In the German-speaking part of Switzerland and in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Basel is pronounced [ba:zəl]. The city is known as Basilea in Latin, Basileia in Greek and Bazylej in Polish.
The English name Basel traces its origins to the Old High German Baasalia, which refers to “the march (marchia) or boundary (bannum) of the Alemanni”. Not only did Roman sources connect the name of the Alemanni with viticulture; they also associated them with burying their dead on mounds outside their villages.
Over time, Basel acquired a reputation for being an important center for trade. The city’s first Roman settlement was unfortified and located on the south bank of the Rhine.
In AD 83, along with other towns to the north of Lake Constance such as Augusta Raurica and Mogontiacum (modern Mainz), became Roman for a time.
By then, trade was flourishing; grain from Gaul moved down the Rhine and overland into Britain. Wine was exported from the southern valleys of Switzerland. And goods moved up from Italy through northern Alpine passes into Germany or France.
Last modified: September 24, 2022