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European Kingdoms

Celtic Tribes


Titti / Titii (Celtiberians)

FeatureCeltic migration across Europe was a slow, constant process which took place over a millennium or so. Celtic tribes (see feature link) probably arrived in Iberia in two waves, the first traditionally placed around 900 BC. More recent thought tends to identify the early arrivals as Indo-European or proto-Celtic tribes (who would have been part of the Urnfield culture), and argues for a process of infiltration over an extended period, from around 1000 to 300 BC, rather than invasions.

The first arrivals appear to have established themselves in Catalonia, having probably entered via the eastern passages of the Pyrenees. Later groups (more identifiably Celtic and part of the Hallstatt expansion and migrations) ventured west through the Pyrenees to occupy the northern coast of the peninsula, and south beyond the Ebro and Duero basins as far as the Tagus valley.

The Titti are normally classed as being a Celtic tribe (but see below). They were generally thought to have been located in the middle valley of the River Jalon and the upper valley of the River Tajuna, between Alhama de Aragon (Zaragoza) and Molina de Aragon (Guadalajara) in Iberia, although a precise location is less certain. They were neighboured by the Arevaci and Pelondones to the north and north-west, the Lusones and Belli to the east and north-east, the Turboletae and the Berybraces to the south, and the more powerful Carpetani and Vaccaei to the west.

The tribe was usually referred to as the Titti or Titii (or Ticos in today's Spanish). However, the name appears not to be Indo-European. The closest matches are not the expected Celtic, being a description of the sound a bird makes (in effect, 'tweet'), and a child's word for father: 'titti', meaning 'daddy'. Both seem absurd, so the likelihood is that this particular tribe of Celts were quickly brought under the domination of an Iberian or Aquitani elite, and were given a name in one of these non-Indo-European tongues. That elite, though, must have lost much of its native culture for the Titti to be regularly classed by scholars as Celts or Celtiberians.

They would also appear to have been a client tribe of the Belli. Owing to a lack of extensive archaeological surveys, until recently no finds of Iron Age settlement have been found which could be connected to this tribe. However, analysis of numismatic finds within the Jalon-Tajuna region have led archaeologists to link these coins with the mints of three hitherto unknown Celtiberian towns: Aratis or Aratikos, Titum, and Titiakos. That would make the towns those of the Titti, with Titum being held to be their capital.

In 2014, the civitas of Aratis or Aratikos was linked to the Iron Age site of Castejón I - El Romeral at Aranda de Moncayo, in the province of Zaragoza. Another civitas of theirs was Augusta Bilbilis, birthplace of the Roman poet, Martial, which until recently was considered to be part of Lusones territory.

The ruins of Numantia in Iberia

(Information by Trish Wilson, with additional information by Edward Dawson and Peter Kessler, from The La Tene Celtic Belgae Tribes in England: Y-Chromosome Haplogroup R-U152 - Hypothesis C, David K Faux, from The Celtic Encyclopaedia, Harry Mountain, from A Genetic Signal of Central European Celtic Ancestry, David K Faux, from Celts and the Classical World, David Rankin, from Europe Before History, Kristian Kristiansen, from Los Celtiberos, etnias y estados, Franciso Burillo Mozota, from Los Celtiberos, Alberto Lorrio Alvarado, from Historia de España 2 - colonizaciones y formación de los pueblos prerromanos (1200-218 a.C.), Ángel Montenegro et allii, from La investigación arqueológica en el Jalón Medio, Manuel Martin-Bueno, and from External Links: The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars, and Gran Enciclopedia Aragonesa (in Spanish), and Celtiberia.net (in Spanish), and Lista de pueblos prerromanos de Iberia (in Spanish, Hispanoteca.eu), and Euskomedia (in Spanish).)

4th century BC

In this century, the latter stages of the Gaulish migration into Iberia sees several tribes or splinters of tribes arriving to swell the eventual Celtiberian mix in eastern-central Spain. Some, like the Olcades, dominate local Iberian tribes in the form of a new ruling elite, while others settle alongside such tribes and eventually pick up second-hand Iberian influences.

The Pyrenees as seen from the national park on the French side of the border
The Pyrenees (as seen here from the national park on the French side of the border) has presented a considerable obstacle to many migrating groups and campaigning armies, but there are paths across it, as the proto-Celtic Urnfield people and their Hallstatt culture successors found

Unlike their near neighbours, the Pelondones, the Titti seem entirely to have been late arrivals in the migration of Hallstatt culture peoples, part of the final wave of Gaulish immigrants which provide the impetus for the creation of Celtiberian culture between the Douro and the Ebro. Their arrival, while unrecorded, would seem very quickly to place them in the hands of an Iberian or Aquitani elite which gives them a name in its own tongue in exchange for taking on board their Celtic culture.

3rd century BC

What little mention is made of the Titti in this century through ancient sources suggests that they are either clients or allies of the Belli. They are also being subjected to raids by the Turboletae, which would make any friendly alliance with the Belli a desirable prospect.

