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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Vol. IV

Bononia (mod. Bologna), the chief town of ancient Aemilia (see Aemilia, Via), in Italy. It was said by classical writers to be of Etruscan origin, and to have been founded, under the name Felsina, from Perusia by Aucnus or Ocnus. Excavations of recent years have, however, led to the discovery of some 600 ancient Italic (Ligurian?) huts, and of cemeteries of the same and the succeeding (Umbrian) periods (800‑600? B.C.), of which the latter immediately preceded the Etruscan civilization (c. 600‑400 B.C.). An extensive Etruscan necropolis, too, was discovered on the site of the modern cemetery (A. Zannoni, Scavi della Certosa, Bologna, 1876), and others in the public garden and on the Arnoaldi Veli property (Notizie degli Scavi, indice 1876‑1900, s.v. "Bologna"). In 196 B.C., when the town first appears in history, it was already in the possession of the Boii, and had probably by this time changed its name, and in 189 B.C. it became a Roman colony. After the conquest of the mountain tribes, its importance was assured by its position on the Via Aemilia, by which it was connected in 187 B.C. with Ariminum and Placentia, and on the road, constructed in the same year, to Arretium; while another road was made, perhaps in 175 B.C., to Aquileia. It thus became the centre of the road system of north Italy. In 90 B.C. it acquired Roman citizen­ship. In 43 B.C. it was used as his base of operations against Decius Brutus by Mark Antony, who settled colonists here; Augustus added others later, constructing a new aqueduct from the Letta, a tributary of the Rhenus, which was restored to use in 1881 (G. Gozzadini in Notizie degli Scavi, 1881, 162). After a fire in A.D. 53 the emperor Claudius made a subvention of 10 million sesterces (£1,087,500).​a Bononia seems, in fact, to have been one of the most important cities of ancient Italy, as Bologna is of modern Italy. It was able to resist Alaric in 410 and to preserve its existence during the general ruin. It afterwards belonged to the Greek exarchate of Ravenna. Of remains of the Roman period, however, there are none above ground, though various discoveries have been made from time to time within the city walls, the modern streets corresponding more or less, as it seems, with the ancient lines. Remains of the bridge of the Via Aemilia over the Rhenus have also been found — consisting of parts of the parapets on each side, in brick-faced concrete which belong to a restoration, the original construction (probably by Augustus in 2 B.C.) having been in blocks of Veronese red marble — and also of a massive protecting wall slightly above it, of late date, in the construction of which a large number of Roman tombstones were used. The bed of the river was found to have risen at least 20 ft. since the collapse of this bridge (about A.D. 1000), the total length of which must have been about 650 ft. and the width between the parapets 38¾ ft.

See E. Brizio in Notizie degli Scavi (1896), 125, 450; (1897) 330; (1898) 465; (1902) 532.

[T. As.]

Thayer's Note:

a 1911 figure, of course; in 2003, very roughly, $90,000,000.

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Page updated: 18 Nov 17