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Picenum

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This page deals with the place-names of a region approximately corresponding to the V Regio of Italy. This region is bounded by the Adriatic sea (to the east), the river Esino (north), the Appennine range (west) and the river Saline (south). Included here are the towns of the Piceni proprie dicti and of the Palmensi, Praetutii, Hadriani.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische Wörterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.

Samnium (428K)

Piceni

Ancona

Asculum

Auximum

Cingulum

Cluana

*Cluentus fl.

Cunerus m.

Cupra

Cupra Montana

Falerio

Firmum

Flussorius
  • Place: river Fiastra (or less probably Potenza), province Macerata, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Flusor fl. (Peut.) Flussorius fl. (late antiquity) Flesor fl. (Rav.)
  • The same origin as the Latin fluo '(I) flow' and fluvius 'river'. Probably a Latin hydronym, however also a pre-Latin origin is possible, being compatible with Italic phonetics. Another name Flosis fl. is usually attributed to Potenza river.

Helvia Ricina

Novana
  • Place: not identified, region Marche, Italy
  • Name: Novana (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Apparently, a late foundation, with the name from Latin novum 'new'. But possibly a Latin translation of an earlier name.

Numana

Pausulae

Planina

Pollentia

Potentia

Septempeda

Tinna fl.

Tolentinum

Treia

Truentus fl., Truentum

Urbs Salvia

Praetutii et Palmenses

Albula fl.

Batinus fl.

Beregra

Castrum Novum
  • Place: Terravecchia by Giulianova, province Teramo, region Abruzzo, Italy
  • Name: Castrum Novum (Plin., Strab., Peut., Rav.) Castrum (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: A Roman foundation over some previous settlement. The name is the Latin 'new castle'.

Hadria

Helvinus fl.

Interamnia Praetutiorum

Matrinus fl., Matrinum

Palma

Tessuinus fl.

Vomanus fl.

Conclusions

The linguistic affiliation of the Piceni has always been disputed. Usually, they are considered as belonging to the Eastern Italic (or Osco-Umbrian) group, just for the geographical proximity. Actually, the typical phonetic features of that linguistic group (intervocalic f, labialization of kw, gw, etc.) are lacking in the toponymy of the area. On the contrary, clear non-Eastern Italic features appear to be dominant. Some of them (like *bh>b, etc. in every position) can be explained in several ways (for example invoking the Western Italic). But the hypothesis proposed here is that of a linguistic stratum, possibly very ancient since it is responsible of the hydronymy, characterized by a consonant shift. There is evidence of the voiced stops shifting to voiceless (*d>t, *g>k and presumably *b>p), and of the aspirated voiced stops shifting to voiced (*bh>b etc.). The voiceless stops were preserved or maybe, to complete the shift, they were aspirated, but this aspiration is not shown in the Latin sources, since Latin language had not aspirated voiceless stops in its alphabet. This unknown language is only a speculation. Conventionally, it will be referred to in the languages' page, as Picene (the so-called Picene alphabets seem to have had aspirated voiceless stops).

An Italic presence is also needed to explain some placenames with initial f or h and it is especially concentrated in the valley of river Tronto (Truentus fl.), maybe the first point from which these Italics, avoiding Picenes north and south, propagated toward the western coast of Italy. It is not clear whether this stratum is a (Western) Italic one or a part of the Osco-Umbrian group.

Possibly, an example of a Gaulish toponymy has been found, not far from the Ager Gallicus in the north of the region.