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Fiume Morto

Ostia was founded along the Tiber river and close to the sea. Each of these strategic conditions was lost over the centuries: the position near the sea through the gradual growth of the dune belt (see www.ostia-foundation.org/coastline/), and the position along the Tiber on the 15th of September 1557, as the result of an exceptionally high flood, which shortened the …

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The Brick Stamps of Ostia Tell Many Stories

The ancient Romans were masters of brick and concrete construction techniques. A walk through the streets of Ostia certainly reinforces that idea. The ruins of the old city highlight many phases of brickwork from the late Republic through the late antiquity. In our own work in historical archeology in Texas, we have come to appreciate the importance of bricks to …

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The Whitest Whites: Fullonicae at Ostia and Pompeii

Fullonica defined What exactly is a fullonica? We often translate it as ‘laundry’ or ‘cleaners’ but this is somewhat simplistic. In fact, Roman fullonicae (that’s the plural) provided a variety of services. Ancient fullonicae treated newly-made garments in addition to dirty clothes. They specialized in the treatment of wool. The first operation was cleaning. This was done in the so-called …

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The Opus Sectile House, l’Edificio con Opus Sectile, Ostia Antica

Mundane Made Extraordinary: Marble “Bricks” in the Opus Sectile House The visitor to Ostia who follows the decumanus to its end outside the Porta Marina and just beyond the old ticket office is rewarded with a view of one of the ancient city’s most colorful surviving buildings. The so-called “opus sectile house” sits facing the highway at the edge of …

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The Ancient Ostia Graffiti Project

Archaeological sites decay slowly, constantly and often irreversibly. And because of the scarcity of conservation resources, excavated remains are particularly in peril. Such is the case with exposed and partially exposed ancient graffiti at Ostia Antica. Quite regrettably, there are many cases in which graffiti that were plainly visible and readable twenty years ago have now completely disappeared. Digital documentation …