Mapping and Visualizing Linguistic and Territorial Convergent Data: Imola and Its Environment as a Case Study


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This paper presents the innovative outcome of a convergent approach applied to research results coming from historical linguistics and etymology, medieval history, palaeography and diplomatics, historical geography and topography, historical cartography, and historical semantics. All data converge upon a new interpretation of the remote origins of the place name Imola (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) and of the name of its river Santerno, in relation to their environment and territory. It comes out as a toponymic alignment in a linguistic border area between Indo-European and Etruscan, which defines—through an interdisciplinary set of direct and internal ‘auto-confirmations’—a settlement ‘on the bend of a river’, the ‘river which turns’. This etymological reconstruction meets the identification that originally puts this inhabited center on the top of the low hill currently known as Castellaccio (aka Castrum Imolas), which preserves evidence of population dynamics from Prehistory till 1222, and is located beside the natural ford used by the Etruscan piedmont path to cross the river Santerno. The toponym, during the Middle Ages, expanded from this original settlement to the Roman Forum Cornelii one, replacing its name into nowadays Imola.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNames and Their Environment
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 25th International Congress of Onomastic Sciences, Glasgow, 25-29 August 2014
EditorsCarole HOUGH, Daria IZDEBSKA
Place of PublicationGlasgow, Scotland, UK
PublisherUniversity of Glasgow
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)0-85261-947-2
ISBN (Print)978-0-85261-947-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Congress of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS)
PublisherInternational Council of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS)


  • Proto-Indo-European
  • Toponymy
  • Imola
  • Etymology
  • Toponomastics


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