Near Benevagienna, one of the nobilissima oppida mentioned by Pliny in the territory of the Bagienni, a Ligunan tribe. Toward the end of the 5th c B.C., following the Gallic invasions, it was assimilated with those peoples
and vitalized the Celto-Ligurian stock. Its first contact
with Rome came in the 3d c. B.C., but only toward the
middle of the 2d c. were the Bagienni subjugated by the
Romans. War continued in their territory as a result of
the struggle between Marius and Sulla. It did not become a Roman municipium before 5 B.C., as shown by
an inscription discovered at Sant'Alba Stura with a
dedication to Augustus by its citizens. Its founding must
be dated to the period that saw the unveiling of the
trophy of the Turbia (17-14 B.C.) and the signing of the
peace treaty with Cottius, memorialized on the frieze
of the Arch of Susa (9-8 B.C.).
The city was built on a level site on the brow of a
deep canyon produced by a small stream. It was almost
perfectly rectangular in form. The gates and towers date
to the time of Augustus; but since no section of the walls
has been preserved, it is believed that the city, like
Albintimilium and Libarna, had no defensive walls.
Through brief soundings, monuments were once identified which today are covered by a thin layer of earth.
Recent explorations have brought to light the site of
the theater and of the portico post scaenam in the middle
of which there was once a sacred building (probably a
basilica). There has also been discovered what remains
of the ancient forum set in the center of the city, exactly in the spot conjectured from the regularity of the
original plan. Shops opened onto a portico, which was
The theater, set off-center, has been buttressed and
restored and can be seen today in its full development.
The front of the stage, which still preserves the marble
jambs of the entrance gates, the cavea built entirely of
brick, the remains of some very fine facing, column bases
faced with colored marble, are the major remains of this
monument. Outside the circuit wall was a sizable amphitheater. The remains of an aqueduct and some baths have
been discovered by surface digging. The pottery, glass,
marbles, and coins have been collected in a small museum in the Palazzo Comunale.
An examination of the few public inscriptions that
have come to light reveals a Pontifex Augusta Bagiennorum and so demonstrates the importance of this city
from the point of view also of church history.
G. Assandria & G. Vacchetta, “Augusta
Bagiennorum,” Atti della Società Piemontese di Archeologia
10 (1921-25) 183ff; C. Carducci, “Benevagienna.
Saggi e scavi,” NSc
(1950) 202ff; A. Bovolo, “Augusta
Bagiennorum,” Bollettino della Società Storica Archeologica e Artistica della Provincia di Cuneo
26ff; A. T. Sartori, Pollentia ed Augusta Bagiennorum