inhabited before the Roman conquest by the Ligurian
Statielli. Discoveries of rough-hewn flint and small knives
found in the valley of the railroad bridge toward Ovada
and in the higher part of the site give evidence that this
area was inhabited in Neolithic times.
Pliny mentions the city among the civitates of the
Augustan Regio IX and remarks that its inhabitants, at
the time of the war between the Ligurians and the Romans, were taken prisoner by the Romans and reduced
to slavery. However, they were later freed and allotted
lands beyond the Po.
The interest of the Romans in this capital of the Statielli was mainly strategic for the city was at the junction
of two great communication arteries: the Aemilia Scauri
(later the Julia Augusta)—which, from Vada Sabatia
and from the sea, went as far as Dertona to join the
Via Postumia, which united the large centers of the E
Po valley—and another road which, passing Alba, permitted direct communication with Augusta Taurinorum
and the Alpine passes beyond.
Numerous finds from the interior of the modern city
illuminate the Roman passion for bathing establishments.
The city was rich in spas and monumental buildings
around Fonte Bollente. A large aqueduct, bringing water
from the Erro river, a few km upstream from the city,
approached the city by following the slope of the valley.
Running underground, the aqueduct then joined the territory of the Acqui, across the Bormida, on arches of a
truly grand Roman scale.
Today eight large piers of this marvelous work remain on the flat right bank sloping toward the river.
Particularly majestic are seven others with low, ogival
arches. These follow the river bed, their walls covered by
small squares of local stone.
A series of tombs discovered at the perimeter of the
city define its boundaries and have supplied notable
archaeological finds from the first centuries of the Empire. A mosaic pavement has inscriptions which mention
L. Ullatius and L. Valerius, high officials of the town,
who constructed or reconstructed the chambers, pavimenta, and tecta of the building.
G. Biorci, Antichità e prerogative della
città di Acqui Tortona
(1818-20); V. Scati, “Antichità
Acquensi,” Atti della Società Piemontese di Archeologia
e Belle Arti
(1887) 30ff; id., “Scoperta di un nuovo acquedotto romano in Acqui,” Rivista di Storia Arte e
Archeologia della Provincia di Alessandria
id., “La fonte bollente in Acqui e gli edifici eretti intorno
alla medesima,” op.cit. (1898) 23ff; U. Mazzini, “Piscina