Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tha Gabii Project and the state of Italian archaeology

An interview with Nic Terrenato just appeared on the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano. The article discusses the state of Italian archaeology in light of the recent funding cuts by the Italian government, and highlights the important contribution of US-based and other foreign institutions.

Gabii in the Top 10 Discoveries of 2013!

The Archaeology magazine has selected Gabii's Area F building as one of the Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2013! A large chunk of this monumental building, which features imposing ashlar architecture and finely appointed floors, was uncovered in 2012-2013. In July 2013 the sensational find was first announced in a short article by Prof. Mario Torelli, featured in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Additional coverage from news outlets in the UK and the US soon followed. Most notable are a piece that appeared in the New York Times, and a release by the University of Michigan's news service. Both include a summary of the finds, and quotes from Nic Terrenato and other team members. A story on the dig was included in the september/october 2013 issue of the UK-based magazine Minerva.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lecture on Lapis Gabinus at the Kelsey Museum FAST series

Jason Farr (Michigan) will present the results of current research on the well-preserved quarries at Gabii in a a lecture titled "Lapis Gabinus and the Economy of Urban Construction: Recent Fieldwork at Gabii and Rome". The talk is part of the Field Archaeology Series on Thursday, and is sponsored by the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Thursday November 21st at 6:00 pm (Kelsey Museum, Lecture Hall).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gabii Goes Digital... at the Digital Heritage 2013 Conference

We're excited to be leading a joint workshop, together with Ilaria Meliconi and Bernard Frischer of the Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (DAACH) journal, on 3D models, Peer Review and Publication at the Digital Heritage 2013 Conference in Marseille. Our workshop will be Monday, October 28 from 2:00pm - 6:00pm. During this workshop we will be presenting our work so far within the Gabii Goes Digital project. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a 'mock peer review' through which they will critique the digital content we've created in terms of interface, information content,and integration with the narrative and argument.This exercise will act as a springboard for open discussion, in which participants will define key issues in developing a process for the peer reviewed publication of the kinds of digital 3D models and complex, interactive data archaeological projects like the Gabii Project are now producing. You can read more at: If you're attending the conference in Marseille, we hope you can join us at the workshop!

gabii goes digital integrated narrative and models
Work in Progress: Integrating model content and basic stratigraphic narrative.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Gabii Project announces its 2014 season (June 22-July 26)

Applications are now being accepted from students and volunteers who wish to participate in the 2014 season.The field program will run from June 22 to July 26, 2014.

Detailed information on the application process can be found on the project website. The call has also been published on the AFOB listing of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Gabii Project on the AAR web-site

The new research portal of the American Academy in Rome highlights the partnership between the AAR and the Gabii Project.

Learn more by visiting

American Academy in Rome - Rome, Italy

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gabii Goes Digital

gabii goes digital logoGabii Goes Digital

A new project working to make 3D models a core part of our publication record and to promote their acceptance as basic data within the archaeological community.

We are pleased to announce that the Universities of Arkansas and Michigan have been awarded an NEH ODH Start-Up grant in support of the Gabii Goes Digital: 21st c. Data, 21st. c. Publications project. This project is directed by Fred Limp and Rachel Opitz of the University of Arkansas and Nicola Terrenato of the University of Michigan, and is closely linked to the Gabii Project.

Methodological innovation has always been important at Gabii. Our recording strategy makes extensive use of digital data and 3D technologies. Since 2009, over 500 GB of data have been collected in the form of 3D models of stratigraphic layers and features such as walls, pavements and burials, photographs, surveyed measurements, written descriptions and sketches. Having created this rich digital dataset, we face the challenge of developing effective and innovative ways of publishing it. The Gabii Goes Digital project seeks to address two key challenges our project and others like it are facing: how to develop a process for the peer reviewed publication of these kinds of data, and how to build a community of peer reviewers with the skills and background to confidently evaluate these publications.

You can read more about the new project on the Gabii Goes Digital website.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Amazing Week 5 concludes Gabii Project 2013

The 2013 Team
The final week of work at Gabii could not be more rewarding! Impressive results were achieved in all departments of the dig, making this a very successful season.

