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STABIAE (Castellammare di Stabia) Campania, Italy.

An early Oscan settlement that became part of the confederation of Nuceria. With a natural port in the SE corner of the Gulf of Naples, it had from its origin defensive and commercial purposes in connection with the Sannio river route. An important road led from Stabiae to Nuceria by the 8th-7th c. B.C.; and after the descent of the Samnites into Campania and the formation of the federation of Nuceria, Stabiae became the port of Nuceria, whose political and administrative structures it imitated. During the Samnite wars, Stabiae was the military port of the fleet until the fall of Nuceria and the alliance with Rome. Stabiae, together with Nola and Salerno, was occupied by Papius Mutilus during the social war in 90 B.C., and was destroyed by Sulla on April 30, 89 B.C. It was quickly transformed into a health resort. The town felt the effects of the earthquake of 62 only slightly.

The site of pre-Roman Stabiae, built as oppidum of the federation of Nuceria, is not known. The destruction by Sulla, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have wiped out every trace. The remains of walls in opus reticulatum and of buildings similar to the hot baths of Pompeii in the area known as Fontana Grande, near the ancient coastline, suggest that the site may be sought there.

In any case, the town was transferred from the coast to the hill of Varano. It became an extravagant residential area, a town of country resorts. A complex of government buildings encompassed more than a kilometer. The builders of the villas tended to subordinate the architectural to the natural environment in an attempt to realize new forms. The villas are characterized by a long ambulatio set in the design of a porticus triplex and by the separation of residents' and servants' quarters in different levels of terraces. A series of winding ramps beneath arches gave access to the beach. The remains of the decorations provide noteworthy samples of painting of the Flavian period.

In the environs of Stabiae a spacious pre-Roman necropolis (8th-2d c. B.C.), beneath the road to Nuceria, contains rectangular graves (inhumations?) encased in limestone blocks or tufa slabs with abundant funerary furnishings. Other Roman and pre-Roman tombs have been discovered at Gragnano. Rectangular inhumation graves encased in tufa slabs from the Hellenistic period were placed along the road to Sorrento. Chamber tombs with sarcophagi of the Republican period have been discovered in the area known as Sant'Antonio Abate along the main route from Stabiae to Nuceria.


L. Cosenza, Stabia. Studi archeologici, topografici et storici (1907); L. D'Orsi, Gli scavi di Stabia (1954); id., Gli scavi archeologici di Stabia (1961); O. Elia, Le pitture di Stabia (1957); A. Maiuri, Pompei, Ercolano e Stabia (1961).


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