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ITALICA (Santi Ponce) Seville, Spain.

City 8 km NW of Seville, settled by Scipio in 206 B.C. with wounded survivors of the battle of Ilipa. It had no special status. Between the time of Julius Caesar and that of Augustus, however, it attained the category of municipium; under Hadrian, at the request of the city itself, it was raised to the rank of colonia, with the title Aelia Augusta Italicensium. It was one of the more urban communities of the Roman world, with a busy port on the Guadalquivir, but the ruins known today are those of a creation ex novo by Hadrian. Damaged by the invasions of the third quarter of the 3d c. A.D., the city continued to exist through the Visigothic period, only to be destroyed during Arab domination in the 9th-lOth c. The village of Santi Ponce was built on its ruins.

The wall enclosed an area of some 30 ha. The wide streets, intersecting at right angles, paved with large stone blocks, and lined with porticos, sometimes reached a total width of 16 m. A surviving sector of the city wall near the amphitheater, with an entrance gateway and two towers, dates perhaps from the end of the 2d or the beginning of the 3d c. A.D. The amphitheater was one of the largest in the Empire, 160 by 197 m. It was built of large blocks of hewn stone and brick faced with marble and could accommodate some 25,000 spectators. Much of the cavea is preserved with its corridors and vomitoria still usable, and the underground service passages of the arena are in perfect condition. The amphitheater took advantage of a natural slope, although all of it rose above ground. A theater has also been excavated recently, located like the amphitheater outside the city wall.

There are two baths, the Baths of the Moorish Queen to the W and The Palaces to the E. They are roughly equal in size, date from the same general period, and are very similar in plan. The former includes a swimming pool 21 m long, various rooms (two of them vaulted), and on the N a large underground chamber with three aisles. On the S is a porticoed street, onto which one of the entrances to the baths (presumably the principal one) opens. This entrance had three aisles besides a columned vestibule. The Palaces had a somewhat smaller swimming pool (15 m), various rooms and passageways, and an underground section with vaults of medium size, from which came some of the best sculpture found on the site. Both baths were built of broken rubble coated with brick and sometimes faced with marble. The floors are of opus signinum with large twofoot slabs, and mosaics with tesserae of colored marble.

The drainage system was admirable, a network of drains and catch basins constructed in accordance with the street plan. Water was brought in by an aqueduct, portions of which are still visible, from Tucci (Escacena del Campo) some 40 km to the W. The elevated portions of the aqueduct were carried on piers and low arches. In addition, 18th c. sources mention a water mill built of rubblework and hewn stone, now vanished.

Near the cemetery of Santiponce, N of the ancient city, is an interesting group of spacious houses of the domus type, rectangular and of identical plan. They lie in a rectangular area formed by four streets, and most of them have porticos. Axial in plan, they usually have two patios, with a cistern and well, surrounded by covered ways on which the rooms open. Several patios have fountains, and pools with mosaics of fish. Construction is of rubble, faced with brick and ornamental marble or colored stucco. The floors are of mosaic in the main rooms and of opus signinum in the remainder. Noteworthy examples are the House of the Birds, of the Labyrinth, of Hylas, and particularly the House of the Exedra, which covers an area of some 3000 sq. m. It consists of two basic elements: one a mansion or de luxe residence with a porticoed patio in the center; the other formed by two adjacent, parallel walk-ways, the more important one terminating in a large apse.

The only burial ground yet excavated lies along the N edge of Santiponce, where there was a structure with three aisles terminating in a semicircular apse, perhaps a Christian martyrium. Other monuments include the graves of Antonia Vetia and of Valeria. A great many lead coffins have been found, some with partially ornamented lids, and an enormous number of mosaics; some of these are still in place, the remainder are in the archaeological museum of Seville or in private hands. They have colorful figured or geometric designs, which have inspired names such as the mosaic of the Bird, Bacchus, Hylas and Hercules, the pygmies and cranes, a marine thiasos, Ganymede, and Pan.

There is a superb collection of sculpture from the excavations in the Archaeological Museum of Seville. Noteworthy are the heads of Alexander the Great, Augustus, Nero, and Galba (?), there is also a bust of Hadrian, and a colossal heroized Trajan, beside individual portraits, reliefs of deities, and mythological themes. The smaller finds, carved gems, glass, and ceramics are dispersed among various museums and private collections, notably the Archaeological Museum of Seville, the Lebrija Collection, and the museum of the Hispanic Society in New York. There is also a new museum m Italica itself, where future finds will be shown.


D. de los Ríos, Memoria arqueológicodescriptiva del Anfiteatro de Itálica (1862); F. de Collantes Terán, Catálogo arqueológico y artístico de la Provincia de Sevilla IV (1955); A. García y Bellido, “Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica,” Bibliotheca Archaeologica II (1960); id., “La Italica de Hadriano,” in Les empereurs romains d'Espagne (1965) 7ff; C. Fernandez Chicarro, Catálogo del Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla (1969).


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