Oppidum (plural oppida) is a Latin word meaning the main settlement in any administrative area of ancient Rome. The word is derived from the earlier Latin ob-pedum, "enclosed space," possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *pedóm-, "occupied space" or "footprint."

Julius Caesar described the larger Celtic Iron Age settlements he encountered in Gaul as oppida, and the term is now used to describe the large pre-Roman towns that existed all across Western and Central Europe. Many oppida grew from hill forts, although by no means all of them had significant defensive functions. Oppida surrounded by earthworks are known as enclosed oppida. The main features of the oppida are the architectural construction of the walls and gates, the spacious layout and commanding view of the surrounding area.

The development of oppida was a milestone in the urbanisation of the continent as they were the first large settlements north of the Mediterranean that could genuinely be described as towns. Caesar pointed out that each tribe of Gaul would have several oppida but that they were not all of equal importance, perhaps implying some form of hierarchy.

In conquered lands, the Romans used the infrastructure of the oppida to administer the empire, and many became full Roman towns. This often involved a change of location from the hilltop into the plain.



In Italy

Oppido Lucano - Basilicata Region

In France

Also see: Roquepertuse, Oppidum d'Entremont

In the Low Countries

In Germany

In Central and Eastern Europe

  • Basel-Münsterhügel, Switzerland
  • Lhota-Točná/Závist, Czech Republic, 170 ha
  • Stradonice, Czech Republic
  • Staré Hradisko, Czech Republic
  • Na Hrádnici, Czech Republic
  • Třísov, Czech Republic
  • Hostýn, Czech Republic
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Devín, Slovakia
  • Mukachevo, Ukraine

In Iberia

In the British Isles

In the mediaeval Kingdom of Hungary, oppidum was the legal Latin term for market towns (Hungarian: mezőváros), which were of lesser status than free royal towns but more important than villages.[1]


Further reading

  • Collis, John (1984) Oppida, earliest towns north of the Alps. Sheffield
  • Garcia, Dominique (2004) La Celtique Méditeranée: habitats et sociétés en Languedoc et en Provence, VIIIe - IIe siècles av. J.-C. chapter 4 La « civilisation des oppida » : dynamique et chronologie. Paris, Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-286-4
  • Sabatino Moscati (ed.), Otto Hermann Frey (ed.), Venceslas Kruta (ed.), Barry Raftery (ed.), Miklos Szabo (ed.) (1998) The Celts, Rizzoli

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • oppidum — [ ɔpidɔm ] n. m. • 1765; mot lat. ♦ Archéol., hist. Ville fortifiée, fortification romaine. ⇒ citadelle. Des oppidums. L oppidum de Bibracte, dans le Morvan. ● oppidum, oppidums ou oppida nom masculin (latin oppidum) Fortification de type… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • OPPIDUM — idem cum Urbe, tametsi quidam Urbem maius aliquid Oppidô esse arbitrantur. Iulius Caesar l. 7. Bell. Gall. c. 13. nunc Avaritum Oppidum maximum, in finibus Biturigum, nunc c. 20. pulcherrimam prope totius Galliae Urbem appellat: Item c. 12. et 55 …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • oppidum — ÓPPIDUM s.n. v. opidum. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN  ÓPPIDUM s. n. aşezare romană fortificată, centru economic, politic, religios şi militar, un început de oraş. (< lat. oppidum) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Oppĭdum — (lat.), 1) Stadt, bes. der Urbs (Rom) entgegengesetzt; daher 2) Landstadt; 3) so v.w. Carceres 4) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Oppidum — Un oppidum (du latin n. oppidum, pl. oppida : lieu élevé, fortification ; le pluriel francisé aussi utilisé : oppidums[1]) est un lieu de refuge public, caractéristique de la civilisation celtique, dont les défenses naturelles ont… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Oppidum — Un oppidum (en plural oppida) es un término genérico en latín que designa un lugar elevado, una colina o meseta, cuyas defensas naturales se han visto reforzadas por la intervención del hombre. Los oppida se establecían, generalmente, para el… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Oppidum — Als oppidum (lat. für „kleinere Stadt, (befestigte) Landstadt“) bezeichneten die Römer bedeutende befestigte Siedlungen. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Römische Zeit 2 Mittelalter 3 Wissenschaftlicher Fachterminus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Oppidum — Schanzanlage; Befestigungsanlage * * * Ọppidum   [lateinisch] das, s/...da,    1) ursprünglich ein durch Mauer und Graben befestigter, zur Verteidigung günstig gelegener Ort der Italiker; er konnte ständig bewohnt sein und war dann oft… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Oppidum — (Voz latina.) ► sustantivo masculino HISTORIA Refugio fortificado establecido, por lo general, en lugares elevados. * * * Poblado típico ibérico establecido sobre una colina fortificada que dominaba tierras aptas para el cultivo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Oppidum — ♦ Used by Roman writers to describe fortified non Roman settlements which to them seemed to lack the attributes of a civilized town (urbs). (Reynolds, Susan. An Introduction to the History of English Medieval Towns, 199) Language: Latin Related… …   Medieval glossary

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