1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers
> 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes
(e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Aléria (Ancient Greek: Ἀλαλίη, Alaliē; Latin and Italian:
Aleria, Corsican: U Cateraghju) is a commune in the Haute-Corse
France on the island of Corsica, former bishopric and
present Latin Catholic titular see. It includes the easternmost point
in Metropolitan France.
4.3 Medieval and modern
7 See also
9 Sources and external links
Aléria shares the canton of Moïta-Verde with 13 other communes:
Moïta, Ampriani, Campi, Canale-di-Verde, Chiatra, Linguizzetta,
Matra, Pianello, Pietra-di-Verde, Tallone, Tox,
Zalana and Zuani.
Aléria is 70 kilometres (43 mi) to the south of
Bastia on Route
N198, in the centre of the Plaine Orientale, also called the Plaine
d'Aléria, the east-central coastal plain of the island facing Italy.
It includes a number of villages and monuments. Most of the rest of
the island is precipitously mountainous.
The eastern coastline is punctuated by a number of lakes connecting
(but not always) to the Tyrrhenian Sea, the remnant of an ancient
system of lagoons behind barrier beaches. The Corsicans refer to them
under the name of Étang, "pool", although most are larger by far than
an English pool. Marshland is also extensive on the coast requiring
that cities be built inland from it.
Malaria has historically been a
problem near the marshlands and swamps of eastern Corsica. The fine
barrier beaches are a recreational attraction.
Tavignano River (Tavignanu) enters the commune to the northwest
and exits into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its lands include a delta, marshes
to the south and the unconnected étang de Diane to the north. To the
west, the étang de Terre Rosse is a lake and reservoir used to
irrigate the plain.
Corsica had an indigenous population in the
Neolithic and the Bronze
Age but the east coast was subject to colonization by Mediterranean
maritime powers: Greeks, Etruscans, Carthaginians, Romans. They
typically built on an étang, which they used as a harbor. Alaliē
(Ionic dialect) was placed between the southern end of the
3.5-kilometre (2.2 mi) long Ētang de Diane and the Tavignano
River (ancient Rhotanos), slightly inland, but controlling the entire
district including the mouth of the river. The site is partly occupied
today by the village of Cateraggio (Corsican U Cateraghju) at the
crossroads of national routes N200 and N198. N200 follows the Vallé
du Tavignano into the interior mountains of Corte.
Etruscans took the district, after its abandonment by the
Greeks, they settled further south along N198 in the vicinity of the
village of Aléria, today primarily an archaeological site across the
river from Cateraggio, where visitors and academics are quartered.
Still south of there was the Etruscan necropolis, in today's
Aléria takes its name from the Roman town placed there
after the defeat of the Etruscans.
The entire district, however, is wider still, following the Corsican
custom of including some mountains and some beaches in every district.
It incorporates the agricultural lands of Teppe Rosse (to the west),
the entire Étang de Diane and the Plage de Padulone 3 kilometres
(2 mi) east of Cateraggio, a former barrier beach. Since 1975 a
series of laws have created the Casabianda-
Aléria Nature Preserve,
1,748 hectares (4,320 acres) between the mouth of the Tavignanu and
the Étang d'Urbinu, which is 5 kilometres (3 mi) to the south.
The reserve to the south was initiated from the grounds of the former
penitentiary of Casabianda in 1951. It was instituted in 1880 in a
then pestilential area which it was hoped the prisoners could farm. It
contained 1800 ha and 214 plots. Due to a high death rate from
malaria, the agricultural experiment failed.
As of 2008[update],
Aléria has a population of 1,957.
According to Herodotus twenty years before the abandonment of
Phocaea in Ionia, that is, in 566 BC, Phocaeans colonizing the western
Mediterranean founded a city, Alaliē, on the island of Cyrnus
(Corsica). Diodorus Siculus says that the city was named Calaris,
possibly a corruption of Alaliē. The historical circumstances of
Calaris leave no doubt that it was Aleria.
