Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography/Aecula'num

AECULA'NUM, or AECLA'NUM (Αίκούανον, Appian, Ptol.: Eth. Aecnlanus, Plin.; but the contracted form Aeclanus and Aeclanensis is the only one found in inscriptions: — the reading Aeculanum in Cic. ad Att. xvi. 2, is very uncertain: — later inscriptions and the Itineraries write the name Eclanum), a city of Samnium, in the territory of the Hirpini, is correctly placed by the Itinerary of Antoninus on the Via Appia, 15 Roman miles from Reneventum. (Plin. iii. 11. s. 16; Ptol. iii 1. § 71; Itin. Ant. p 120; Tab. Peut.) No mention of it is found in history during the wars of the Romans with the Samnites, though it appears to have been one of the chief cities of the Hirpini: but during the Social War (B.C. 89) it was taken and plundered by Sulla, which led to the submission of almost all the neighbouring cities. (Appian, B. C. i. 51.) It appears to have been soon after restored: the erection of its new walls, gates, and towers being recorded by an inscription still extant, and which probably belongs to a date shortly after the Social War. At a later period we find that part of its territory was portioned out to new colonists, probably under Octavian, but it retained the condition of a municipium (as we learn from Pliny and several inscriptions) until long afterwards. It was probably in the reign of Trajan that it acquired the rank and title of a colony which we find assigned to it in later inscriptions. (Lib. Colon. pp. 210, 260; Orell. Inscr. no. 566, 3108, 5020; Zumpt, de Coloniis, p. 401.)

The site of Aeculanum was erroneously referred by Cluverius (Ital. p. 1203) to Frigento, Holstenius was the first to point out its true position at a place called le Grotte, about a mile from Mirabella, and close to the Taverna del Passo, on the modern high road from Naples into Puglia. Here the extensive remains of an ancient city have been found: a considerable part of the ancient walls, as well as ruins and foundations of Thermae, aqueducts, temples, an amphitheatre and other buildings have been discovered, though many of them have since perished; and the whole site abounds in coins, gems, bronzes, and other minor relics of antiquity. The inscriptions found here, as well as the situation on the Appian Way, and the distance from Benevento, clearly prove these remains to be those of Aeculanum, and attest its splendour and importance under the Roman empire. It continued to be a flourishing place until the 7th century, but was destroyed in A.D. 662, by the emperor Constans II. in his wars with the Lombards. A town arose out of its ruins, which obtained the name of Quintodecimum from its position at that distance from Beneventum, and which continued to exist to the 11th century when it had fallen into complete decay, and the few remaining inhabitants removed to the castle of Mirabella, erected by the Normans on a neighbouring hill. (Holsten. Not. in Cluver. p. 273; Lupuli, Iter Venusin. pp. 74–128; Guarini, Ricerche sull' antica Città di Eclano, 4to. Napoli, 1814; Romanelli, vol. ii. pp. 323–328.)[ E. H. B. ]