The Freaky Folded Lead Sepulchre of Gabii

Those crazy Wolverines from U of M have found themselves a genuine mystery in the ancient Italian town of Gabii.

Gabii was one of Rome’s early neighbors and rivals in the surrounding region of Latium, occupying a highly defensible position between lakes. It sat on top of a big chunk of fireproof volcanic rock, though, so when Rome grew powerful, it built itself bigger by diminishing Gabii. However, as it became a backwater, Gabii had a second life as a Roman lake resort town.

There were eleven classical statues found at Gabii and put in the Borghese Museum. Napoleon bought them and stuck them in the Louvre. There was also a beautiful colored mosaic floor found in the ruins of a villa in Gabii, which Borghese sold to Hervey, the Earl of Bristol, for use at his country seat. I’m looking for a picture of that.

St. Symphorosa’s husband St. Getulius was supposed to have hailed from Gabii. He decided to retire from the Army without asking because of his Christian views, and was executed with six relatives and converted friends for his pains. St. Primitivus, one of them, had his body thrown into the lake; St. Exuperantius recovered it. So Gabii had ruins of an old church of St. Primitivus, at least in the 19th century.

Here’s Gabii on Google Maps. See where it says you’re looking at what used to be Lake Regillus, of the famous battle?

At the moment there’s no Street View, but there’s some kind of panorama thing from Google Earth. It apparently points you right at the temple of Juno.

Here’s an old book describing a short jaunt from Rome to the ruins of Gabii, along the Via Prenestina. Very useful for identifying what you see on Google Maps.

UM has a site called the Gabii Project, and a blog called Lapis Gabinus.


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