The first traces of human presence in the Altino area can be traced back to the 8th-6th millennium B.C., but only in the Bronze Age settlements were permanent. At the beginning of the first millennium B.C. the Paleoveneto (Early-Veneto) centre of Altino was founded at the edges of the Venetian lagoon. Thanks to its distinctive geographic position, it acquired an important role in relation to the other nearby centres. At the end of the 6th century B.C., Altino became an important port for the northbound trade routes, which, starting from Adria and Spina warehouses, proceeded northward along the inner lagoon and the coast. We don’t know much about the original settlement, which probably included groups of huts built on hillocks. The excavations of the Necropolis, which have not been completed yet, mark the evolution of this Paleoveneto centre from the late 7th century B.C. to complete Romanisation. The location of two different burial sites (one in the southwest and the other in the north) testifies how Altino necropolises expanded around the built-up area, which they almost encircled, as the custom was in the Paleoveneto.
With the construction of Via Annia (Annia route) in 131 B.C., Romanisation started.
Some of the large cremation multiple tombs, found in both Altino Necropolises, mark the link between the Paleoveneto declining world and the rapidly developing Roman culture.
Between the end of 89 and 49 B.C., the first stage of Altino urbanisation took place: in this period Altino was subjected to Roman law and it acquired the status of a city, developing into one of the most important ports in the North Adriatic, thanks to the Roman maritime policy.
The construction of the new highways, via Claudia Augusta and the roads to Oderzo and Treviso, made Altino a thriving trade centre.
The excavations in the urban area show the presence of a town wall, probably with breaches, and of monumental doors with two towers, of wharves, ports and warehouses connected with river ports.
The forum, the large public and religious buildings, and the theatre have not been located yet. The private residential buildings, urban and sub-urban, are not well known either. Starting from the 2nd century B.C. trades declined, causing an irreversible process of economical and cultural decay. This process was enhanced by the altered environment and the impossibility of maintaining the hydraulic system that had surprised the 1st century A.D. architects.
In the 4th century A.D. Altino became the seat of the Bishop. In 452 A.D. the city was invaded by the Huns and was destroyed by Attila, but only in the 7th century A.D. it was abandoned by its inhabitants, who moved to Torcello thus leading to the birth of Venice.
For centuries the remains of the Roman city became a quarry for Venice and the islands of the lagoon, because Altino, the only settlement in the Veneto, was never inhabited again, until reclamation work in the early 20th century made Altino habitable again.
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