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NORBA (Norma) Italy.

A Latin colony in Volscian territory of 492-491 B.C. (Livy 2.34.6) set in a very strong position on a limestone height on the edge of the Monti Lepini overlooking the Pontine plain. The original colony may have occupied only a small part of the site since little has come to light that can be dated so early. The city plan is keyed to the layout of walls and gates, and the systematization of the terraces of the two acropoleis is normal to the orientation of the street grid. From material recovered in excavations in footing trenches and in the ifil of the walls, it is clear that the whole scheme is not to be dated before the 4th c. B.C.; and in view of the exceptional strength of the walls, a date after the devastation of the colony by the Privernates in 342 B.C. (Livy 7.42.8) is to be preferred. The strength of the walls was Norba's glory and its undoing, for it dared to remain faithful to Rome in the second Punic war, and in 82 B.C. dared challenge Sulla's armies in the social war, even after the fall of Praeneste. When the city was betrayed by treachery, some citizens killed themselves, while others closed the gates and set fire to the town (App. BCiv. 1.94). It was utterly destroyed, and any survivors must have gone elsewhere; Pliny (HN 3.68-69) names Norba as a city of the past.

The walls form an irregular ring following closely the brow of the hill, but dipping in the SW sector to the best line of defense. Their total length is 2662 m. Three gates are well preserved, one at the N point, two in the SE sector; there may have been one or two more in the W sector. The walls are of terrace character, the outer face of large polygonal blocks of limestone quarried within the city with some variation in style in different stretches. Almost everywhere one finds a strong batter and coursing for short stretches. Two of the gates are given protective bastions but they are not highly sophisticated; and the only tower, the rectangular “loggia,” stands free of the curtain at the point from which attack was likeliest to come.

Within the walls, the town is laid out in ample terraces rising to an acropolis at the SE corner and a larger one NE of the center of town. The minor acropolis held two temples at right angles to one another, the major acropolis the Temple of Diana, which was surrounded on three sides by a portico. Another temple, that of Juno Lucina, with its temenos and an adjacent paved area surrounded on three sides by a portico, is set on a terrace to dominate the view to the SW. These were excavated in 1901-2. They are all single-cella temples set on bases of polygonal masonry, and while a little of the material found in votive deposits is as old as the late 6th and early 5th c., the great majority of it and all the terracotta revetments associated with the temples must be dated close to the city's destruction. The material from the excavations is in the Museo delle Terme in Rome.

In addition there are numerous traces of building and terracing on the site; walls and cisterns abound amid a litter of tile fragments and potsherds. The forum seems to have lain E of the center of town, just below the major acropolis and in communication with it; the main area of habitation probably lay SW of the forum.


L. Savignoni, NSc (1901) 514-59; R. Mengarelli, NSc (1903) 229-62; L. Cesano, NSc (1904) 403-30; A. L. Frothingham, Roman Cities in Northern Italy and Dalmatia (1910) 80-97; A. Andrén, Architectural Terracottas from Etrusco-Italic Temples (1940) 385-89, pl. 117; G. Schmiedt & F. Castagnoli, L'Universo 37 (1957) 125-48.


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