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OLBIA (Ancient city) SARDINIA
Olbia (Olbia: Eth. Olbianos, Olbiensis: Terranova), one of the most considerable cities of Sardinia, situated on the E. coast of the island not far from its NE. extremity, in the innermost recess or bight of a deep bay now called the Golfo di Terranova. According to Pausanias it was one of the most ancient cities in the island, having been founded by the colony of Thespiadae under lolaus, the companion of Hercules, with whom were associated a body of Athenians, who founded a separate city, which they named Ogryle. (Paus. x. 17. § 5; Diod. iv. 29; Solin. 1. § 61.) The name of Olbia certainly seems to indicate that the city was of Greek origin; but, with the exception of this mythical legend, we have no accounts of its foundation. After the Roman conquest of the island it became one of the most important towns in Sardinia; and from its proximity to Italy and its opportune port, became the ordinary point of communication with the island, and the place where the Roman governors and others who visited Sardinia usually landed. (Cic. ad Q. Fr. ii. 3. 7, 6. § 7.) In the First Punic War it was the scene of a naval engagement between the consul Cornelius and a Carthaginian fleet, which had taken refuge in its spacious port; but was attacked and defeated there by Cornelins, who followed up his advantage by taking the city, B.C. 259. (Zonar. viii. 11; Flor. ii. 2. § 16; Val. Max. v. 1. § 2.) In the Second Punic War (B.C. 210) its territory was ravaged by a Carthaginian fleet. (Liv. xxvii. 6.) Under the reign of Honorius, Olbia is still mentioned by Claudian as one of the principal sea-ports of Sardinia; and the Itineraries give more than one line of road proceeding from thence towards different parts of the island. (Claudian, B. Gild. 519; Itin. Ant. pp. 79, 80, 82.) The name is there written Ulbia: in the middle ages it came to be known as Civita, and obtained its modern appellation of Terranova from the Spaniards.
Ptolemy distinguishes the port of Olbia (Olbianos limen, iii. 3. § 4) from the city itself: he probably applies this name to the whole of the spacious bay or inlet now known as the Gulf of Terranova, and the position given is that of the entrance.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
A city near the northern end of the eastern side of the island of Sardinia, with the only good harbour on this coast; and therefore the usual landing-place for persons coming from Rome. It is now Terra Nuova.
City in the NE part of Sardinia, situated on a broad gulf (Ptol. 3.3.4).
The foundation of Olbia, which Greek tradition attributed to the Foci (6th c.
B.C.), is today attributed to the Carthaginians. With the Roman occupation Olbia
acquired considerable importance as a commercial center in trade with the continent.
In Imperial times the presence in the Olbian countryside of landed estates of
the gens Claudia and of Atte, concubine of Nero, who erected a temple to Ceres
here (CIL X, 1414), testify to its prosperity. The numerous main thoroughfares
converging at Olbia attest to the continued importance of the city in the 3d and
4th c. A.D. and to an intensity of life that persists in the recollections of
the historians (Claudi. de Bello Gild. 15.519, who speaks of the circuit walls
along the shore), and of the geographers (It. Ant. 81; Tab. Peut.). With the decline
of the Empire the city suffered upheaval from the invasion of the Vandals in the
5th c. A.D., but revived in the early mediaeval period as the capital of the governors
The city was erected on the tongue of land projecting out into the sea, where the remains of a Punic temple (3d-2d c. B.C.) have been found. The Punic necropoleis, which were later reused by the Romans, contained ditch, shaft, and coffin burials and extended to the NW, W, and SW of the ancient center. Of the Roman walls, which were constructed of a double course of large isodomic granite blocks and date from the 3d-2d c., there remains a stretch with a rectangular tower and the opening of a gate into the Lupacciolu garden in Via R. Elena. On the axes of the city, beginning on the cardo and decumanus, which correspond to the modern Via R. Elena and the Corso Umberto, were built both private and civic structures. Among them there remains a large bath complex (1st-2d c.), and an aqueduct that brought water from the slopes of the Cabu Abbas mountains and carried it to the city. The ancient port occupied a space slightly larger than the modern seaplane airport. The Roman necropoleis extended over a large area in present Fontana Noa, Abba Ona, and Joanne Canu, entirely encircling the city. The burials, which in part reuse earlier building material, consist of ditch, shaft, and coffin tombs. The funerary fittings, other than ceramic material, consist of bronze or iron strigils, mirrors, and coins. The collection is preserved in the National Museum at Cagliari.
D. Manconi, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
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