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VARDAGATE (Casale Monferrato) Piedmont, Italy.

About 28 km N-NW of Alessandria and in antiquity a city in the Augustan Regio IX. It was mentioned by Pliny (3.21) and identified with Terruggia on the basis of the discovery of a plaque, today lost, which mentioned the collegium centonariorum vardagatensium. The later unearthing at Casale of a bronze tablet bearing three imperial rescripts meant for an influential citizen of the municipium of Vardagate has reopened the problem of identifying the capital. The weight of new topographical and archaeological evidence, places it unquestionably in this center of Monferrato whose natural avenues of communication (the roads to Turin and to Asti and Vercelli) reshaped the two axis streets that crossed at the base of the plain. The regular configuration of the Roman city, outlined by the present state of the roads, seems to reflect the military character of the urban plan at the very moment of the founding of the city: the period of military and administrative organization of the territory, between 173 and the last ten years of the 2d c. B.C. The necropolis has yielded abundant material, now largely scattered. It extended into the area of the small town, of the Carmelite convent, and along the road to Asti, indicating the city limits very much like the circuit walls whose remains are evident on the N side (Via Rivetta). At the juncture of the cardo and the decumanus, the area of the forum corresponds to the present-day Piazza Mazzini. Occasional finds of the remains of buildings near the Church of Santo Stefano, in Via F. Cane, and in Piazza Coppa, the discovery of amphora depositories in Piazza Rattazzi and in Via Rivetta, and the indication of a fountain of late antiquity in the area of Priocco all pertain to the Roman city.

After the inhabitants scattered, during the period of the first invasions, memory even of the name was lost. The theory of a new barbarian settlement over the ruins of Vardagate seems to have been suggested by the name Sedula which the Atti del martirio di S. Evasio places at Casale. The name recurs in a tablet containing a copy of a precept of King Luitprand which is preserved in the Cathedral Chapter.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Plin. 3.49; CIL V, 841, 4484, 7452; XII, 6906; XIV, 222.

V. de Conti, Notizie storiche della citta di Casale (1893); G. Rivetta, Fatto storico della città di Casale (1889); F. Gabotto, “Municipi romani dell'Italia occidentale,” Biblioteca Soc. Stor. Bibliografica Subalpina 33 (1908) 275; V. Arangio Ruiz & A. Vogliano, “Tre rescritti in tema di diritto municipale,” Athenaeum 20 (1942) 1ff; A. Degrassi, “Mittente e destinatario dei rescritti imperiali riguardanti il municipio di Vardagate,” Athenaeum 26 (1948) 254ff; U. Erwin, “The early colonisation of the Cisalpine Gaul,” BSR 20 (1952) 54ff; P. Fraccaro, “Un episodio dell'agitazione agraria dei Gracchi,” (1953); P. A. Coppo, “Dove sorgeva l'antica Vardagate?,” La Provincia di Alessandria (August 1960) 10ff; S. Finocchi, “Casale Monferrate sede di municipio,” Atti del IV Congresso di antichità e d'arte della Soc. Piemontese di Archeologia e Belle Arti (in preparation).

S. FINOCCHI

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