Diodorus says that Aleria had a "beautiful large harbor, called
Syracusium," that Calaris and another city, Nicaea, were on it, and
that Nicaea had been built by the Etruscans. Syracusium can only be
the Étang de Diane, a lake exiting to the Tyrrhenian Sea. As Aleria
and Nicaea were trade rivals it seems unlikely that the Etruscans
would have allowed the Phocaeans, who were ancient Greeks, access to
Étang de Diane. Nicaea is generally identified with the La Marana
district further north, where the Romans later built a city, Mariana,
on the Étang de Biguglia, a better harbor. Diodorus says that the
Corsica were subject to the Phocaeans and that the latter
took slaves, resin, wax and honey from them. Alaliē was then an
emporium. Of the natives whom the Phocaeans subjugated Diodorus says
only that they were "barbarians, whose language is very strange and
difficult to be understood" and that they numbered more than 30,000.
Phocaea was the first city of
Ionia to come under siege by the
army of Cyrus, who were
Medes commanded by Harpagus, in 546 BC.
Requesting a cease-fire the Phocaeans took to their ships, abandoning
the city to Harpagus, who allowed them to escape. Refused
permission to settle
Oenussae in the territory of
Chios they resolved
to reinforce Alaliē, but first made a surprise punitive raid on
Phocaea, executing the entire Persian garrison. At this success half
the Phocaeans reinhabited Phocaea; the other half settled in the
vicinity of Alaliē.
Corsica they were so troublesome to the
Etruscans and to the
Sardinia that the two powers sent a combined fleet of
120 ships to root them out, but this force was defeated by 60 Phocaean
ships at the
Battle of Alalia
Battle of Alalia in the Sardinian Sea, which Herodotus
describes as a Cadmeian victory (his equivalent of a Pyrrhic victory)
because the Greeks lost 40 ships sunk and the remaining 20 so damaged
as not to be battle-worthy. Now unable to defend themselves, the
Phocaeans took to their remaining ships and sailed off to Rhegium,
abandoning Alaliē. The
Etruscans landed the numerous Phocaean
prisoners and executed them by stoning, leaving the bodies where they
lay until the oracle compelled a proper burial. As the Carthaginians
were not then interested in Corsica, the
Etruscans occupied Alaliē
and took over dominion of the island, which they held until the Romans
took it from them.
Etruscans and perhaps others in their turn occupied Alalia.
There is no evidence of any other impact of theirs on the island or
the indigenous population; the east coast location was simply
fortuitous for them. Across the waters, however, rose a power that
eventually dominated the entire island and had a lasting impact,
changing the language. Alaliē was occupied by the Romans during the
First Punic War
First Punic War in 259 BC.
Florus says that Lucius Cornelius Scipio
destroyed it and cleared the region of Carthaginians while Pliny
Sulla much later placed two colonies, Aleria and Mariana.
Evidently the Corsican
Etruscans had been still cooperating with the
Carthaginians. Not including them the island was divided into 32
Etruscans continued to use the necropolis. Subsequently, the
Etruscan population must have assimilated to a new Roman population in
parallel with the assimilation of
Etruscans on the mainland. The
Etruscan language disappeared and it must have been starting from that
time that the island began to acquire its Latin language.
Under the late
Roman Republic the Romans decided to build a major
naval base on the shores of Étang de Diane. Starting in 80 BC under
Sulla as dictator they rebuilt the city on the promontory at Aléria,
naming it Aleria. The city rose to prominence under Augustus, becoming
the provincial capital of Corsica.[clarification needed] Major fleets
were stationed on the étang.
Ptolemy mentions it but says little
about it, only mentioning "Aleria Colonia", the Rotanus River and
Diana Harbor. He lists the "native races" inhabiting the island,
but their geographical coordinates do not match those of Aleria;
perhaps the Roman town was not considered among them.
