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Ancestor City Of Venice Discovered By Satellite Imaging


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Bianca
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« on: September 23, 2008, 03:11:35 pm »



                  









                                                Ancestor city of Venice Discovered






Ruins of an ancient lagoon city that was the ancestor city of Venice have been found by scientists.
 


By Chris Irvine
BST
17 Sep 2008

Using satellite imaging, the outlines of the ruins can be clearly seen about three feet below the earth in what is now open countryside.

The discovery of the extensive town was found at Altino, known in Roman times as Altinum, more than seven miles north of Venice, and close to Marco Polo airport.

The ruins include streets, palaces, temples, squares and theatres, as well as a large amphitheatre and canals, showing Altinum was once a wealthy and thriving city.

Venice was a strong maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, stretching across 118 small islands in the marshy saltwater Venetian lagoon.

Historians agree that refugees fled to the islands from Roman cities such as Ravena, Padua and Aquileia after the Hun and Lombard invasions in the 5th and 6th century.

Paolo Mozzi, a researcher at the University of Padua geography department, said: "The hypothesis is that as Altinum also succumbed to the Barbarian invasions, the inhabitants fled farther down to the lagoon to build Venice on the islands, using some of the stones."

He added at its height, Altinum had been an important trading and seafaring centre on the Adriatic, before it was overrun by Attila in the mid-5th century.

A plan to excavate the ruins is now being drawn up at the universities of Padua and Venice, in collaboration with the Veneto region superintendent of archaeology.

The memory of Altinum is preserved in the names of several Venetian islands derived from districts of the abandoned Roman town - Torcello (from Torricellum) and Burano (Porta Boreana).
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2008, 12:10:57 pm »





             

                 Location of the province of Venice









                                                                     A L T I N U M






From Wikipedia

 
Altinum (modern Altino, a zone of Quarto d'Altino) is the name of an ancient coastal town of the Veneti  in Venetia, 15 km SE of Tarvisium (now Treviso), in Italy, on the edge of the lagoons.

It was reportedly very wealthy.

Located on the eastern coast of that nation, at the mouth of the river Silis, it was first destroyed by Attila in 452 and gradually abandoned by its inhabitants, who sought refuge in the islands of the lagoon, such as Torcello and Burano, in the area where later Venice was to be built.

Altino has today some 100 inhabitants and a historical museum.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2008, 12:18:22 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2008, 12:22:34 pm »










Altinum was both strategic and beautiful.




Finds and Venetic funeral inscriptions show that it was a center as early as the fifth century BC.


It increased in importance with the Romanization of the region and specifically with the construction




of the Via Annia - 131 BC, which passed through, linking Atria with Aquileia.


At the end of the Republic, Altinum became a Municipium whose citizens were ascribed to the Roman tribe Scaptia.


                                                           

Augustus and his successors brought it into further importance with the construction of the Via Claudia Augusta which began at Altino and reached the "limes" of the northeast at the Danube, a distance of 350 m, apparently by way of the Lake of Constance.

The place, thus, became of considerable strategic and commercial importance, and the comparatively mild climate (considering its northerly situation) led to the **** of villas which Martial (Epigr. iv. 25) compares with those of Baiae.




Lucius Verus died there in 169 AD.
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2008, 12:25:06 pm »




           










Altinum became the seat of a bishop by at least the fifth century AD, the first bishop being Heliodorus of Altino (Eliodoro).


         

Around 452, Attila the Hun captured the city and burned most of it, along with several other nearby cities.

Refugees settled on the islands of the lagoons, forming settlements which eventually became known as Venice.

In 568 it was conquered by the Lombards, whose domination spurred further emigration towards the Laguna Veneta (Venice Lagoon).

The Catholic diocese was moved to Torcello in 647.

