(Sagunto) Valencia, Spain.
near the coast 25 km N of Valencia, built above the
Palancia river on the top and slope of a mountain, the
last spur of the Iberian range towards the sea (Polyb. 3.17;
3.21; Mela 2.92; Strab. 3.4.9
). The destruction
of the earlier Iberian city, Arse, by Hannibal in 219 B.C.
(Livy 21), caused the second Punic war. Influenced by
its indigenous name, Silius Italicus (Punica
Livy thought it was founded by the Ardea, whereas
) and Pliny (16.216
) associate the name
Saguntum with a hypothetical Zacynthian colony (neither
theory is tenable). Arse (high fortress) changed its name
to Saguntum, and these two names have led to the
theory that there were two cities, Iberian on the mountain top and Roman in the plain, but this does not seem
probable. The barbarian invasions of the 5th c. left it
mostly in ruins, and from the time of the Arabs on it
was called Murbiter, Murviedro, Morvedre (murus
vetus), and regained the name of Sagunto only in 1868.
The river flowing through the city (erroneously called
Palancia from the 16th c. on) must have been the Udiba
), known in the Middle Ages as Riu de Sogorb, after the town upstream from Sagunto.
There are abundant pre-Roman and Roman remains.
The plateau, about 1000 m long, on which the indigenous
city was built, continued to be inhabited in Roman times
and was later used as a fortress, a key point in the defense of coastal and inland roads. Excavations have
located various Roman buildings, including the peristyle
of a possible temple, part of the forum, cisterns, and
the theater, much damaged, on the E slope of the mountain. Only the hemicycle preserves the infrastructure
carved in the rock, showing three lower rows of seats,
six of the ima cavea, seven of the media cavea, and ten
of the summa cavea, separated by horizontal aisles. Radial stairways divide the rows of seats into sections. The
maximum width of the building was 89.85 m, and the
pulpitum was 54.75 by 6.5 m. Its capacity is estimated
at 10,000. Its acoustics are extraordinary, as confirmed
by modern performances. No dating material has survived, but comparison with other Roman theaters suggests the 1st c. A.D.
The so-called Temple of Diana (Plin. HN
was probably on the acropolis, but today it is identified
with some large wall surfaces inside the city, constructed
with care about the 5th c. B.C. The circus is located between the river and the mountain. Until recently its
perimeter, the outline of the spina, part of the lateral
walls, and the hemicycle facing the carceres could be
traced, although the porta triumphalis had disappeared.
The whole length of the spina was excavated in 1945,
but urbanization of the area has now covered the circus,
with the exception of a side gate. It was 354 by 73.4 m,
and the spina, composed of two parallel walls, 190 by
3.4 m. It is estimated that it held 10,000 spectators,
and it dates from the 2d c. or the beginning of the 3d.
Epigraphical remains are rich: 173 Roman tablets
have been published (CIL
II, 3819-57, 6019-24, 6026-37,
6039-53). Later finds make a total of ca. 225 whole
inscriptions and fragments, and a Corpus is in preparation. Mosaics are also numerous (Archaeological Museum). In 1745 an opus tesselatum mosaic (7.36 x
5.06 m) was found with Bacchus on a panther in the
center and, in the four corners, kantharoi from which
rise vines with branches and bunches of grapes being
harvested by twelve cupids. This mosaic disappeared
shortly after its discovery, as have several others of opus
signinum and opus sectile found in the area of the acropolis. Others, however, from the 2d c. exist.
Little sculpture has been found, a few togate figures,
one female head, one Bacchic Hermes, and two reliefs
depicting an animal tamer or Epona (Fine Arts Museum,
Valencia). There is, however, terra sigillata from various
periods and studios.
Saguntian coins are abundant, but there is disagreement on their chronology. The most ancient coins are of
silver and give the name of the city as ARSE-ETAR (of the
people of Arse), ARS-GIDAR (silver of the people of
Arse?), and ARSA-GISGUEGIAR in Iberian. There is only one
known specimen with ARSESKEN (of the people of Arse).
The heavier of these coins probably date from 212 to 195
B.C., the lighter from 195 to 94 B.C. On the face is the
head of Pallas or Hercules, and on the reverse, a bull.
Towards the middle of the 2d c. B.C. the reverse shows
the typical Iberian horseman and the inscription ARSE.
On bronze coins the prow of a ship replaces the horseman
about 133 B.C., but the Iberian ARSE remains. Shortly
thereafter the bilingual ARSE-SAGUNTINU appears, and
later only the Latin inscription SAGUNT. The quadrans has
a scallop shell on the face, a dolphin and SAGUNT on
the reverse; the sextans has a scallop shell and, on the
reverse, a caduceus and UNT. It seems that minting was
suspended about the end of the Sertorian War and resumed from A.D. 14 to 20, under Tiberius. Coins bearing the inscription AIDUBATS, attributed to Sagunto, probably come from another town nearby.
A. Chabret, Sagunto. Su Historia y sus
(1888); D. Fletcher, “Que fueron los barros saguntinos?” Arse
1 (1957) 3ff; id., “El teatro Romano de Sagunto,” BIM
55 (1967) 26-43; M. Vall,
“Mosaicos romanos de Sagunto,” Archivo de Prehistoria
9 (1961) 141-75; 5. Bru, “El circo romano
de Sagunto,” ibid. 10 (1963) 207-26; id., “El Castillo de
55 (1967) 5-25; A. García y Bellido,
“Das Artemision von Saguntum,” MadrMitt
87-98; E. Pla, “Los Museos de Sagunto,” BIM
44-59; L. Villaronga, Las monedas de Arse-Saguntum