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Map of the Alpine provinces as of AD 14, showing the position of the Lepontii within Rhaetia and north of Gallia Transpadana
Celtic (orange) and Rhaetic (green) settlements in Switzerland

The Lepontii were an ancient Celtic or possibly Italic people occupying portions of Rhaetia (in modern Switzerland and northern Italy) in the Alps during the time of the Roman conquest of that territory. The Lepontii have been variously described as a Celtic, Ligurian, Raetian, and Germanic tribe. Recent archeological excavations and their association with the Golasecca culture of Northern Italy may point to a Gaulish affiliation, although an amalgamation of Rhaetians (who were partly of Etruscan-related origin) may not be excluded.

The chief towns of the Lepontii were Oscela, now Domodossola, Italy, and Bilitio, now Bellinzona, Switzerland. Their territory included the southern slopes of the St. Gotthard Pass and Simplon Pass, corresponding roughly to present-day Ossola and Ticino.

Map of Rhaetia

A map of Rhaetia shows the location of the Lepontic territory, in the south-western corner of Rhaetia. The area to the south, including what was to become the Insubrian capital Mediolanum (modern Milan), was Etruscan around 600-500 BC, when the Lepontii began writing tombstone inscriptions in their alphabet, one of several Etruscan-derived alphabets in the Rhaetian territory.

See also



  • PIANA AGOSTINETTI P. 1972, Documenti per la protostoria della Val d’Ossola. San Bernardo d’Ornavasso e le altre necropoli preromane, Milano.
  • Tibiletti Bruno, M. G. (1978). "Ligure, leponzio e gallico". In Popoli e civiltà dell'Italia antica vi, Lingue e dialetti, ed. A. L. Prosdocimi, 129–208. Rome: Biblioteca di Storia Patria.
  • Tibiletti Bruno, M. G. (1981). "Le iscrizioni celtiche d'Italia". In I Celti d'Italia, ed. E. Campanile, 157–207. Pisa: Giardini.
  • ULRICH-BANSA O.1957, Monete rinvenute nelle necropoli di Ornavasso, in “Rivista Italiana di Numismatica”, LIX, pp. 6–69.
  • Whatmough, J. (1933). The Prae-Italic Dialects of Italy, vol. 2, The Raetic, Lepontic, Gallic, East-Italic, Messapic and Sicel Inscriptions. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 
  • AA.VV. and Prosdocimi, A.L. (1991). I Celti, pag.50-60, Lingua e scrittura dei primi Celti. Bompiani. 
  • AA.VV. and De Marinis, R.C. (1991). I Celti, capìtol I Celti Golasecchiani. Bompiani.