Portus : an archaeological survey of the port of imperial Rome



Portus : an archaeological survey of the port of imperial Rome

by Simon Keay ... [et al.] ; with contributions from Antonia Arnoldus-Huyzendveld ... [et al.]

(Archaeological monographs of the British School at Rome, 15)

British School at Rome, 2005

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"In collaboration with the Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Soprintendenza per i beni archeologici di Ostia"

One folded map inside of back cover

Bibliography: p. [333]-348

Includes index



In AD 42, the Emperor Claudius initiated work on the construction of a new artificial harbour a short distance to the north of the mouth of the Tiber. The harbour facilities were enlarged at the instigation of the Emperor Trajan at the beginning of the second century AD, and Portus remained the principal port for the City of Rome into the Byzantine period. The surviving archaeological remains and comments by ancient sources make it clear that Portus lay at the heart of Rome's maritime facade. As well as being a key Mediterranean centre for passengers and for the loading, unloading, transshipment and storage of products from across the Empire, it was also designed to make an ideological statement about the supremacy of Rome in the world. Portus is, thus, of key importance to understanding Rome and her relationship to the Empire. The project that forms the subject of this book was designed to use non-destructive techniques of topographic and geophysical survey in combination with systematic surface collection to provide a new understanding of the plan of Portus. The work was undertaken between 1997 and 2002 as a collaboration between the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Ostia, the British School at Rome, and the Universities of Southampton, Durham and Cambridge. This volume presents the full results of the survey and uses them as the basis for a re-evaluation of the whole port complex. The geophysical survey results are interpreted in the context of earlier work at the site in order to offer new perspectives on the character and development of the site.


  • Foreword (Anna Gallina Zevi)
  • Introduction (Simon Keay, Martin Millett and Helen Patterson)
  • Background to Portus (Antonia Arnoldus-Huyzendveld, Simon Keay, Martin Millett and Fausto Zevi)
  • History of past research at Portus (Lidia Paroli)
  • Methodology (Simon Keay, Martin Millett and Kristian Strutt)
  • The Survey results (Simon Keay, Martin Millett and Kristian Strutt)
  • The finds from field walking (Alessandra Bousquet, Will Clarke, Franca Del Vecchio, Fabrizio Felici, Sergio Fontana, Shawn Graham, Simon Keay, Cristiana Mele, Isabel Roda, Claudia Valeri and Sabrina Zampini)
  • Summary of other recent fieldwork at Portus (Cinzia Morelli, Lidia Paroli and Patrizia A Verduchi)
  • Integration and discussion (Simon Keay and Martin Millett)
  • Portus in context (Simon Keay and Martin Millett)
  • Appendix A: Principal epigraphic and numismatic sources referring to Portus (Simon Keay and Martin Millett)
  • Appendix B: Principal historical texts referring to Portus (Simon Keay, Martin Millett and Chris Whitton)
  • Appendix C: Key plan showing the field-walking grid square numbers
  • Appendix D: Plans of Portus
  • References
  • Contributors' addresses
  • Index.

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