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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the collective designation for ancient tribes that inhabited northwestern Italy and southeastern Gaul in the middle of the first millennium B.C. It is believed that from the second to mid-first millennium B.C. the Ligurians inhabited a large part of Italy and were later driven back to the northwest by the Italici. Most modern linguists consider the language of the Ligurians to be of non-Indo-European origin.

The Ligurians were the oldest ethnic stratum in northern Italy. Evidently, they are responsible for the cave art in the Maritime Alps; the art depicts the life of the local population from the Paleolithic to the beginning of the Iron Age. The Ligurian culture was, probably, one of the early Iron Age (Golasecca culture). Archaeological remains indicate that livestock raising and primitive farming were the chief occupations of the Ligurians in the beginning of the Iron Age (during the first half of the first millennium B.C.). During this period they built fortified settlements that gradually became political, commercial, and artisan centers. Distinctive features of the Ligurians’ burial rites permit the assumption that their social system resembled a military democracy, characterized by the strengthening of primitive kingly power and the consolidation of the clan nobility. The Ligurians preserved the village commune for a long period of time. Beginning in the third century B.C., the warlike and freedom-loving Ligurians stubbornly resisted the Romans; they were finally conquered in the second century B.C.


Nemirovskii, A. I. Istoriia rannego Rima i Italii. Voronezh, 1962.
Sereni, E. Comunità rurali nell’Italia antica. Rome, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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