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  • Gabi
  • Tenuta di Castiglione e Pantano Borghese
  • Gabii
  • Repubblica Italiana
  • Lazio
  • Provincia di Roma
  • Monte Compatri

Credits

  • The Italian Database is the result of a collaboration between:

    MIBAC (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale per i Beni Archeologici),

    ICCD (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione) and

    AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica).

  • AIAC_logo logo

Monuments

Periods

    • Bronze age
    • Iron Age
    • Orientalizing
    • Archaic
    • Classical
    • Roman Republican
    • Roman Imperial
    • Late Antique
    • Medieval

Chronology

  • 1200 BC - 1000 AD

Season

    • During the course of two campaigns, an integrated geophysical survey was completed in the urban area of the ancient city of Gabii. Beginning in 2007, the utility of magnetometry survey at the site was tested over a 6-hectare area within the hypothesized line of Gabii’s ancient walls. These initial tests produced good results and were encouraging enough to warrant a large-scale magnetometry survey of Gabii’s urban area, a project that was carried out during the course of the summer and autumn of 2008. The high-resolution magnetometry survey (25x50 cm) ultimately covered more than 40-ha of surface, an amount that reflects almost the entire surveyable area within the walled area of the ancient city. In tandem with the magnetometry survey was a systematic core-sampling survey that was carried out in summer 2008. Employing both manual and mechanical coring machines, the team collected data from 52 points, allowing for the construction of stratigraphical profiles along two axes across the site. The results of the core sampling, and resultant profiles, revealed the presence of well-preserved stratified deposits on the site. With the combined geophysical results, a picture of the subsurface deposits at Gabii began to emerge and a complex urban network was revealed, including the presence of a road system and the remains of architecture within the site. The urban grid itself represents an important outcome of the survey, in that primary urban centers tend not to have regularized urban grids, owing to their mode of formation, yet the survey data clearly revealed that Gabii has such a grid system, composed of a main trunk road whose profile follows the topographical contours of the down-slope of the volcanic crater of Castiglione and off of which radiate side streets.
    • The summer of 2009 marked the beginning of large-scale excavations at Gabii carried out by the Gabii Project. With the plan produced by the geophysical survey in hand, two excavations areas were chosen; one of them on the slope of the Castiglione crater to the northeast of the Iuno Gabina sanctuary and the other to the south of the modern via Prenestina. Over the course of 8 weeks, these areas were cleared and excavation commenced, with the main activity in 2009 concentrated on the more northerly of the two study areas; in the southern area test trenches were opened. Within the main area of investigation was a strong magnetic anomaly detected during the survey that appeared to be a side street in the urban grid, and this feature helped determine the placement of the excavation area. One immediately visible archaeological feature was the side street that had been identified by survey. This street, which should go on to join the main trunk road of the city center, has already demonstrated multiple phases, including preliminary evidence that suggests the initial road bed dates to the fifth century B.C. Other preliminary findings include a possible industrial complex ranging from Late Republican to early Imperial in date, as well as a growing number of Late Roman inhumations that clearly represent a decisive shift in the usage of the urban space, and possibly reflect the overall contraction of the occupied portions of the city as suggested by the surface survey carried out by M. Guaitoli in the late 1970s. In 2010 excavations will continue, probing the already open areas and expanding them to expose even more salient archaeological features.
    • In 2010 work at Gabii continued on two areas of investigation – a main, open-area excavation sector located north of the modern via Prenestina and under the authority of the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma and a second area to the south of the modern road under the authority of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici per il Lazio. A private airfield for light aircraft currently occupies part of the southern portion of the ancient city. In the main excavation area, work resumed within three separate stratigraphic basins that were initially identified and opened in 2009. These sectors, identified as Areas A, B, and C, respectively, continue to provide evidence for multi-phase use of the site of Gabii and all demonstrate a complex site formation process in which the destructive intervention of both natural weathering processes and mechanical erosion have played a significant role. Area A, the locus in which two elite Sub-Geometric infant burials were discovered in 2009 (viz. Becker and Nowlin, forthcoming), continued to offer evidence for an occupational sequence that centers on an oblong structure whose limits are defined by a system of channels cut directly into the bedrock of the slope of the crater of Castiglione. These occupation levels contained a sequence of floors fashioned in crushed tufo. In Area B, a locus that thus far has proven to contain ca. 25 Imperial inhumations – including a massive lead sarcophagus excavated in July 2009 – has proven to be the site of a multi-phase structure, possibly domestic in nature, that includes a number of rooms as well as a tufo-paved courtyard containing a well shaft cut into the bedrock. The ashlar masonry of the structure suggests that its initial phase may belong to the middle Republican period, but subsequent use, re-use, and modification complicate the picture. The final phase of the structure may belong to the late 1st century AD, at some point after which the sector of the city that contains the house seems to make the transition from occupied zone to ad hoc necropolis. A number of possible tree-planting pits may suggest a post-abandonment landscape program that could be connected with the contracted Imperial urban nucleus that is presumed to lie along the line of the ancient Via Praenestina. Area C is a locus delimited by two side streets of Gabii’s urban grid that were discovered via geophysical survey in 2007 and 2008 (viz. Becker et al. 2009). Contained within the block is a multi-phase architectural complex whose last phase seems to be industrial in nature, perhaps a fullonica. Earlier structures in ashlar masonry are also evident; these are in phase with floors in cocciopesto. A feature of significant interest in the western part of Area C was a monumental rock-cut tomb that contained two adults; an adult female was deposited in a monolithic tufo sarcophagus while an adult male was found in a stone-cut loculus. The tomb belongs perhaps to a pre-5th c. BC phase of the area as adjacent structures are truncated by the creation of the quasi-orthogonal grid of streets, for which the terminus post quem is the 5th c. BC; ceramics recovered from the fill of the tomb’s cut suggests a date in the first half of the 5th c. BC. Area C also shows, by way of residual pottery, evidence for significant Iron Age activity – and perhaps occupation – in this part of the site. Investigation of these three areas will continue in 2011. In the southern work area (south of the modern via Prenestina), two new sondages were opened, with the goal being to intercept subsurface features identified in 2008 by means of the magnetometry survey. The archaeological materials in these sondages served to confirm the interpretation of subsurface linear features as elements of the quasi-orthogonal grid of streets within the formerly walled urban area of Gabii.
