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RUSELLAE Tuscany, Italy.

About 9 km inland and N of Grosseto, one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan federation. Its position controlled the valley of the Ombrone at the mouth of which was probably the city's harbor. The site was perhaps sparsely occupied during the Villanovan period, but the first urban center dates to the 7th and 8th c. B.C. A second period, to which the oldest sections of the circuit walls belong, begins in the 6th c. and continues until the 4th c., probably until the Roman conquest.

Ancient sources make mention of it for the first time when, along with Chiusi, Arezzo, Volterra, and VetuIonia, it promised help to Rome against Tarquinius Priscus (Dion. Hal. 3.51). Later, it appears to have become part of various Etruscan alliances against Rome and because of that was defeated in 298 and, after a long siege, captured in 294 B.C. (Livy 10.4, 37.3). Evidently it was quickly rebuilt, for in 205 it was able to furnish grain and wood for Scipio's fleet (Livy 28.45.14). The inhabitants were inscribed in the tribus Scaptia. From inscriptions and from Pliny's list, it is known that it became a colonia, but the date is not known. (Plin. HN 3.51; Ptol. 3.1.43; CIL XI, 2618). It had a period of prosperity and new public buildings in the Julio-Claudian period. It continued to thrive into the 4th c. A.D., but in the 5th c. it appeared half-abandoned (Rut. Namat. 1.220). Later notices refer more often to the county (or district) of Roselle, which belonged to the Aldobrandeschi and later to Siena, than to the ancient city. It was the seat of a bishop, mentioned in 499 and on the occasion of the synods of 649 and 680.

The city occupies the summit of a small hill formed by two projections that enclose a central valley. Here the forum stood in the Roman period and, in the Etruscan period, the center of the city. Almost the entire circuit of the city walls (ca. 3 km) is preserved, in some places more than 7 m high. In the N and NE sections are undressed polygonal blocks. Elsewhere squared or roughhewn polygonal blocks, with various refacings, date to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Remains of mudbrick structures of the 7th c. B.C—perhaps from an older circuit wall or from a terrace wall—have been noted beneath a section of the 6th c. walls. There are no towers; of the five gates, only the N gate has been excavated.

Excavations have brought to light some buildings of the 8th and 7th c., constructed simply of mudbrick with pavements of beaten earth. One of these buildings, surrounded by a large rectangular enclosure, is perhaps, to judge from its site and careful workmanship, a public building with a tholos inscribed in a square structure which buttresses at the corners the spring of a domical covering. Other square rooms are preserved almost to the impost of the roof. The 6th c. city, its houses with plinths of stone and with the side walls of mudbrick, spread into the valley and onto the two elevations. A district of potters on the SE hill dates to this period. The Hellenistic city, whose large central square was supported by wide terracing along the W end of the valley, in several areas crowds right up to the circuit wall with its houses and artisan shops. The Roman colony appears to have been more restricted, even after the reconstructions of the beginning of the Empire. Among these were the paved square of the forum, the basilica, the office of the Augustales decorated with statues of the Julio-Claudian emperors, and the small amphitheater set on the summit of the N hill. From the early Middle Ages only the remains of a church and various tomb groupings are extant; after that, the area was completely abandoned.

The objects discovered in the city and in the cemeteries that surround it, excavated for the most part during the last century, are kept in the museums at Grosseto and at Florence.


G. Micali, Antichi Popoli d'Italia (1832)M; G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, II (1883); R. Bianchi Bandinelli, “Roselle,” Atene e Roma 6 (1925); D. Levi in Boll. Soc. Stor. Maremmana 3 (1926); C. Laviosa in StEtr 27 (1959) see also vols. 28, 29, 31, 33, 37, 39MPI; Naumann-Hiller, RömMitt 66 (1959)MPI see also vols. 69, 70; L. Banti, Il mondo degli Etruschi (1960); P. Bocci in StEtr 31 (1963) see also vols. 33, 39PI; EAA 6 (1965) s.v. Roselle, with complete bibliography.


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 45.14
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