Saturday, July 12, 2008

Core-sampling and surveying 2007 and 2008

Work at Gabii in 2007 and 2008 has concentrated on a survey of the former urban area within the line of the ancient city walls. Today the site of Gabii, contained within the Parco Archeologico di Gabii, is abandoned, as it has been for many centuries at this point. The site is largely given over to tall grasses and vegetation, making for extremely favorable survey conditions. Our project adopted a survey strategy that included the use both of magnetometry and core-sampling, both manual and mechanical. The former method of course aims at the detection of sub-surface features, particularly architecture, while the latter method was employed in order to help gauge the stratigraphic depth of the site along certain axes, thus creating a stratigraphic profile. Surprisingly, no integrated site-plan of Gabii exists, and this constitutes a prime objective for the Project at this stage.

The magnetometry survey was carried out by our colleagues from The British School at Rome, led by Stephen Kay. Beginning in summer 2007, the magnetometry survey will continue into autumn 2008 by which time at least some 30 ha of the site will have been surveyed. The preliminary results of the survey by the BSR team suggest an interesting urban layout with numerous features of interest preserved beneath the soil. As the team now filters the data this information will prove extremely useful in the development of an excavation strategy.

The other prong of our survey approach has been the use of core-sampling with manual augurs. Working along two principal axes imposed on the site, this approach yielded a great deal of information about the stratigraphic sequence at Gabii. The sampling was conducted within the already delimited archaeological area and also to the south of the modern via Prenestina on private property that is now used as a landing strip for ultra-light aircraft. Throughout the core-sampling the team carefully collected data on the preservation of archaeological layers and also sought to understand the geological profile of the site to the extent possible; in other words, to determine where the anthropic layers (man-made) ended so as to assess the stratigraphic depth of the preserved deposits at Gabii. To this point the results of this second arm of the survey look to be promising. In 2008 the core-sampling team was composed of Marcello Mogetta, Jason Farr, Elizabeth Robinson, Carlo Virili, and Jeffrey Becker.

Taken together, data from magnetometry and core-sampling will provide great help in further pursuing the archaeology of this important ancient city.