Hut floors emerging in Area F (with students presenting!)
Excavation and recording continued with full steam in both areas D and F. Bedrock was finally reached in the north part of Area D, revealing a series of rock-cut features, such as post-holes and sunken floors, belonging to the earliest phase of occupation beneath the Archaic compound. This horizon has been exposed also in the south sector, where the excavators identified more linear cuts and concentrations of ashy layers that sit on top of a natural level. This sequence will be the object of excavation next year. 

Cleaning new features in Area F
In Area F, more built structures of the monumental complex emerged below the dumps that covered the back of the lower terrace. These features include a very well-preserved drain made of slabs of tufo, and part of the original pavement of this open space. The continuation of the staircase connecting the upper and lower terraces was also uncovered, totaling 21 steps! On axis with this, another room of the complex has been found, which features in its northeast corner a whole dolium sunken into a cut in the bedrock. 
Stepping on a column base

A sondage was excavated in the front part of the building, providing evidence of modifications dating to the Early Imperial period, and exposing tantalizing architecture (including a column base) predating the construction of the building. The west half of the complex will be investigated in 2014.

One of the highlights of the week were certainly the presentations given by the students on their work on site. It was incredibly gratifying to see how much they grew as archaeologists in 5 weeks: they described the sequence they excavated as professional diggers. As every year, the end of dig was celebrated with a big lunch offered on site.

Looking forward to welcoming new participants and returning students next year.

Until then, arrivederci Gabii! 

Nic Terrenato leads the final trench tour in Area F

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New exciting data from Week 4

It has been a very successful week at Gabii, which added interesting new data to the overall picture.

In Area F, the excavation progressed on different fronts simultaneously. In the north section of the lower terrace, a team continued digging the dumps that covered the large corridor at the back of the building, revealing part of a third room to the west. This was probably connected with the staircase joining the lower and upper terraces. Other important features were also uncovered, most notably the foundation trench of the monumental ashlar wall and the original surface of the upper stretch of the road delimiting the complex (this was a via glareata). Excavation of these fills will hopefully provide dating elements.

In the front part of the building, more built features were recorded. Another set of rooms at the level of the main thoroughfare was thus identified.

A test-trench was begun in one of the rooms that opened onto the side of the axial access-way, which showed evidence of a multi-phased occupation. A fragment of brick featuring a stamp dating to the 98-180 CE period was found incorporated in the mortar floor of this room, giving us a much-needed terminus post quem for the last phase of construction at this site.

Activities finally resumed in Area D. The removal of the construction level of the Archaic compound exposed the outlines of preexisting huts, which however are still partially masked by the abandonment layers, including concentrations of burnt adobe. This horizon will be the focus of the excavation in this sector of the dig in the last week.

M. Evans presents a selection of miniature votives to the students
More votive offerings have been retrieved from the northwest part of the area, seemingly in connection with a U-shaped structure that had been identified in previous years near one of the rooms of the complex (perhaps an altar?).

Dr. Peter Rauxloh (MOLA) with the topo team
On July 17th, the Project hosted Dr. Peter Rauxloh, MOLA's Director of Technical Solutions, who spent the day with our topo team to learn about our recording methodology, especially the use of photogrammetry.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Project sails swiftly through the high waters of Week 3

There was a slight change of strategy this week, due to the inclement weather, and the large volume of water falling from the heavens over our site.
Excavation of the beaten earth surfaces in Area D was stopped and some features were covered up, in order to protect the fragile deposits from erosion. Activities, however, were not halted in Area F, where the supervisors could avail of the idle hands from Area D, with impressive results.

Work progressed simultaneously in different sectors of the Area F building, revealing more features of its plan. A team concentrated on excavating the early Imperial levels of the road that delimits the complex on its east side, reaching a preparation surface contemporary with the first phase of the building. Other parts of the back sector of the lower terrace were also cleared from the dumps that obliterated the building in the first century CE. The remains of a stepped access-way from the road and a water drain were exposed in the area behind two large rooms paved with decorated signinum-floors.

Another team continued cleaning the front part of building facing on the ancient Via Praenestina. An intricate sequence of Imperial concrete structures and recycled ashlar elements mask the original aspect of the Republican building here. Sealed under the floors of this late phase are pockets of stratigraphy, which will be the object of investigation next week in order to clarify the dating.

