The Tubantes were a Germanic tribe, living in the eastern part of The Netherlands. They are often equated to the Tuihanti, whom we know from two inscriptions found near Hadrian's Wall. The modern name Twente derives from the word Tuihanti.
Little is known about the Tubantes.
The first time they are mentioned at all, is in a description of the first expedition of Germanicus against the Marsi in the year 14 AD, when they ambushed the Roman forces returning to their winter-quarters, in coalition with the Bructeri and Usipetes, probably somewhere in the Münsterland.
In 58 AD, Tacitus reports in his Annals that the Ampsivarii, in their plea to the Romans concerning some land north of the Rhine reserved by the Roman military, that it had belonged in sequence to the Chamavi, Tubantes, and then the Usipii. (The Usipii are known to have moved into the Rhine region around the time of Caesar (55 BC), but not yet to have found permanent settlement in that time, and to have been resident at the afore-mentioned northern bank of the Rhine by the time of Drusus around 11 AD.)
Claudius Ptolemy in his Geographia (2.10), appears to describe a north to south series starting with the Chamavi "under" whom are the Chatti and Tubanti, and then between these and the Sudetes mountains, thought to be the Erzgebirge, the Teuriochaemae (an otherwise unknown name, but in the place previously inhabited by the Hermanduri and later by the Thuringii, with these three names often thought to be equivalent). But the position of the Chamavi and Tubantes so far to the southeast does not match other sources, and Chamavi also seem to be mentioned under another name in a more expected place, south of the coastal Chauci, and north of the Bructeri, in between Ems and Weser. Confusingly, other tribes normally from the region of the Tubantes, the Chattuari and Chasuarii, are also described as if they are in southern Germany in this passage.
Two third-century sacral inscriptions found near Hadrian's Wall make mention of Tuihanti serving in an auxiliary unit of the Roman army, the Cuneus Frisiorum. (The Frisii was a name applied to all or most tribes north of the Rhine in Roman times, in the same general area of the Tubantes.) The inscriptions say:
- "To the god Mars and the two Alaisiagae, and to the divine power of the Emperor, the German tribesmen of Tuihantis of the formation of Frisians of Vercovicium, Severus Alexanders's own, willingly and deservedly fulfilled their vow."
- "To the god Mars Thinescus and the two Alaisiagae, Beda and Fimmilena, and the divine power of the Emperor, Germans tribemen from Tuihantis willingly and deservedly fulfilled their vow."
Archeology shows that the region associated with the Tubantes was inhabited more or less continuously since the last ice-age. The region is very fertile and will support agriculture and cattle. The countryside is marked by artificial hills, called es or esch, which were formed by depositing dung mixed with dirt. Prime examples include the Fleringer Esch, near Fleringen and the Usseler Es, also known as the Usseler Esch, near Usselo.
There is archeological evidence of (relatively) large scale iron production in the region, specifically near Heeten, indicating that the locals understood the process of producing steel, with a carbon content of 2% . The ore used was the abundant bog iron. The production sites can be dated to 280-350 AD.
- Tacitus, Annales 1.51.
- Lanting; van der Plicht (2010), "De 14C-chronologie van de Nederlandse Pre- en Protohistorie VI: Romeinse tijd en Merovingische periode, deel A: historische bronnen en chronologische schema’s", Palaeohistoria, 51/52: 61
- Tac. Ann. 13.55
- Attema, P. A. J.; Lanting, J. N.; Los-Weijns, M. A. (15 December 2008). Palaeohistoria 49/50 (2007/2008). Barkhuis. p. 701. ISBN 978-90-77922-44-6. Retrieved 13 December 2012. In Latin: 1. Deo / Marti / Thincso / et duabus / Alaisiagis / Bed(a)e et Fi/mmilen(a)e / et n(umini) Aug(usti) Ger/m(ani) cives Tu/ihanti / v(otum) s(olverunt) l(ibentes) m(erito). 2. Deo / Marti et duabus / Alaisiagis et n(umini) Aug(usti) / Ger(mani) cives Tuihanti / cunei Frisiorum / Ver(covicianorum) Se(ve)r(iani) Alexand/riani votum / solverunt / libent[es] / m(erito).
- Nazarius, Panegyric of Constantine, 18 (C.E.V. Nixon & B.S. Rogers, In praise of later Roman emperors. The Panegyrici Latini. Introduction, translation, and historical commentary, with the Latin text of R.A.B. Mynors. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, p. 363).
- Keulemans, Maarten (13 May 2004). "Overijsselaren toch geen barbaren - Stukje staal geeft de doorslag". Nieuws. Noorderlicht. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- Rincon, Paul (12 May 2004). "Iron Age tool marks move to steel". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 23 August 2010.