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ALBA FUCENS (Albe) Italy.

The remains of this ancient Roman colonia stand on a hill that rises almost 300 m above the basin formerly occupied by the Fucine Lake. A memory of the ancient glory lingers on in the name of the modern village (commune of Massa d'Albe), 8 km to the W of Avezzano. Alba Fucens was situated on a crossroads, of which the most important route, the Via Valeria Tiburtina, linked Rome to the Adriatic. Another road gave passage from S Etruria to the Campania by way of the valley of the Liri. This geographical position determined the history of Alba, whose development is due entirely to the military events which took place in central Italy.

Rome founded this colony in 303 B.C., a year after the submission of the Aequi, by transferring there 6000 colonists. During the 3d c. wars, at first against the Samnites, then against the Carthaginians, Alba remained a faithful ally. In the 2d c. the town served as a fortress to which dethroned kings such as Syphax, Perseus V, and Bituitus were relegated. During the social wars, Alba, which remained faithful, was besieged, but in 89 it was relieved by Rome. From this point begins a period of great prosperity for the town. Whole districts of the town were rebuilt, and the center of the city was entirely remodeled according to Hellenistic ideas of urban planning. From the 3d c. A.D. decline is marked, accelerating in the following century. The last reference to the city is made by Procopius, who mentions that in 537 Justinian's troops took up their winter quarters there.

The first systematic exploration of the city was begun in 1949 and has continued without interruption. The center of the city has been excavated and a detailed study of most of the public and private edifices has been made.

The town was on an oblong hill, its greatest length running N-S. On the acropolis, a rocky spur, the mediaeval village formerly stood and perhaps also the pre-Roman settlement. To the S is the hill of San Pietro, with a Romanesque church and Italic temple. To the E is the Pettorino, on which are the remains of another temple. Between these two heights stretches a valley some 100 m wide, where the principal buildings of the town were situated. The town's perimeter included the summits of all three hills and took the form of an elongated lozenge (1150 x 675 m), the whole surrounded by a wall 2925 m long. The original wall, which was between 2.8 m and 3.4 m thick, was constructed of massive rubble work. It dates, for the most part, to the mid 3d c.; some modifications were made in the 2d c. and at the beginning of the 1st c. B.C. The wall is pierced by four gates identical in plan: rubble work construction with a tower or bastion advanced to the right.

The streets are laid out on a grid pattern, the outside of the grid measuring 336 m by 246 m. It is subdivided into regular sectors by the two axes of the city: the decumanus or Via Valeria, which runs along the bottom of the valley, and the transverse cardo. A second street, the Via dei Pilastri, is parallel to the decumanus. Between the two stood all the official buildings and monuments of the city, which stretch from the N to the S as follows: the comitium (2d c. B.C.); the forum (142 x 43.5 m), which is terminated at the S by a portico and a rectangular basilica (53.1 x 23.3 m), which has three doors opening onto the forum; then the market, the baths, and the Sanctuary of Hercules, the last being a vast complex consisting of a small cella and a very large esplanade surrounded by a double portico. Along the principal streets are shops of standardized ground plan. In the outlying districts are some opulent houses with mosaic floors and frescoed walls, the theater and the amphitheater, and the remarkable remains of the Temple of Apollo, which are incorporated in a beautiful Romanesque church. The temple probably dates from the 2d c. B.C.

On the N flank of the town stretches a large terrace surrounded by a portico terminating in an exedra. In the center stands a square monumental pillar. The whole dates from the 1st c. A.D.

The immense rubble work wall attests the essentially military character of Alba. The monumental center of the city is an example of city planning dating in its principal elements from the end of the Republican period (1st c. B.C.) the amphitheater and some private dwellings date from the 1st c. A.D.

The principal objects discovered in the course of the excavations—the Venus of Alba, a statue of Herakles Epitrapezios, marble portrait busts, bronze statuettes, inscriptions, etc—are preserved at the National Museum of the Abruzzi at Chieti.


F. De Visscher et al., Les fouilles d'Alba Fucens de 1951 a 1953 (1955) = AntCl 23 (1954) & 24 (1955); De Visscher, “Epitrapezios,” AntCl 30 (1961) 67-120; id. et al., “Le sanctuaire d'Hercule et ses portiques à Alba Fucens,” Monum. Ant. Lincei 46 (1963) 333-96; J. Mertens, “Ii foro di Alba Fucens,” NSc 22 (1968) 205-17; id., Etude topographique d'Alba Fucens dans Alba Fucens (Etudes de philologie, darcheologie et d'histoire anciennes publiées par l'Institut historique belge de Rome XII, 1969) 37-118MPI; dans le même volume, bibl. complète, pp. 33-36, et historique des fouilles; Alba Fucens II (Etudes XIII, 1969) contient des études sur les temples italiques d'Albe (J. Mertens), l'église romane de San Pietro (R. Delogu) et le sanctuaire d'Hercule (J. C. Balty).


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