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ADRIA (Atria) Veneto, Italy.

An ancient city in the territory of the Veneti, between the Adige and Po and today about 22 km from the Adriatic Sea, from which it derives its name (Strab. 5.1.8). Some ancient sources attribute its founding to the Greeks (Just. Epit. 20.1.9) and others to the Etruscans (Plut. Vit. Cam. 16; Livy 5.33.7; Plin. HN 3.16.120-21), but there is also some evidence pointing toward a Venetic origin. It flourished especially from the middle of the 6th c. until the end of the 5th c. B.C. when it was the principal port of the Adriatic as a result of the importation of Greek products into the valley of the Po. It is uncertain whether it became a true Greek colony or was an emporium of the Etruscans, whose influence during that period was spreading N. At the beginning of the 4th c. B.C., Dionysios I of Syracuse sought to supplant the commercial hegemony of Athens with that of Sicily, and the founding of Atria is also attributed to him (Etym. Magn., s.v. Ἀδρίας τὸ πέλαγος). However, archaeological finds show no Sicilian influence. Toward the end of the 4th c. B.C., Atria was probably occupied by the Gauls, as seems to be indicated by the discovery of funerary furniture similar to that found in Gallic tombs. In the Roman period, Atria became a municipium inscribed on the rolls of the tribus Camilia. Pliny (loc.cit.) mentions the “Atrianorum paludes quae Septem Maria appellantur” and says that the city was blessed with a renowned harbor. It is certain that Atria was at that time less than an hour from the sea, as shown by two lines of marine dunes to the E of the city. The first dates to the Graeco-Etruscan era and the second, farther E, to the Roman era. It is entirely possible that even in antiquity Atria was not on the sea but, like Spina, was connected to the Adriatic by a series of canals.

As early as the Renaissance, there is evidence of archaeological investigations at Atria. From 1700 on, the Bocchi family of Atria collected Attic red-figure and black-figure vases, jewelry of local and Etruscan production, inscriptions, pottery, and Roman glass—nearly all discovered accidentally in the city. The Bocchi collection, given to the Italian government at the beginning of the 20th c., still constitutes the most important collection of the Adria museum. All the Greek pottery from the 6th c. and the 5th c. B.C., for the most part fragmentary, comes not from tombs but from the ancient settlement in the S part of the modern city. In that area were discovered remains of buildings on pilings and also of a theater (known from a drawing of 1662) probably dating to the 2d C. A.D. No ancient building in Adria is now visible. Because of the flooding of the rivers and because of the coastal bradyseism, the archaeological levels are very deep (from 1 to 2 m for the Roman period, and from 3 to 7 m for the pre-Roman period). Excavations have been made even more difficult by the existence of water-bearing strata near the surface. The cemeteries that surround the ancient site to the E, S, and W, only partially explored, date at the earliest to the 4th c. B.C. and span the years until the Roman Imperial period. The archaic cemeteries have not yet been discovered.


R. Schöne, Le antichitià del Museo Bocchi di A. (1878); G. Ghirardini, “Il Museo Civico di A.,” Nuovo Archivio Veneto NS 4 (1905); G. Fogolari, “Scavo di una necropoli preromana e romana presso A.,” StEtr 14 (1940); B. Forlati Tamaro, “Iscrizioni inedite di A.,” Epigraphica, 18 (1956); G. Riccioni, C.V.A., Adria 1 (1957); id., “Problemi storici e archeologici di A. preromana,” Cisalpina I (1959); G. Bermond Montanari, “Ceramica attica a figure nere del Museo Archeologico di A.,” BdA 49 (1964); G. Fogolari & B. M. Scarfì, Adria antica (1970).


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Strabo, Geography, 5.1.8
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 33.7
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