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CANUSIUM (Canosa di Puglia) Apulia, Italy.

One of the most important cities of ancient Apulia, located on the right bank of the Ofanto (Aufidus) river ca. 24 km from its mouth, at the boundary between Peucezia and Daunia. Its port on the Ofanto, perhaps navigable at that time in its lower reaches, is recorded by Strabo (6.3.9). According to legend the city was founded by Diomedes and named for his hunting dogs (Strab. loc.cit.; Hor. Sat. 1.5.92; Schol. Dan. Aen. 11.246). Its Greek origin seems to be confirmed by recent archaeological finds, as well as by the minting of coins with the legend in Greek, which was still spoken in the Augustan age. Horace (Sat. 1.10.30) says “Canusini more bilinguis.” The economic prosperity of the city, principally based on the production and sale of wool, is mentioned by Pliny (HN 8.190) and other ancient authors. In 318 B.C. Canusium was occupied by the Roman Consul L. Plautius, thus falling under the domination of Rome but conserving its right to coin money (Livy 9.26). During the second Punic war the city, remaining faithful to the Romans, took in the survivors of the rout of Cannae (Livy 22.52-54; ValMax. 4.8.2; Polyb. 3.107). Canusium fought against Rome in the social war, together with Venosa. It took within its walls the Samnite general Trebazio, defeated in 89 B.C. on the Ofanto by the Roman praetor C. Cosconius (App. BCiv. 1.42, 54, 84). Canusium became a Roman municipium (CIL IX, 342, 343), and was ascribed to the tribus Oufentina (CIL IX, 336, 339, 340, 415). Under Antoninus Pius a colony was established there which was called Colonia Aurelia Augusta Pia Canusia (CIL IX, 344). In this period the city was enlarged by Herodes Atticus, who provided it with an aqueduct (Philostr. VS 2.1.5).

Recently, in the course of agricultural work, a settlement of the Neolithic Age was discovered and a necropolis with cremation burials from the Bronze Age in the zone to the NW of the modern town in the sections called Pozzillo and Toppicelli. In these areas there have also been found the remains of an indigenous habitation site from the 7th-6th c. B.C., as well as archaic vases of Greek provenience. There are indications of the city of the Hellenistic and Roman times in a number of places in the modern city, from which come marble columns, capitals, entablatures, and inscriptions that are recognizable in many churches in the city. Some have been collected and placed in the municipal building. Recent excavations have brought to light the ruins of fortifications and of a Roman road near the Early Christian baptistery. Also recently noted are the remains of a late Hellenistic temple under the basilica of S. Leucio and of a Roman temple in Via Imbriani. A statue of Jove, which came from the latter, is in the museum at Taranto. The remains of a Roman bath building are preserved in a courtyard in Via Lamarmora, while the ruins of the mediaeval castle incorporate part of the city wall and several towers of the ancient acropolis. At the edge of the city in the direction of Cerignola, along the course of the Via Traiana, is a Roman arch of brick, called Porta Romana or Porta Varrone. It is perhaps one of the many funerary monuments in the area. Among them is the so-called Torre Casieri, quadrangular in plan and built of stone blocks and brick, with a barrel-vaulted cella containing two niches for cinerary urns. There is also a mausoleum of the Augustan age with a square base, which had perhaps a circular superstructure like that of the famous tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via Appia at Rome. There is also the so-called Monumento Bagnoli, an interesting mausoleum of the 2d c. A.D.

A Roman bridge spans the Ofanto; its arches were rebuilt in the mediaeval period. From the hypogea at Canosa, especially those from the 4th-3d c. B.C., came rich fittings including red-figure Apulian vases, characteristic plastic polychromed vases, and precious goldwork that may now be seen in the museums of Naples, Taranto, and Bad.


W. Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, I (1856) 503 (E. H. Bunbury); RE III.2 (1899) 1501-2 (Hülsen); E. De Ruggiero, Dizionario epigrafico di antichità romane, (1895) 83; K. Miller, Itineraria Romana (1916) 375; EAA 2 (1959) 315-17 (O. Elia).


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