In the later Roman Empire, the port and the city declined. It never
recovered from a disastrous fire of 410 AD and in 465 was sacked by
the Vandals. Subsequently, it became a small village of no interest to
any major power. These events must mark the end of its classical
antiquity. It was buried bit by bit by the Tavignano and the Tagnone,
which also created the deadly marshes. The region became subsumed
under a Christian parish.
Medieval and modern
In the 13th century, Aleria became of interest to the Republic of
Genoa. By that time the
Latin language was gone, but it had developed
Corsu on Corsica, in parallel with the development of other
The commune of
Aléria was created in 1824, but it did not truly begin
to revive until after 1945, after the allies (chiefly American) had
undertaken to eradicate malaria (1944). An organization, SOMIVAC
(Société d'aménagement pour la mise en valeur de la Corse) was
created in 1957 to resurrect agriculturally the entire eastern plain
under government sponsorship. It had great success in developing the
region. A massive archaeological effort got underway in 1955.
Main article: Diocese of Aleria
There is some evidence that
Corsica was being converted to
Christianity in the late 6th century. Pope
Gregory the Great
Gregory the Great wrote in
597 to Bishop Peter of Alaria to recover lapsed converts and to
convert more pagans from the worship of trees and stones. He sent him
money for baptismal robes. In 601, however, Aleria was without a
bishop (see under Ajaccio).
Aleria was a residential diocese, suffragan of the Metropolitan
Archdiocese of Pisa, which became a dogal state in Italy. It counted
among its bishops Saint Alexander Sauli.
On 29 November 1801, in accordance with the Napoleontic Concordat of
1801, it was suppressed as the territory of the diocese of
extended to the whole of Corsica. At the end of the Ancien Régime,
the bishop no longer lived in Aléria, but in Cervione.
Hundreds of archaeological sites on
Corsica offer a view of an island
that has been occupied continuously since about 6500 BC and has never
been isolated. It was common for populations on
Corsica to maintain
contacts (especially trade contacts) with other communities on the
Mediterranean; the indigenous people of
Corsica therefore might have
come from anywhere on the Mediterranean. The various archaeological
museums on the island preserve ample remains from the Neolithic,
Bronze Age and Iron Age, with some interpretive or
circumstantial variation in the dates. Only in the
Iron Age (700
BC-) were there any historians to distinguish between the indigenes
descending from previous populations and the more recent colonists.
Although no settlements of urban density preceded the first Greek
Aléria is unlikely to have been altogether unpopulated. A
chance find of an ancient rubbish disposal pit at a location called
Terrina about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the Étang de Diane
gives some information regarding pre-Roman habitation. The pit was
excavated between 1975 and 1981 by G. Camps, who found four levels and
named the site after the most important, Terrina IV.
Terrina IV features a Middle
Neolithic settlement in which the use of
cattle and pigs were, in contrast to the rest of the island, which
kept mainly goats and sheep and grew grain. The Chalcolithic,
approximately 3500-3000 BC, arrived by easy transition. The population
of the site manufactured arsenical copper and copper goods.
The visible antique habitations at
Aléria date to the
Iron Age and
are consistent with the common history. Although ruins on the
promontory were noted by
Prosper Mérimée in 1839, they were only
excavated in 1955 by Jean Jehasse and Jean-Paul Boucher. By 1958 the
excavators had uncovered the forum of the Roman city of Aleria, first
occupied in the 1st century BC.
A pre-Roman, Etruscan necropolis was then discovered 500 metres
(1,600 ft) to the south (in Casabianda) containing more than 200
tombs. It was excavated between 1960-1981. The necropolis had been in
use mainly from the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC and was abandoned
altogether with the construction of the Roman city, which had a
cemetery to the north. No artifacts that were identifiably
Etruscan have been found to have been from before the 6th century BC;
that is, the
Etruscans were most likely intrusive at that time.
