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 people[1][2] occupying portions of Rhaetia (in modern Switzerland and northern Italy) in the Alps during the late Bronze Age/Iron Age. Recent archeological excavations and their association with the Golasecca culture (IX-VII centuries BC) and Canegrate culture(XIII century BC)[3] point to a Celtic affiliation. From the analysis of their language[4] and the place names of the old Lepontic areas,[5] it was hypothesized that these people represent a layer similar to that Celtic but previous to the Gallic penetration in the Po valley.

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


  1. LinguistList: Lepontic
  2. John T. Koch (ed.) Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia ABC-CLIO (2005) ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0
  3. Percivaldi, Elena (2003). I Celti: una civiltà europea. Firenze. p. 22.
  4. M. Lejeune, Lepontica, Parigi 1971.
  5. Sciarretta, Antonio. Toponomastica d'Italia. Nomi di luoghi, storie di popoli antichi. Milano: Mursia. pp. 143–173. ISBN 978-88-425-4017-5.


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