What is oppidum? – Latin meaning of this term

If you put the word oppidum in a translator you will see that means city. However, this term has been the subject of study and debate by historians and archaeologists, since its meaning and use varies depending on the region and the historical moment in which it was used. In this article, we will focus on the Latin meaning of oppidum and we will explore how this term relates to the history, culture, and archeology of ancient Europe.

What does oppidum mean?

Oppidum is a Latin term that refers to a fortified settlement or a fortified city from pre-Roman times in Europe. The oppida were common in the Celtic and Iberian cultures of the Iron Age and were characterized by their defensive walls and their strategic position on the hills or on the plains near the rivers. The oppida were often important centers of trade, production, and crafts, and some became major cities during Roman times.

What is Latin oppidum?

There is no difference between oppidum and Latin oppidum, since both terms refer to the same concept: a medium-sized fortified city or settlement. The term oppidum comes from Latin, but it was also used in Celtic culture and in other cultural and geographical contexts to designate this type of fortified settlement.

What are the characteristics of the oppidum?

The characteristics of the oppidum vary by culture and time in which it was developed. Some of the common characteristics of the oppida are:

  • elevated position: The oppida are often located on hills or high plains near rivers, allowing them to control trade and defense routes.
  • Distinctive urban architecture: this ibid often feature paved streets, public buildings, temples, and theaters that reflect the importance of the settlement as an administrative and cultural center.
  • Trade: The oppida were often major trade centers that controlled trade routes through Europe, allowing them to trade with other settlements and cultures.
  • Capital in terms of political and economic center: Some oppida, especially those that arose during Roman times, became important political and economic centers in the region in which they were located.
  • Resources and wealth: In some cases, the oppida were centers of production and accumulation of wealth and resources.

In addition, another important feature of the oppida is their ability to harbor large populations. Some oppida could hold up to 10,000 inhabitants, reflecting their importance as urban centers in pre-Roman times.

It is important to note that oppida were not all the same, as they could vary in size, architecture, and function depending on the culture and time in which they were developed. For example, some celtic oppida they were smaller and were located in more remote areas, while the Iberian oppida could be larger and located in more accessible areas.

In the oppida of the Celtic culture, energy was obtained mainly from renewable sources such as wood and biomass. The Celts were experts in forest management and used the wood as fuel for heating and lighting, as well as for the construction of houses and fortifications. They also used water power to grind grain and other tasks, and built dams and canals to harness the power of water.

What is oppidum ibero?

The Iberian oppidum is a type of fortified settlement that developed in the Iberian Peninsula during the Iron Age. These oppida are characterized by being fortified cities that had a defensive wall to protect their inhabitants from possible enemy attacks.

These fortified cities were important urban and economic centers In the Iberic Peninsule. Often, they were places where high-quality goods such as ceramics, metalwork, and textiles were produced and traded. In addition, they used to have a complex political and social organization system, with tribal leaders and chiefs who ruled over their inhabitants.

The Iberian oppida were also important religious and cultural centers. In many cases, they had temples and sanctuaries dedicated to Iberian and Celtic gods, such as the god Tartessos and the goddess Ataecina.

These can be found throughout the Iberian Peninsula, but some of the most important are found in present-day Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia and Extremadura.

Unlike the Celtic oppida, the Iberian oppida were larger and were built on strategic locations to control access to valleys and rivers. They used to be located in high places, such as hills or mountains, and had a defensive wall and watchtowers to protect their inhabitants from possible enemy attacks.

The Iberian oppida were also important centers of commercial and cultural exchange. Merchants came to these cities from faraway places to sell their products and purchase the goods that were produced there. This contributed to the spread of ideas and customs of different cultures in the region.

Oppidum Examples

There are numerous examples of Iberian oppida in the Iberian Peninsula. Here I present some of the most prominent:

  • Numancia: Located in the province of Soria, it was one of the most important oppida on the peninsula. It resisted the attacks of the Roman armies for years and became a symbol of resistance against the Roman invasion.
  • Castle: Located in the province of Jaén, it was one of the most important oppida in the Andalusian region. It was characterized by having a defensive wall with watchtowers and a system of aqueducts to supply water to the population.
  • Ullastret: Located in the province of Girona, it is one of the best preserved oppida in Catalonia. It is located on a hill and has a defensive wall, watchtowers and a complex water supply system.
  • Tossal de Sant Miquel: Located in the province of Alicante, it is one of the best studied oppida in the Valencian Community. It is believed to have been an important commercial and cultural center during the Iron Age.
  • Coimbra of the Wide Ravine: Located in the province of Murcia, it is one of the best preserved oppida in the region. It is located on a hill and has an impressive defensive wall and a system of fortifications.

In France, there are several well-known oppida, especially in the Gaul region, which was occupied by the Celts before the Roman conquest. Some of the most prominent oppidums in France are the Bibracte oppidum in Burgundy, the Gergovian oppidum in Auvergne, and the French oppidum of Mont Lassois in Champagne.

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