Systematic excavation since 1955 has revealed wide-ranging contacts in
the 6th century BC, through pottery shards in test pits, with Ionian,
Phocaean, Rhodian and Attic black-figure ware. The excavated
necropolis of Casabianda's rock-cut tombs have revealed treasures and
goods, left or placed with the buried, that include fine works of art,
jewels, weapons, metalware, bronze and ceramic plates and dishes in
particular, rhytons, distinctive kraters decorated by some of the
first rank Attic vase-painters.
Portable antiquities found in the
Aléria commune are presented for
public viewing in the Musée Jérôme Carcopino in Fort Matra in the
village of Aléria.
L'étang de Diane occupies 600 hectares (1,500 acres); in it, the île
des Pêcheurs ("Fishermans' Island") features a large mound of oyster
shells accumulated from Roman times, when removed from their shells,
salted oysters were exported to Rome. A company has revived with
success the production of molluscs in the étang. In the commune,
grapes and citrus fruits are commonly grown.
Battle of Alalia
Battle of Alalia (530-535 BC)
History of Corsica
Torra di Diana
Communes of the
Former railway station
^ a b c "France, le trésor des régions: Département: Haut-Corse"
(in French). Retrieved 2008-05-06. .
^ a b Herodotus, Book I Sections 162-167.
^ a b
Bibliotheca historica Book V Chapter 1.
^ a b Gregorovius, Ferdinand; Edward Joy Morris (Translator) (1855).
Corsica: Picturesque, Historical and Social. Philadelphia: Parry &
M'Millan. pp. 12–13. Downloadable Google Books.
^ Syracusium is not to be confused with the Syracusianos Portus of
Ptolemy, which must be either
Porto-Vecchio or further south.
^ Epitome of Roman History Book I section 18.
^ Natural History Book III Section 6.80.
^ Abram (2003).
^ Book III chapter 2.
^ Richards, Jeffrey (1980). Consul of God: The Life and Times of
Gregory the Great. London, Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
p. 237. ISBN 0-7100-0346-3.
^ "Archaeological Museums". Corseweb. Archived from the original on
^ Costa, L.J., Editor (2005). "Préhistoire de la Corse: Terrina IV
(Aléria)". Kyrnos Publications pour l'archchéologie. CS1 maint:
Extra text: authors list (link)
^ Allegrini-Simonetti, Franck; Guidoni, E., Illustrator (July 2004).
"Site archéologique: Aleria: le site antique" (PDF). Collectivité
Territoriale de Corse: Service des Editions de la Direction de la
Communication et de la Documentation Service Archéologie et Musées
de la Direction du Patrimoine. Archived from the original (PDF) on
November 20, 2008. .
Sources and external links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aléria.
GCatholic with resident and titular incumbent bio links
Stillwell, ed., Richard (1976). "Alalia, later Aleria, Corsica,
France". Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites. CS1 maint:
Extra text: authors list (link)
Abram, David; Geoffrey Young; Theo Taylor; Nia Williams (2003). The
Rough Guide to Corsica. Rough Guides. pp. 300–304.
Communes of the
Founding of Rome
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Aruns (son of Tarquinius Superbus)
Titus Vestricius Spurinna
Culture and society
Apollo of Veii
Chimera of Arezzo
Corpus Speculorum Etruscorum
Etruscan names for Greek heroes
Liver of Piacenza
Sarcophagus of the Spouses
Tomb of the Roaring Lions
Battle of Alalia
Battle of Alalia (540 BC–535 BC)
Siege of Rome (509 BC)
Siege of Rome (508 BC)
Battle of the Cremera (477 BC)
Battle of Cumae
Battle of Cumae (474 BC)
Fidenae (435 BC)
Battle of Veii (c. 396 BC)
Battle of Lake Vadimo (310 BC)
Battle of Populonia (282 BC)
Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum
English words of Etruscan origin
Spanish words of Etruscan origin
National Etruscan Museum
Tomb of Orcus
Tumulus of Montefortini
Civita di Bagnoregio