Ancient Roman Port

Through all the archaeology classes I have taken and articles I have read, I have learned that there is always something more at archaeological excavation sites. Whether it’s a new artifact that leads to a new interpretation or new questions or more to a site than was discovered before. In a previous class I had done a project on a port in Italy that was very important during to the Romans called Ostia. While surveying critical ports to Rome during the Romans height, archaeologists have discovered a new boundary wall meaning it was much bigger than they previously thought it to be. Through the use of “geophysical survey techniques”, specifically magnetometry, archaeologists found the boundary wall extended more down the Tiber river and included towers and three more warehouses which were much bigger than previously excavated warehouses. One of which being as big as a football field. This discovery pushes further evidence of commercial activities during the beginning centuries of this ports building. “Director of the Portus Project, Professor Simon Keay says, “Our research not only increases the known area of the ancient city, but it also shows that the Tiber bisected Ostia, rather than defining its northern side.” The Portus Project is working on the important ports of Rome between the 1st through 6th century including the port of Ostia and Portus, Ostia’s neighboring port.  Another building was also discovered but its use is still unknown, which is why I believe it’s important for archaeologists to revisit sites that have already had research done on it and for archaeologists to extensively excavate newly discovered sites as to retain as much information from that site as possible. This way archaeologists can get a better interpretation of sites. Professor Keay states, “Our results are of major importance for our understanding of Roman Ostia and the discoveries will lead to a major re-think of the topography of one of the iconic Roman cities in the Mediterranean.”  The workings of this project supports that going back to iconic sites like the Roman port of Ostia can give new insights and a better understanding on topics like topography of critical archaeological sites. With the advancement of technology over the last 50 years, archaeologists should revisit sites and use new technology like GIS to bring forward more information and better understandings of the important sites of past civilizations, like the Portus Project did for the Roman port of Ostia.  

One thought on “Ancient Roman Port”

  1. I thought you made some good points in your post. I, too, have had a few archaeology classes. It is always fascinating to see what contributions different discoveries have made to our understanding of past cultures and peoples and how the same discovery can be interpreted in different ways. I agree that archaeologists, as well as other specialists, should return to sites that have been previously excavated with new technologies as well as research questions. As you say, with all the advances in technology that have occurred, there is a strong possibility that new and exciting information can be brought to light and broaden our understanding about a site. Or, in a larger context, the people who lived there and the way they lived or why they lived that way or in the place. In the example you used, of the Ancient Roman port of Ostia, archaeologists found a completely different section of the port they never knew existed thanks to using magnetometry. It is astonishing to think that in this day and age, the age of technology, there are still things on this earth that we know little or nothing about. So much has been, and continues to be, learned from archaeological sites of all different types. With continuing advances in technology and the use of new and different research methods, like satellite surveillance, GPR, etc., it is exciting to think about what will be learned next. That is one of the things that make the field of archaeology so enthralling.

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