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