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The word ‘Umbrian’ has been used by ancient and modern authors to denote a variety of ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and geographical entities. Pliny(1) (HN 3. 14. 112) refers to the Umbrians as the gens antiquissima Italiae (‘oldest of the peoples of Italy’), and derives their Greek name of Ombrikoi from their having survived the flood. Attempts to equate the Umbrians of the ancient sources with a range of archaeological terms extending from the so-called ‘Villanovans’ (but see villanovan culture) to the Germanic Ambrones have brought little save confusion or a clarity that is at best illusory. Evidence for the Indo-European Italic dialect known as Umbrian is found in that part of central Italy where the urnfield and inhumation rite overlapped; it is closely related to Oscan, from southern Italy (outside the urnfield area, see celts), and is written in a script derived via Etruscan from the western Greek alphabet. The longest documents are the ritual texts known as the tabulae Iguvinae (and see sabellic languages).

Umbria, together with Ager Gallicus, formed the sixth regio of Italy under Augustus (see italy). As such, it included territory bounded by the Adriatic, the Crustumium, and the Aesis on the east, and by Sabine territory and the Tiber to south and west. Important towns included Iguvium, Camerinum, Asisium, Tuder, Sentinum, Spoletium, Carsulae, Ameria, Interamna Nahars, Narnia, Ocriculum, and Hispellum, and in Ager Gallicus Pisaurum and Sena Gallica.


J. H. W. Penney, Cambridge Ancient History 4, 2nd edn. (1988), 720 ff. (language).Find this resource:

    Antichità dell'Umbria (exhib. cats.: Vatican, 1988;Find this resource:

      Budapest–Cracow, 1989;Find this resource:

        Leningrad, 1990;Find this resource:

          New York, 1991).Find this resource:

            G. Bradley, Ancient Umbria (2000).Find this resource:

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