(Velleia) Emilia, Italy.
A city between Parma and Genoa, some 30 km S of Piacenza (Placentia). Its location on the Roman road from the
Po valley near Placentia to the sea at Luna made it an
important center of agricultural trade from the later 2d
c. B.C. until its destruction in the 4th c. A.D.—probably
by barbarian invaders, to judge from the burned and confused state of the ruins. The name probably comes from the local Ligurian tribe Eleates. The town became a Latin colony in 89 B.C. and in 49 B.C. attained full Roman citizenship as part of the Tribus Galeria. It prospered most
from the 1st c. A.D. into the 3d. Fragments of the Lex
Rubria found on the site indicate that its administration
included duoviri, praefecti iure dicundo, quatuorviri aedilicia potestate, and seven augustales (in charge of celebrations in honor of the imperial family).
Excavations in the 18th c. revealed much of the forum
and adjacent structures and some notable statues, with
additional finds in various later explorations. It is an attractive site today.
The forum is one of the best preserved in Italy, with
its pavement of sandstone (provided by Lucius Lucilius
at his own expense) almost wholly intact and its drainage
system still complete. It is oriented precisely, its N-S dimension being twice that of the E-W (32.75 x 17.25 m)
rather than the Vitruvian norm of 3 to 2. Until the 2d c.
A.D. it was a bit smaller than this, as the border construction shows. The adjacent area on the E and S is somewhat higher, owing to the slope there, with private houses on the elevated terracing. At the middle of the N and S
ends are bases for equestrian statues: the S one of Claudius, the other seemingly of Vespasian. A third, larger
base toward the NE corner is without extant identifying
evidence. In the very middle a small base of red Verona
stone probably carried a dedicatory inscription to the
numen Augusti. Tuscan columns on the E, N, W sides
formed a framing portico, the rounded brick pillars
spaced at intervals of 6 m. Midway in these colonnades
on the E and W sides are matching tables of colored
marble, probably for banking use or for official measures.
The whole S end of the forum is closed, on a higher
ground level, by the basilica (34.85 x 11.70 m). Its single nave has access at each end from inside the E or W portico, by way of a few steps. A rectangular room flanks the hall at each end, with connecting doorways. At the
back wall opposite the forum there stood, on a raised
platform, a notable series of marble statues of the Julio-Claudian family. Twelve survive. Among these, Livia, Drusus the Elder, Drusus the Younger, Claudius are identifiable.
At the N end of the forum stood a small temple (9.55
x 7.25 m) with a tetrastyle pronaos. The square building
just E of it was probably the curia; that to the W, the
Hall of Magistrates. The W side of the forum had a row
of offices, including a chalcidicum (here probably used
as a cloth market); on the E side were tabernae.
On a raised level to the SW of the forum are the baths:
separate accommodations for men and for women. Much
of their substructure survives. The amphitheater is SE of
the forum area (54.85 x 44.10 m). Little of it remains,
though its location and plan are clear.
Numerous imported bronze statuettes have been found
in the ruins, many of them quite fine. Some are in the
little museum on the site; the rest, along with other art
finds at Veleia, are in the Parma museum.
The most notable epigraphic discovery is the Tabula
Alimentaria of the time of Trajan (CIL
XI, 1147), found
by accident in the basilica area in 1747. This bronze
plaque records the deposit by Trajan of 1,116,000 sesterces to promote agricultural development in Veleia,
with the interest from it (at 5 percent) to provide food
for 300 poor children of the town. Many details of economic, topographical, and administrative arrangements are also included. Another bronze tablet preserves part of the text of the Lax Rubria de Gallia Cisalpina on judicial
administration followed here.
G. Antolini, Le Ruine di Velleia Misurate e Disegnate
(1822 and 1831); G. Mariotti, “Gli Scavi di Velleia,” NSc
(1877) 157-192; R. Andreotti, Velleia
(1934); S. Aurigemma, Velleia
7 (1966) 1116-17 (G. Mansuelli).
R. V. SCHODER