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Near Benevagienna, one of the nobilissima oppida mentioned by Pliny in the territory of the Bagienni, a Ligunan tribe. Toward the end of the 5th c B.C., following the Gallic invasions, it was assimilated with those peoples and vitalized the Celto-Ligurian stock. Its first contact with Rome came in the 3d c. B.C., but only toward the middle of the 2d c. were the Bagienni subjugated by the Romans. War continued in their territory as a result of the struggle between Marius and Sulla. It did not become a Roman municipium before 5 B.C., as shown by an inscription discovered at Sant'Alba Stura with a dedication to Augustus by its citizens. Its founding must be dated to the period that saw the unveiling of the trophy of the Turbia (17-14 B.C.) and the signing of the peace treaty with Cottius, memorialized on the frieze of the Arch of Susa (9-8 B.C.).

The city was built on a level site on the brow of a deep canyon produced by a small stream. It was almost perfectly rectangular in form. The gates and towers date to the time of Augustus; but since no section of the walls has been preserved, it is believed that the city, like Albintimilium and Libarna, had no defensive walls.

Through brief soundings, monuments were once identified which today are covered by a thin layer of earth. Recent explorations have brought to light the site of the theater and of the portico post scaenam in the middle of which there was once a sacred building (probably a basilica). There has also been discovered what remains of the ancient forum set in the center of the city, exactly in the spot conjectured from the regularity of the original plan. Shops opened onto a portico, which was richly decorated.

The theater, set off-center, has been buttressed and restored and can be seen today in its full development. The front of the stage, which still preserves the marble jambs of the entrance gates, the cavea built entirely of brick, the remains of some very fine facing, column bases faced with colored marble, are the major remains of this monument. Outside the circuit wall was a sizable amphitheater. The remains of an aqueduct and some baths have been discovered by surface digging. The pottery, glass, marbles, and coins have been collected in a small museum in the Palazzo Comunale.

An examination of the few public inscriptions that have come to light reveals a Pontifex Augusta Bagiennorum and so demonstrates the importance of this city from the point of view also of church history.


G. Assandria & G. Vacchetta, “Augusta Bagiennorum,” Atti della Società Piemontese di Archeologia 10 (1921-25) 183ff; C. Carducci, “Benevagienna. Saggi e scavi,” NSc (1950) 202ff; A. Bovolo, “Augusta Bagiennorum,” Bollettino della Società Storica Archeologica e Artistica della Provincia di Cuneo 30 (1952) 26ff; A. T. Sartori, Pollentia ed Augusta Bagiennorum (1965).


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