(Velilla de Ebro) Zaragoza, Spain.
Town in Tarraconensis, near the Ebro, and E of Quinto,
key to the romanization of the valley before the foundation of Caesaraugusta. Its history is based on the many
bronze coins minted in the 2d and 1st c. B.C.: first Iberian, bearing the name Celsa, and then Latin. The city
was founded by Lepidus in 42 B.C. and named Colonia
Victrix Iulia Lepida. After the fall of the triumvirate, its
name was changed to Iulia Celsa. Its decline began after
the founding of Caesaraugusta in 24 B.C. It had the only
stone bridge over the Ebro in the upper third of its course
up to Dertosa (Strabo: Ad Hiberum amnem est Celsa
oppidum, ubi ponte lapideo Amnis iungitur); Pliny located it in the jurisdiction of the Conventus luridicus
Caesaraugustanus and Ptolemy attributed it to the Ilergetes. Its location is certainly in the Velilla de Ebro,
where there are the remains of a bridge reported in the
19th c., and ruins between the sanctuaries of San Nicolas
and San José, which include a wall of opus reticulatum.
Pottery, carnelians, coins, and bronze letters of various
weights have been found, and excavations have uncovered mosaics in threshing floors, terra sigillata, and
painted stuccos with figurative themes. Below the San
José sanctuary stand the ruins of the Roman theater with
traces of the walls of the stage and of the tiers of seats
of the cavea. Among finds made at an earlier period
Martin Carrillo (1435) speaks of a statue, later destroyed, of a certain T. Sempronius with a scroll and
staff. The name of the ancient town has been preserved
in Gelsa, 4 km NW, where finds have also been made.
A Roman road that crossed the Monegros from Bujaraloz ran as far as the Val de Velilla, and stones with
inscriptions have been found nearby. An area between
Velilla and Gelsa is still called Puencaido, which may
refer to the stone bridge mentioned by Strabo.
Celsa minted coins bearing the abbreviated names of
the town or its initials. Lepida first used the head of
Victory and the yoke of oxen led by a priest, the foundation type, and later the heads of Peace and of Pallas and
a bull, copied from Republican prototypes. After 36 B.C.
come the duoviri themselves, with the bust of Augustus
and a bull, and coins continued to be minted until the
time of Tiberius. Finds are in the Zaragoza museum.
M. Risco, España Sagrada: Santa Iglesia de Zaragoza
(2d ed. 1859) 39ff; J. Galiay, La dominación romana en Aragón
(1946) 77; A. Beltrán, Curso
I (1950) 361; A. García y Bellido, “Las
colonias romanas de Hispania,” Anuario de Historia del
29 (1959) 472ff.