The 2016 fieldwork season on the site of Gabii (in the Lazio region) took place from 27 June to 29 July, with a team of about twenty archaeologists. The project, organised and directed by the Louvre museum, also benefited from supervision by a member of Inrap, support from Éveha International staff and the help of volunteers. The fieldwork was organised in close partnership with the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome.
The surface area explored was only slightly enlarged in comparison with the 2014 season. Work focused on the areas previously opened, with the aim of obtaining complete stratigraphic sequences. Only the sectors to the north of the 2013 study area were revisited, with the reopening of the south sector planned for a future seasons. Excavations were thus concentrated on the building made of opus quadratum at the south-east corner of the sanctuary, the street which borders it to the south, and the entrance to the southern building which opens onto this street.
In the corner building of the sanctuary, the area between the opus caementicium walls was excavated by quadrant. These walls abut those made of large blocks, dividing the building into “chambers” filled with rubble. The sondage in chamber A1 – the most southerly – demonstrated the considerable depth of backfill present. This was put in place between the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 1st century AD. This trench also revealed a single pillar, similar to the one found in 2014 in chamber A2 (to the north).
In the north-west of the study zone, the demolition layers identified in 2013 were partly excavated, but an extension of the trench will be necessary to determine which structures they are from. East of the stone building, excavation continued on the demolition layers studied during the previous season, which showed the collapse of very large blocks, in part from the upper level. However, the majority of these blocks must have been salvaged, or possibly even recarved on-site. Photogrammetric survey was carried out on this layer in order to create a 3D model. This enabled the confirmation of the hypothesis that the collapsed blocks fell onto the north-south road, as previously noted along the sanctuary to the north and along the public space to the south, excavated in the 18th century.
The extension of the excavation trench under the modern-day road revealed the south-east corner of the stone building, and the crossroads between the north-south and east-west roads. An initial trench was dug in the north-south road, revealing a layer of basalt paving stones underneath the later abandonment layers. With regards to the east-west road, the decision was taken to continue excavation while leaving a baulk in place, and preserving the various phases through a system of tiered trenches. It has therefore been possible to identify the different phases (from the end of the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD) as well as reach the tuff bedrock.
Among the artefacts found during the 2016 excavations, the following are of particular note: sculptural fragments (the upper part of a headless hermaic pillar; a statue of Eros dressed in an animal pelt and riding a seahorse, most likely from a group of statues…), fragments of clay figurines and the remains of moulds which indicate the existence of workshops near the sanctuary, and a tessera nummularia, a particularly significant object in a sanctuary context.
In 2014, in addition to the general survey work (topographic survey, orthophotographic recording, photogrammetric modelling…), a DTM (Digital Terrain Model) was produced, enabling the shape and dimensions of a structure thought to be a cavea to be determined. In 2016, survey focused on the south-western extremity of the auditorium, in an attempt to identify a structure similar to the south-east corner building (the subject of current excavations). This may guide the location of future excavation trenches. An architectural study of the blocks from this zone is currently ongoing. The objectives of the 2017 season will be to continue investigating the north-south road and the crossroads with the east-west one, to characterise the relation between the latter and the building constructed along its southern edge, and – once the large blocks have been removed – to gain a greater understanding of the role of the corner building and the means of access to the sanctuary.