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Ancient Rome was bigger than previously thought, archaeologists find

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Anataeus
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« on: April 21, 2014, 06:55:43 pm »


Ancient Rome was bigger than previously thought, archaeologists find


Archaeologists have discovered that the Ancient Roman neighbourhood of Ostia was far bigger than previously thought, extending over the River Tiber
British scientists have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the river port of ancient Rome which they say proves that the city was much larger than previously estimated
British scientists have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the river port of ancient Rome which they say proves that the city was much larger than previously estimated Photo: PA

2:00PM BST 16 Apr 2014

British scientists have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the river port of ancient Rome which they say proves that the city was much larger than previously estimated.

Researchers from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge uncovered the extra section of the wall at Ostia while conducting a survey of an area between the port and another Roman port called Portus - both of which are about 30 miles from the Italian capital.

Scholars had thought the Tiber formed the northern edge of Ostia, but this new research, using geophysical survey techniques to examine the site, has shown that Ostia's city wall continued on the other side of the river.

The researchers have shown this newly discovered area enclosed three huge, previously unknown warehouses - the largest of which was the size of a football pitch.

Professor Simon Keay, director of the Portus Project, said: ''Our research not only increases the known area of the ancient city, but it also shows that the Tiber bisected Ostia, rather than defining its northern side.
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Anataeus
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 06:57:44 pm »



''The presence of the warehouses along the northern bank of the river provides us with further evidence for the commercial activities that took place there in the first two centuries.''



The researchers have been using an established technique known as magnetometry, which involves systematically and rapidly scanning the landscape with small handheld instruments in order to identify localised magnetic anomalies relating to buried ancient structures.



(PA)

These are then mapped out with specialised computer software, providing images similar to aerial photographs, which can be interpreted by archaeologists.

In antiquity, the landscape in this recent study was known as the Isola Sacra and was surrounded by a major canal to the north, the river Tiber to the east and south, and the Tyrrhenian sea to the west.

At the southernmost side of the Isola Sacra, the geophysical survey revealed very clear evidence for the town wall of Roman Ostia, interspersed by large towers several metres thick, and running east to west for about half a kilometre. In an area close by, known to archaeologists as the Trastevere Ostiense, the team also found very clear evidence for at least four major buildings.

Prof Keay said: ''Three of these buildings were probably warehouses that are similar in layout to those that have been previously excavated at Ostia itself, however the newly discovered buildings seem to be much larger. In addition, there is a massive 142 metre by 110 metre fourth building - composed of rows of columns running from north to south, but whose function is unknown.

''Our results are of major importance for our understanding of Roman Ostia and the discoveries will lead to a major rethink of the topography of one of the iconic Roman cities in the Mediterranean.''

The work has been undertaken as part of the Southampton-led Portus Project, in collaboration with the British School at Rome and the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma.

For more information visit www.portusproject.org.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2014, 06:08:29 pm »


Archaeologists' findings may prove Rome a century older than thought
As Italian capital approaches 2,767th birthday, excavation reveals wall built long before official founding year of 753BC



    John Hooper in Rome
    The Guardian, Sunday 13 April 2014 12.38 EDT   

Rome
Rome may be older than its official birthday of 21 April 753BC when founded by Romulus and Remus. Photograph: WestEnd61/Rex

It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archaeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more ancient than believed until now.

Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year 753BC.

But on Sunday it was reported that evidence of infrastructure building had been found, dating from more than 100 years earlier. The daily Il Messagero quoted Patrizia Fortini, the archaeologist responsible for the Forum, as saying that a wall constructed well before the city's traditional founding date had been unearthed.

The wall, made from blocks of volcanic tuff, appeared to have been built to channel water from an aquifer under the Capitoline hill that flows into the river Spino, a tributary of the Tiber. Around the wall, archaeologists found pieces of ceramic pottery and remains of food.

"The examination of the ceramic material was crucial, allowing us today to fix the wall chronologically between the 9th century and the beginning of the 8th century," said Fortini.

It was already known that the settlement of Rome was a gradual process and that the traditional date for its foundation was invented by a later writer. There is evidence of people arriving on the Palatine hill as early as the 10th century BC.

The find would appear to show that construction in stone began earlier than previously established. The discovery was made close to the Lapis Niger ('Black Stone' in Latin): a shrine that later Romans associated with their city's earliest days. The site includes a stone block that carries the earliest inscription found in Rome. Written in the 5th century BC, its meaning is not fully clear, but it is thought to place a curse on anyone who violates the site.

• The standirst on this article was amended on 13 April to reflect the correct date of Rome's founding


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/13/archaelogists-find-rome-century-older-than-thought
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