Falerii - Encyclopedia

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FALERII [mod. Civitd Castellana (q.v.)], one of the twelve chief cities of Etruria, situated about 1 m. W. of the ancient Via Flaminia, 1 32 m. N. of Rome. According to the legend, it was of Argive origin; and Strabo's assertion that the population, the Falisci, were of a different race from the Etruscans is proved by the language of the earliest inscriptions which have been found here. Wars between Rome and the Falisci appear to have been frequent. To one of the first of them belongs the story of the schoolmaster who wished to betray his boys to Camillus; the latter refused his offer, and the inhabitants thereupon surrendered the city. At the end of the First Punic War, the Falisci rose in rebellion, but were soon conquered (241 B.C.) and lost half their territory. Zonaras (viii. 18) tells us that the ancient city, built upon a precipitous hill, was destroyed and another built on a more accessible site on the plain. The description of the two sites agrees well with the usual theory that the original city occupied the site of the present Civita Castellana, and that the ruins of Falleri (as the place is now called) are those of the Roman town which was thus transferred 3 m. to the north-west. After this time Falerii hardly appears in history. It became a colony (Junonia Faliscorum) perhaps under Augustus, though according to the inscriptions apparently not until the time of Gallienus. There were bishops of Falerii up till 1033, when the desertion of the place in favour of the present site began, and the last mention of it dates from A.D. 1064.

The site of the original Falerii is a plateau, about 1 ioo yds. by 400, not higher than the surrounding country (475 ft.) but separated from it by gorges over 200 ft. in depth, and only connected with it on the western side, which was strongly fortified with a mound and ditch; the rest of the city was defended by walls constructed of rectangular blocks of tufa, of which some remains still exist. Remains of a temple were found at Lo Scasato, at the highest point of the ancient town, in 1888, and others have been excavated in the outskirts. The attribution of one of these to Juno Quiritis is uncertain. These buildings were of wood, with fine decorations of coloured terracotta (Notizie degli scavi, 1887, p. 92; 1888, p. 414). Numerous tombs hewn in the rock are visible on all sides of the town, and important discoveries have been made in them; many objects, both from the temples and from the tombs, are in the Museo di Villa Giulia at Rome. Similar finds have also been made at Calcata, 6 m. S., and Corchiano, 5 m. N.W. The site of the Roman Falerii is now entirely abandoned. It lay upon a road which may have been (see H. Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, ii. 361) the Via Annia, a by-road of the Via Cassia; this road approached it from the south passing through Nepet, while its prolongation to the north certainly bore the name Via Amerina. The circuit of the city is about 2250 yds., its shape roughly triangular, and the walls are a remarkably fine and well-preserved specimen of Roman military architecture. They are constructed 1 The Roman town lay 3 m. farther N.W. on the Via Annia. The Via Flaminia, which did not traverse the Etruscan city, had two post-stations near it, Aquaviva, some 22 m. S.E., and Aequum Faliscum, 42 m. N.N.E.; the latter is very possibly identical with the Etruscan site which G. Dennis (Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, London, 1883, i. 121) identified with Fescennium (q.v.). See 0. Cuntz in Jahreshefte des osterr. arch. Inst. ii. (1899), 87.

of rectangular blocks of tufa two Roman ft. in height; the walls themselves reach in places a height of 56 ft. and are 7 to 9 ft. thick. There were about 80 towers, some 50 of which are still preserved. Two of the gates also, of which there were eight, are noteworthy. Of the buildings within the walls hardly anything is preserved above ground, though the forum and theatre (as also the amphitheatre, the arena of which measured 180 by rob ft. outside the walls) were all excavated in the 19th century. Almost the only edifice now standing is the 12th-century abbey church of S. Maria. Recent excavations have shown that the plan of the whole city could easily be recovered, though the buildings have suffered considerable devastation (Notizie degli scavi, 1903, 14) .

See G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (London, 1883), i. 97; for philology and ethnology see FALISCI. (T. As.)

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