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TURRIS LIBYSONIS (Portocorres) Sardinia, Italy.

An ancient city on the N coast to the E of the Asinara, at the mouth of the Rio Turnitano. The city was mentioned by the geographers (Ptol. 3.3.5, It. Ant. 83, Tab. Peut.). Despite the fact that the name recalls Libya, no archaeological data to the present time has verified any connection with the Punic world. The city became a colonia civium Romanorum and was inscribed in the Collina tribe under Caesar (CIL X, 7953). One of the most important cities of Sardinia, it was connected by a major road with Carales from the second half of the 1st c. B.C. onward. A record of the naviculani Turritani in the Piazzale delle Corporazioni at Ostia is evidence of its commercial importance. In the 5th c. the city was, like the rest of the island, seized by the Vandals; and ca. 1000 it was abandoned, eventually to revive in late mediaeval times.

Constructed on the axes of the cardo and decumanus, the city seems to have had a homogeneous plan. During partial exploration of the site, several public and private buildings have been discovered near the present railroad station. Among these is a large bath building, popularly known as the Palazzo di Re Barbaro. The original plan, superimposed on earlier buildings, dates from the end of the 1st c. B.C. It is arranged axially, with the entrance to the W and the caldanium to the E, and it is possible to distinguish various phases in its construction. The earliest part is brick, to which is added a part in striped technique and a part in irregular masonry. The caldarium has remains of interesting mosaics. Pilasters at the corners sustain cross vaults. Above the rooms is a reservoir for the water that served the caldarii below. The suspensurae are constructed of blocks of local calcareous stone. Nearby are remains of other bath buildings of similar construction. A Roman bridge of the 1st c. A.D. over the Rio Mannu is relatively well preserved. It has seven arches, of decreasing spans, and is constructed of regular blocks of limestone, the arches framed by mouldings. A few remains exist of an aqueduct (1st-2d c.) that carried water from the valley of S. Martino near Sassari. The modern port has completely obliterated the ancient one. The remains of Roman buildings are on the slope of the upland between Rio Turnitano and S. Gavino, a few meters from the ancient shore line. There is part of a peristyle paved with squared blocks of limestone, bordered on the E side by a portico with marble columns and a polychrome mosaic pavement superimposed on an earlier pavement of marble slabs. In the same area is the large marble base of a statue of Valenius Domitian, procurator of Constantius Chlorus (305-306). Inscriptions record the existence of a temple dedicated to the goddess Fortuna, a basilica, a tribunal, and a catacomb. Marble statues and sarcophagi are in the National Museum of Sassari.


E. Pais, Storia della Sardegna e della Corsica, I (1923) 381ff; M. Pallottino, Studi Sardi 7 (1947) 228ff; G. Lilliu, ibid. 8 (1948) 429ff; V. Mossa, ibid. 14-15 (1955-57) 373ffPI; G. Maetzke, Boll. del centro per la Storia dell'Architettura 17 (1961) 54f.


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