previous next

GRAVISCA or Graviscae, Latium, Italy.

Port of the Etruscan town of Tarquinia on the coast 8 km E of its metropolis. The site of the town, often cited in connection with a colonia civium Romanorum founded there in 181 B.C. (see Bibl.), was disputed until excavations in 1969 uncovered it near the ruins of the Papal harbor called Porto Clementino.

These excavations have revealed substantial parts of the Roman settlement, established according to a regular plan of insulae, half actus (= 60 roman feet) wide. Three insulae have been partially explored, mostly at late Roman levels and have given clear evidence of an extensive fire which, from the discovery of a coin hoard of 174 solidi from Valentinianus I to Honorius, can be attributed to the Gothic invasion of 408-10. A bronze altar of Isis and Serapis was buried at the same time against the arrival of the barbarians. Even after such destruction life must have continued on the site, for a bishop of Gravisca is known in 504.

Late Roman life (3d-5th c.) is known from a luxurious domus, property of a family of potentiores. It had an extensive nymphaeum, a large marble-paved hall with a terminal apse and a small bathing annex. To Roman times also (2d-4th c.) belong a cemetery with tile-built tombs and a rectangular mausoleum E of the town on the road to Tarquinia. Trial trenches under Imperial and Republican strata have brought to light conspicuous remains of the Etruscan town, larger and richer than the Roman colony, and with a somewhat different street grid.

The most important discoveries have been made 200 m SE of the Roman insulae, well outside the limits of the colonia, but in close connection with the Etruscan city, on the borders of the ancient seashore. There a road, possibly the Etruscan coastal road to Caeretan harbors, which cuts into a large sanctuary, whose latest phase can be dated 450-250. Surface exploration has revealed three rectangular buildings containing altars, bases of statues, and a considerable number of votive objects, some of which are inscribed with dedications to the Etruscan goddess Turan (Venus). At least one of these buildings was constructed upon remains of a previous shrine (dated ca. 590-480), perhaps a sacred precinct in the open air with earth altars of which three have been found. This archaic shrine belonged to Hera, and was frequented almost exclusively by East Greeks, as attested by ca. 40 graffiti on sherds, dedications to Hera in the East Greek alphabet and in Ionian dialect; one inscription is on a marble block, a votive gift (ca. 500 B.C.) in the form of an apotropaic and aniconic cult image to Apollo of Aegina, presented by a certain Sostratos, most probably a renowned merchant mentioned by Herodotos (4.152). Much pottery of high quality (Attic, East Greek, Laconian, some Corinthian) and ca. 1000 Greek lamps witness the importance of the emporion for the archaic Greek trade with Tarquinia. BIBLIOGRAPHY. M. Torelli et al., “Gravisca,” NSc (1970)MPI; id., “Il sanctuario di Hera a Gravisca” La Parola del Passato 136 (1971) 44-67MPI.


hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.152
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: