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LUCA (Lucca) Tuscany, Italy.

Situated on an island in the Serchio river and commanding its valley, early Ligurian Luca reached the Arno to the SE and hence the Etruscan frontier. Occasional discoveries of Ligurian and Etruscan material in the environs of Luca point to the 5th c. B.C. confrontation of the two cultures, probably with alternating Ligurian and Etruscan occupations.

Luca entered history in 218 B.C. after the battle of the Trebbia (Livy 21.59). Established as a colony in 177 B.C., it became a municipium by the Lex Julia municipalis of 90 B.C. (Cic. Fam. 113-14). In 56 B.C. it was the scene of Caesar's meeting with Pompey and Crassus at which the first triumvirate was revived. It again became a colony, probably shortly before the battle of Actium, 31 B.C., through the agency of Octavian (CIL VI, 1460; Plin. HN 3.5). From the time of the late Republic, Luca's importance derived from its location at a crossroads connecting it with Placentia, Luna, Pisae, Florentia and—by way of the Via Cassia—even with Rome. From Diocletian's time, the city's state-run factory engaged in the production of swords.

Luca's Roman remains are considerable. Its rectangular plan is discernible in the extant portions of the circuit wall of the 3d c. B.C., with gates, and later, Roman towers conforming to the usual character of a castrum. A number of great square blocks comprising the wall form part of the foundation of the Church of S. Maria della Rosa and can be seen in the church oratory.

Just outside the wall to the N was an amphitheater of the 2d c. A.D., the oval of which is still traced by the houses built over it in the Middle Ages and by the Via dell'Anfiteatro which circles its perimeter. The several arched gates which interrupt the row of houses must have been entranceways.

Still outside the N wall near the Church of S. Augustine to the W the outline and parts of the substructure of a Roman theater are traced in the modern Piazza delle Grazie. In the Piazza S. Maria Forisportam is a column called colonna mozza, which once may have served as the meta of a race course. The church in that piazza incorporates some columns and reliefs from a Roman private building. The ancient forum (Piazza S. Michele), in the center of town, has produced a granite column with an inscription, traces of a portico, a statue of a consul, and various other material.

The National Museum in the Villa Guinigi includes Roman and Etruscan antiquities.


EAA 4 (1961) 701, especially bibliography; M. Lopez Pegna, “L'origine di L,” Giornale Storico della Lunigiana e del territorio Lucense, n.s. 13 (1962).


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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 59
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