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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Vol. XIX

1 Norba, an ancient town of Latium (Adjectum), Italy. It is situated 1 m. N. W. of the modern Norma, 1575 ft. above sea‑level, on the west edge of the Volscian Mountains or Monti Lepini, above a precipitous cliff, with a splendid view over the Pomptine Marshes. It was a member of the Latin League of 499 B.C., and became a Latin colony in 492 B.C., as an important fortress guarding the Pomptine Marshes. It served in 199 as a place of detention for the Carthaginian hostages, and was captured and destroyed by Sulla's troops during the civil wars at the end of 82 B.C. Some revival in prosperity took place later. From excavations begun in 1901 it seems clear that the remains now visible on the site are entirely Roman. The well-preserved walls are in the polygonal style, 1½ m. in circuit, and are entirely embankment walls, not standing free above the internal ground level. Remains of a massive tower, and of several gateways (notably the Porta Grande, defended by a tower) exist. Within, the remains of several buildings, including the substructions of two temples, one dedicated to Juno Lucina, have been examined. At the foot of the cliff are the picturesque ruins of the medieval town of Ninfa (12th‑13th centuries) abandoned owing to the malaria. The remains of a primitive settlement, on the other hand, have been discovered on the mountain-side to the S. E., above the 13th‑century abbey of Valvisciolo, where there is a succession of terraces supported by walls of polygonal work, and approached by a road similarly supported. Here a quantity of primitive Latin pottery has been found. The necropolis of this settlement was probably the extensive one situated at Caracupa (8th‑6th century B.C.), near the railway station of Sermoneta,b which belongs also to the 8th‑6th century B.C., terminating thus at the precise date at which the Roman city of Norba began to exist.

See L. Savignoni and R. Mengarelli in Notizie degli scavi (1901), 514; (1903) 299, 289; (1904) 407; and Atti del Congresso Storico (Rome, 1903), vol. V (Archaeologia) 255.

[T. As.]

Thayer's Notes:

a For an atmospheric and anecdotal look at the town, see Ferdinand Gregorovius' Wanderjahre in Italien, Ch. 62 (as translated by Dorothea Roberts, Latian Summers, pp273‑277).

b The station is now a thing of the past. To get to Sermoneta, we must now take the bus from the train station at Latina. And no, the train station did not date to the sixth century B.C.; as you may have seen elsewhere onsite, Prof. Ashby is a notoriously fuzzy writer.

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Page updated: 26 Oct 18