    • In the summer of 2011 the Gabii Project completed its third consecutive season of excavation and fifth overall fieldwork campaign in the ancient Latin city of Gabii. Over the course of three campaigns, a nearly 1-hectare area has been explored by means of excavation. In 2011 a team of over 90 students and archaeologists participated in the work of the project. The 2011 season involved the continued exploration of significant tracts of the city center that were initially opened in 2009, with some portions being subsequently expanded in 2010 and 2011. This summary proceeds in order of overall chronology. For the early first millennium BC the previous excavation [2009] of elite infant tombs (see Becker and Nowlin 2011) signalled the presence of social stratification during the later eighth and seventh centuries BC. Now a series of seventh and sixth century BC occupation horizons within an elite compound points to the continuation of earlier traditions of social complexity. In addition, the deposition of numerous intramural adult inhumation burials in the post-abandonment levels of this elite compound suggests not only that a re-appraisal of adult intramural burial in the archaic period is required but also that the autonomous actions on the part of elites may have played a significant role in the archaic city. The abandonment of archaic levels gives way to a re-planned urban center with a quasi-orthogonal layout, an occurrence of the later fifth to early fourth centuries BC (see Becker, Mogetta, and Terrenato 2009; Mogetta forthcoming). The evidence for this layout was first detected by means of the Gabii Project’s geophysical survey (2007 and 2008; see Becker, Mogetta, and Terrenato 2009; Terrenato et al. 2010) and confirmed by means of the excavation of portions of three side streets. This Republican phase of the city is yielding significant evidence for Mid-Republican architecture with three buildings being excavated in two separate sectors. The early phases of these structures are marked by well-dressed ashlar masonry, paved interior floor surfaces, and the use of massive, monolithic tufo slab pavements around wells and cisterns. These structures are multi-phased and see re-use and re-building until at least the first century AD. The Imperial levels explored so far have yielded over 30 inhumation tombs, most of which are consolidated in an area that seems to be an ad hoc necropolis from the first century AD onward. Remarkable among them is a trio of tombs in which the deceased in encased in lead sheeting; one such tomb was excavated in 2009 and two additional tombs came to light in 2011. This cemetery demonstrates evidence for the contraction of the Imperial city, precipitated at least in part by the activities related to massive quarries along the rim of the Castiglione crater that aimed at exploiting the local bedrock, lapis Gabinus (a type of peperino tufo). The Gabii Project will continue to explore portions of four city blocks of the urban layout in its 2012 excavation campaign.
    • The fourth excavation campaign of the _Gabii Project_, inside the Archaeological Park of the ancient Latin town of Gabii, took place between June and August 2012. The excavation continued of the archaic levels, already partially investigated in 2011, and work began on a large Republican building. The sequence excavated in the area of the archaic house revealed a new occupation phase datable to the beginning of the 6th century B.C., as well as evidence relating to the Orientalizing period. The house stood inside a sort of enclosure constituted by a wall built of large stone chippings/fragments and is looking increasingly like an elite compound. The presence of an infant burial with a very rich assemblage of pottery and bronze vessels, datable to the Orientalizing period and similar to that found in 2009, provides new evidence for the reconstruction of Gabii in the period preceding the Republican urban re-organisation. The large building was identified in a new area, extending the excavations to the west and bringing the total area excavated by the _Gabii Project_ to over a hectare in four years, including another _insula_ of the ancient town’s uniform urban layout. A new road was excavated, running north-south perpendicular to the main road crossing the town and adjacent to the large building on two levels with monumental walls built of local stone. The focal point of this building was a massive wall in _opus quadratum_ visible between the lower and upper terrace. This was probably a public structure, datable to the Republican period. The full extension of this complex remains to be defined. The 2012 excavations provided fundamental new evidence relating to the history of urban development and architecture at Gabii, improving the understanding of the site’s settlement dynamics between the Orientalizing period and the end of the Republican period - beginning of the Empire.
    • The Gabii Project’s 2013 campaign was the fifth undertaken in the Archaeological Park of Gabii. Work concentrated on two sectors of the area under investigation, denominated Area D and Area F, corresponding with distinct stratigraphic contexts delimited by walls and particular topographical elements. Area F, situated on the western edge of the excavation area, included an entire insula. In this zone, the excavations were extended to the south and west, with the aim of identifying the perimeters of the building partially excavated in 2012, and linking these structures with the those facing onto the town’s main street. The building excavated here was organised on two levels delimited by a monumental wall in _opus_ _quadratum¬_ of tufa blocks and linked by a perfectly preserved flight of steps. The upper terrace appeared to be completely open, while the lower presented a series of rooms facing onto open areas paved with tufa slabs. The rooms were aligned along a north-south axis, corresponding with the porticoed entrance of the building on the town’s main street, delimiting a large courtyard closed to the north by two large square rooms paved in _opus_ _signinum_ with geometric decorations. The original phase of this monumental building dated to between the 4th and 2nd century B.C. During the imperial period it underwent a series of changes that created a gradual and dramatic reduction in the size of the sector facing south onto the main street. The western perimeter of the complex was identified, but its interior remains to be excavated during the next campaign. Area D, situated on the southern edge of the excavation area, was extended towards the west revealing other parts of the archaic structures investigated from 2011 onwards. The area was largely occupied by a building bordered by a wall of tufa slabs and fragments. Inside this area there were two axial rooms, on a different alignment from that of the regular town grid. They presented two occupation phases dating respectively to the beginning and the second half of the 6th century B.C. The clear delimitation of the area occupied by the two rooms suggests that this was a compound, probably for use by a high-ranking elite, with very well-defined spaces. During this campaign, the excavations investigated the earliest stratigraphy relating to this building and preceding levels relating to at least two oval huts were exposed. The occupation phase of the hut settlement has not been extensively investigated, but a number of isolated finds including two wealthy tombs and an infant’s grave of the Orientalising period, similar to those found in 2009, appeared to be associated with it. Overall, the 2013 campaign provided important information regarding the settlement dynamics of the original nucleus of Gabii and its urban and architectural development during the Republican and imperial periods.

