Velzna (Roman Volsinii)

The Etruscan City of Velzna was probably located near Orvieto (Viterbo province, Italy). Many Etruscan coins have been found bearing the Word "Velzna"

In 1946 the ruins of a city were discovered on a hill in the Bolsena vicinity, The walls of the city date to the 4th and 5th Century BCE. However it is thought unlikely that this is the location of Velzna itself. Most modern sources now believe that the area around present day Orvieto is the most likely candidate for Velzna, and that modern day Bolsena represent Volsinii Novae, the city where the inhabitants of the city were relocated following the Roman conquest of Volsinii.

The region around Orvieto hides a great mystery: the location of the Fanum Voltumna. It was a sacred place of greatest importance, where every year the representatives of the Etruscan 12-City League would meet to discuss important political and economic transactions. There must have been numerous religious ceremonies, when we recall that every year a nail what driven into the wall of the sanctuary of the goddess Nortia. According to the belief of the Etruscans, when the wall was covered with nails, the Etruscans would cease to exist. This custom of driving a nail into the wall was carried on by the Romans for long afterwards.


The Volsinienses attacked Roman lands in 392 BCE, but little is known of their relations with Romans until Lucius Postumius Megellus defeated them in 294BCE. In 265 the Romans were called in to check civil strife in the city by aristocrats of the city. The Romans took a very heavy handed approach to the situation, and plundered about 2000 bronzes from the city.

No area was left untouched, including the sacred Fanum Voltumnae. The bronzes, among the finest Etruria had to offer were melted down to make bronze coins for the war effort. In 264 BCE the city of Velzna was razed to the ground by the Romans, and those whose lives were spared were sent to compulsary resettlement elsewhere.


Excavations at Bolsena (Poggio Moscini) have uncovered huge 4 kilometre long double walls built of large geometrical blocks of volcanic tufa surrounding the group of small hills over which the city was built. A system of lateral walls within these enabled its defenders to cut off portions of the city and retreat behind further positions. On the highest of the enclosed hills, the acropolis was situated; on the surrounding plateau of Mercatello was the main residential area.

The surrounding hills, especially in the areas of Poggio Sala, Ospedaletto, Vietana, Pantanesca, Gazzetta and Piazzano, are dotted with necropoli made up of chamber and ditch tombs dating between the 3rd and 4th century BCE.

In the private residential sector of the city, 2 large villas with precious marble and mosaic floors and featuring remarkable frescoes from the 3rd century BCE have been excavated. Numerous Tombs dating from the 6th century BCE have been discovered in the basilica.

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