In the 10th-11th century the area of Altinum was totally abandoned; a new settlement appeared in the 15th century, which was to become the nearby Quarto d'Altino, which was founded in the 19th century.
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2008, 12:34:10 pm »




           
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2008, 01:11:24 pm »

         

               

                Fragment of mile marker from
                the Via Claudia Augusta






                                                             

                    ROMAN INSCRIPTION
« Last Edit: September 27, 2008, 01:31:57 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2008, 01:36:15 pm »









                                                           BEFORE VENICE







The birth of Venice is a consequence of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

From the 4th C the Roman Empire was to be divided into two parts, each part governed by its Emperor. Rome was the capital of the Western Empire and Constantinople that of the Eastern. Constantinople had been founded in 330 by the Emperor Constantine I on the site of an old Greek town, Byzantium, which he renamed after himself.

The fall of the Western Roman Empire was ultimately caused by invaders from the North and East. This is the time of massive invasions of barbaric people: the Visigoth, the Huns - led by Attila, " the scourge of God” - the Goths, and others. The last of the Western Roman Emperors was deposed in 476.

During this violent incursions Roman citizens fled from the mainland and sought shelter on the tidal islands of the lagoons. Tradition wants to identify the birth of Venice with these migrations, but this is not correct. Many of these earlier refugees in fact returned to their devastated homes once the immediate danger was over.

Moreover, in 555 the Emperor Justinian the Great completed the re-conquest of Italy and these lagoons were re-placed under Byzantine jurisdiction.

It's actually in the 6th and 7th cs (568 e 639) that things were to change.

At that time another Germanic people, the Lombards, thundered down from the North and occupied a large part of the Italian territory. That of the Lombards was not a simple raid. They were actually determined to settle down in those territories and in fact they will gain their end and remain for about two centuries.

As a result, the temporary character of those early migrations changed to become permanent, their intrusion causing the alteration of the social structure described by Cassiodorus.
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2008, 01:40:55 pm »










                                                 EARLY BYZANTINE DOMINATION






 At this stage the lagoon area was unquestionably considered part of the Byzantine Empire, governed by military officials representing Byzantine suzerainty. And the dating of Venetian independence to those early days is just legend, a legend created by the old Venetians to glorify the Myth of their State.
Evidence of this comes from what can be considered the very first written document regarding the history of the lagoon: an inscription contained in the Cathedral of Torcello.

Torcello is a small island at an hour boat ride north from Venice and the visit to Torcello is strongly recommended. The journey offers you the unique opportunity to see and envisage what the lagoon must have looked like in those early days, with its shoals and reed-covered mudflats (wet-lands).

 Torcello became important in 638, when the bishop of Altinum moved there his mainland congregation and founded the Cathedral of S. Maria Assunta. The cathedral you can see today, though, is the 11th C reconstruction of the original one. The only two things that have remained from the 7th C are the remains of the Baptistry and the plaque we referred to as the oldest Venetian document(discovered in 1895), stating that the church was built in 639 "by the Honourable Magister Militum Maurìce who resides in this site which belongs to him". The Magister Militum Maurice was a Byzantine official, so the inscription confirms that the islands of the Lagoon were originally under Byzantine rule.

Torcello was a thriving island up to the 14th C, rich in beautiful palaces and monasteries and counting approximately 10,000 inhabitants. But what you can see on this slide is almost all that is left. Torcello is a kind of open air-museum. Its population reduced to 12 souls.

Allegiance to Byzantium and detachment from the mainland were reaffirmed when the Lombard kingdom was absorbed by the Frankish Empire. In those days the seat of the local governor in the lagoon area was Malamocco, on the Lido island. In 809 Pepin, the son of Charlemagne, attacked the lagoons. The Byzantines responded promptly to the Frankish attack and sent their fleet to counterattack Pepin. The Franks were pushed back and the Byzantines reaffirmed their sovereignty over the Lagoons.

