previous next

CELSA (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 de Numismática I (1950) 361; A. García y Bellido, “Las colonias romanas de Hispania,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Espanol 29 (1959) 472ff.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: