The Roman city of Veleia was founded in 158 BC after the defeat of the Ligures Veleiates who fought against the Roman expansion, with the aim of controlling and managing a huge mountain area between the Taro and the Trebbia Valleys.
Veleia looks like a typical mountain centre, with its buildings placed on a terraced hillside, partly natural and partly artificial, and the structures for the religious, social and civil life organized around the forum.
The present appearance dates back to the Imperial period but traces of more ancient times have been unearthed in different areas of the town.
- Programme Dates: July 15 – August 7, 2013
- Application deadline: April 1, 2013
- Programme fees: 1850 €. Fees include: housing, meals, seminars and workshops, excavation and laboratory equipment, excursions and other activities, administrative costs, application fee. International travel to/from Italy is not included in these fees and is the students’ sole responsibility. To reserve a space, you must pay a 100 € application fee. The remainder of the fee (1750 €) must be paid after the application deadline (April 1, 2013) and before April 14, 2013. In case of cancellation of the Field School, the amount paid will be refunded in full.
- Apply here!
- Certificates iussued: At the end of School each student will receive a certificate issued by the Institute for Training and Research of the Italian Federation of UNESCO and by MiBAC (Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage). The Institute is a training organization recognized by the MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research), but is not a degree-granting institution and it cannot offer credits for participation in the program. Credits generally can be obtained directly from the participant’s home institution through discussion with department faculty and administrative staff (e.g., Registrar’s office). The Institute provides supporting documentation upon successful conclusion of the program.
About the excavation (for further details see the Brochure Field Schools 2013)
- Scientific and technical direction: dr.ssa D. Locatelli, PhD (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Emilia Romagna), dr. G. Bigliardi, PhD (Centre for GeoTechnologies, University of Siena)
Excavations will take place at the Roman city of Veleia in the municipality of Lugagnano Val D’Arda (Piacenza, Italy). Veleia is located approximately 35 km east of the city of Piacenza, and 60 km west of the city of Parma.
The Roman city of Veleia was founded after the defeat in 158 BC of the Ligures Veleiates who fought against the Roman expansion, with the aim of controlling and managing a huge mountain area between the Taro and the Trebbia Valleys. The most ancient burials, which were discovered there in 1876, belonged to a pre-existing local settlement. Shortly after the first half of the I century BC Veleia became a Roman municipality, acquiring the right of citizenship, and witnessed a season of development with the construction of monuments and buildings: the marble statues of the Julio-Claudian cycle discovered in the basilica and the huge number of monuments are evidence of the important relations held with the imperial family.
This state of prosperity did not last long: in the first half of the II century AD the concession of the Alimenta, the Institution founded by Trajan, showed the interest afforded by the central authority to the economic crisis of the city, where the landed property was under the control of a few rich landowners and many lands were taken up by woodlands or used for pasture, with the obvious consequence that there was a large number of poor people among the small landowners. From the III century AD on the crisis is clear: life in the city is witnessed until the V century AD at least. The end of Veleia can be placed in the general trend of depopulation of that time, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, when a lot of Italian cities were abandoned.
The buildings were placed on a terraced hillside and we can distinguish the chronology of the different building stages. The forum, of the Augustan and Julio Claudian period, extended over a level ground that had been artificially created through a deep excavation, as revealed by the stratification, clearly recognizable under the staircase of the oriental side. The well-preserved paving was surrounded by a drainage canal to carry rainwater away. It is surrounded on three sides by a portico with shops and public buildings, all provided with a heating system. Originally it probably seemed to widen out thanks to the optical illusion of a wall painting. It was closed on the fourth side by the lower terrace, obtained by amassing the materials from the excavation of the upper slope, and contained by solid substructures. This terrace, connected to the upper one by an impressive entrance, was probably intended for religious purposes. To the west of the forum, recent excavations have unearthed ruins of buildings that have been dated prior to its construction, as well as ruins of its original entrance, which was replaced by the monumental one, on the northern side, during the second half of the I century AD.
The ruins of the basilica
The basilica was located on the southern side of the complex; it was a building with a nave and no aisles, with rectangular exedrae in the heads, intended for the worship of the emperors. For this commemorative purpose, twelve statues of marble from Luni, portraying members of the Julio Claudian family, were aligned along the back wall. The whole complex was erected, as revealed by a series of inscriptions, thanks to the generosity of some wealthy citizens and local magistrates.
Above the forum there is a residential district and a bath. The terrace, where a parish church devoted to Saint Antonino was built during the Middle Ages, had probably already been the location of a religious building in more ancient times. Further up, there is another building that was correctly identified, when discovered, as a water reservoir, but was then misinterpreted as an amphitheatre and as such restored.
The official exploration of Veleia started in 1760 under the Duke of Parma, don Filippo I di Borbone, after the discovery by chance in 1747 of the Trajan “tabula alimentaria” which still remains the biggest bronze Roman inscription found.
The Museum of Veleia
At the end of the 18th century, to the west of the basilica, the housekeeper’s house was erected; then, in the first half of the 19th century, a building intended for the curator, was built next to it and was to receive, besides the cast of the Trajan tabula and the Lex de Gallia Cisalpina, a group of findings that represents the most significant moment in the history of Veleia: the ligurian origins, the building of the most valuable public monuments, the furniture of private houses and the objects of everyday life, the gladiator combats and the funerary rites.
Tags: Archaeology, Field School, Veleia