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Photographer's Note

This was one of the more sumptuous houses in Ostia, and dates to the city's later period, about the third century AD, although it was built in various phases. The monumental entrance was graced by marble columns. The owner's name was inscribed on the pediment, but it's unclear whether this was actually the owner of the house, as it has only been partially preserved. The houses at Ostia differ somewhat from their counterparts in other Roman towns such as Pompeii, but the peristyle courtyard seemed to likewise dominate. The House of Protiro also featured this central courtyard, but it also had a nymphaeum with curved niches. The house also had shops with back rooms on the exterior, which was also somewhat common in Pompeii, and featured a staircase, indicating a second floor. The ground floor alone had some thirty rooms, with more likely on upper floors, so it was extremely large.

Several important finds also indicate that the house was a luxurious one. Statues of Diana and Apollo were found in one of the rooms, as was a Christian glass vessel, in a drainage channel, made of green or clear grass. The bowl or cup was probably made in the late fourth century, but it is unfortunately fragmentary. Several of the rooms were decorated with mosaics and opus sectile flooring in marble and other materials. Curiously, some inscriptions were reused, including a funerary inscription which had been repurposed as a drainage lid in antiquity.

Ostia Antica is a large, partially-excavated archaeological park about 15 miles southwest of Rome. Ostia was the ancient port city of Rome, and played a strategic role throughout its long history. The oldest archaeological remains date to about the fourth century BC, but it's possible that the site was inhabited far earlier. Roman legend states that Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome, destroyed an ancient town located about eleven miles from Rome which had a small harbor on the Tiber, which may refer to this settlement. Ostia played a major role in the Civil Wars of the 80s BC: Marius attacked the city to cut off supplies to the city of Rome. It was attacked again in 68 BC when it was sacked by pirates, when the port was set alight and the war fleet destroyed. This was the impetus for Pompey Magnus to propose the lex Gabinia, a law which allowed him to raise an army to eradicate the pirates, a feat which he accomplished in about a year.

Most of the buildings still on the site date to the first or second century AD, when large apartment blocks, or insulae, were constructed. The town continued to develop,as did much of the city of Rome itself, which attained an estimated population of about a million in the early second century AD. The dated harbor was abandoned in favor of a new one on the northern mouth of the Tiber, named Portus. This new one became silted up also, however, which necessitated the construction of another one under Trajan. Ostia itself grew to comprise a town of about 50,000 in the second century, and reached a peak of about 100,000 inhabitants in the late-second and early-third centuries.

Ironically, construction of this new harbor lead to the commercial decline in Ostia itself, however, as businesses migrated elsewhere. It had a long run, however, as it remained inhabited until the ninth century, but was eventually abandoned completely, and the area became silted in when the infrastructure stopped being maintained.

Unlike Pompeii, the site was never completely "lost" and forgotten. It was picked over for centuries for construction materials for other structures in Rome itself, including for the numerous Baroque palazzi. Muzzolini began organized excavations from 1939 to 1942, and a great volume, which I have used extensively in my own research, "Scavi di Ostia," was published in 1954. Much of it is questionable, however, as in the case of the excavations of Pompeii, but it's still a great resource. There are probably many more discoveries still to be made, in addition: it's estimated that two-thirds of the ancient town remains unexcavated, so hopefully it will continue to reveal its secrets for generations to come.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1282] (2201)
  • Genre: 地方
  • Medium: 彩色
  • Date Taken: 2013-11-00
  • Photo Version:Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2022-08-17 18:14
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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1282] (2201)
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