The Aquitani lived in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic ocean, and the Garonne, in present-day southwestern France 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.
During the process of Romanization, the Aquitani gradually adopted Latin (Vulgar Latin) and the Roman civilization. Their old language, the Aquitanian language, was a precursor of the Basque language and the substrate for the Gascon language (one of the Romance languages) spoken in Gascony.
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
Despite apparent cultural and linguistic connections to (Vascones), the area of Aquitania, as a part of Gaul ended at 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 Spain: it looks between the setting of the sun, and the north star.
Relation to Basque people and language
The presence, on late Romano-Aquitanian funerary slabs, of what seem to be the names of deities or people similar to certain names in modern Basque have 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. The fact that the region was known as 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.
Although the country 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):
- Apiates/Aspiates in the Aspe Valley (Gave d'Aspe Valley)
- Aturenses in the banks of the Adour (Aturus) river
- Arenosii or Airenosini in Aran valley, (high Garonne valley), part of Aquitania and not of Hispania in the Roman Empire
- Ausci in the east around Auch (Elimberris, metropolis of Aquitania)
- Benearni or Benearnenses/Venarni in and around low Béarn, Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
- Bigerriones or Begerri in the west of the French département of High Pyrenees (medieval county of Bigorre)
- Boiates/Boates/Boii Boiates/Boviates in the coastal region of Pays de Buch and Pays de Born, in the Northwest of Landes
- Camponi (may have been the same tribe as the Oscidates Campestres)
- Cocosates/Sexsignani in the west of Landes département
- Consoranni in the tributary streams of the high Garonne river in the former province of Couserans, today's west half of the Ariège départment and extreme south of Haute-Garonne
- Convenae, a “groupement” in the southeast (high Garonne valley) in and around Lugdunum Convenarum
- Datii, in the Ossau Valley, high Béarn
- Elusates in the northeast around Eauze (former Elusa)
- Gates between the Elusates and the Ausci
- Iluronenses in and around Iluro (Oloron-Sainte-Marie)
- Lactorates or Lectorates in and around Lectoure
- Monesii or Osii or Onesii in the high Garonne river valley (Louchon), only mentioned in Strabo's Geographica
- Onobrisates in Nébouzan in the high Garonne river valley and its tributaries, possibly the same tribe as the Onesii or Osii or Monesii
- Oscidates in several valleys and slopes of the west Pyrenees, high Béarn, south of the Iluronenses
- Ptianii in Orthez
- Sibyllates or Suburates probably around Soule/Xüberoa and also Saubusse; the same of Cæsar’s Sibuzates/Sibusates?
- Sotiates in the north around Sos-en-Albret (south of Lot-et-Garonne department)
- Tarbelli or Tarbelii/Quattuorsignani in the coastal side of Landes, with Dax (Aquis Tarbellicis)
- Tarusates in the Midou, Douze and Midouze valley, east of Cocosates and Tarbelli
- Tarusci in the high Ariège river valley in the former province of Foix, today's east half of the Ariège department
- Vellates in high Bidassoa river valley
- Venami/Venarni in and around Beneharnum (modern-day Lescar)
- Vasates/Volcates in the north around Bazas (south of Gironde department)
- Iacetani in high Aragon River valley, in and around Jaca, in the southern slopes of western Pyrenees Mountains in today's northwestern Aragon, Spain
- Vascones in the southern slopes of western Pyrenees Mountains in today's Navarra, Spain
- Aquitanian language
- Gallia Aquitania
- Duchy of Vasconia
- Late Basquisation
- Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula
- 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 [...].
- Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2
- 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
- Aquitania a Garumna flumine ad Pyrenaeos montes et eam partem Oceani quae est ad Hispaniam pertinet; spectat inter occasum solis et septentriones.
- Trask, R.L. (1997). The History of Basque. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 398–412. ISBN 0-415-13116-2.
- Judge, A. (2007-02-07). Linguistic Policies and the Survival of Regional Languages in France and Britain. Springer. p. 70. ISBN 9780230286177.
- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/home.html - 51 complete works of authors from Classical Antiquity (Greek and Roman).
- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Caesar/Gallic_War/home.html - Julius Caesar text of De Bello Gallico (Gallic War).
- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Pliny_the_Elder/home.html - Pliny the Elder text of Naturalis Historia (Natural History) - books 3-6 (Geography and Ethnography).
- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/home.html - Strabo's text of De Geographica (The Geography).