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VELEIA (Velleia) Emilia, Italy.

A city between Parma and Genoa, some 30 km S of Piacenza (Placentia). Its location on the Roman road from the Po valley near Placentia to the sea at Luna made it an important center of agricultural trade from the later 2d c. B.C. until its destruction in the 4th c. A.D.—probably by barbarian invaders, to judge from the burned and confused state of the ruins. The name probably comes from the local Ligurian tribe Eleates. The town became a Latin colony in 89 B.C. and in 49 B.C. attained full Roman citizenship as part of the Tribus Galeria. It prospered most from the 1st c. A.D. into the 3d. Fragments of the Lex Rubria found on the site indicate that its administration included duoviri, praefecti iure dicundo, quatuorviri aedilicia potestate, and seven augustales (in charge of celebrations in honor of the imperial family).

Excavations in the 18th c. revealed much of the forum and adjacent structures and some notable statues, with additional finds in various later explorations. It is an attractive site today.

The forum is one of the best preserved in Italy, with its pavement of sandstone (provided by Lucius Lucilius at his own expense) almost wholly intact and its drainage system still complete. It is oriented precisely, its N-S dimension being twice that of the E-W (32.75 x 17.25 m) rather than the Vitruvian norm of 3 to 2. Until the 2d c. A.D. it was a bit smaller than this, as the border construction shows. The adjacent area on the E and S is somewhat higher, owing to the slope there, with private houses on the elevated terracing. At the middle of the N and S ends are bases for equestrian statues: the S one of Claudius, the other seemingly of Vespasian. A third, larger base toward the NE corner is without extant identifying evidence. In the very middle a small base of red Verona stone probably carried a dedicatory inscription to the numen Augusti. Tuscan columns on the E, N, W sides formed a framing portico, the rounded brick pillars spaced at intervals of 6 m. Midway in these colonnades on the E and W sides are matching tables of colored marble, probably for banking use or for official measures.

The whole S end of the forum is closed, on a higher ground level, by the basilica (34.85 x 11.70 m). Its single nave has access at each end from inside the E or W portico, by way of a few steps. A rectangular room flanks the hall at each end, with connecting doorways. At the back wall opposite the forum there stood, on a raised platform, a notable series of marble statues of the Julio-Claudian family. Twelve survive. Among these, Livia, Drusus the Elder, Drusus the Younger, Claudius are identifiable.

At the N end of the forum stood a small temple (9.55 x 7.25 m) with a tetrastyle pronaos. The square building just E of it was probably the curia; that to the W, the Hall of Magistrates. The W side of the forum had a row of offices, including a chalcidicum (here probably used as a cloth market); on the E side were tabernae.

On a raised level to the SW of the forum are the baths: separate accommodations for men and for women. Much of their substructure survives. The amphitheater is SE of the forum area (54.85 x 44.10 m). Little of it remains, though its location and plan are clear.

Numerous imported bronze statuettes have been found in the ruins, many of them quite fine. Some are in the little museum on the site; the rest, along with other art finds at Veleia, are in the Parma museum.

The most notable epigraphic discovery is the Tabula Alimentaria of the time of Trajan (CIL XI, 1147), found by accident in the basilica area in 1747. This bronze plaque records the deposit by Trajan of 1,116,000 sesterces to promote agricultural development in Veleia, with the interest from it (at 5 percent) to provide food for 300 poor children of the town. Many details of economic, topographical, and administrative arrangements are also included. Another bronze tablet preserves part of the text of the Lax Rubria de Gallia Cisalpina on judicial administration followed here.


G. Antolini, Le Ruine di Velleia Misurate e Disegnate (1822 and 1831); G. Mariotti, “Gli Scavi di Velleia,” NSc (1877) 157-192; R. Andreotti, Velleia (1934); S. Aurigemma, Velleia (1940)PI; EAA 7 (1966) 1116-17 (G. Mansuelli).


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