 Yet, what I have just said is the result of years of deep studies. The truth in fact was disguised by the old Venetians keen to establish the Myth of their original independence. Their version goes in fact that the defeat of the Franks was the result of their military ability.
The account of the chronicler Giovanni Diacono (10th-11th C) reads in fact: "Pepin's fleet ran aground in the shallow waters of the lagoon and there a multitude of Venetians launched their attack and won “with the help of the Divine Providence". This "divine providence" was actually the Byzantine fleet...Anyway, legends and myths aside, the outcome of this struggle marked the turning point for the history of Venice.
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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2008, 01:42:11 pm »










                         VENICE AND IT’S POLITICAL CENTRE: THE SQUARE OF ST. MARK







First of all, the territory of the Venetian lagoon was included once and for all under Byzantine jurisdiction. Yet, being Constantinople so far away, the Byzantines soon relaxed their control, their suzerainty gradually faded away and the Venetians became in fact independent.
Secondly, the seat of the government was transferred in 811 to a more protected area corresponding to present St. Mark’s Square, since Malamocco had proved vulnerable to attacks from the sea. And this event marked the beginning of one of the most remarkable and daring engineering enterprises.

 The aspect of the lagoon was very different in those early days, the area being mostly occupied by water. As you can see in the map, the black contour marks the boundaries of present Venice, whereas the red splotches are in fact the islands that already existed in the 8th and 9th Cs. Few centuries later the section of solid land had expanded. Canals were dug, land was drained and reclaimed by erecting basket-work dikes around the sites. And yet this was not enough to withstand the heavy weight of the buildings.

  So thousands and thousands of thick wooden piles were driven into the heavy clay beneath the mud and there, not being exposed to the action of water or air, timber didn't rot. On top of those piles, wooden rafts were laid to provide elasticity while the piles settle and shifted. Finally, stone slabs. So this is were Venetian buildings stand on, still now: on some sort of a petrified forest.
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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2008, 01:43:30 pm »










                                      The DUCAL PALACE and the CHURCH OF ST. MARK






 A significant step in the evolution of the Venetian state is the construction of the Doge's Palace, in those days probably more a castle than a palace: the **** of the government building is in fact more than anything a statement that a durable political system is established.

 Near the Palace, the Church of St. Mark was soon to be erected and the church was dedicated to the Evangelist who was appointed as the patron saint of the city. Today we might find it difficult to appreciate the importance attached to saints and relics in the Middle Ages. In addition to their mystical properties, they were symbols of the wealth and power of the State... Politics and religion were arm in arm.

 So the most desirable for the Venetians were the relics of S. Mark the Evangelist. The saint, in fact, had been officially recognized as the preacher who converted the people of the lagoons to Christianity and founded the patriarchate of Aquileia (the most important religious authority in Italy after the Pope). So St. Mark was the most suitable patron...the snag was now to strip Aquileia of the right to the saint's patronage. The only way  to solve this... holy mess was to acquire the relics of the saint which were stolen from Alexandria in Egypt by two Venetians who covered their prize with quantities of pork to avoid possible inspections by the Moslem guards.


 The Venetians then - in order to justify their move - made up the story that St. Mark, on his way to Alexandria, had been caught in a violent storm and had been forced to land on one of the islands of the Venetian lagoon. And while he was marooned, an angel had appeared to him and said "Pax Tibi Marce, Evangelista Meus": Peace be unto thee, Mark, my Evangelist". So this was sold as a prophecy that the saint mortal remains would find final repose in Venice despite the fact that he had returned to Alexandria, had died there and his remains were there for over 8 centuries!

The acquisition of the body of St. Mark - or "pious theft" to borrow Venetian words - was above all a political maneuver, in fact the relics were not placed in S. Pietro di Castello, which was the seat of the bishop, but rather in the church which was going to become the doge's chapel: in other words, entrusted to the head of state. The State of the Venetians was to become henceforward the State of St. Mark. 
The cult of St. Mark thus offered a strong political and religious belief to the people, who felt safe and protected by the Evangelist.


 The winged lion, which according to the vision of St. John in the Book of Revelation is the symbol of St. Mark, became the emblem of the city and is to be found everywhere to look after the Venetians
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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2008, 01:45:50 pm »









                                             VENICE BECOMES A SEA POWER






The Venetian  economy was initially based on fish and salt... of course, it was to evolve. The lagoon territory fitted into the Byzantine commercial system as the perfect outlet for eastern merchandise. The Venetians' role was  to  transport and sell eastern goods up the rivers of northern Italy.
Yet, after 1000 AD they became more active and gradually turned into proper merchantmen, trading with towns along the Adriatic coast down till Constantinople. They eventually set up a fleet and transferred their interest seawards. The Supreme Architect of this evolution was the doge Pietro Orseolo II. In 1000 AD he smashed the Narentan pirates - who were threatening Venetian  trade-routes - and established Venetian control over Zara, thus marking the beginning of the expansion over the Adriatic.

