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LEIRIA or Lauro (Liria) Valencia, Spain.

City of Tarraconensis 25 km NW of Valencia, at the foot of the Cerro de S. Miguel and site of an important Iberian settlement, the successor to Iberian Edeta, capital of Edetania. It was besieged and burnt by Sertorius in 78 B.C. and, according to tradition, its inhabitants were transported to Collipo in Portugal, whence the latter took the name of Leiria.

More probably the Sertorians founded a new settlement, at first of little importance, in the area today known as the Pla de l'Arc from the still visible remains of a Roman arch. CIL II, 3786, an inscription discovered in the district of S. Vicente, reveals that Q. Sertorius Sertorianus and his wife Sertoria dedicated a temple to the Nymphs in honor of the Edetani, and Ptolemy (2.6.63) identifies Edeta with Leiria. The new town enjoyed the Latin right (Plin. HN 3.23). Greater difficulty attaches to the identification of Edeta with the Lauro mentioned by Frontinus (2.5.31), Appian (1.109), Plutarch (Sert. 18 and Pomp. 18), and Orosius (5.23.6), in connection with the Sertorian war. Perhaps these writers, who wrote long after the disappearance of the native town, confused Lauro with the Edeta which Sertorius burned. There are other towns named Lauro, one in Baetica and another N of the Ebro, which issued native coinage.

Roman finds in the area of Liria are plentiful, particularly in the Pla de l'Arc, and 65 inscriptions, whole or fragmentary, from Liria or elsewhere, refer to the town (CIL II, 3786-3818, 3874-75, 3989, 4251, 6012-17). Some of the inscriptions in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valencia, the C'an Porcar in Liria; 4251, cited as in Tarragona, is missing, but a copy is preserved in the Casa Pilatos in Seville. A hoard of 992 republican and imperial Roman coins is now in the University Library in Valencia. Among ceramics there is abundant thin-walled ware, Arretine terra sigillata, S Gallic, and Hispanic; amphorae and lamps; there are also a marble oscillum with a tragic mask on one face and a captive hare on the other (Prehistoric Museum, Valencia); architectural remains: capitals, shafts, the arch mentioned above with a column 3 m high; mosaics. One mosaic, in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid (5.4 x 4.6 m), depicts the Labors of Hercules and dates from the end of the 2d c. A.D. or beginning of the 3d. Recent excavation has uncovered terraces, houses, stairways, streets, and water conduits.

Study of the finds invalidates the theory that the city was founded in the plain by the Sertorians after their capture and burning of the town on the hill, for on the lower site no Campanian ware B has been discovered and the earliest ceramic material is from Augustan times. This leaves a gap of some 50 years. Perhaps this indicates merely that the original foundation was small and unimportant, although there is abundant material from the 1st c., less from the 2d, a marked falling off in the 3d, and practically nothing datable to the 4th and 5th c. The city did not disappear, although it became smaller and impoverished during the revolts in the latter half of the 3d c.


D. Fletcher, “El poblado ibérico de San Miguel de Liria,” AMSEAEP 16 (1941); G. Martin & M. Gil, Romanizacion en el campo de Liria (1969); L. Marti, Lápidas romanas de Liria (1971).


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