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Iguvium


[image ALT: A two-story arcade of half a dozen fragile stone arches now backed up with brick. It is a detail of the Roman theatre of Gubbio, Umbria (central Italy).]

The fragile arches of the Roman theatre of Gubbio,
its flaking limestone now backed up with modern brick.

Before becoming the Roman city of Iguvium, Gubbio was the Umbrian city of Ikuvium, and her most celebrated monument, outshining even the theatre, is seven small plates of bronze covered for the most part in neat lines of text in the Umbrian language; although pockets of doubt remain in their decipherment, Umbrian is a relative of Latin, and we have the gist of them: the convoluted, repetitive, revolting ritual of Umbrian religious rites, the only bit of which I remember offhand is the preparation of shishkebabs from the entrails of puppies. Neo-pagans, enjoy!

Not to worry though, you will not see the Eugubine Tables on this website, since they are housed in the Palazzo dei Consoli with a guard at the door where you must check your camera, although the Tables were found nearly 600 years ago, are of a material which remains quite unharmed by camera flash — the usual excuse — and have been photographed by hundreds of people before us and the photographs published many times. The article Iguvium (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911) will have to suffice here, giving an overview of the ancient city and a bit about its language; and a scholarly article by A. L. Frothingham (1915) on the mysterious epithet Grabovius that appears three times in the text of the Tables will be of interest to some.

We can, however, also glance in a more relaxed and personal way at some of the vestiges of Roman architecture in Gubbio:


[image ALT: In the background of a meadow, some arched ruins. They are the much restored remains of the Roman theatre of Iguvium, modern Gubbio in Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 4 photos ]

Drawn to Gubbio by its medieval monuments, the visitor is often then surprised to discover also a handsome Roman theatre. That it should have been the second-largest in the Empire is a mystery, though, since once conquered by Rome, Iguvium was something of an isolated backwater, rarely mentioned by classical authors and apparently living an uneventful life.


[image ALT: Sitting in the middle of a plowed field, the ruins of a small two-story stone construction, which may once have been cylindrical but is now conical. It is the Roman mausoleum of Gubbio, Umbria (central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 6 photos ]

The Roman mausoleum is a tomb of the cylindrical tower type, common thruout Italy; but it too can be viewed as mysterious if one likes, since there is not the slightest indication as to who might have been buried there.


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Site updated: 11 Dec 06