Sites & cities that bear the name of Gabii


Today in : Italy
First trace of activity : ca. 10th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 3rd century C.E
Recorded names : Kavi, Gabi

Description : Gabii was an ancient city of Latium, located 18 km (11 mi) due east of Rome along the Via Praenestina, which was in early times known as the Via Gabina. It was on the south-eastern perimeter of an extinct volcanic crater lake, approximately circular in shape, named the Lacus Gabinus, and then during later times called the Lago di Castiglione, "lake of the fortification", after Castiglione, a mediaeval tower erected on the site of the ancient acropolis, or arx, of Gabii. A necropolis is adjacent on that side of the lake. At present, the former lake is entirely agricultural land. The ruins of the ancient city project from the fields next to the cliffs overlooking it, on both sides of the via. A municipium in Roman times, Gabii is currently located in the frazione of Osteria dell'Osa 10 km (6.2 mi) from the comune of Montecompatri, of which it is a part, in the Province of Rome, Region of Lazio. The site is under new seasonal archaeological excavation. Scattered surface pottery has been found from the Middle Bronze Age outside the necropolis located below Castiglione, from which nothing can be deduced concerning the settlement at Gabii. The Late Bronze Age is missing. The Final Bronze Age is represented by minimal Latial I (1000-900 BC) material around the inside of the crater on the southern side, indicating low-density settlement at the water's edge there. Definitive settlement at Gabii is believed to have begun with Latial IIA (900-830 BC) when the cemeteries of Castiglione, some 60 tombs of only IIA, and Osteria del'Osa, over 600 tombs primarily of II and III (900-630 BC), and some of IV (730-580 BC), began. Both of these necropoli are dated entirely before the foundation of Rome and well before the classical city of Gabii. The location of the settlements producing these cemeteries was an issue of some mystery until aerial reconnaissance revealed a string of six "Iron Age hamlets" on the isthmus and more along the ridge to the east. Latial IIA is regarded as pre-urban and IIB as proto-urban; that is, at some time during 830-730 BC the settlements acquired a common geopolitical identity. By the end of IV (580 BC) the name Gabii must have been in place as the name of the city, as by then the history was well into the events of its legends. The most archaeological work has been done on the cemetery of Osteria dell'Osa. The tombs are divided into 14 groups, each exhibiting a set of distinctive traditions and each believed to represent one community of roughly 100 persons, round numbers. The earliest two, contemporaneous and dated to IIA, termed the northern and southern groups from their location within the cemetery, evidence the presence of a male warrior class. At the center of the cluster is a small set of male-only cremation burials, some in hut-urns. Around them is a greater group of inhumations of men, women and children. The richer cremation burials included grave gifts of miniaturized bronze tools and weapons and miniaturized pottery forms. The inhumations lacked weapons. Women were buried with jewelry and spindle-whorls (used in weaving). The northern group (25 tombs) covered the mouth of the burial jar (dolium) with a travertine slab, made ovicaprine food offerings, left serpentine fibulae, razors of quadrangular shape and spearheads with sockets for wooden handles. The pottery is decorated. The southern group (30 tombs) used an impasto lid on the burial jars, left serpent-fibulae of a different-style, a razor of lunate shape and one-piece cast spears. The pottery is undecorated. Urbanization of the area probably did not begin before the start of the second half of the 8th century BC. This process most likely finished by the end of the 7th century BC, and, at its height, the city's borders enclosed 0.75 square miles (1.9 km2).

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