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ANCONA Marche, Italy.

The most important port in Picenum, founded by Syracusans in 387 B.C. on the site of important Picene and Villanovan settlements, and the only Greek colony in this part of Italy. The city stands on a promontory, the easternmost spur of Monte Conero (in. Cunerus), in an arc around an excellent natural harbor artificially improved. The city was taken over by the Romans ca. 268 B.C.; after Philippi and Actium there were deductions of colonists, and the city was inscribed in the tribus Leinonia. It had a flourishing Mediterranean commerce under the Republic and became under the Empire the principal port of Roman traffic with Dalinatia. Trajan undertook improvement of the harbor, notably a new mole, to which an arch bears witness. The city was ultimately destroyed by the Goths after a long struggle.

The most important remains are those of the elegant arch of Trajan of Hymettos marble (A.D. 115), light and graceful in design. Its inscription (CIL IX, 5894) is preserved and the original stair descending to the seashore. There are also well-preserved remains of an amphitheater, and substructions of a Greek temple lie under the cathedral in a situation that commanded a panoramic view. This was presumably dedicated to Aphrodite (Catull. 36.13; Juvenal 4.40). The fortifications of the acropolis and the walls of the town on the sea side can be traced with gaps and uncertainties; various ancient buildings, especially horrea in the vicinity of the port and houses higher in the city, have come to light from time to time; and Picene, Hellenistic, and Roman necropoleis have been located and explored.

Antiquities from the province have been assembled in the Museo Nazionale delle Marche. The most important materials are the numerous tomb groups, ranging from Picene graves of the 9th c. down to the Roman period, and including the tombs of Fabriano.


M. Moretti, Ancona, Reale Istituto di Studi Romani (1945)MPI; BPI 10 (1956) 237-62 (D. Lollini)PI; AA 74 (1959) 173-78 (B. Andreae); ibid. 85 (1970) 312 (H. Blanck); Atti del Convengo sui Centri Storici delle Marche (1968) 221-51MI.


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