The decline of the Byzantine Empire was to provide the Venetians with more opportunities to expand their traffics. When threatened by enemies, the Byzantines turned to Venice for help offering commercial advantages.

This is what happened in 1081 when the Venetians contributed to check the Normans, and in return the Byzantines conferred them trading privileges,  exemption from tolls, and even a colony in Constantinople. At that stage conditions became more favorable for Venetian rather than Byzantine merchants.
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2008, 01:47:00 pm »









                                                       WESTERN EUROPE






If we want to understand the evolution of the Venetian State, we'll now have to look at the Western context. We'll find that at the beginning of the 12C - after  centuries of stagnation due to the barbaric invasions - economy and trade  were revived. In this new context, towns, seats of trading fairs, grew in importance and wealth, and gradually turned independent from feudal lords.
Economic independence then turned into political autonomy: this is the rise of the Communes or City-States.


 However, in 1152 the most famous of German Emperors next to Charlemagne came to the throne. This was Frederick I, the “Red-bearded”. Frederick's ambition was to restore its Empire's former glory and influence on the Italian territory. Venice initially remained aloof from the struggle, but when she realized the danger of the emperor's presence in Mainland Italy, she enacted her diplomatic machinery and sent ambassadors to the pope and to Frederick.  These expeditions contributed to the reconciliation of the two and the site of the meeting between the pope and the emperor was Venice!

 The event was considered a source of immense pride for the Venetians. The pay-off in terms of prestige was immense. They exploited the event to manipulate history and made up the story that the pope had expressed his gratitude by giving to them a sword and a golden ring s a symbolic token of Venetian authority on the Adriatic Sea.

 

 

 Venice emphasized the event with the institution of an annual festival, the Marriage of Venice to the Sea. Every year the doge aboard the Bucintoro - the sumptuous state barge - along with the noble, the clergy the foreign ambassadors sailed for the port of St. Nicolò  followed by a procession of boats and gondolas and having arrived at the mouth, the Doge cast the ring into the sea and pronounced the words "We wed thee, sea, in token of our perpetual rule". With this symbolic official ceremony a series of festivities began on the Lido and went on for 15 days.

And this is a festival we still celebrate the very same way, with the mayor instead of the doge and without the Bucintoro - for the last one was destroyed by Napoleon.
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2008, 01:48:29 pm »











                                                  THE FOURTH CRUSADE






It wasn't just the West that had troubled the Venetians in this period. The concessions they had been granted by Byzantine emperors became a source of friction. In 1171 the Byzantine Emperor felt ready for a drastic move and suddenly arrested all the Venetians in his empire and seized their properties.

Venetian's retaliation came in 1204. This is the date of the Fourth Crusade, what proved to be the most profitable transaction in Venetian history. The Venetians had played a fairly passive role in the previous expeditions to reclaim the Holy Land from the Infidels for their situation in fact was already extremely favourable in the Mediterranean.
Yet, in 1204 the Venetians became protagonists.

The crusaders asked the Venetians to provide them with transportation to the Holy Land and in return they agreed to repay them with an exorbitant sum of money. The time came for the crusaders to depart, but not all the money had yet been paid. Doge Enrico Dandolo therefore struck another bargain: if the crusaders would help him recapture Zara, he would allow them to defer payment. The new terms were accepted, Zara recaptured, but the itinerary of the Crusade was to undergo a further diversion and in fact this is the only crusade which will never reach Jerusalem.

