Astorga – León), Mons Medullius (Las Medulas? – León), Bergidum (Cacabelos, near Villafranca del Bierzo – León), Bedunia (Castro de Cebrones – León), Aliga (Alixa? – León), Curunda (Castro de Avelãs, Trás-os-Montes), Lucus Asturum (Lugo de Llanera – Asturias), Brigaetium (Benavente – Zamora), and Nemetobriga (Puebla de Trives – Orense), which fulfilled the role of religious center.
The Astures may have been part of the early Hallstatt expansion that left the Bavarian-Bohemian homeland and migrated into Gaul, some continuing over the mountains into Spain and Portugal. By the 6th century BC they occupied castros (hillforts) such as Coanna and Mohias near Navia on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. From the Roman point-of-view, expressed in the brief remarks of the historians Florus, epitomising Livy, and Orosius, the Astures were divided into two factions, following the natural division made by the alpine karst mountains of the Picos de Europa range: the Transmontani (located in the modern Asturias, "beyond"— that is, north of— the Picos de Europa) and Cismontani (located on the "near" side, in the modern area of León). The Transmontani, placed between the Navia River and the central massif of the Picos de Europa comprised the Cabarci, Iburri, Luggones, Paesici, Penios, Selini, Vincianos, Viromenicos, Brigaentini and Baedunenses; the Cismontani included the Amacos, Lancienses, Lougei, Tiburi, Orniacos, Supertii, Gigurri, Zoelae and Susarri which dwelled around Asturica Augusta, the main Astur town in Roman times, in the Astura river valley. Prior to the Roman conquest at the late 1st century BC, they were united into a tribal federation with the mountain-top citadel of Asturica (Astorga) as their capital.
Genetic Composition 
Several genetic studies have been published about Northwest Iberian populations to date. The last two studies (direct paternal lineage studies) from Asturies and Miranda de l Douro showing some huge differences between Northwest Iberian populations but some similarities have been found too. Strong similarities among Pasiegos and Eastern Asturians as well as Northern Asturians (Xixón and Avilés) between them. While R1b, found in late Neolithic farmers, appear to be the common link between all Northwest Iberian populations, there are some relevant differences between some of these populations. The haplogroup I is found in high frequencies in the western coast of Galicia, the haplogroup J is found in high frequencies in Northern Galicia, the haplogroup E is found in high frequencies in western Asturies, the haplogroup F3/G is found in high frequencies in Northern Asturies, the haplogroup R1a is found in high frequencies in eastern Asturies and Pasiegos, the haplogroup T is found in high frequency in native Asturleonese speakers from Miranda de l Douro being the second most important lineage of the sample and the haplogroup Q is found in all south Asturian samples.
The second more frequent haplogroups were T and J, with each one having a frequency of 10.3%. Although these haplogroups are commonly scattered throughout Europe, including in the Iberian Peninsula [T and J with 3% and 9%, respectively (Adams et al., 2008)], in the Miranda population they reached a considerable high value for the European context, particularly the T haplogroup."
Recent epigraphic studies suggest they spoke a ‘Q-Celtic’ language akin to the neighbouring Gallaeci Lucenses and Braccarenses (see Gallaecia). According to classic authors, their family structure was matrilineal, whereby the woman inherits and is the owner of property. The Astures lived in hill forts, established in strategic areas and built with round walls in today's Asturias and the mountainous areas of León, and with rectangular walls in flatter areas, similarly to their fellow Galicians. Their warrior class consisted of men and women and both sexes were considered fierce fighters.
Most of their tribes, like the Lugones, worshipped the Celtic god Lugh, and references to other Celtic deities like Taranis or Belenos still remain in the toponomy of the places inhabited by the Astures. They may have venerated the deity Busgosu.
Way of life 
The Astures were vigorous hunters and gatherers highlanders who raided Roman outposts in the lowlands, a reputation enhanced by ancient authors such as Florus ("Duae validissmae gentes, Cantabriae et Astures, immunes imperii agitabant") and Paulus Orosius ("duas fortissimas Hispaniae gentes"), but archeological evidence confirms that they also engaged in stock-raising in mountain pastures, complemented by substenance farming in the slopes and lower valleys. They reared mostly sheep, goats, a few oxen and a local breed of mountain horse famed in Antiquity, the Asturcon, which still exists today. According to Pliny the Elder, these were small-stature saddle horses, slightly larger than ponies, of graceful walk and very fast, being trained for both hunting and mountain warfare.
