Ab Hastis



A Venetian document, dated October 20, 1446, mentions that four people surnamed Dalle Aste from Vallarsa purchased a mountain shelter by auction.

The interesting point is that the Italian name is also mentioned in its
original Latin form - ab Hastis.
The document, translated into modern Italian, tells us that:

"...gli spettabili e generosi signori uomini Luca Caravello, onorando Podestà di Rovereto e Capitano della Valle Lagarina, e Antonio Diego... cedettero e trasferirono e deliberarono a pubblico incanto a Concio fu Tomaso e a Giacomo fu Giovanni Dalle Aste (ab Hastis) di Vallarsa, ivi presenti e come persone che volevano dare più di tutti altri offerenti, e acquirenti in vece e a nome della Comunità di Vallarsa... per i quali promisero per autorizzazione e per conferma di ciò che faranno e procureranno, con effetto che detti uomini e Comunità di Vallarsa accetteranno e ratificheranno questa compera e tutte singole le cose contenute nel presente documento (instrumento) sotto pena e obbligazione di tutti i loro beni mobili e immobili, presenti e futuri."

A detailed list of all goods contained in the mountain hut followed. The buyers paid around 250 gold ducats (ducati d'oro).

The mountain hut, named "Malga Pozze", still exists today:

La malga pozze, 5950 feet above sea level

Of course, one may continue to speculate where the name "ab Hastis" comes from.
Indeed, the Latin word "hasta" means lance or spear. Hastae were carried by early Roman Legionaries, in particular they were carried by and gave their name to those Roman soldiers known as Hastati. A hasta was about six feet in length with a shaft generally made from ash, the head was of iron.

Sextus Pompeius Festus, a Roman grammarian, who probably lived during the 2nd century AD, mentiones the tribe of the Samnites in his book
"De verborum significatione":

Samnites: Samnites ab hastis appellati sunt, quas Graeci saunia appellant; has enim ferre adsueti erant; sive a colle Samnio, ubi ex Sabinis adventantes consederunt."

This can be translated correspondingly as follows:
"The Samnites obtained their name from a lance, which is called saunia by the Greek; since they were used to carry such a weapon (ferre); or they are named after the hill Samnium, where the descendants of the Sabines settled."

The Samnites were the most formidable competitors of the Romans for supremacy in Italy for several centuries - it took four centuries and three wars until they were finally subdued in 82 AD by the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix. Many of them were killed, drilled as professional gladiators, and some were scattered to the four winds...