Thursday, November 12, 2020


Ancient Latin city located on the southern edge of the Crater of Castiglione, about 20 km (12.4 miles) east of Rome, along the route of the Via Prenestina, originally known as Via Gabina

The city probably developed with the progressive unification of various settlements, located southeast of the Crater of Castiglione

Its ancient history is connected by the sources to Sicily and also to Albalonga, of which it was probably a colony

In the archaic period it reached its maximum power and the extension of the urban area was about 300 hectares (741 acres). Archaeological findings confirmed this.

REMAINS OF THE WALLS in square blocks of tuff from Aniene. The circuit was studied with aerial photographs and discoveries made during agricultural work

EXTRA URBAN SANCTUARY in the Valle del Fosso San Giuliano


In the archaic period the pact known as Foedus Gabinum was agreeded with Rome, one of the oldest examples of treaties of alliance in Roman history, written on a shield made out of cowhide, preserved until the beginning of the imperial age in the Temple of Semo Sancus Dius Fidius on Quirinal Hill, where the church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale is now

Relations between Rome and Gabii had ups and downs, but in the sixth century BC, however, the city ended up being subject to the hegemony of Rome

After the fourth century BC the unstoppable crisis of Gabii began

During the third century BC the agro gabino (the area of the Sabine people) and maybe the city itself, were devastated by the passage of Hannibal, coming from Tusculum and heading to Rome

Also in the third century BC maybe began the systematic exploitation of quarries of lapis Gabinus, a kind of lava stone used in large scale in many public and private buildings

From the urban point of view, during the republican period, two facts seem most relevant:

1) The new restructuring since the third century BC of the entire route of Via Prenestina

2) The complete renovation of the TEMPLE OF JUNO GABINA

Rebuilt in the mid-second century BC as a peripteros sine postico preceded by a staircase and a large altar. It was built on a large sacred area oriented north-south partly cut into the rock and partly artificial, with a portico and taverns on three sides and a theater on the south side

It is an early example of that Hellenistic-Italic architecture in which the temple seems often connected with a theater

In the early years of the imperial period, the classical sources mention Gabii as a village almost abandoned, a sort of simple coach station along the Via Prenestina

Some sources refer to the presence of an important source of healthy water in Gabii, which would have been enjoyed by Augustus himself, so it must be assumed that there would have been fairly popular bathing complexes

In the Hadrian (117/138) period a large square with arcades was built, in the middle of a number of public buildings, overlooking the Via Prenestina. It was unearthed in 1792, during excavations conducted by Visconti on behalf of Prince Borghese and Sir Gavin Hamilton

Also during the period of Hadrian the construction of an aqueduct was carried out

The continuation of life in the ancient center is proven by the mentioning of the Christian Gabina Diocese by the sources, which would imply also the existence of a sizeable town

The Diocese Gabina is maybe to be connected to the CHURCH OF St. PRIMITIVO, built on the remains of Roman buildings, and dedicated to the martyr who, according to the hagiographic tradition, was killed nearby Ponte di Nona and thrown into the Lacus Buranus i.e. Lake Castiglione

In the Middle Ages a village developed, a castrum, which, as it would usually happen in that period, was entrenched on the highest spot of the Castiglione Crater, with a fortified wall and a tower for sighting and signalling, still visible today

Excavations made 2 km (1.2 miles) west of Gabii, on the site of OSTERIA DELL’OSA revealed an important necropolis of the Iron Age including a "Vase with the oldest Greek inscription ever found in Italy" of the ninth century BC now the Museo delle Terme

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