During a large part of the year they used the acorn as a staple food source, drying and powdering it and using the flour for a type of easily preserved bread; from their few sown fields during the pre-Roman period, they harvested barley from which they produced beer (Zythos), as well as wheat and flax. Due to the scarcity of their agricultural production as well as their strong war-like character, they made frequent incursions into the lands of the Vaccaei, who had a much more developed agriculture. Lucan calls them "Pale seekers after gold" ("Asturii scrutator pallidus auri").
The Astures entered the historical record at the late 3rd century BC, being listed amongst the Spanish mercenaries of Hasdrubal Barca’s army at the battle of Metaurus River in 207 BC. After the 2nd Punic War, their history is less clear. Rarely mentioned in the sources regarding the Lusitanian, Celtiberian or Roman Civil Wars of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, they re-emerged from a relative obscurity just prior to the outbreak of the first Astur-Cantabrian war at the late 1st century BC.
Led by the ex-mercenary General Gausón, the Astures’ joined forces with the Cantabri in an effort to forestall Emperor Augustus’ all-out offensive to conquer the whole of the Iberian northwest, even backing an unsuccessful Vaccaei revolt in 29 BC. The Campaign against the Astures and Cantabri tribes proved so difficult that required the presence of the emperor himself to bolster the failing courage of the seven legions and one naval squadron involved. The first Roman campaign against the Astures (the Bellum Asturicum), which commenced in the spring of 26 BC, was successfully concluded in 25 BC with the ceremonial surrender of Mons Medullus to Augustus in person, allowing the latter to return to Rome and close ostentatiously the gates of the temple of Janus that same year. The reduction of the remaining Asture holdouts was entrusted to Publius Carisius, the Legate of Lusitania who, after managing to trap the Asturian General Gauson and the remnants of his troops at the hillfort of Lancia, subsequently forced them to surrender when he threatened to set fire to the town. The Astures were subdued by the Romans but were never fully conquered, and their tribal way of life changed very little.
As far as the official Roman history was concerned, the fall of this last redoubt marked the conclusion of the conquest of the Asturian lands, hencefoward included alongside Gallaecia and Cantabria into the new Transduriana Province. This was followed by the establishment of military garrisons at Castra Legio VII Gemina (León) and Petavonium (Rosinos de Vidriales – Zamora), along with colonies at Asturica Augusta (Astorga) and Lucus Asturum.
In spite of the harsh pacification policies implemented by Augustus, the Asturian country remained an unstable region subjected to sporadic revolts – often carried out in collusion with the Cantabri – and persistent guerrilla activity which kept the roman occupation forces busy until the mid-1st century AD. New risings occurred in 24–22 BC (the 2nd Astur-Cantabrian War), in 20–18 BC (3rd Astur-Cantabrian ‘War’) – sparked off by runway Cantabrian slaves returning from Gaul, which were brutally quashed by General Marcus Vispanius Agrippa – and again in 16–13 BC when Augustus’ crushed the last joint Astur-Cantabrian rebellion.
Aggregated to the Hispania Tarraconensis province, the assimilation of the Asturian region into the Roman world was a slow and hazardous process, with its partially romanized people retaining the Celtic language, Religion and much of their ancient culture throughout the Roman Imperial period. This included their martial traditions, which enabled them to provide the Roman Army with auxiliary cavalry units (Alae), who participated in Emperor Claudius’ invasion of Britain in AD 43–60. However, ephigraphic evidence in the form of an inscribed votive stele dedicated by a Primpilus Centurio of Legio VI Victrix decorated for bravery in action confirms that the Astures staged a revolt in AD 54, prompting another vicious guerrilla war – unrecorded by the ancient sources – that lasted for fourteen years but the situation was finally calm around AD 68. Incredibly, they even enjoyed a brief revival during the Germanic invasions of the late 4th century AD, until being later overrun and absorbed by the Visigothic Kingdom in the early 6th century AD.