Anna Gallone shows the state plan of the Area F building
Many  visitors and colleagues came to the site this week. A group of architects from the Consulta dei Beni Culturali were hosted by the Project on July 9th. Clementina Panella (University of Rome "La Sapienza"), Daniele Manacorda (University of Rome III), and David S. Potter (University of Michigan) also came to learn about the new discoveries and share their views on the finds.

David Potter and Daniele Manacorda on site

Architects from the Consulta dei Beni Culturali visit Gabii

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Highlights of week 2

The second week of activities at Gabii has just come to a a very successful end. Digging progressed in both excavation areas, revealing important new features that attracted a steady flow of colleagues and visitors to the site.

View of one of the rooms of the Archaic compound
The staircase of the Area F building
In Area D, the excavators continued unpeeling the occupation layers of the Archaic compound, reaching what seem to be the abandonment deposits of the previous settlement phase. Clusters of burnt adobe have been found in several spots, which may be related to the destruction of one or more huts that occupied the area in the seventh century BCE and earlier. Concentrations of rubble, which perhaps correspond to the foundations of these huts, are also beginning to emerge. Miniature votive terracottas representing food offerings (cakes; loaves of bread etc.) have also been retrieved from the excavated levels.

In Area F, other parts of the large ashlar building have been brought to light under the leveling layers that obliterated the complex in the early Imperial period. Most notable is a staircase that connected the upper and lower terraces, and a series of rooms featuring decorated mortar floors and tufo pavements. The front and west sides of the Republican building are partly masked by concrete additions, but extensive portions are preserved under the later features, which will be the object of investigation in the coming days.

Mario Torelli (to the right) with Nic Terrenato and 
Anna Gallone visits Area D.
On July 2nd we received a visit from Mario Torelli, who also acts as one of the scientific advisors of the Gabii Project. His original take on the most recent finds at Gabii appears in an article he just published on the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica", titled Il tesoro di Gabii (Gabii's treasure). We gratefully acknowledge his vital contribution to the Project's outreach efforts.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An exciting first week at Gabii

A week has passed since the official kick-off of the 2013 season, and it has been a very productive one!  Staff and students integrated quickly and smoothly, and worked hard all week, despite some scattered thunderstorms that hit the area around Gabii. Important results have been achieved, which are already transforming our perception of the site.

The Area D team
Activities this year are concentrating in two distinct sectors of the dig. In Area D, which is located on the southeast edge of the excavation, Marilyn Evans and her team are investigating the lower strata of an Archaic compound that was partially explored in 2011 and 2012. Judging from what we can see so far, we expect to reach interesting occupation levels of the seventh century BCE really soon.
Cleaning the upper terrace of the Area F building

On the western side of the dig, the volunteers led by Andrew Johnston and Jason Farr are exposing the huge Area F building. This multi-phased monumental structure occupied an entire city-block of the urban grid, facing the main thoroughfare. It was originally organized in two terraces, separated by an impressive ashlar wall. Work will progress on both terraces, with the goal of understanding and dating the construction sequence.
Documenting the collapse of the ashlar wall in Area F

This is only some of the tantalizing evidence that is emerging. Stay tuned for more highlights!
A new crew member: the Gabii Project van

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gabii Project 2013 begins!

We are all very excited for the start of the 2013 season!

All the participants arrived safely in Rome, and settled in the apartments in Trastevere. The first day of work began with a welcoming speech by Prof. Terrenato, and featured an on-site orientation, but everyone was eager to start moving dirt!

We'll keep you posted on the exciting finds!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gabii Project spin-off awarded NEH Grant

A project directed by Fred Limp (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville), Rachel Opitz (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville), and Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan) has just received a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant ($49,719) from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities (announcement here).

The Grant, titled 21st Century Data, 21st Century Publications: 3D Model
Publication and building the Peer Reviewer Community
, will support the development of a new publication framework, using the Gabii Project's dataset as a test case. The first phase of the project will be launched in August, after completion of the 2013 field season at Gabii.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gabii at the 114th AIA Annual Meeting

The Gabii Project Director Nic Terrenato (University of Michigan) is going to present a paper titled "Embriology of Central Italian Cities: Recent Insights from Gabii and Rome" at the 114th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (Seattle, WA). The talk is part of the Plenary Session: The Ancient City, and is scheduled for Saturday, January 5th at 3:20 PM. Open to all Gabii aficionados attending the meeting!