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Roman Volcei


The wealth of the local area was confirmed by the incorporation of the city as a municipium.
In the second half of I century BC this new-found status of Volcei soon led to the building of a market and Thermae which connected the urbanized terraces to the rocky plateau to the south of the main road, the decumanus,  on which the forum was built. Many existing buildings were also restored to their original functions.

The city became the ideal place for displays of power: various inscriptions dedicated to Titus Statilius Taurus, a friend of Emperor Augustus and a man of Volceian origin, Emperor Augustus and Agrippa Postumus, as well as female statues in Greek marble, while the buildings lining the streets of the city were frequently faced with marble cladding and decorated with ornate cornices.
Unfortunately, just a few years later, around the middle of 1st century AD, the entire urban centre was razed to the ground by an earthquake.

Following a long, difficult reconstruction process, which was only completed towards the middle of the 2nd century AD, the majority of the city’s buildings were finally restored to their former glory. Indeed, it is still possible to see an architrave bearing the dedication of a Caesarèum, a temple dedicated to the worship of emperors, reconstructed by the Otacilius family.

Despite the fact that they exploit architraves and architectural elements saved from former buildings, many funeral inscriptions engraved in the 2nd century AD give evidence of a lively, highly structured society which included several collegia: the collegium of the Augustales, an order of priests established for the worship of Emperor Augustus and emperor worship in general; and the collegium of the Dendròphores, an order of priests dedicated to the worship of Cybele (Earth Mother) who honoured the oriental goddess by processing through the streets of the city bearing a sacred pine tree.

Later the complexity of the structure of the area during the reign of Emperor Constantine is confirmed by an inscription listing all the settlements and properties in the vicinity. Despite several restoration initiatives, the city of Volcei  was losing its hold on the territory as local wealth was transferred to villas located on large, privately owned estates. These estates survived well into the late middle ages and provided the origins of many modern day  villages.

Following the destruction of the centre of the city of Volcei in the 7th century AD, possibly as the result of another earthquake, the city of Conza took over Volcei’s ruling role.
The city of Conza, becoming diocese, absorbed the entire territory originally belonging to the city of Volcei, including a community of hermit monks linked to Saint John of Egypt which worshipped in a rocky location on the northern slopes of the hill underlying Volcei.