2010
Nov 
4

Ostia Antica

Filed under: Italy — Russell @ 6:43 am  

We spent a day in Ostia.  This is a 2000 year old city that was preserved after being covered by river silt.  Not as dramatic as Pompeii but only half an hour away from Rome by subway.

The site is huge, over 30 hectares with the walls of many buildings still somewhat intact.  There has been some restoration and it is relatively safe to walk through the ruins.  It looks like a brickwork maze and many children climb the walls like it was a jungle gym.

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Ostia is at the mouth of the Tiber, the main river which runs through Rome.  As such is was both a major trading center and responsible for the defence of Rome against naval assault.  The remains of the market can still be seen in the mosaics.  Each guild had a place on the main market square with a mosaic depicting their trade.  My favourite was the elephant.  Exotic animals from North Africa passed through this port on their way to the Colosseum.

A lot of statuary was also found relatively intact including Minerva as winged victory and Hercules.

The town was quite advanced in 100 AD with water brought in from another town via an aqueduct.  Fountains were placed in public areas throughout the town to provide fresh water.  There were also many public baths, each with a series of heated rooms and a large central room with a mosaic floor and drainage.  There was even a public toilet with channels for washing away the waste.

Given this sophistication, it must have been a shock to be conquered by barbarians with poor hygiene.

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