Derived from the old Latin word for mouth (os), Ostia Antica is the ancient sea port of ancient Rome positioned at the mouth of the River Tiber. Perhaps founded as early as the 7th Century BC by Ancus Marius, the site boasts a wealth of important archaeological finds with some dating back to the 4th Century BC. On occasion sacked by pirates, as in 68BC, the port was later strengthened as the Roman Empire strengthened with the population growing to around 100,000 by the 3rd Century AD.
However, just recently, in April 2014, experts from Britain and Italy have discovered that the port was more extensive and important than previously thought with some archaeologists insisting that it is more significant than Pompei. Using special equipment, the scientists have discovered the City Wall of Ostia built in the first century BC by Cicero and Clodius that sheds new light on how important Ostia was to trade in the first 200 years after Christ. A team from 14 universities was involved in this monumental find that includes large storage areas and warehouses on the banks of the river giving an indication of the volume of trade passing through Ostia and into Rome via the River Tiber.
Discoveries are still being made with the most recent one in July 2014 consisting of a mausoleum for noble families including a child’s lead covered tomb containing curses of serious illness and grave death to any who desecrate the grave. Ancient hooks and lead weights nearby also give testimony of the areas fishing trade as well as a highly significant marble floor showing a mix of highly prized and imported marbles.
For those who wish to visit or know more about Ostia Antica, it is included in Eternal City Education’s educational study abroad programs in addition to private guided day tours. Visit our Study Abroad Courses page or Guided Tours page for more information.