Helen Nagy

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online July 2012 | | DOI:

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The ancient city of Veii (in Italian, Veio) lies seventeen kilometers northwest of Rome and occupies a plateau of approximately 350 hectares, bounded by the rivers Valchetta (ancient Cremera) on the north and east and Piodoro on the west and south. The city had ample water and was naturally defensible, but sections of tufa walls remain, indicating that it was also fortified. Several major roads crossed the city and led toward other centers, such as Rome, Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Vulci, and Capena, via fortified gates. Impressive Etruscan-made drainage tunnels (cuniculi) flank and traverse the plateau. There is sporadic evidence of late Bronze Age settlements in the area, but it was during the Villanovan period, 9th and 8th centuries bce, that villages appeared on the plateau and on the citadel of Piazza d’Armi. A significant growth in population during the late 8th and 7th centuries bce resulted in urbanization. The strength and wealth of the city reached their peak in the 6th century bce, but by the late 5th century bce, conflicts with Rome weakened Veii, and it was finally taken after a ten-year siege in 396 bce by M. Fulvius Camillus. The triumph was sealed by the transfer of the principal cult of Juno Regina to Rome. Although Veii declined sharply after the Roman victory, some of the old popular sanctuaries continued to be frequented by the local population. In 2 bce the status of municipium was conferred on Veii by Augustus. By this time the city was falling into decay, although a small part of the Etruscan site continued to be inhabited, as evidenced by architectural fragments, sculptures (including one of Tiberius now in the Vatican Museum), and inscriptions. Once considered the richest city of the Etruscan League, Veii declined and was abandoned by the end of the 4th century ce. The plateau today is covered by fields, trees, and remnants of ancient structures. Principal among these is the archaeological site of the extra-urban Portonaccio Sanctuary. Etruscan necropolises and a few Roman tombs surround the city. Archaeological surveys continue to yield results such as the 2006 discovery of the early-7th-century Tomb of the Roaring Lions in the Grotta Gramiccia necropolis. In 1997, the Regional National Park of Veii (37,030 acres) was established to ensure the protection of the ancient city and its surroundings from the ravages of urban sprawl and illegal construction.

Article.  10394 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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