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OLBIA Sardinia, Italy.

City in the NE part of Sardinia, situated on a broad gulf (Ptol. 3.3.4). The foundation of Olbia, which Greek tradition attributed to the Foci (6th c. B.C.), is today attributed to the Carthaginians. With the Roman occupation Olbia acquired considerable importance as a commercial center in trade with the continent. In Imperial times the presence in the Olbian countryside of landed estates of the gens Claudia and of Atte, concubine of Nero, who erected a temple to Ceres here (CIL X, 1414), testify to its prosperity. The numerous main thoroughfares converging at Olbia attest to the continued importance of the city in the 3d and 4th c. A.D. and to an intensity of life that persists in the recollections of the historians (Claudi. de Bello Gild. 15.519, who speaks of the circuit walls along the shore), and of the geographers (It. Ant. 81; Tab. Peut.). With the decline of the Empire the city suffered upheaval from the invasion of the Vandals in the 5th c. A.D., but revived in the early mediaeval period as the capital of the governors of Gallura.

The city was erected on the tongue of land projecting out into the sea, where the remains of a Punic temple (3d-2d c. B.C.) have been found. The Punic necropoleis, which were later reused by the Romans, contained ditch, shaft, and coffin burials and extended to the NW, W, and SW of the ancient center. Of the Roman walls, which were constructed of a double course of large isodomic granite blocks and date from the 3d-2d c., there remains a stretch with a rectangular tower and the opening of a gate into the Lupacciolu garden in Via R. Elena. On the axes of the city, beginning on the cardo and decumanus, which correspond to the modern Via R. Elena and the Corso Umberto, were built both private and civic structures. Among them there remains a large bath complex (1st-2d c.), and an aqueduct that brought water from the slopes of the Cabu Abbas mountains and carried it to the city. The ancient port occupied a space slightly larger than the modern seaplane airport. The Roman necropoleis extended over a large area in present Fontana Noa, Abba Ona, and Joanne Canu, entirely encircling the city. The burials, which in part reuse earlier building material, consist of ditch, shaft, and coffin tombs. The funerary fittings, other than ceramic material, consist of bronze or iron strigils, mirrors, and coins. The collection is preserved in the National Museum at Cagliari.


A. Tamponi, NSc (1890) 224ff; A. Taramelli, NSc (1911) 223ffPI; E. Pais, Storia della Sardegna e della Corsica, I (1923) 374ff; R. Hanslik, RE 17 (1936) 2423; D. Levi, Studi Sardi 9 (1950) 4ffPI; D. Panedda, Olbia nel periodo punico e romano (Forma Italiae) (1952)MPI; id., L'agro di Olbia nel periodo preistorico punico e romano (1954)MPI; G. Pesce, EAA 5 (1963) 634ff.


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