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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 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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Fun and games in Ostia

We have watched the reports of the Ostia Graffiti Project in recent weeks as its members post photos of some of the graffiti that they are recording. One item that we did not see was a graffito that appears to be a game board etched into the porch step of an ancient building on the west side of the city. …

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The Four Seasons Mosaic from Palazzo Imperiale at Ostia Antica

One does not usually think of recycling when ancient Rome comes to mind. Nevertheless, we have noticed in the research for our series of guidebooks to archeological sites in Rome how frequently new structures were built with re-used materials. This use of spolia is especially prominent in the fourth century AD when Emperor Constantine sponsored the construction of new Christian …