previous next

VALENTIA (Valencia) Valencia, Spain.

A city on the banks of the Turia, ca. 3 km from the sea (Mela 2.92; Plin. HN 3.20, referring to it as a colony; Ptol. 2.6.61). It was founded by Junius Brutus in 138 B.C. (Livy, Per. 55: Junius Brutus consul in Hispania iis qui sub Viriato militaverant agros et oppidum dedit quod vocatum est Valentia). Based on lines 479-82 of the Ora Maritima of Avienus, it has been claimed that the Roman city was built over the indigenous city of Tyris, but there is no archaeological confirmation. Identification with any of the Valencias on the border of Portugal may be rejected since they received the name, with the meaning of fortress, only in the 13th c., and the only Valencia whose stone tablets mention the valentini is that on the Mediterranean.

There are two schools of thought about the first inhabitants: one relates the text of Livy to those of Appian (Iber. 72) and Diodorus Siculus (33.1.3) and claims that they were the defeated troops of Viriatus; the other, taking into account that no indigenous names appear on the tablets, that no Iberian money was coined, that indigenous remains are scarce compared to Roman, and that “militare” is inappropriate for Viriatus' men, supports the thesis that they were discharged from the Roman army, and translates “at the time” and not “under the orders” of Viriatus. Some tablets bear the inscriptions “valentini veterani et veteres” and “uterque ordo decurionum,” proving that there were two stages of settlement, one with the veteres, the first inhabitants, and the other with the veterani who came later, perhaps with Afranius, which would justify the tablet that the Valencians dedicated to him (CIL IX, 5275).

The location of the Roman city and its area is unknown, but the greatest density of finds indicate the vicinity of the Cathedral. Fragments of Roman buildings and tablets are incorporated in the facade of the 17th c. basilica. In general, the Imperial levels are 3 m down, and the Republican on virgin soil, at 4.5 m, with Campanian pottery A and B mixed, as in Ventimiglia and Pollentia. Above 3 m are the Visigoth levels (tablet of Bishop Justinianus, A.D. 546). A necropolis, La Boatella, has been excavated (over 200 tombs with poor furnishings, 3d to 5th c. A.D.), as have other tombs within the city.

There is abundant pottery from Arezzo, S Gaul, Spain, and Campania A and B (more of B). The most interesting mosaic is one of Medusa (2d c.) similar to that of Tarragona. Little is known about sculpture, since a collection formed in the 18th c. disappeared when Napoleon's troops were transporting it to France by ship. About 70 tablets are known (CIL II, 3710, 3725-75, 3903, 4948, 5127, 6004-5). Valentia coined money, ca. 123 to 75 B.C., with asses of various weights (19.25-13 gm). On the face was the head of Roma on the right with a winged helmet and the names of the quinquennales, and on the reverse a cornucopia tied with a sheaf of six rays and the name VALENTIA. There are also semisses and quadrantes. Most of the finds are in the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Prehistory in Valencia.


J. Sanchis Sivera, Epigrafía romano-valenciana (1920); D. Fletcher, La Tyris ibérica y la Valentia romana (1953); id., Consideraciones sobre la fundacion de Valencia (1963); S. Roda, Aportacion al estudio de la arqueología valenciana (1955); various authors, in Dos miel cien años de Valencia (1962) and La ciudad romana de Valencia (1962).


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: