More on New city wall discovered at Roman port

2014.04.24 07:43

A “secret” part of the ancient Roman port of Ostia Antica has been discovered, according to British archaeologists who unearthed it, making the site as a whole bigger than Pompeii.

Archaeologists work in 2009 at the ruins of an arena built early in the third century BC outside Ostia, the ancient imperial port 25 kilometres from Rome. They have since discovered several more buildings, making the site larger than Pompeii [Credit: Vincenzo Pinto, Geptics]

The team has discovered a building twice the size of a football field, a boundary wall and large defensive towers under fields near Rome’s airport, making the area 35 per cent larger than previously thought. Often overlooked by visitors heading for Pompeii, Ostia is the second best-preserved ancient Roman town, with streets, houses and an amphitheatre on the banks of the Tiber river. The discovery, by specialists from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge in England, and carried out by the British School at Rome and Italian archaeologists, have been made on the other side of the Tiber, proving that the river did not border the town, but ran through it, splitting Rome in two. The findings change the thinking on how Rome’s port worked and how emperors kept one million Romans supplied with food. Simon Keay, from the University of Southampton, said: “The work shows that Ostia Antica was 35 per cent larger than we believed, including buildings from the second and third century AD which were built as a consequence of the enlargement of Portus by the emperor Trajan, which meant more ships were arriving.” He added: “It shows Rome was importing significantly more food through the port than we thought.” It also sheds light on how important Ostia was to trade in the first 200 years of the millennium, said Mariarosaria Barbera, the superintendent of Rome’s archaeological heritage. Using hand-held magnetic scanners and software to create images similar to aerial photographs, the team discovered three warehouses and the large building, that may have been a warehouse or a public building. The site is close to the Roman port known as Portus, where the British team has also dug, which had a main basin more than a mile across which has now silted up, and an inner, hexagonal basin which still exists, close to the runways at the Rome airport. “This is a step-change in our view of one of the Mediterranean’s most important Roman sites,” Mr Keay said.

Source: Edmonton Journal [17-04-2014]

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