Tuesday, April 22, 2014


A "new" part of the ancient Roman port of Portus or Ostia Antica has been discovered which makes the well-preserved city even larger than Pompeii, according to British archaeologists who unearthed it.

The discovery reveals streets and neighborhoods which Antinous and Hadrian no doubt saw when leaving or arriving Rome's biggest port city on their voyages to far-flung Roman provinces.

The new discovery means the fanciful modern illustration above in the style of Roman frescoes will have to be modified to cover a much larger area.

The team of British archaeologists has discovered a building twice the size of a football field, a boundary wall and large defensive towers under fields near Rome 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 experts from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge, teamed with the British School at Rome and Italian archaeologists, has been made on the other side of the Tiber, proving the river did not border the town, but ran through it, splitting Ostia Antica in two.

"The work shows that Ostia Antica was 35 percent larger than we believed, including buildings from the second and 3rd Century AD which were built as a consequence of the enlargement of Portus by the emperor Trajan, which meant more ships were arriving," says Simon Keay, from the University of Southampton. 

"It shows Rome was importing significantly more food through the port than we thought," he adds.

It also sheds light on how important Ostia was to trade in the first 200 years of the millennium, said Mariarosaria Barbera, superintendent of Rome’s archaeological heritage.

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