200s - 100s BC

The Titti join their neighbours, including the Arevaci (and their Uraci clients), Belli, and Lusones, in the Celtiberian confederation in the third or second centuries BC. All of these tribes will fight alongside each other in the forthcoming Celtiberian Wars against an increasingly intrusive Roman presence in the peninsula. Prior to that, the Titti at least may be allies to or subjects of the brief Carthaginian dominance of parts of Iberia which is ended by the Second Punic War.

Map of Iberian Tribes 300 BC
The Iberian peninsula prior to the Carthaginian invasion and partial conquest was a melange of different tribal influences (click or tap on map to view full sized)

182 - 179 BC

Praetor Quintus Fulvius Flaccus arrives in Iberia with a new army, determined to take on the Celtiberians (Belli, Carpetani and others). He succeeds in capturing the city of Urbicua, to which the Celtiberians respond by raising an army of 35,000. In order to meet this threat, Flaccus increases his own force to include as many auxiliary units as he is able to raise from friendly tribes.

Then he moves to the Carpetani capital of Carpetania where he defeats the Celtiberian army near Aebura (Talavera de la Reina). Celtiberian losses amount to 23,000 dead and 4,700 captured, against minimal losses amongst the Roman forces. Flaccus captures the city before heading to the city of Contrebia (possibly Contrebia Carbica in Fosos de Bayona, Cuenca, where remains have been found).

The First Celtiberian War (181-179 BC)  is underway, with the Arevaci, Belli, Lusones, Pelondones, and Titti especially pushing back against the aggressive Roman presence in Iberia (the Lobetani role in the wars is entirely unknown).

This depiction of Celtiberians ambushing Roman soldiers offers a glimpse of the bitter Roman battle to control Iberia after it had won the Punic Wars

A Celtiberian force has been sent to assist the city but is delayed by intemperate weather. Instead it is caught out by the Romans, leading to further immense losses. Flaccus subsequently moves into Celtiberian territory, ravaging the countryside and destroying as many forts as he can before he moves into the territory of the Lusones.

154 - 151 BC

The Second Celtiberian War occurs when Rome declares war on the Belli for building a circuit of walls around their town of Segeda. The Arevaci and Titti join the Belli to win a few initial victories. Consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus delivers Rome's final victory.

Praetor Quintus Fulvius Nobilior is sent to Iberia with a new army of nearly 30,000 men to take control of the situation. His arrival completely throws the Belli whose walls are not yet complete. They flee en masse to join the Arevaci where a Belli named Carus is appointed military commander. His first act is to ambush Romans in a thick forest, the victory proving pyrrhic as Carus and many of his own men are also killed.

Nolibor then suffers a bruising military defeat on the battlefield, followed by various other disasters. In 152 BC Consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus takes command of Rome's forces. His instant impact and progressive treatment of captives impresses the Belli to seek peace terms. The Titti join them in agreeing terms but the Arevaci remain hostile.

Ruins of the Celtiberian city of Numantia in Spain
The city of Numantia dates back in its earliest form to around 2000 BC, with Celtiberian control beginning in the first millennium BC when the Arevaci tribe built a grand stone-and-mud city over the earlier site, although today only the later, Roman city is generally visible

In 151 BC the new consul, Lucius Licinius Lucullus, is dispatched to Iberia, unaware that Marcellus has already settled the peace terms, even with the Arevaci. Lucullus still insists on fighting, illegally now, and manages to undertake a good deal of plundering.

FeatureHostilities are reignited in the form of the Numantine War, thanks to this city of the Arevaci or Pelondones (ownership is disputed amongst modern scholars) being at the heart of the fighting. The fighting is helped along by large numbers of Iberian Mercenaries (see feature link).

When Numantia is captured thanks to Scipio Aemilianus, the Celtiberian confederation finally collapses and Belli and Titti territory is incorporated into Hispania Citerior. Little is know of either tribe after this point, although they do appear to retain their independence until the Sertorian War of 76 BC.

72 BC

Following the conclusion of the Sertorian War, the Cratistii manage to gain independence from the Carpetani but are integrated into southern Celtiberia by Rome. The Lusones virtually disappear from the historical record, with it being most likely that they merge with - or are absorbed by - their Celtiberian neighbours, the Belli and Titti. The Belli themselves are now gradually pushed back from the upper Jiloca by the Edetani who seize Beligiom, Belgeda, Damania, and Orosis.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla was the victor in Rome's first full-scale civil war (88-82 BC), after which he became dictator of the Roman republic, thereby laying out a path which others could follow in the same century

Around this time (roughly 72 BC) the Belli, Cratistii, Olcades, Titti, and Uraci are merged to form the Late Celtiberian people (Celtiberi) of Romanised southern Celtiberia. In time, following the fading of Roman imperial authority, their territory is incorporated into the vast Visigoth kingdom.

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