A Brief Introduction
Stabiae is a very unusual archaeological site. It is not a normal town site or a single villa, but a series of at least six enormous villas built along a sea-cliff in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. It was buried in the same eruption of A.D. 79 that entombed Pompeii, and as a result it is the largest concentration of well-preserved large Roman villas in the entire Mediterranean.
The great villas of the Bay of Naples were not just the scene of the development of an ideal elite lifestyle of personal cultivation (“otium”), but centers of great political power. Many of the key events in the late Roman Republic played out in these villas. In the Senate holidays in April and November, the capital virtually moved from Rome to these villas. In A.D. 27 it did so literally when the emperor Tiberius moved to Capri and never returned to Rome. Only at Stabiae is such a cluster preserved, only at Stabiae can archaeology recover the full ambience of these power centers of the decades when the Roman Republic was being transformed into the Roman Empire by the very inhabitants of these villas.
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