Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ancient Roman Port Discovered

Nearly 20 miles outside the city center of Rome and only yards away from Rome's International Airport, Fiumicino, British archaeologists have made a major discovery of Ancient Rome. They unearthed what is believed to be the largest and most populous port for the city of Rome, despite earlier beliefs that the major port for Rome was Ostia. Beyond that they also discovered inside an imperial palace at the port a 2,000 seat amphitheatre which is estimated to be around the same size as the Pantheon in Rome.

The ancient port, known as Portus, has seen archaeologists working on it as far back as the 19th century however stronger emphasis has been placed on the site in recent years. The port itself supplied the people of Rome with "food, slaves, wild animals, luxury goods and building materials for hundreds of years." It seems at this point it will take quite a bit longer to discover all the details of how the port was used and its importance in Roman History. According to Professor Keay of the University of Southampton, who is one of the leads on the project, he stated "It's going to generate a lot of rethinking about how ports were used and that will change the way we think about Rome's relationship with the Mediterranean." Keay believes it is possible that Portus had greater role in the economy and socio-relations of Rome to the entire Mediterranean than they ever realized.

The real find for the archaeologists has been the amphitheatre which they discovered within an imperial palace on the grounds. It seems as if the amphitheatre was something used for private events. "'Its design, using luxurious materials and substantial colonnades, suggests it was used by a high status official, possibly even the emperor himself, and the activities that took place there were strictly private: it could have been games or gladiatorial combat, wild beast baiting or the staging of mock sea battles, but we really do not know." It is absolutely fascinating to think that a 2,000 seat arena was built strictly for the private use of the emperor and his friends. I would venture to guess that the private facility was used to entertain visiting dignitaries or important officials who were visiting Rome by way of the harbor at Portus.

For further information on the story visit the two links below:

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