Bibliography

    • J. A. Becker, M. Mogetta, and N. Terrenato, 2009, A new plan for an ancient Italian city: Gabii Revealed, in American Journal of Archaeology 113.4: 629-42.
    • N. Terrenato, A. Gallone, J. A. Becker, and S. Kay, 2010, Urbanistica Ortogonale a Gabii: Risultati delle nuove prospezioni geofisiche e prospettive per il futuro, in G. Ghini (ed), Lazio e Sabina VI: Atti del Convegno. Sesto Incontro di Studi sul Lazio e la Sabina (Roma 4-6 marzo 2009), Rome: 237-48.
    • J. A. Becker, J. Nowlin, 2011, Orientalizing Infant Burials from Gabii, Italy, in BABESCH 86:2 7-39.
    • M. Mogetta,(Forthcoming), From Latin Planned Urbanism to Roman Colonial Layouts: The Town-Planning of Gabii and its Cultural Implications, in J. A. Becker and E. C. Robinson (eds.), Studies in Italian Urbanism: the first millennium BCE.
    • A. Gallone, M. Mogetta, 2011, Gabii: indagini archeologiche nel settore meridionale della città, in G. Ghini (ed.), Lazio e Sabina VII (Atti del Convegno. Roma 9-11 marzo 2010), Rome: 211-215.
    • S. J. Kay (Forthcoming), Geophysical survey of the city of Gabii, Italy, in M. Millett and P. Johnson (eds), Archaeological survey and the city, Laurence Seminar Cambridge 25th - 28th May 2010, Museum of Classical Archaeology monograph series, Cambridge University Press.
    • D. Potter, B. Fortson, 2011, A Fragmentary Early Republican Public Inscription from Gabii, in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 178: 255-60.
    • A. Gallone e M. Mogetta, c.s., Gabii in età repubblicana: i rivestimenti pavimentali di alcune unità abitative, in C. Angelelli (ed.), Atti XVIII Colloquio Aiscom (Cremona, 14-17 marzo 2012).
    • M. Mogetta, J. A. Becker, c.s., Archaeological Research at Gabii, Italy: The Gabii Project Excavations 2009-2011, in American Journal of Archaeology.
    • M. Mogetta e J. A. Becker, c.s., Archaeological Research at Gabii, Italy: The Gabii Project Excavations 2009-2011, in American Journal of Archaeology.