At a later date, in the beginning of the Reconquista period in the early Middle Ages, their name was preserved in the medieval Kingdom of Asturias and in the modern town of Astorga, León, whose designation still reflects its early Roman name of Asturica Augusta, the "Augustan settlement of the Astures".
See also 
- Leonese people
- Asturian people
- Astur-Cantabrian Wars
- Castro culture
- Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula
- Leonese language
- Martino, Roma contra Cantabros y Astures – Nueva lectura de las fuentes, p. 18, footnote 15.
- Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 481.
- Cólera, Carlos Jordán (16 March 2007). "The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula:Celtiberian". e-Keltoi 6: 749–750. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
- Mountain, Harry (1997). The Celtic Encyclopedia Volume I. uPublish.com. pp. 130, 131. ISBN 1-58112-890-8.
- Koch, John (2005). Celtic Culture : A Historical Encyclopedia. ABL-CIO. pp. 789, 790. ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
- Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, IX: 2, 112, noted by David Magie, "Augustus' War in Spain (26-25 B.C.)" Classical Philology 15.4 (October 1920:323–339) p.336 note 3.
- Cunliffe, Barry (2003). The Celts – A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 0-19-280418-9.
- Florus, Epitomae Historiae Romanae, II, 33.
- Paulus Orosius, Historiarum adversus Paganus, VI, 21.
- Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7, 166.
- Strabo, Geographikon, III, 3, 7.
- Lucan, Pharsalia, IV, 298.
- Livy, Ad Urbe Condita, 27: 43–49.
- Polybius, Istorion, 11: 1–3.
- David Magie in Classical Philology 1920 gives the pertinent passages in Florus and Orosius and critically assesses and corrects the inconsistent topography of the sources.
- Paulus Orosius, Historiarum adversus Paganus, VI, 24.
- Cassius Dio, Romaiké Istoria, 51, 20.
- Cassius Dio, Romaiké Istoria, 53: 26.
- Cassius Dio, Romaiké Istoria, 53: 25, 8; attributed the victory in error to Titus Carasius, father of Publius Carasius (Magie 1920:338 note 4).
- Cassius Dio, Romaiké Istoria, 54: 11, 1.
- Magie 1920:339.
- CIL XI 395, from Ariminum; cf: B. Dobson, Die Primpilares (Beihefte der Bonner Jahrbücher XXXVII), Köln 1978, pp. 198–200
- Almagro-Gorbea, Martín, Les Celtes dans la péninsule Ibérique, in Les Celtes, Éditions Stock, Paris (1997) ISBN 2-234-04844-3
- Alvarado, Alberto Lorrio J., Los Celtíberos, Editorial Complutense, Alicante (1997) ISBN 84-7908-335-2
- Duque, Ángel Montenegro et alli, Historia de España 2 – colonizaciones y formacion de los pueblos prerromanos, Editorial Gredos, Madrid (1989) ISBN 84-249-1013-3
- Eutimio Martino, Roma contra Cantabros y Astures – Nueva lectura de las fuentes, Breviarios de la Calle del Pez n. º 33, Diputación provincial de León/Editorial Eal Terrae, Santander (1982) ISBN 84-87081-93-2
- Motoza, Francisco Burillo, Los Celtíberos – Etnias y Estados, Crítica, Grijalbo Mondadori, S.A., Barcelona (1998, revised edition 2007) ISBN 84-7423-891-9
Further reading 
- Berrocal-Rangel, Luis & Gardes, Philippe, Entre celtas e íberos, Fundación Casa de Velázquez, Madrid (2001)
- González Echegaray, J., Las Guerras Cántabras, Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander (1999)
- Kruta, Venceslas, Les Celtes, Histoire et Dictionnaire: Des origines à la Romanization et au Christinisme, Èditions Robert Laffont, Paris (2000) ISBN 2-7028-6261-6
- Zapatero, Gonzalo Ruiz et alli, Los Celtas: Hispania y Europa, dirigido por Martín Almagro-Gorbea, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Editorial ACTAS, S.l., Madrid (1993)