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title="Pompeia Valentina's Domus" alt="Pompeia Valentina's Domus">

Wall on Early Roman Empire constructions
Reconstruction proposal of pre-roman housing
Crisis and adaptation

Following the crisis of the 3rd C. A.D. and as a consequence thereof, the urban surface area of the city of Veleia became noticeably reduced in size. All in all, by late Roman peninsular standards, it continued to be a substantial settlement, with its more than 10 Ha. By the end of the century, the city undertook its last big urban work, the construction of a powerful defensive wall. This interesting fortification has a perimeter over one kilometre and half long, the thickness of the wall varies between 4,5 and 5,5 meters and the surviving height still reaches eight meters. The foundations of sixteen of its towers are even now visible, so as its South Gate, the main entrance to the town, is. A good part of the public buildings and the necropolis of the settlement were demolished and its materials re-used as building material for the construction of the wall. However, the urban network inside the fortified enclosure continued to be basically that inherited from the Flavian and Antonine eras. Signs of renovation continue appearing in the archaeological record (ranging from new decorative programmes, including murals and mosaics, to simple household reforms).

Even during the fourth century and the first half of the following one, there continues to be evidence of the peculiar "vitality" of the late Roman period. Thus, former public areas were reoccupied by dwellings and petty industrial installations. Among these, mention should be made of metallurgical workshops for recycling bronze scrap metal.

The former urban houses were kept in use, albeit partially. Thus, in the "Domus de Pompeya Valentina", a rubbish pit was excavated inside one of the already ruined front tabernae. It was one of the most recent urban reforms evidenced in the city of Veleia. Subsequent data are much more elusive; nonetheless, it is true that the presence of isolated burials was recorded, these dating back to the end of the 5th century - beginning of the 6th C., inside former inhabited areas in what would be the end of the city as such, until its epilogue in the Middle Ages.

The city of Veleia, from its origins to the end of the early imperial era

We have some indirect data, such as that of the existence of an organized community of Carietes and Vennenses (tribal entities to whom the inhabitants of Iruņa-Veleia would have belonged) who dedicated an honorary inscription to their patron (one of Augustus´ legates in the Peninsula), found in the Area Sacra of the Largo Argentina (Roma). For its part, archaeological research has placed the earliest data regarding the reorganization of the indigenous settlement in Tiberius´ epoch. After this, information begins to become more substantial. A major rebuilding has been detected during the Flavian era corresponding with a consolidation phase at the Early Imperial settlements in the surrounding area. Some Domus or urban mansions were completely transformed, being this the case of the one known as "Domus del Impluvium" (or "de Pompeya Valentina") inside the city of Veleia. In the 2nd C. A.D, urban reforms took place, either (both public and private); new pavements, partial demolition of drainage systems, etc. The Early Imperial period may be considered as Veleia´s acme, the period in which it experienced its greatest urban and suburban growth, covering a surface area of around 80 Ha. Within the city public infrastructures were erected, we have so far identified: a possible theatre, squares, two public baths, etc.

Quotes from Plinius would also correspond to this period; he informs us of his inclusion in the Conventus Cluniensis, to which Carietes and Vennenses were ascribed with five polis. In the same way, Ptolemy refers to Velia or Veleia among the Mediterranean oppida of the Caristians.

To this respect, a new epigraphic fragment, found during recent excavations of this enclave and dated tentatively in the 2nd C. A.D., might well correspond to a new patronage document.

Iruņa prior to Veleia

Below Veleia´s Roman period levels hid a complex and, until recently, almost unknown reality. It was thought that the Pre-Roman period settlement was limited to the Arkiz hill, an adjacent to but different place to that occupied by the subsequent Roman city. However, the data provided by extensive prospecting of its surrounding area and the systematic evidence coming from archaeological surveys inside the later walled city tell a different story. Thus, even waiting for later research, it can be stated in advance that a large settlement existed there prior to the establishment there of Roman Iruņa; this settlement was several square hectares in extension and would presumably end up carrying out the role of a "focal point" for the whole Zadorra Valley area.

Recent research has revealed an initial occupation of Iruņa in the transitional period between the Mid and Late Bronze Age. This settlement continued to be occupied uninterruptedly throughout the whole of the 1st Millenium B.C.. The recovered items show a complex framework of cultural influences: continental, from the Meseta and even from the Ebro Valley. Thus, the main technological advances of the 2nd Iron Age era are present in the archaeological record: advanced iron metallurgy, potter´s wheel, round turning stone mills and extensive cereal agriculture. The documented dwellings point both towards the Late Bronze Age / 1st Iron Age tradition, as well as towards Mediterranean models. Hence, we have documented the presence of sunken pits (or hut floors) in addition to holes for wooden posts dug into the rock, which may possibly correspond to round huts; but there is also evidence of rectangular houses, built on a running foundation made of local limestone slabs. In both cases, the structure would be wooden and the walls of wattle and daub or dried mud bricks, with thatched roofs.

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