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URSO or Ursone (Osuna) Sevilla, Spain.

Town 24 km SW of Ecija. Pliny (3.12) calls it Colonia Genetiva Urbanorum, under the jurisdiction of Astigi (Ecija). The city mint is shown by its coinage, with the name written Urso or Ursone. In Appian 65 it appears as Ὄρσωνα. The coin types, although struck during the Roman period of Baetica, continue Iberian traditions, with the bear on the oldest and the sphinx, resembling that of Castulo (Caziona) in Jaén, on the later issues, along with the magistrates' names.

Appian (Hisp. 16) tells us that in 211 B.C. the brothers Scipio spent the winter between Urso and Castulo, awaiting the outcome of the struggle against the Carthaginians wintering in Turdetania, and Urso was the concentration place for the army of Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus in 145-144 B.C. (App. Hisp. 65). In 139 B.C. Audas, Ditalkes, and Minuros or Nikorontes, natives of Urso, are cited as the most faithful companions of Viriatus, who employed them for peace negotiations with the Romans and then, under Scipio's influence, put them to death (Diod. 33.21; App. Hisp. 71). Finally, when Urso sided with Pompey, it was forced to fight against Caesar, who conquered it in 45 B.C. (Bell. Hisp. 22.1; 26.3; 28.2; 41.2; 42.1). Urso became colonia immunis and appears to have been inscribed in the Galeria or Sergia tribe. Perhaps related to it was a certain Sergius Paulus, who was chosen patron of Urso (CIL II, 1406).

Many reliefs survive from buildings constructed after Caesar's conquest, also statues, inscriptions, and coins. The theater, portions of the Roman burial ground, remains of villas, mosaics, and parts of the circuit walls (destroyed in 1932) are also known. In 1870 five bronze sheets, of the original nine, containing part of the Lex Ursonensis or Lex Coloniae Genetivae Juliae were found (now in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid). Although the law was originally codified in Caesar's time, this definitive text must have been engraved and transmitted to Urso in the Flavian period. Approximately a third of the law has survived. It is of extraordinary interest in that it deals with the interior administration of Urso. The whole text is of interest also for the fuller understanding of Roman law in the Iberian peninsula.

Among archaeological finds was a mosaic (now lost) in which the river Acheloos in the center, labeled in Greek, was surrounded by busts of SIRE(ne), NYMPHE, etc. Roman burials have yielded thin-walled vases, terra sigillata, unguent jars, glass vessels, coins, and fragments of sculpture. Some of this material is in the archaeological museum at Osuna, much of the rest in private collections. There have also been finds from the Early Christian and Visigoth periods, particularly baked clay bricks from the latter, when the city apparently enjoyed considerable prosperity: in the 4th c. a certain Natalis was bishop of Urso and participated in the Council of Iliberri (Granada).

Other relics from the Roman period, a head possibly of Juno, and a pedestal inscribed with a dedication to the Sacred Tree, are in private collections.


A. Engel & P. Paris, Une forteresse iberique à Osuna (Fouilles de 1903) (1906); A. García y Bellido, “Las colonias romanas de Hispania,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español 29 (1959) 465ff; Laws: A. D'Ors, Epigrafia juridica de la España romana (1953) 167ff.


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