general terms, the Romans
coined the name 'Gaul' to describe the
Celtic tribes of what is now
central, northern and eastern
France. The Gauls
were divided from the
Belgae to the
north by the Marne and the Seine, and from the Aquitani to the south by
the River Garonne, and they also extended into
Italy, and along the Danube.
By the middle of the first century BC, the Eravisci were a minor tribe
that was located along a narrow band of Celtic settlement close to the
Danube. They occupied territory on the western side of the river, now
part of the city of Buda in
Hungary. They were
neighboured to the north by the
Hercuniates, to the
north-east by the
Anarti, to the east by
the Sarmatian Iazyges, and to the south and west by Illyrian tribes.
Sometimes called the Aravisci or Eravasci, the tribe's name is a peculiar one
that resists a proper breakdown in the Celtic language. Removing the plural
suffix, '-i' leaves two core elements. The closest discoverable matches to
the first element are in Latin: 'erus', meaning 'master, owner, lord', and 'era',
meaning 'mistress, lady' - although these are very shaky potential matches.
The second element may be related to the Latin 'usque', meaning 'all the way,
up (to), even (to)', or 'usquequaque', meaning 'always'. So perhaps the tribe
could have been something along the lines of 'the always lords'. This is highly
tentative, and the lack of a clear translation along with the tribe's location
would suggest a Venetic connection for the name - maybe a Venetic tribe that
was taken over by a Celtic warrior elite.
The tribe's territory was in Dunaújváros in Transdanubia much of which was
under their control. Their main settlement was on Gellért Hill (in Buda), a
perfect site for a defensive hill fort. Another important settlement was at
Aquincum, which became a Roman military fort after the tribe was subdued.
This was situated on the right bank of the Danube at an important crossing
point. The Latin name is probably based on its Celtic original, with the
proto-Celtic dictionary supplying *akʷā- (modern 'aqua'), meaning
'water' to form the core of that older name. The second part may be cognate
to the Latin 'incolo : incolere', meaning 'to inhabit, reside somewhere, dwell
(in)'. That would make Aquincum the 'residence [by the] water'. Little else
is known of them except that they were highly cultured. They worked with
iron, minted their own coins, and decorated their earthenware pots. There is
the possibility that they (or their Celtic elite) migrated into the region
in the fourth or third century BC, almost certainly following the Danube
from the west.
(Information co-authored by Edward Dawson, and additional information from
objects as historical sources, Melinda Torbágyi.)
60 - 59 BC
Following recent success in battle at Histria, relations
between the Getae and
their neighbours in the Balkans undergoes a notable deterioration. Suddenly,
under the leadership of Burebista, who is apparently guided by a wizard called
Deceneus, the Getae launch a succession of brutal attacks on their former allies.
seem to be first on the list, and the territory of the
are laid waste, with the Boii especially being almost genocidally exterminated by
Burebista's brutal onslaught. The Eravisci find themselves sitting on
Burebista's line of march towards the Boii lands, but they escape him by
leaving their villages in what is now Pest and barricading themselves in
their fort on Gellért Hill.
c.20 BC - AD 40
The tribe is eventually subdued by
but the creation of the province of Pannonia is poorly recorded by Roman
authors, especially in eastern Pannonia. It seems possible that the tribe
becomes an ally in order to keep it out of the anti-Roman revolt of the
tribes to the south, especially that of the
Aquincum is turned into a military post and when the province is divided in AD
106, this becomes the capital of Pannonia Inferior. Tombstone reliefs from this
early Roman period continue to show a strong sense of Eravisci culture,
especially on tomb reliefs which picture Celtic dress and jewellery.