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Eth. CARPETA´NI, CARPE´SII (Eth. Καρπήσιοι, Plb. 3.14; Liv. 23.26; Steph. B. sub voce Καρπητανοι, Plb. 10.7; Strab. iii. pp. 139, 141, 152, 162; Ptol. 2.6.57; Liv. 21.5; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4), a people of Hispania Tarraconensis, one of the most numerous and most powerful in the whole peninsula, in the very centre of which they inhabited the great valley of the Upper Tagus, and the mountains on its S. margin, to the Anas, from the borders of Lusitania on the W. to the Oretani and Celtiberi on the S. and E., having on the N. the Vaccaei and Arevacae and some smaller tribes. Their country, called CARPETANIA (Καρπητανία), extended over great part of Old and New Castile, and a portion of Estremadura. (Appian. Hisp. 64; Polyb., Liv., Strab., &c. ll. cc.) Their chief city was TOLETUM (Toledo), and Ptolemy mentions 17 others, most of them upon the great road from Emerita to Caesaraugusta, along the Tagus, which was crossed at Titulcium, above Toletum, by another running from Asturica Augusta to Laminium near the source of the Anas. There was also a road from Toletum to Laminium. On the first of these roads no town is named below Toletum: above it were Titulcia, 24 M. P., the Tituacia (Τιτουακία) of Ptolemy (Getafe or Bayona); COMPLUTUM (Κόμπλομτον), 30 M. P.; ARRIACA 22 M. P., the Caracca (Κάρακκα) of Ptolemy, between which and Caesada, 24 M. P. the road passed into Celtiberia. (Itin. Ant. pp. 436, 438.) On the second road, 24 M.P. NW. of Titulcia, and the same distance from Segovia, and at the foot of the mountains, was Miacum, of which it is not clear whether it belonged to the Carpetani or the Arevacae (Itin. Ant. p. 435). Some identify this place with the modern capital Madrid, which others take for the Mantua (Μάντουα) of Ptolemy: but both opinions are probably wrong: Mantua is perhaps Mondejar. Again, to the SE. of Titulcia, on the road to Laminium, was Vicus Cuminarius, 18 M. P., the name of which is illustrated by Pliny's statement, that the cumin of Carpetania was the best in the world (19.8. s. 47): cumin is still grown at Santa Cruz de la Zarza, which has therefore been identified with Vicus Cuminarius, but the numbers of the Itinerary better suit Ocaña, SE. of Aranjuez: Alce 24 M. P. (near Alcazar: comp. Liv. 11.48, 49); 40 M. P. from Alce was LAMINIUM (Itin. Ant. p. 445). On the road from Toletum to Laminium, were Consabrum, 44 M.P. (Consuegra), a municipium, belonging to the conventus of Carthago Nova (Itin. Ant. p. 446; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4; Geogr. Rav. 4.44; Frontin. Stratag. 4.5.22; Inscr. ap. Gruter, p. 402, no. 5, p. 909, no. 14): and Murus (prob. Morotales) 28 M. P. from Laminium, and 28 from Consabrum (Ant. Itin. l.c.). Among the other cities of the Carpetani were AEBURA (probably the Λιβόρα of Ptolemy); HIPPO; Alea (Ἀλέα, Steph. B. sub voce prob. Alia, E. of. Truxillo); and other places of less importance. The name of Varcilenses is mentioned in inscriptions at Varciles, where Roman ruins are found (Morales, Antig. pp. 17, 26, 28). Besides the dwellers in these cities, there was a people, called Characitani (Χαρακιτανοί), whose only abodes were the caverns in the hills on the banks of the Tagonius (Tajuña), and whose conquest by Sertorius by the stratagem, not of smoking, but of dusting them out of their caves is related with admiration by Plutarch (Plut. Sert. 17) and Mr. Landor (Fawn of Sertorius). Their caves are seen in the neighbourhood of Alcalá and Cuenca, and their name is preserved in that of the town of Caracena, W. of the latter place. (Ukert, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 429; Laborde, Itin. vol. iii. p. 323.)

At the time of Hannibal's campaigns in Spain, before the breaking out of the second Punic War, the Carpetani are mentioned as the most powerful people beyond the Iberus. United with the Olcades and Vaccaei. they brought 100,000 men into the field against Hannibal, who had some trouble in defeating them (Plb. 3.14; Liv. 21.5), and found them ready to seize the least opportunity for revolt (Liv. 21.11), a disposition which they again showed during the war between Hasdrubal and the Scipios (Liv. 23.26; Plb. 10.7.5), and also towards the Romans in the Celtiberian War, of which their country was one of the chief seats (Liv. 39.30, 40.30, 33). Their country, which is described as being very productive, suffered much in the war with Viriathus (Appian. Hisp. 64).

The names of this people suggest an interesting inquiry. According to general analogy, the Carpetani would be the people of Carpe, that is, they should have a chief city Carpe. Now we find a city of that name, in the celebrated place on the Straits, variously called Calpe, Carpeia, Carteia, &c. [CARTEIA]; and, moreover, in the other, and apparently more ancient form of the name, Carpesii, we may fairly trace a connection with Carpessus, which is only another form of Tartessus, the still more ancient name of Calpe or Carteia. The obvious inference would be that the Carpetani had been displaced, in the course of time, probably by the growing power of the Phoenician settlers, from their original possessions in the S. of the peninsula, and driven back over the mountains into the great table-land of the centre. But, without doubting that such a process may have taken place, it deserves consideration whether the people may not have originally possessed the central districts in which history finds them, as well as the southern regions in which the names above referred to mark their former presence; whether, in short, the name which we find in the earliest records in the various forms of Tarshish, Tartessus, Carpessus, Carpe, Calpe, Carteia, &c., was not applied to the peninsula as far as those who have recorded the names possessed any knowledge of it. Nay, we even find a people Calpiani beyond the boundary of the peninsula, near the Rhone (Herodor. ap. Const. Porph. de Adm. Imp. 2.23; Ukert, vol. ii. pt.]. p. 252). At all events, there can be little doubt that the Carpetani were a part of the old Iberian population of Spain, notwithstanding the vague statement of Stephanus (s. v. Ἀλέα) that they were a Celtic race.


hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.7.5
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.14
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.7
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 26
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 33
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 11
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 11, Summary
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 30
    • Plutarch, Sertorius, 17
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.6
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