 Instead of making for the Holy Land, they set sail for Constantinople... This is an obscure page of history, full of intrigues... To be brief, in the end Costantinople was captured and sacked for three days.
The Venetians demonstrated their appreciation of art by seizing sculptures and treasures which were to decorate the outside of their Basilica... like the 4 horses placed over the central arch of St. Mark's basilica.

 The Byzantine Emperor was deposed and the territory of the Empire was divided among the crusaders.

In the partition, Venice obtained what she wanted: 3/8 of the territories of the former Byzantine Empire: mainly islands or naval bases along the route to the eastern markets, so as to form an almost uninterrupted chain from the agoon to the Black Sea, thus establishing conditions of near-monopoly on the trade with the East. The Venetian “Stato da Mar”, or Sea-state was formed yet destined to continuous alterations...

Behind these achievements there was a solid and steadfast direction by the Venetian government, ready to adapt itself to the circumstances.
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2008, 01:49:56 pm »










                                              THE VENETIAN POLITICAL SYSTEM






In the 9th, 10th and 11th Cs the head of state was a monarch called doge, from dux-duke.

The Venetians then evolved the first system of constitutional monarchy and they spared no pains to make sure that the head of state was kept strictly within his constitutional limits.

Councillors to control and limit the power of the doge appeared as early as 1032. The oath the doge took at his coronation bound him to execute the orders of the Major Council. There were numerous restrictions on his activities: all his letters were read by censors, he couldn't receive foreign delegations alone, he was not permitted to trade. At his death his record in office was examined and, had he accepted any gift or act of homage that were not clearly intended for the State as a whole, his heirs were prosecuted and forced to pay compensation.

Towards the end of the 13th C the Venetian constitutional framework becomes more and more complex following the creation of several organs with different responsibilities. The most important of all was the Major Council, elected by the General Assembly, whose function was to elect all members of the Venetian government and was therefore very powerful.

Distrust of individual power made the Venetians depend on committees and councils which crosschecked one another. Even their election system which was re-elaborated in 1268 reflects their obsession to eliminate/to check political plots and intrigues.

 This is how the doge was elected after the reform:

From the Major Council there was chosen by lot 30
 The 30 were reduced by lot to 9
  The 9 named 40 
   The 40 were reduced by lot to 12
    The 12 named 25
     The 25 were reduced by lot to 9
      The 9 named 45
       The 45 were reduced by lot to 11
        The 11 named 41
         The 41 nominated the Doge, for approval by the Assembly

 

At the turn of the 13th C the Venetian constitution reached a form that will endure until the end of the Republic, in 1797.

Changes were prompted by a certain number of influential families which had continued to reassert their office within the Major Council. They felt the need of a law which would never displace them, and could as well prevent the concentration of political power in the hands of one single family. This is in fact what is happening in the rest of Italy, where the Communes are turning into Signorie, dominated by single families or Signori.

T he process of transactions which was to lead to the reform took years and culminated in 1323 with the Serrata del Maggior Consiglio, literally the “closure of the Major Council”: membership to the Major Council was restricted to those who had already been part of it or who could prove that a paternal ancestor had sat in it and the list which recorded the names of eligible families was closed henceforth.
These families were self-proclaimed the Venetian Aristocracy and their names registered in the Golden Book. The Serrata can be thus considered similar to a coupe-d'état, performed - though -through bills rather than weapons.
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2008, 01:51:30 pm »










                                                        VENICE VS GENOA






In the second half of the 14th C when we see the climax of the conflict between Venice and Genoa which had engaged them in a 150-year struggle and 4 wars for the control of the Mediterranean trading routes.

 In 1379 the city of Venice came near to being taken by assault.

Blockaded on all sides, Venice began to run out of food and supplies. The Genoese allied with the Paduans and took Chioggia (a fishermen village in the Southern Lagoon) by storm.

The Venetian backlash was remarkable and its success was possible thanks to the peculiar configuration of the lagoon environment. The lagoon waters are very shallow and navigable channels were known only to the natives.... even today they have to be marked by bricole. So, entrances to the lagoon were barricaded with large vessels chained together and enemies' lines of communication were cut by sinking stone-laden barges in the canals...

In June 1380 the Genoese surrendered.

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