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VERCELLAE (Vercelli) Piedmont, Italy.

About 6 km NE of Turin and in antiquity a city in the Augustan Regio IX. It became a Roman municipium after A.D. 49 and was enrolled in the tribus Aniense. It developed on the site of an oppidum of the Libici, whose name it preserved. The city had a regular urban plan within a fortified circuit wall, which presumably was rectangular. A section of the N side of the wall has been identified among the houses on Via Gattinara. At the intersection of the axis streets recognizable in the modern Via Gioberti and Via Ferraris, the forum rose in the area of present-day Piazza Cavour. (Via Gioberti is built over the road from Augusta Taurinorum to Mediolanum, while Via Ferraris joins to the S the direct route for Dertona - Placentia and to the N the road for Eporedia.) Beneath the pavement of Piazza Cavour, imposing structures emerged in the course of excavations in the last century and more recently porticos with tabernae and a bath building. Remains of baths have also been located in Via del Duomo. A shrine with a dedicatory inscription to the Matronae was discovered in Via Verdi and ruins of unidentified buildings in Via Gioberti.

In Via Simone di Colloviano, outside the walls, occasional discoveries have unearthed the structure of an imposing building whose function is uncertain and in Via Monte di Pietà, in the area of the civic theater, a building with an external ambulacrum, probably a cistern, a castellum for the distribution of water according to the structure of the aqueduct whose remains have been found in Corso della Libertà. The aqueduct had lead piping, some of which carried 22 liters per second. Still extra moenia was the theater, mentioned in a document of 1142, the amphitheater, and the cemeteries. The latest burial ground is in the area of Piazza Duomo and the most extensive is on the road to Piacenza and along the road to Milan.

In the Early Empire, the city was the headquarters of a garrison of the Sarmati and the temporary quarters for a contingent of Armenian equites. In the 4th-5th c., it was among the major cities of the region. It became an active center for the spread of Christianity and for its organization in Piemonte. Statues, architectural fragments, amphorae, and sepulchral articles have been brought to light in the city and in its territory and have been preserved in the local Museo Leone.


Cic. Fam. 11.19; Strab. 5.1.12; Sil. Pun. 8.597; Plin. 3.21; Tac. Hist. 1.70; Ptol. 3.1.36; Amm. Marc. 22.3.4; Not. Dig. 121; Ant. It. 341, 344, 347, 351; Tab. Peut.; Rav. Cosm. 4.30.252.

CIL V, 6652; L. Bruzza, Iscrizioni vercellesi (1874) G. C. Faccio et al. Vecchia Vercelli (1926); P. Barocelli, “Ritrovamenti di sepolcreti di età romana,” BSPABA (1926) 87f; V. Viale, “Scoperta di un edificio romano a Bercelli,” BSPABA (1931) 69ff; G. Faccio, Le successive cinte fortificate di Vercelli (1963); V. Viale, Vercelli e il Vercellese nell'antichità (1971).


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Strabo, Geography, 5.1.12
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.21
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